Internet censorship in China 2018

The internet is highly censored in China through the use of the so-called “Great Firewall” web filter. A large number of websites and apps are blocked in mainland China.  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.

Popular blocked websites in China:

Here is a list of websites that are blocked in China including social media, search engines, messaging apps, video streaming, email, cloud storage and productivity. As of 2018, over 20% of the top 100 most trafficked websites according to Alexa are blocked in China.

Social media websites and apps blocked in China

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Snapchat
  • Instagram
  • Youtube
  • Pinterest
  • Google+
  • Blogspot
  • Flickr
  • Periscope
  • Tinder
  • Reddit

Search Engines

  • Google
  • DuckDuckGo

Bing and Yahoo are accessible in China but some search results are censored.

Messaging apps blocked in China

  • Facebook Messenger
  • Whatsapp
  • Telegram
  • LINE
  • KaKao Talk
  • Signal

Streaming websites and apps

  • Youtube
  • Netflix
  • Vimeo
  • Dailymotion
  • Twitch
  • Periscope
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat

Email

  • Gmail

Cloud Storage & Productivity

  • Dropbox
  • Google Drive
  • Google Docs
  • Scribd
  • Slack

News & Information websites

  • New York Times
  • The Economist
  • Bloomberg
  • Wall Street Journal
  • Reuters
  • Wikipedia (English)
  • The Guardian
  • Le Monde
  • CNN
  • BBC

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 China VPNs that are not blocked in China.

Which websites get blocked the most in China and why?

Generally speaking, foreign social media, news media, and all pornographic websites are most likely to be blocked in China. Social media in China is highly self-regulated and censored. Micro-blogging platform, Weibo, has posts routinely removed either from internal censorship processes or otherwise.

Curiously, one of the largest social media and forums website, Reddit, managed to avoid being blocked in China for a long time. However, as of August 10th, 2018, Reddit is now blocked in China.

Foreign news media has become increasingly censored within China. The New York Times and some other prominent news outlets avoided censorship for some time, but inevitably found themselves blocked after publishing politically sensitive stories.

Search engines that do not comply with Chinese censorship regulations are also likely to be blocked.

 

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