Chinese Firewall
The Great Chinese firewall of censorship has claimed another tech giant, after Apple, it seems to be Amazon's turn to advise users against bypassing it. Pictured: A computer keyboard lit by a displayed cyber code is seen in this illustration picture taken on March 1, 2017. Reuters/Kacper Pempel

Users of Amazon’s cloud-computing service, Amazon Web Services (AWS) in China have been advised against attempting to bypass the country’s system of internet filters, known commonly known as the ‘Great Firewall of China.' The advisory follows Apple’s announcement on Saturday stating the company is removing virtual private network (VPN) apps from its Chinese app store.

A VPN lets users access websites using an overseas IP address, overcoming regional inte0072net restrictions on Facebook, Google, Twitter and foreign news outlets.

Read: Apple Pulls China VPN Apps, Users Face 'Great Firewall' Of Censorship

Many VPN services are already banned in the country including:

  • Hotspot Shield
  • Tor + Vidalia
  • Google App Engine + GAppProxy
  • Witopia VPN

AWS’ Chinese partner, Beijing Sinnet Technology Co. Ltd., sent out emails to users asking them to delete tools enabling them to circumvent the 'Great Firewall of China.'

“Sinnet is responsible for ensuring that its customers in China comply with local laws and their notice was intended to remind customers of their obligations,” an Amazon spokeswoman stated to users in an email, Fox Business reported. The email also mentioned requests from China’s public security ministry and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Apart from the advisory, the way the AWS function is largely expected to remain the same.

Amazon has gotten into trouble with the Chinese authorities in the past due a to microblog app called FreeWeibo, that allowed users to access posts deleted by censors on the Chinese social network Sina Weibo.

China has clamped down on VPN apps and software, used to circumvent the state's firewall. Reports of Facebook’s encrypted messaging service WhatsApp being affected and messages being sent at a very slow rate have also emerged.

VPNs are vital to business, media organizations and research organizations, who need to connect to the wider internet. They are also used by individuals in China who want to access blocked content such as Facebook and YouTube.

The Chinese government might be clamping down on VPN services for a reason — the National Congress of the Communist Party of China is set to be held this fall, at which the country’s top leaders might be replaced.

According to Sunday Yokubaitis, president of Golden Frog GmbH, provider of VyprVPN, "Although China has implemented blocks and one-off censorship events in the past, it feels different this time, due to the events occurring and their rapid succession.”

The clampdown is getting harder. “If users don’t comply with the guidance, the offered services and their websites can be shut down. We the operators also check routinely if any of our users use these softwares or store illegal content,” a Sinnet hotline service operator with the surname Wang, told the New York Times Monday.

Read: Who Controls The Internet? China’s ‘Great Firewall’ To Block World’s Web Access, Foreign Affairs Ministry Says

Apart from Amazon, Microsoft and the country’s own Alibaba offer cloud-computing services in China. In addition to the country's strict censorship, foreign companies need to have a local partner with a controlling interest in the Chinese operations. Amazon and many other American companies have been trying to break into the Chinese market for long, but are currently dwarfed by their Chinese rivals.

Amazon has even partnered with the state-run China Mobile to create a specialized version of its e-reader, Kindle.