Every Blocked Website in China

Last Updated by Gray Williams on October 23, 2018

Despite attempting to close itself off in most regards from the Western world, China still attracts more than 59 million foreign visitors a year.

Those who enter the largest country in the world often get a rude awakening when they log online. There are more than 770 million Internet users in China, but has some of the most stringent censorship in the world, blocking websites that most people take for granted as part of their daily routines.

The Great Firewall of China

The Internet first arrived in China in 1996. That same year, the Chinese government began blocking foreign websites. A year later, Wired did a piece on the censorship and coined the term “the Great Firewall”. It is believed China has three main reasons for censoring foreign websites:

  • Control freedom of speech
  • Control sensitive content
  • Promote local economics

Popular Blocked Websites in China

If you are traveling to China, be aware of that is a huge list of websites currently being blocked by the Chinese government. This is by no means a complete list, but breaks down some of the more common types of sites that are currently being censored.

All things Google

The world’s most popular search engine, Google, is blocked in China. Also under lock and key are its popular subsidiaries including Google Maps, Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Translate and Google APIs.

Social Media

There’s hardly a bigger conduit of free speech than social media. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, Pinterest and more are all blocked.

Major Western news agencies

Websites like the New York Times, Bloomberg, the BBC, Wall Street Journal, Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, Reuters, etc., are all blocked to keep all news coverage centralized in China.

Regional Asian sites

Even on its own continent, China prefers no outside news, blocking Yahoo! Outlets from Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

File-sharing websites

GitHub, Scribd, Slack, Dropbox, The Pirate Bay, isoHunt, Flickr and more are shut down within China’s borders.

Social causes

Sites that promote free speech and social justice are an automatic no-no in China including Wikileaks, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders

The VPN Workaround in China

The only reliable workaround for China’s myriad of blocked websites is to employ a Virtual Private Network (VPN) with your Internet-ready device. However, if you plan on using a VPN to circumvent the Chinese government’s censorship, it is a very good idea to download the app for the VPN of your choice before entering China. Not surprisingly, VPN websites are among those that the Chinese government blocks to prevent citizens or tourists using a workaround to view censored websites. Known VPN websites that are inaccessible in China include:

  • StrongVPN
  • PureVPN
  • ElephantVPN
  • Lantern

Fortunately, there are plenty of other VPNs in the marketplace that have Chinese censorship workaround assuming you download them before heading into the country. Make sure you examine the credentials of any VPN you might consider using while in China.

1ExpressVPN

Leading the way for the best access in China is ExpressVPN. It is available across all major platforms including Windows, MacOS, Android, Linux and iOS. It has lots of server locations, including plenty near China to cut down on latency time. It claims 99.9% uptime and features live chat support 24 hours a day. You can run up to three connections at once with ExpressVPN and torrenting is allowed. Some of its servers have workarounds for Netflix in China, but you might have to hunt for it.

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Read more: How to Watch American Netflix

2NordVPN

NordVPN made a recent upgrade and now can offer service in China with up to six connections at once. NordVPN has servers in more than 60 countries and offers unblocking for the US version of Netflix as well as Hulu. Based in Panama, NordVPN does not keep logs, has a kill switch and offers live chat support. It has an impressive variety of options for how to use the service, including for: anti-DDoS, privacy or streaming television.

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3PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN has managed to stay off China’s radar for the time being. PrivateVPN’s strengths include lower latency and faster download speeds. It guarantees 100% reliability on accessing sites like Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia and Google while you’re in China. It guarantees that it never keeps logs and offers 1-, 3- and 12-month plans. There’s a kill-switch option, 52 countries, 80 servers and 4,000 IP addresses available.

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Conclusion

China has been practicing Internet censorship for two decades with no end in sight. If you are traveling to China and want to continue on with your normal Internet practices, invest in a quality VPN.

Gray Williams
Gray Williams is an experienced data and communications engineer and cross-platform copy and content writer and editor with a keen interest in cybersecurity. He has been working with and researching, VPNs and other online privacy tools for many years.