Did you know that China is a country with some of the strictest internet policies? As a matter of fact, it’s at the bottom of the list when it comes to internet freedom, while being the leader in online censorship.
Websites and apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or Skype cannot be accessed within the country. Not only this, but the government also banned the most used search engine – Google. Yes, Google and all of its domains have been unavailable in China ever since 2010 when the tech giant suspected the Chinese government of attacking their Gmail service.
So what if you are a tourist that wants to visit the People’s Republic of China and still stream television? What if you need to access your Gmail for emails from your family, or even worse, your boss?
Considering how effective the government restrictions are, you won’t be able to do this without the assistance of internet privacy tools like virtual private networks (VPNs).
Before we get to that, keep in mind you need to know the background of the problem to understand just how careful you need to be when accessing prohibited content in the country.
History Of Chinese Censorship
The current situation with internet censorship in the country puts China in the same basket with nations such as North Korea and Iran. The People’s Republic of China is known to have the most extensive internet restrictions due to over 60 legal and administrative regulations imposed by the government over the years.
The worst thing is that not only are citizens stopped from accessing certain websites and apps, but they are also monitored by their ISPs as a way for the government to have total control over what goes in and out of the country.
It all goes back to 1998 when fear that the Democracy Party of China would create a powerful, hard to control network took over the ruling Communist Party of China. This led to many arrests dismantling the Democracy Party of China and eventually to the creation of the Golden Shield Project, something that many of us know under a different name nowadays – The Great Firewall of China.
The entire Golden Shield Project, however, runs much deeper than the infamous Great Firewall. It’s also a database through which the government can easily access digital records of any Chinese citizen and control what can be said on the internet. For example, the Chinese government can delete any comment that is in conflict with their communist policies. According to Chinese state media, more than 2 million people are a part of the “internet police” making this level of censorship possible.
If you are visiting China or residing there, it’s important to know which (usually western) apps and websites are out of your reach and the best ways to overcome this issue.
Among the most notable blocks are:
- Facebook – blocked since 2009;
- Google – blocked since 2010;
- Twitter – blocked since 2009;
- Vimeo – blocked since 2009;
- Bloomberg, The Independent, and The New York Times – blocked since 2012;
- Instagram – blocked since 2014;
- Dropbox – blocked since 2014;
- Tumblr – blocked since 2016.
With this in mind, do you know your options?
How To Unblock The Internet In China
As long as there are ways to block content and impose censorship, there will be ways to access the internet freely and without any restrictions, like the VPN.
A good VPN will mask your real IP address, which is the main identifier that gives you away on the internet. IP addresses are usually determined based on your physical location by your ISP. A VPN not only changes your location, but it also encrypts your traffic to make sure that no one can peek into your internet activity.
Best VPNs For China That Work In 2019
Unfortunately, the Chinese Firewall does not only filter western social media platforms and websites. Many VPNs cannot be used within the country’s borders. Many of those that have not been blocked are not to be trusted as they likely follow the government’s invasive policies.
There are barely a handful of providers left that still work in China and are not giving up on the idea for our right to privacy and free uncensored access to the internet.
With the providers that do work in China, it’s best to download them before your trip to the country. It's also safer and easier. Additionally, consider having more than one VPN provider, just in case one doesn’t work. Unfortunately, this is always a possibility in China.
The best champions in the war over internet freedom with the Chinese government are:
As the leader on the VPN market, it doesn’t come as a surprise that ExpressVPN is on this list.
ExpressVPN has superior performance with speedy servers, and offers excellent protection to its users. Obviously, that makes them the main choice of millions of people around the world, including people living or traveling to China.
VyprVPN has found a place on this and many other VPN lists because it’s by far one of the most advanced and trustworthy providers on the market.
For starters, VyprVPN maintains its own servers protected by proprietary technology – the Chameleon protocol. This protocol is an excellent weapon in the fight against The Great Firewall of China.
NordVPN’s best feature when it comes to fighting advanced Chinese censorship is its obfuscated servers. These servers have a higher chance of bypassing firewall restrictions and are a recommended option when you are in a country with restricted internet access such as China.
If you need further guidance on this topic or know a VPN service provider that works in China, make sure that you share your experience in the comments below.