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NordVPN’s Android app gets around China’s VPN ban

Despite its reputation for internet censorship, China has historically turned a blind eye to the tens of millions of people who bypass its internet-filtering Great Firewall. But a recent government crackdown on abusers has made workarounds difficult to find.

Enter NordVPN, a virtual private network (VPN) provider that’s launching a new version of its unblocking software. The client, designed for phones running Google’s Android operating system, encrypts all traffic between websites and a user’s device and prevents the Chinese government’s software from monitoring activity.

NordVPN taps a network of more than 1,000 servers worldwide to route traffic around China’s Great Firewall. Users can hide their IP address — the unique string of numbers that identifies their device’s location — and use a quick selection tool to switch between servers based on their available load, connection speed, and geographic distance.

Of the more than 650 million people in China who use smartphones, almost 80 percent of them have an Android smartphone, according to NordVPN. Without the means to circumvent censorship software, they can’t use Facebook, Twitter, Google, and more than 135 out of 1,000 of the world’s top websites.

“NordVPN believes that online privacy protection, as well as access to the world wide web, should be available to everyone with a computer or smart mobile device,” Marty Kamden, CMO of NordVPN, said in a statement.

NordVPN’s launch comes as the Cyberspace Administration of China, the government body that regulates the country’s communications infrastructure, imposes new restrictions on internet users. In late August, it ruled that users would no longer be able to post discussion forum and social network comments anonymously, and in July blocked users from live-streaming video.

It’s part of President Xi Jinping’s “cyber sovereignty” campaign, a 14-month effort to clamp down on loopholes in the country’s internet restrictions.

“NordVPN stands for borderless and free Internet, and hopes to help Chinese users take advantage of the unrestricted global web with our updated Android app,” Kamden said.

The new NordVPN app is available in Google Play Store for Android. For users who aren’t able to access the Play Store, which is blocked in China, it’s hosted on NordVPN’s website. If you’re interested in more VPNs, check out our guide to the best VPN apps for Android and iOS.

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