Using Skype in China becoming illegal

Usually I love living in China, thirstily drinking the kool-aid that this place is changing for the better, improving a little bit every day. Sure it has its warts, but compared to 5 years ago, 15 years ago, 35 years ago… it’s definitely improving — right?

Then Youtube gets blocked, Facebook and Twitter follow, as do pretty much all major UGC/SMS sites. Ok, ok, it’s a complete pain in the ass, seems totally backwards and is making the country look more like its paranoid DPRK neighbours than a major player on the world stage. But maybe things were getting a little too out of hand with free speach 2.0, and the whole system needed to be throttled a bit to keep Zhongnanhai comfortable with modernization.

But this is just getting ridiculous:

Shanghai Daily: The Chinese regulator has declared Internet phone services other than those provided by China Telecom and China Unicom as illegal, which is expected to make services like Skype unavailable in the country.

The decision was criticized as a measure to protect the duopoly of state-owned telecom carriers, media reports said yesterday.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said all VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) phone services are illegal on the Chinese mainland, except those provided by telecommunications carriers China Telecom and China Uniom. The ministry gave no timetable on when the ruling takes effect.

While the news certainly has the sheen of classic capitalist monopolistic greed parred with a healthy dose of official-oiling guanxi (an outrage in its own right), effectively it comes back down to control. One pipe in, one pipe out. The Walls are closing in. Soon we’ll not be allowed to own a computer without government registration and real-time tracking installed.

Some days are days to remind me why I live here, and some days are days to remind me why I never take an eye off of leaving.