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How to Access Twitter in China (Updated June 2021)

Last Updated by John Bennet on June 19, 2021

For a whole generation of Chinese citizens, Twitter is just a myth, a figment of their imaginations like an imaginary best friend. Maybe they’ve heard about it from a friend traveling abroad, maybe even seen in it a movie that sneaks past China’s rigorous censorship standards.

If you’re visiting China for work or recreation, or are simply a resident of the company wanting to use Twitter for your own purposes, know that it’s not impossible.

With smart use of the Internet and by employing a specific type of application known as a Virtual Private Network (VPN), you can safely access your Twitter account in China.

Twitter’s Censorship History

Twitter
Created in 2006, Twitter allows its users to communicate with messages called tweets. Originally these were restricted to 140 characters, although that figure was doubled in 2017. By 2016, the social media network had 319 million active users. Since 2009, Twitter has been used to stage protests, movements, and entire revolutions and conflicts around the world, including places like Austria, the US, Israel, Greece, Brazil, and Egypt.

Iran was the first country to ban Twitter outright, doing so for fear of organized protests following the results of hat country’s presidential election. Other than for a brief period in 2013, Iran has banned Twitter continuously.

China became the second country to block Twitter usage inside its borders in 2010. A similar platform, Sina Weibo, is available, but of course, all messages posted on it are subject to Chinese censorship rules, and no one outside of China can post there, giving a very limited view of world happenings.

In 2016, North Korea became the the third country to block use of Twitter outright,citing is concern about the spread of online information and declaring anyone trying to access it would be subject to punishment.

China’s Internet Censorship

China
Twitter is one of hundreds of websites blocked by the Chinese government. Some of this is done to give Chinese businesses an economic advantage over foreign competition. Most of it however is due the country’s censorship protocol to determine how its residents view both local and international events and affairs.

The government has total control over Internet access in mainland China as well as Hong Kong. This means it can sever any connection or block any website as well. The Chinese government has also been suspected of using this power to attack other websites and temporarily close them. In addition to Twitter, such popular Western websites as Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia are all blocked in China.

How a VPN Works in China

A VPN encrypts your internet traffic and reroutes it through its own global server network. This also keeps your personal data safe at all times from any spying third parties.

Ideally, look for a server located close to China to reduce the latency time – the physical distance a signal has to travel from your computer to the server you’re using to access the Internet. Once you’ve picked a server, you can connect and begin keying in websites you want to visit.

If you are visiting China for any reason make sure to download a VPN before entering the country. If you have the VPN app already on your phone or computer, you can open it and find a server located outside China’s jurisdiction to connect to.

Most VPN websites are blocked in China, although some newer ones slip through the cracks based on how they are named. Thus, your best option is to download a reliable VPN app while you’re outside of China’s borders.

While you should exercise caution if you decide to use a VPN within China’s borders, you likely won’t be prosecuted for doing so. The common practice is that China fights VPNs by technologically blocking the services, and not by chasing after the people who use them.

Top VPN services for use in China

1ExpressVPN

One of the top VPN services for use in China is ExpressVPN, which has an enormous number of servers to choose from as well as Double VPN tunneling and AES 256-bit encryptions.

Get it Now

2IPVanish

IPVanish also has a huge range of servers, more than 1,000, and boasts unlimited bandwidth.

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3Astrill VPN

AstrillVPN is a great starter VPN that has low prices for beginners as well as a kill switch that will sever your Internet connection instantly if the VPN drops, keeping you safe from a punitive-minded Chinese government.

Get it Now

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John Bennet
Written By John Bennet
John Bennet 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.