In China, the internet is controlled by the government. The Great Firewall regulates inbound and outbound Internet traffic between China and the rest of the world. Users are blocked from many popular websites and social networks, and some keywords are filtered from search engines.
You’ll need a reliable VPN for China to get unfettered internet access. It will help you access blocked content, communicate with loved ones in other countries, and protect your internet traffic from snoopers and government surveillance.
This term is used to describe the legal and technological censorship tools used by the Chinese government to restrict internet access in the country. Officially, it is called the Golden Shield project. Since the government owns all internet service providers (ISPs), it can monitor and control what information people in China access online.
The government uses several different tactics to restrict users’ access to certain websites and online platforms. The most straightforward one is IP blocking. All Chinese ISPs block the IP addresses of undesirable websites. In addition to this, they use various DNS tampering methods. These include DNS poisoning and intentionally misconfigured DNS servers so that they return false IP addresses to the users.
The government also uses keyword filtering to track other online content, like search engines, forums, and messaging apps. They scan internet traffic for undesirable keywords and block users and websites that don’t adhere to the rules. Part of it is automatic, but a large internet police force also constantly monitors the internet, banning controversial content.
The most popular webpages in the world, used by millions of users every day, are blocked by the government in China. These include sites like Wikipedia, and apps like Google Suite, and Instagram. As a result you may lose access to your favorite tools, your communications with friends and loved ones, and even certain global news sources. Using a trustworthy VPN in China is your best bet to avoid these blockages.
Here are some of the major sites and apps that are blocked in China.
China has blocked many VPNs, and many providers don’t work there. However, there are some that can go around the Great Firewall undetected – NordVPN is one of them.
But are VPN services legal in China? The short answer is “sort of.” Using a VPN connection in China has not been publicly declared illegal, but a lot of them are banned in the country, and the government threatens to ban all VPN services for good.
Officially, the Chinese government has banned the use of VPNs not approved by the government (VPNs must provide the government with backdoor access to be approved, which renders them unsecure). However, this law applies to companies and corporations rather than individuals. Chinese citizens found creating or selling unapproved VPNs have received fines and prison sentences anywhere from three days to more than five years, but these are applied inconsistently.
What about visitors who bring VPNs for China? Right now, it looks like you can use a VPN software while you’re visiting the country. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t run into any trouble if you have one. During random phone searches, the police may ask visitors to delete VPN apps on their phones. Some people entering the northwestern Xinjiang region have reported that authorities have installed surveillance apps on their phones.
TL;DR: Individuals can use VPNs for China, but they should exercise a basic level of caution.
If you are interested to find out more about VPN restrictions in various countries, check our article about the places where VPNs are illegal or legal.
VPN providers must use various technologies and encryption protocols to bypass the restrictions China has put into place. Free VPNs usually do not offer any of these features, and it’s highly unlikely they ever will. Their basic encryption methods and connection protocols are easy to detect and therefore are no match for the large forces of China’s internet police.
Another problem with free VPN providers is that they are unreliable. Their connections often drop, leaving you exposed online. The best VPNs include a kill-switch feature, that keeps you undetectable even if your connection drops. They usually don’t offer any customer support, so no one will help you if you face any issues. And even if you manage to establish a stable connection, your data won’t be safely encrypted, and the internet speed will be slow.
In short – you get what you pay for. The best VPNs for China require a subscription to a reputable paid service. Though there are free NordVPN alternatives, they probably won't get the job done.
Not all VPNs can get through the Great Firewall of China. However, NordVPN works in China.
If you’re not familiar with NordVPN yet, no worries – our VPN service is extremely easy to use. To browse the internet securely in China, follow these steps:
NordVPN has more than 5200 servers in 60 countries, so you can choose a server closest to your actual location to get the best speed. It provides users with top-notch encryption to protect them from online dangers and privacy issues. NordVPN is the recommended VPN of major tech experts across the globe and is a top pick for millions of people.
It’s possible to just run the app and connect to a VPN server. However, the strength of China’s internet restrictions may vary regionally and from year to year, so you may want to use one of our advanced security features.
This tutorial will let you select the best connection method created specifically for heavily restricted countries on various devices. If you ever have issues when trying to connect to a VPN in China, contact our support team so they can help you access the unrestricted internet.
When using the app, you can also enable the Threat Protection feature, which blocks websites known for hosting malware and annoying ads.
NordVPN also has the Kill Switch feature, designed to block internet access if your VPN connection accidentally drops. This means that you’re not risking exposing yourself online and browsing unprotected.
NOTE: NordVPN also provides up to 6 simultaneous connections, meaning that you can easily secure multiple devices while in China. Connect your phone and laptop or protect your whole family.
The Chinese government works hard to prevent the usage of VPNs, so don’t be surprised if one day you won’t be able to connect to your favorite server. In China, VPN traffic can be detected by the Great Firewall, which will block the server you’re connected to. China’s firewall is like a living organism — always evolving and searching for new ways to restrict the free internet.
NordVPN is constantly working to circumvent restrictions in China and provide users with the best service. However, if you’re experiencing connectivity issues, here’s a few quick tips that might help:
Check this article for more solutions, which will help you to troubleshoot VPN connectivity issues and solve them.
We at NordVPN believe that private internet access, free of any surveillance or censorship, is important. If you’re traveling to China or know someone who lives there or is visiting, spread the news about NordVPN. Everyone deserves to have unrestricted and secure access to the internet, and this can only be achieved through a reliable VPN.