The internet situation in China 2017
The internet is highly censored in China through the use of the so-called “Great Firewall” web filter. Most Chinese netizens are unaffected by this internet censorship as the vast majority of blocked websites are non-Chinese in content and language. However, foreigners, expats, and travellers residing within China are often left stranded behind the firewall, unable to access most commonly used apps and websites such as Google and Facebook.
Update October 2017: Recently there has been a noticeable upsurge in censorship in China. Whatsapp, the popular encrypted messaging app, was recently blocked in China. Furthermore, bans on VPN apps and the move by Apple to remove all VPN apps from its China App Store has seen the internet censorship situation in China deteriorating even further.
Here is a list of the most popular websites and apps that are blocked in China:
- Google Plus
Bing and Yahoo are accessible in China but some search results are censored.
- Facebook Messenger
- KaKao Talk
Cloud Storage & Productivity
- Google Drive
- Google Docs
News & Information
- New York Times
- The Economist
- Wall Street Journal
- Wikipedia (English)
In addition to the above websites most pornography and Bittorent filesharing websites are also blocked in China.
How to Access Blocked Websites in China
The best way to access blocked websites in China is by using a VPN (virtual private network) app. A VPN app uses a secure tunnel to route your web traffic through an unblocked VPN server to your blocked destination (Facebook, Google, etc). VPN apps are available for iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Linux, routers, and most major platforms.
Unfortunately, many VPN apps are also blocked in China. The OpenVPN protocol that most basic VPNs use can be detected by the Great Firewall and connections can be throttled, reset, or blocked.
Here’s a list of VPNs that are not blocked in China: