UPDATE (March 12, 2019 at 11.15pm CST): ExpressVPN stated their VPN service in China “continues to see connection reliability improving” and that no new issues have surfaced impacting connectivity. Along with updating their software to the latest version, ExpressVPN also recommends connecting to specific server locations such as Hong Kong - 4, USA - Los Angeles - 5 and UK - Wembley.
Popular VPN service ExpressVPN is reportedly down or operating at a much slower connection speed than normal in places like Guangzhou and Beijing, among other Chinese cities. According to multiple ExpressVPN users, they started experiencing connectivity issues yesterday, March 2, and are still unable to connect as of press time.
ExpressVPN issued a notice on March 2 stating that they are aware of the connection issues in China and are currently looking into solutions to get the service back up and running at full capacity. In their statement, they recommend updating to the latest version of the app and using specific proxy locations that have a better chance of connecting.
While ExpressVPN has not disclosed the reason behind the connection issues, it is worth noting that China’s ‘Two Sessions’ (known in Chinese as Lianghui), started today. The term ‘Two Sessions’ refers to two major political conferences in China that take place within days of each other: the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the National People’s Congress (NPC). The former started today, March 3, while the latter will begin on March 5.
Companies that provide VPN services to China-based users have a history of experiencing connectivity issues when major political and business conferences are taking place. In late October, ExpressVPN sent out a similar notice regarding poor connectivity at around the same time as the China International Import Expo in Shanghai and the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen were taking place. In December, another popular VPN service, VyprVPN, experienced a near month-long hiatus after “new blocking techniques by the great firewall” were used to put a halt to the service.
Note: While we can't speak for people located in other areas of China, Astrill VPN appears to be functioning normally in Guangzhou.
READ MORE: Man Fined For Using VPN in Guangdong
[Cover image via Unsplash]