How to Get Around China’s Block on Twitter

Last Updated by Gray Williams on October 07, 2019

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 circumvent China’s on Twitter and tweet to your heart’s content. To find out how, just keep reading.

Twitter’s Censorship History

TwitterCreated 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

ChinaTwitter 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.

The VPN Workaround

Most VPN websites are blocked in China, although some newer ones slip through the cracks based on how they are named. Thus, the best way to get around China’s block of Twitter is to download a reliable VPN application while you are outside of China’s borders.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)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.

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.

When you use the VPN, the information you enter is encrypted and sent through a secure connection that cannot be accessed by third parties such as the Chinese government. The information passes to the remote server where it is decrypted. The remote server then gives your connection an IP address that corresponds with its own country and sends your requests on to the websites of your choice.

Since this is happening in a different country, China cannot see what you are doing online. The same process happens in reverse as you download information from the Internet. It first lands at the remote server, where it is encrypted then sent to your device for decryption.

Top VPN services for use in China

1NordVPN

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

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2IPVanish

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

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3Trust.Zone


TrustZone 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.

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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.