Updated July 2, 2019
All major news outlets have been studiously observing the situation in Hong Kong for some weeks now. Millions of protesters have taken to the streets to fight the introduction of a new law that would grant China the ability to extradite anyone facing crimes there.
Peaceful protests against China’s strong-arm have been marred with rubber bullets and of late counter-protests, as well as cyber-attacks on popular worldwide messaging apps. But there’s still no end to the protests: more are scheduled and an apology from Carrie Lam still won’t suffice.
Passing the legislation sets a precedent. It’s a tacit agreement towards China’s meddling in the region, and while many locals agree with the law in question, millions, mostly youths, are hitting the streets daily to oppose it. The level of protests seen recently is probably the most notable opposition China has seen in years, as well as the Hong Kong government.
But the methods the Chinese use to censor anyone threatening the nation’s motivation are murky – it’s not just journalists who are imprisoned for publishing or advocating anti-government positions. Regular people are too, though it’s much harder to have one’s voice heard.
China has blocked all major social media outlets, streaming sites and news outlets enjoyed by people worldwide, replacing them with their own state-run alternatives. Hong Kong people enjoy one of the most uncensored forms of the internet, but passing the law might change that.
Online protection has never been so important for anyone residing in Hong Kong. It’s been reported that thousands have lost their private information to cyber-attacks over recent years. While censorship is far less of a problem there, snooping from the Chinese government, as well as the alleged interruption of communication services, is.
Founder of Telegram Pavel Durov reported the cause of an enormous attack on the service, which affected coordination for thousands of protesters in Hong Kong, as well as daily usage for people as far as the States. Most of the IPs involved in the attack originated from China.
Benefits of Using a VPN
There are several ways for people to protect themselves online, one of the more popular and effective being a virtual private network (VPN). When a user pairs a VPN with their device, all traffic is first routed through one of the provider’s private servers, making it impossible for their ISP or anyone else to track their online activity. And the deeper the encryption used by the VPN means greater protection for the user. This means users can avoid any hacking of their services, as well as being monitored.
Privacy isn’t the only benefit of a VPN, however. The location of a VPN’s server, whether it’s in Hong Kong or France, is the only information given to websites or services used. So connecting to a server in France would mean anything you access would appear as if you’re doing so from France. This allows users to access all region-specific content, like on-demand entertainment, sports services, as well as popular news broadcasts, Netflix, for example, is incredibly limited in Hong Kong, and only has a reported 8% of the catalog of programs. While it doesn’t allow for the use of VPNs, some are able to get around the block.
Not everyone wants to access content from outside their region, but it’s still important to remain protected from potential hackers and any government snooping. Using a VPN is effective for a number of reasons but picking the right one can often seem expensive and confusing. For anyone in Hong Kong that’s undecided, below are some of the best services for the country, factoring in locality, encryption, performance, and privacy.
The Best VPNs for Online Protection
Pure VPN makes the list because it’s based in Hong Kong. It’s choice of location means it’s not forced to store and hand over user data, and with more than 20 servers there, it should mean great speeds for those interested in browsing locally. The service does have more than 2000 servers worldwide, with many based in North America and Europe, some of the more popular locations for entertainment and news.
As for security, it comes with 256-bit military grade encryption, DDoS protection, and a dedicated IP, as well as P2P protection and an automatic kill switch. The kill switch prevents exposure by cutting internet connection should there be a loss in a VPN connection.>
ExpressVPN has extensive coverage in Asia but is headquartered in the British Virgin Islands, another location that doesn’t require providers to store user data. It has servers in more than 150 countries, with several based in Hong Kong.
It comes with a 256-bit AES encryption, zero-knowledge DNS, public Wi-Fi protection and an automatic kill switch. It also comes with 24-7 support for anyone experiencing any service issues.
Golden Frog reports that its VyprVPN can be used by people in China, effectively bypassing the Great Firewall. For anyone looking to access blocked content in Asia, Vypr is a great choice, given that it has a number of servers in Hong Kong and across Asia. Its exclusive Chameleon technology is engineered to bypass network restrictions in all countries.
It comes with 256-bit AES encryption, DNS protection, and public Wi-Fi protection, and a kill switch like the others featured. Unlike most providers, it runs and maintains its own network and infrastructure, granting it independence from third-party interference.