The government of China has long attempted to keep a tight lock on the online content allowed to be viewed within its borders. Now the country is cracking down on the tools used to work around that censorship by requiring virtual private networks (VPNs) to be approved by the government, according to the South China Morning Post.

The new rules were issued on Sunday by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and will require all special cable connections and VPNs on the mainland to be granted government approval before use.

Referring to the program as a “clean up” of internet connections in the country, the Ministry will start the crack down immediately and run the program through Mar. 31, 2018.

“China’s internet connection service market ... has signs of ­disordered development that ­require urgent regulation and governance,” the ministry said, noting the initiative would “strengthen cyberspace information security management.”

While China informed its citizens that VPNs would require registration, the government likely intentionally left the rules regarding VPN use vague so it could enforce the rules as it sees fit. It remains unclear how the government will implement its new requirements, and who will be affected by the changes.

Previously, the government has targeted specific service providers in attempts to take their VPNs offline.

The decision to effectively ban VPN use without government approval comes just days after Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke on the importance and values of globalization at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"We must redouble efforts to develop global connectivity to enable all countries to achieve inter-connected growth and share prosperity,” Jinping said. “Pursuing protectionism is like locking oneself in a dark room. While wind and rain may be kept outside, that dark room will also block light and air."

This is far from the first time China has attempted to curb VPN use, which has become a necessity in the country as the government has blocked 172 of the top 1,000 most visited websites in the world according to rankings from Alexa, including Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Just last year, the government blocked VPN services during political gatherings for the National People's Congress meeting in Beijing, which left users unable to access sites and services through VPNs.