Over the last 10 years or so, the use of virtual private networks has grown exponentially. And one country that has contributed the most to this growth in Mainland China because they don’t believe in giving their citizens freedom.
Visiting China Soon? Install a VPN First!
China has turned into an oppressive country which is why so many people have a problem with them.
The Great Firewall
By implementing ridiculous censorship and content blocks, also called the Great Firewall of China, the country has become famous for their contribution to the VPN industry. Before 2008, the use of a VPN was not so much heard of.
But ever since then, both visitors to Mainland China and their own citizens who want to access the Internet have heavily relied on VPN services to freely access the services that they want. Even the immoral Chinese government wouldn’t have imagined how helpful the Great Firewall would be to the VPN industry.
China is a Major Tourist Attraction
Despite the various kinds of draconian rules in the country, China remains an incredibly popular tourist hotspot despite Japan and South Korea being so much better in so many ways. People are aware that all their favorite sites and applications will become inaccessible the moment they land in China, but it does not prevent people from other countries to travel to the land of the red dragon.
It is not surprising because China is rich in natural beauty and culture and heritage. Besides, it also boasts of delectable cuisines that people from other countries greatly enjoy – with that said – so many other people would still rather visit Japan and South Korea. Internet censorship is not enough to prevent most people from traveling to China.
However what you must do before your travel is having a VPN installed on your computer or mobile device. This will make sure you are able to access at least a few of your essential services while in China.
Does a VPN work in Mainland China?
There is no definite answer to this because it depends completely upon the provider that you choose. However, a simple answer is that China bans all VPN services that are not registered with the government.
In 2018 alone, China has not only banned several VPN operators in the country but has also made it illegal to use and promote VPN services. Therefore, if you are choosing a VPN with the intention to use it in China, you have to do careful research in advance.
That said, there are VPNs that can still function in the country, but they have to be registered. Although China doesn’t make the meaning of this clear, it is assumed that the VPN provider should hand over all customer data and activity logs to the Chinese government if they want to function in the country.
But this makes the use of a VPN meaningless because people use it for security and privacy. The majority of VPN providers have found it impossible to operate in China under such ridiculous rules.
Are There Penalties for VPN Use?
China makes it illegal to run a VPN without the permission of the government. But there is no such restriction on the user. As long as you are able to connect to a VPN, there is no reason why you should not use it. But the problem is it’s hard to find a VPN in China that actually offers protection and privacy.
No one would want to use a VPN service that is registered with the government and allows all kinds of customer data and activity log to be recorded in the government database.
Major VPN providers have found out various workarounds for these problems but none of them work for too long because China is always keeping track of VPN services and blocking them.
What Sites are Blocked in China?
Once you land in China you might get the culture shock of your life to find that all your favorite and most used sites and applications are blocked there.
From the Google suite of services to all of Facebook’s services, to Twitter, Skype, and non-Chinese news media, you name it and China has blocked it. This means you cannot access Gmail for communication, YouTube for entertainment, or Uber for hiring a cab.
Those traveling to China for the first time get quite the shock when they realize they cannot access any of the applications that they are used to. Even an Android phone or tablet will not function smoothly because Google is banned in China.
Apple users have it easier because the company has worked out several agreements with the Chinese government that allow them to operate in the country, albeit in a restricted way.
Although the app store is available, Chinese users get to download a very limited number of applications compared to users anywhere else in the world. That is when a virtual private network comes to the rescue. The bad news is using a VPN isn’t that easy in China.
Which VPN to use in China?
There are thousands of VPN providers that claim to operate even in China. However, upon landing in China users realize that the majority of VPNs don’t work there. Therefore if you fall for VPN providers promise that they also work in China, you are probably wasting your money.
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There is currently no definite list of providers that operate in China. The Chinese government regularly blocks VPN servers; the server that works today may not work tomorrow. There are a number of VPN providers that aren’t allowed to operate within China but have servers in places like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Japan.
Do not expect to get a VPN installed in Mainland China; you must do so before setting foot into the country. Once you have a VPN installed, you can only hope it keeps working through the duration of your visit. Or don’t visit that country at all!