Shaun Rein

The quality of the internet in China has become so bad over the past months, it is jeopardizing business operations because of the governmental filters, tells business analyst Shaun Rein in the Wall Street Journal. Pulling out of China is no option, but business might scale down.

The Wall Street Journal:

Discontent has risen in recent months as Chinese authorities appear to have ratcheted up their censorship efforts amid a once-a-decade change of top government leaders. “It is an absolute nightmare,” said Shaun Rein, whose consulting firm, China Market Research Group, employs about 20 analysts in the country.

Mr. Rein, who has been doing business from China for 13 of the past 16 years, uses Google’s small-business services to store and share documents and for internal communications.

But increasingly unreliable connections to Google in recent months have hindered downloads and sharply reduced the effectiveness of instant-messaging service Google Chat, he said. Unstable connections to Google’s Gmail service have forced Mr. Rein to set up a system that forwards his email to multiple services to ensure its delivery.

Google has said it hasn’t found any problems with its systems.

“The real question is whether the next administration is going to continue to roll back Internet availability to foreign firms,” Mr. Rein said. He said companies are unlikely to pull out of China in any case, but they likely will think twice about moves like shifting their regional headquarters to Beijing from places like Singapore and Hong Kong. “They will still invest in China,” he said. “It just depends on what scale.”

Stepped-up censorship efforts in recent months include a crackdown on so-called virtual private networks, or VPNs. While companies use commercial VPN services routinely for secure data, foreigners, China’s elite and other tech-savvy users can use personal VPNs to leap the Great Firewall to use services like Facebook.

More in the Wall Street Journal.

Shaun Rein is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

At the China Weekly Hangout we discussed the problems foreign business people have in using their VPN”s. Present are Sam Xu, John R. Otto, Gabriel Rueck and Fons Tuinstra; are the recent hiccups just tests? Has China a kill button for the internet and will it use it? Or will there be a two-class internet, one for corporate users, and one for home users?

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