back to article China announces Skype ban to protect telco revenues

China has banned Skype and other Western VoIP providers in a move designed to stop the services from eroding the profits of traditional telecoms operators in the country, China Telecom and China Unicom. The decision was made by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology but no date for its implementation was …


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  1. Ian Ferguson
    Black Helicopters

    I smell a rat...

    I really don't think this is about China Telecom's profit margin - they're experiencing an astonishing boom in mobile services, and as a state-backed company don't need to worry about long term viability anyway.

    I suspect it's a lot more due to the fact that VoIP/Skype is hard to eavesdrop on, whereas traditional phone lines are dead easy.

  2. JDX Gold badge


    I wish Facebook fas banned in the UK.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother


      No you don't. not really. I recommend a spell in a country that blocks such frivolous sites - annoying though most of the content may be, you'd miss it when it went...

      1. Pete 6

        No really

        I wouldn't give a toss if it imploded, never to be seen again.

    2. Stubar

      "I wish Facebook fas [sic] banned in the UK"

      Democracy; I do not agree with your opinion but I will protect your right to that opinion.

    3. Basic
      Thumb Up

      Facebook is important

      Facebook is important - Just think, if it went, all those users would turn up elsewhere. Think of it as the bilge tanks of the internet

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Facebook is important

        I am always thrilled to meet people who are not on Facebook because they are just so much *better* than other people.

  3. Andy Livingstone

    The Chinese Connection

    China is part of the ITU. Do the relevant rules to which they are signatories permit this unilateral decision to be activated? Anyone in Cable Interconnect up to speed?

    1. Bryce Prewitt
      Thumb Down

      What happened to Don Revie when he broke the rules?

      Nothing. Not a damned thing. Because at the time it was better for English football that he exist and command Leeds than it was for him not to.

      Do you really think China gives a damn what the ITU does? They've ripped off every Western country that's done business with them. They've ripped off Japanese and German train design. They're ripped off architectural design. Spain, France, the UK, the US, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Russia, the Middle East, the list goes on. They literally have no scruples about biting the hand that feeds because they know there's not a damned thing anyone can do about it because in the end the companies are making too much short-term money off of China to worry about the long-term damage they are causing to their own businesses.

      What makes you think a toothless limp-dicked organized full of aging blowhards that can't even agree on the shade of fucking blue all official ITU letterhead must be are going to be effective enough in stopping the monster industrial power of the world? Here's what happens:

      ITU: You broke our rules. Please unban Skype.

      China: Fuck you.

      ITU: We asked nic---

      China: Fuck you!

      ITU: Don't make me complain to the US!

      China: All foreign made telecoms equipment is banned from China. Foxconn is prohibited from doing business with any company which operates in the US or Europe. Furthermore, Foxconn is free to manufacture using designs from every company it holds as a client. We introduce to you the ChiPad, at the low-low price of $299.

      HP, Apple, Cisco, Dell, Nokia and Microsoft: HOLY FUCKING SHIT. WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO TO US, ITU?

      ITU: Uhmmm now let's not get too hasty... I think a Skype ban is perfectly acceptable in China!

      China: Fuck you!

      Barring the above, what else could the ITU do, conference China to death?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Beg to differ

        China has not "ripped off" Japanese & German train design. Those were valid and legal technology transfers. "Rip off" implies illegality, whereas China based their own home-grown designs on technology that was transferred as part of doing business in China. They've made some good improvements to the Shinkansen and ICE derivatives they're running.

        At least China is very transparent about that ("want to do business here? Transfer some of your technology, or it's dead in the water"). Ask Transrapid about that one - They refused to transfer the technologies behind maglev, so did the Japanese, and guess what, the PVG-Shanghai maglev line won't be extended.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    millions of Chinese users marooned with system-crashing version of Skype?

    This is the sort of Chinese policy switch that can close down small businesses that depend on international comms.

    And what if all the Chinese Skype users happen to have one buggy install of Skype (see recent 'bad version' debacle that brought Skype down) that the usual auto-update would solve... but the update site is blocked!

  5. JaitcH

    The Chinese Government is likely lying - censorship not cash

    The Chinese government is more likely concerned that they, along with the Germans and the FBI, can't monitor what is going on.

    Anyone familiar with DNS and port customisation should have little difficulty in circumventing the Chinese - or aircraft WiFi - attempts at throttling the InterNet and Skype.

  6. Ross Chandler

    More like protect ease of phone tapping

    Tapping the traditional PSTN is far easier than tapping Skype.

    Revenue protection is real but is such blatant protectionism legal even in China?

  7. Dazed and Confused

    I just wonder

    Whether China would complain if the US banned Chinese phone imports to protect local suppliers?

    I suspect the US public and business would.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not that it would make any difference.

    Maybe the world should stop buying phones made in China. All my phones are made in Finland.

    1. BozNZ


      My Motorola is made in UK. My eyes almost dropped out of my head when I put the battery in for the first time and saw the sticker!

      -- Disclaimer I bought the phone in 2008, probably made in China now

  9. Sergie Kaponitovicz

    Who Cares?

    Honestly - who should care about Skype?

    This is what China does. Live with it - and move on.

    There were once 2 truths - you pay taxes and you die.

    There are now 3 truths - but in 2 versions:

    Version A: you pay even more taxes, the Chinese will be dominant, and you die, or

    Version B: you pay even more taxes, Sharia law will be dominant, and you die.

    Happy New Year.

  10. Wibble
    Big Brother

    P2P is harder to monitor

    Phones OTOH are very easy to monitor.

    Wasn't it last year that GCHQ offered a 'reward' to any company that could demonstrate cracking P2P comms?

  11. Nigel R Silver badge

    it has started already

    Skype program usage is already being blocked in China for users who had been happily using the service, some had even bought Skype Out credits that they now cannot use. The block is coming in region by region and isp by isp. Some boards are pointing people to different (Chinese based) chat/voip software.

    In the meantime, what will happen if there are a million users in China stuck with a bad Skype version that are now blocked from doing an update? (see "50% of the userbase on a flawed version caused a cascade failure" in recent El Reg).

    Also on the boards in China are humorous comments like "will China now ban email to protect the Chinese Post Office" and "will electricity be banned to protect the Chinese candle industry".

    This move will knock back a lot of small businesses that depend on cheap international comms - for example, a whole industry of teaching Chinese to foreigners in the West via Video-conferencing had grown up, this will go up in puff of smoke.

    1. Test Man

      Not a problem

      Those bugged-version users wouldn't be able to use it anyway so it wouldn't matter if they still have it, the fact that they couldn't get onto the service means there won't be a repeat.

    2. Shocked Jock

      @Nigel R

      No problem: the Chinese learning industry can base itself in Taiwan. Mine's a pint of beer, to toast democracy. :-)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Thats a bugger

    I manage a team of programmers in China from the UK. We use Skype exclusively for meetings and conference calls.

    1. leexgx


      stupid users who even rated you down with out even commenting

      again just use VPN link or tunnel to your China to your UK office server to bypass the filtering of Skype or any thing else, if your doing programming you should know how to bypass this

      you only need 1 pc at the location to keep China gov happy to run the monitoring software on that system (you most likely need to isolate that system guessing China gov is paranoid and most likely scans for other pcs on the network so wifi pc in isolation mode seems the simplest way)

    2. Anonymous Coward

      I have scant sympathy...

      ...for anyone wanting to do their offshoreing on the cheap. Isn't the cheap labour enough?

    3. Mark 65

      Guess you best outsource to India then

      See title.

    4. BoldMan

      Your chance to dump them

      as it is now becoming less economical for your company to employ cheap foreign labour

    5. James Loughner


      I guess you will just have to hire some UK programmers.

  13. Nathan 13


    Why the fuck does the world have anything to do with this evil country.

    1. LaeMing


      Because the world is run by evil corporations.

      Fun exercise: do a line-by-line comparison between the way a public company is structured and the way the Chinese Govt. is. It is an eye-opener for sure.

  14. Heff

    a title is required, and must contain Sara Bee BIEs

    cant help but wonder when China will start to use its ownership of western debt to get international law moving. How long before china says "sure, you owe us 5 billion dollars, but we'll call it good if you write a law that forbids your domestic US citizens from selling X Y or Z to chinese citizens".

    If I were an evil totalitarian dick, that'd be my next long-term move.

    my coats the one with the IOUs in it

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Legality in China

    For those wondering about whether this is legal in China or under China's treaty obligations, you are just naive. A huge China's policies are in direct violation of the Chinese Constitution, much less Chinese Law. It simply is not a country where Rule of Law exists.

    For example, under the Chinese Constitution, Article 35 says "Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration."

    1. Uplink
      Black Helicopters

      English version

      Did you read the Chinese version of their constitution? Maybe the English version is just a propaganda tool, and the Chinese version says "you will obey" in lots of characters.

  16. Chris 69
    Thumb Up

    Serves you right AC

    You (ok maybe your owners) shaft a bunch of UK programmers and maybe pocket their redundancy money while paying peanuts for off-shore programmers....

    I'm so choked for you.

    Looks to me like the Chinese Government has done UK developers a big favour... India next ?

  17. Joe User

    Remove the double-speak and . . .

    "China has banned Skype and other Western VoIP providers in a move designed to stop the services from eroding the profits of traditional telecoms operators in the country, China Telecom and China Unicom."

    Translation: China Telecom and China Unicom have bribed government officials to ban Skype in a thinly veiled bid to protect their monopolies.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    and Oman

    Skype has been banned in Oman for ages

  19. Ironfrost
    Black Helicopters

    Money, not censorship

    To everyone who is saying that the protectionism is just a cover story: China can already evesdrop on Skype traffic, and services they can't listen in on were illegal even before this announcement.

    As the article says, the Skype service in China is operated by TOM Online, a Chinese company that already cooperates with the govenment on censorship, interception etc. Here's a quotation from Skype themselves about it (written in a blog post after TOM screwed up and put a load of intercepted IM conversations on a public web server, but it also admits that they're listening in on Skype calls):

    "It is common knowledge that censorship does exist in China and that the Chinese government has been monitoring communications in and out of the country for many years. This, in fact, is true for all forms of communication such as emails, fixed and mobile phone calls, and instant messaging between people within China and between China and other countries. TOM, like every other communications service provider operating in China, has an obligation to be compliant if they are to be able to operate in China at all."


    All the other popular VoIP services in China are also operated by local companies who are under the same rules, and services that the government doesn't have access to are already illegal - no need to ban them again. This is totally about protectionism.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    idiots europeans

    For investing in china and same for americans. You should have known better. If china doesn't like something it bans it. So no google to gelp the local search engine, no facebook to help the local social networking site. Now now skype to help the local telecoms. Lets see when they will nationalise all the european and american companies. Won't be surpirsed when it happens, by then they would have stolen all their designs and patents.

  21. Kurt 4

    Ban china's trash

    Every time china bans something from the west, the west should ban something from china.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      However attractive...

      'Tit for Tat' is not an adult solution to an adult problem, is it?

      If China doesn't want to allow 'western' tools then it is entitled - possibly - to prevent there use. It may be that they want a home grown solution/alternative to Skype and through a truly sneaky move are saying to their software developers "we'll inhibit foreign products until you come up with a product for the Chinese market. So much the better if it is also exportable to other countries...". I believe that is called 'protectionism' and is something the West frowns upon in other countries. It was a major part of what did for Concord.

      Of late Britain has lost most of it's manufacturing base, unlike France, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia and Switzerland, because we blindly permitted "cost to be driven out of the supply chain'. We actually don't need "Johnny Foreigner" to mess up our economy when we have our own over enthusiastic regulators and City of London Bankers to do that for us.

    2. steogede

      @Kurt 4

      >> Every time china bans something from the west, the west should ban something from china.

      I nominate... the iPhone.

  22. ryongsong

    Skype hasn't been banned

    "China has banned Skype" - not true.

    "and other Western VoIP providers" - not true.

    "The decision was made by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology" - as the first two are not true, this cannot be true.

    The Ministry says it will crack down on *illegal* VoIP *phone* services. How do you know that this doesn't refer to (the many) Chinese phone-to-phone VoIP providers who are doing a lot of domestic long distance business?

  23. rvt

    eavesdropping capable already

    I believe that the Chinese already uses a special version, eavesdropping capable version of Skype, correct me if I am wrong... so this is just about the money.

  24. Antipodean

    China and phones

    Not sure if anyone who has commented so far has actually been further into China than Shenzhen, but it is not uncommon for users to have up to five mobes, all currently active. The reason for restriction of non-Chinese VOIP services relates, perhaps, more to regulation and management of the population in the inimitable manner of that government.

  25. Logos

    yeah sure...

    of course it has nothing to do with telecom margins, or not much... and I doubt the authorities there are VOIP encryption fans :) ... and on a side note, Skype doesn't belong to Ebay anymore guys... "In November 2010, eBay completed the sale of 70% of Skype to a consortium comprising Silver Lake Partners, CPPIB, Andreessen Horowitz, and the original founders" (wiki)

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