China is one of the most restrictive countries in the world in regards to what people can and cannot see online. The government put up the Great Firewall to block access to any apps and websites it doesn’t want the members of the public to see. There are thousands of blocked sites in China and here we are going to look into how to beat the censorship.
This is one of the most restrictive countries in the world in regards to what people can and cannot see online. The government put up the Great Firewall to block access to any apps and websites it doesn’t want the members of the public to see. There are thousands of blocked sites in China and here we are going to look into how to unblock them using a VPN.
When considering a Virtual Private Network for overcoming censorship it is important to bear in mind that not all VPN providers are working in China but you can find the ones that work here. Three providers that work in the country are ExpressVPN, NordVPN and Surfshark.
Why and how are websites and apps blocked?
The Chinese government puts any website or app on its restriction list if they think it might lead to the corruption of youth or have information that goes against the beliefs of the country.
Websites and apps are restricted based on the IP address you use when you connect to the internet. Your ISP sees where you are located as all countries have a specific range of addresses. This means it knows where you are located and if the site is on the block list, you cannot access it.
There is a way to overcome censorship and this is to use a VPN, aka Virtual Private Network.
When considering using such service to unblock sites in China it is important to remember that while it is not illegal to use a VPN, the government puts blocks on providers. Therefore, you should sign up for a plan with a VPN when you’re still outside of the country.
Once behind the Great Firewall you will more than likely not be able to visit the website of the provider to subscribe and download apps.
How to use a VPN to overcome censorship?
We are going to talk about the blocked sites in China below. Overcoming censorship to access them is the same in all instances. You can follow the steps below.
1. Choose a provider and a plan
Before you can visit restricted sites in the country, you first have to choose a provider.
We highly recommend ExpressVPN as it is among the few that do still work in countries with high censorship.
If you choose the yearly plan, you can get three months free and save 49%.
Alternatives include a six-month plan and a pay monthly.
2. Go to the download area and choose apps
Once you have signed up for a plan you then have to download an app for the device you use to connect to the internet, such as your Windows computer, Mac, Android or iOS device.
Install the app, then go ahead and sign in using the credentials made at the time of sign up.
3. Choose a server
Launch the app and using the dashboard choose a server. Don’t forget to connect to it right after.
Once you are connected, your own IP address is masked and you have one from the server you connected to. You are also behind an encrypted tunnel so your ISP (and the Chinese government) does not know which website you want to visit so it cannot be restricted.
So, let us look at some of the many blocked sites in China and how to beat the restrictions in order to unblock them quickly.
How to use WhatsApp in China?
WhatsApp is one of the most popular messenger clients for Android and iOS and millions of people around the world rely on it.
The app is used by individuals wanting to keep in touch with family and friends along with being useful as a way for colleagues to keep in touch when outside of the workplace.
However, WhatsApp is completely blocked and censored in China. This means you cannot use it.
Still, there is a way to get around the restrictions and this is by using a Virtual Private Network. The secret to still use WhatsApp is to:
- Sign up with a VPN provider like ExpressVPN.
- Take out a plan.
- Download the app to the device you use.
- Connect to a server offered by the provider (in a country where WhatsApp is usable).
Once connected, your own IP address is masked and you take one from the country of the server to which you connected. For example, you can connect to Singapore, Hong Kong…
You are also put behind an encrypted tunnel. This means any data you send over the internet is encrypted so it cannot be read. This includes the website address you want to visit. If the ISP cannot read it, it cannot be blocked.
How to access Google in China?
Google is the biggest search engine in the world. Each day millions of search requests are sent over the internet.
The search engine is available in numerous countries with the search results tailored to bring local results. Whether you want to find local takeaways, coffee shops, shopping malls or find out answers to questions, Google is the place to do it. That is unless you are located behind the Great Firewall of China, as it is banned.
The search engine is not the only product of Google that is censored completely. Google Mail, Calendar, Maps and more are also on the block list.
Of course, if you take out a plan with a provider such as ExpressVPN, you can connect to a server and remain behind an encrypted tunnel.
This way, the government and your ISP will not know what website you want to visit so it cannot block it. If you want to visit the UK or USA version of Google search, you can choose a server in the relevant country to make it look as though that is where you are located.
How to unblock Gmail in China?
Gmail is an email app and service from Google that is widely used around the world due to the fact users can access their email on smartphones and tablets via apps or on the internet through the web interface.
As it comes from Google, it is among the many blocked sites in China, even for those only visiting the country.
This is a shame as the app and website of Gmail is intuitive, with the app providing notifications that can be customised. This means you can choose to have the app notify you of all email received or just the most important ones to ensure you do not miss anything.
Gmail will also automatically put emails into different folders. These include Primary, Social, Promotions and Updates.
If you want to overcome the ban and gain access to all that Gmail has to offer, you can use a VPN such as ExpressVPN, NordVPN or Surfshark to beat the censorship of Chinese government.
How to unblock and watch Netflix in China?
Netflix is one of the most popular and widely used streaming services around the world, apart from if you happen to be located in this highly censored country.
If you visit the country or relocate, you can use a Virtual Private Network to beat the censorship and stream Netflix from any country.
Only US Netflix offers the entire catalogue of content and you can stream it outside of the United States using a Virtual Private Network. Of course, this isn’t the only version you can stream. You can get access to any countries Netflix simply by choosing the server from a specific country (UK, Canada…).
Not all providers can unblock Netflix though (just like US TV in China); therefore, you might want to choose a provider such as ExpressVPN. It is among the few that still work in high censorship countries.
Simply sign up, choose a plan, download an app and choose a server located in the United States if you want to stream the US version. If you want to stream from Netflix from any other country just choose a server from that country and connect.
How to unblock Facebook?
With millions of users around the world, Facebook is an excellent tool for keeping in touch with friends and family.
The app and website of Facebook can be used to keep friends and family up to date with what you are doing, and it has a chat feature (Messenger). It incorporates the sending of photos, files and more.
The website is also used by businesses as a way to keep customers updated with the latest products, prices and special offers.
Facebook is available online via the website or through an app for Android and iOS, unless you are behind the Great Firewall where the chat and messaging app is banned.
To be able to unblock and use Facebook properly in China, you can connect to a VPN server. This allows you to mask your own IP address and use the encrypted tunnel to mask your online activity so the government does not know which site you want to visit, so cannot block it.
How to unblock and watch YouTube in China?
YouTube is home to many millions of videos. You can find just about anything from tutorials to comprehensive how-to videos. You can watch funny clips; learn how to do anything from needlework to repairing your own vehicle and so much more.
There are podcasts regularly uploaded that can be followed. Relaxation videos to watch if you want to chill out, mediate or practice yoga and much more.
YouTube is available on the computer or as an app for Android or iOS so you can watch anywhere. Again, if you are located behind the Great Firewall of China it is not possible to view videos on YouTube as the government block it.
If you want to access it and beat the strict Chinese censorship, you can use a VPN. Simply connect to any worldwide server where it is not banned, such as the UK or USA. Or Singapore and Hong Kong for better speeds (as the servers are way closer from your location).
All you have to do is choose a server and make a connection. After that, you will be able to unblock and watch all the videos you want on YouTube, even if you’re in China.
How to unblock Twitter in China?
Twitter is a popular app and website for keeping people updated about what you are up to in life. It is also a good way for businesses and the media to keep customers updated on the latest news.
Many millions of people send out Tweets every day, as it is a fast and convenient way to relay messages.
Behind the firewall of the Chinese government though, people do not have this luxury. The government blocks access to the app and website of Twitter, instead wanting people to use their own version of the social network.
However, it is possible to overcome the censorship and unblock Twitter in China by signing up with a VPN provider. You encrypt your data while at the same time masking your own IP address and taking one on from another country where restrictions do not apply.
As always, just pick a server located in a country where Twitter is not censored.
How to unblock Instagram in China?
Instagram is an extremely popular video and photo-sharing app owned by Facebook. It is available online through the web interface along with apps being available for Android and iOS.
Users can take and share photos and videos instantly along with editing them using a wide range of filters. Photos and videos can also be tagged and users can add locations so others can find them. Photos and videos can also be “liked” and users can follow each other and add each other to feeds to easily view newly posted videos and photos.
Along with sharing photos and videos, users can add messages. More recently, users can share photos and videos in a feed called “Stories”. This feature attracts more than 500 million users each day.
Of course, as with many chat and messaging apps, Instagram is among the ones blocked in China.
If you want to access and use Instagram in China, just once again get a great VPN.
How to unblock Snapchat?
Snapchat has risen in popularity among multimedia messaging apps. Today has more than 200 million active users each day around the world.
One thing that first attracted users was the fact that any messages and pictures sent was only available for a short time for viewing before expiring. This evolved to allowing users to keep photos in a space that is protected by a password and only available to them.
Another feature is “Stories”, with 24 hours of content showing in chronological order that users have uploaded. Snapchat is also used by companies for advertising, thanks to a “Discover” feature that allows brands to show content.
With it being a messaging app, Snapchat made its way onto the banned list of Chinese government.
The app is a great way to show off your holiday snaps or just keep friends updated. However, the only way you can use Snapchat in China is to bypass the restrictions using a Virtual Private Network.
If you need full instructions on how to do this you can follow the steps above in the “How to use a VPN to overcome censorship?” section of our article.
How to unblock and access Wikipedia in China?
Wikipedia is another blocked site in China. The website is the equivalent of an online encyclopedia. You can find a great deal of information on just about anything from companies to people and much more.
Of course, with Wikipedia providing such a vast amount of information on just about every subject you could imagine, the government blocks people from within China from accessing it.
The VPN is the best tool to unblock a censored site or application that is behind the Great Chinese Firewall, including Wikipedia.
Again, just sign up with a provider such as ExpressVPN. Download an app, login to the app and you are behind an encrypted tunnel so can avoid censorship.
Access more censored websites with a VPN
You can use a VPN to overcome censorship and gain access to any of the thousands of blocked sites in China (whether it’s Google, Gmail, Instagram, WhatsApp, Wikipedia etc).
Along with all of the sites and apps we have mentioned above, you can also unblock and access sites such as:
- The Guardian;
- New York Times;
- Many more.
Top VPN providers for overcoming censorship
As mentioned before, not all Virtual Private Networks have what it takes to be able to overcome censorship and restrictions in China.
We recommend three providers for unblocking blocked websites and these are ExpressVPN, NordVPN and Surfshark.
Out of these, our number one choice would be ExpressVPN. The provider has military-grade AES 256-bit encryption alongside with OpenVPN protocol and a choice of more.
ExpressVPN offers a Kill Switch, which is essential to stop information from travelling outside of the encrypted tunnel in the event the serve connection stops. This ensures that your ISP and the government cannot find out your true location.
The provider offers thousands of servers around the world. All of which manage to bypass the Great Chinese Firewall with ease.
NordVPN offers a feature called Double VPN, which is great for security and anonymity online. You first connect to one server which encrypts your information and then another for double the security.
The provider has thousands of servers and it still manages to beat the blocked sites and apps (Gmail, Google, Instagram, but also WhatsApp) in China and other high censorship countries.
If you go for a 3-year plan, you will get a huge discount. For more infos, check out the link below.
Surfshark also works well in high censorship countries and is able to overcome censorship and geo-restrictions easily.
The provider offers servers in numerous countries around the world (+60), along with military-grade encryption. So, you can access any of the blocked sites in China, while remaining anonymous and safe.
You can use a Virtual Private Network to unblock any website or app that is censored or geo-restricted in China. Whether it’s YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram… We highly recommend ExpressVPN, NordVPN or Surfshark.
Now, all you have to do is choose a provider, sign up for a plan, download apps to your device and connect to a server. You then remain behind an encrypted tunnel and mask your own IP address so can avoid censorship.