German Ambassador Michael Clauss in China has slammed the country for broadening internet restrictions ahead of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Beijing on Oct. 18.
In a statement, Clauss said while "digitalization of its economy" was crucial to China's continued economic success, the recent blocking of Facebook Inc.'s WhatsApp has increased the international business community's concerns about a clampdown on online connectivity in the country.
Also, Clauss said plans to block virtual private networks, or VPNs, were a "new blow" to companies who were concerned that the new cybersecurity law, which went into effect June 1, would compromise their privacy by exposing their sensitive information to third parties.
"Unrestricted internet access via VPN is vital if China wants to take maximum advantage of international cooperation in research and development as well as academic and cultural exchange," Clauss added.
The VPN ban will reportedly cut off access to about 3,000 currently blocked websites, including various online services.