What comes to your mind when you think about China: The red flag? Dragons? Kung Fu? Pandas? Mao's Great Leap Forward? For me, the People's Republic of China is the country of Confucius. And of the Great Firewall. Every time I travel to China, I despise this feeling of being watched online. And I hate being restricted. That's why today, we'll find out the best VPN for China. So that you and I can read or watch whatever we want online!
The Great Firewall: Websites blocked in China everyday
For those of you who didn't go to China, it's a bit hard to grasp. Because everyday you can use Google, Facebook and Twitter. You can share your (worthless?) opinion with your friends and even with the whole world. Isn't it fun to argue with flat-earthers, creationists and other conspiracists? Priceless.
But in China, internet users can't search on Google. They can't watch lol cats videos on Youtube. And they can't access Facebook, Twitter and thousands of other websites. There's a parallel universe online for Chinese people. An internet made of government-approved websites. Your Chinese friends want to look for Peking duck recipes? They go to Baidu. If they want to watch propaganda videos, they connect to Youku. And if they want to stalk their friends on a social network, they sign up on Renren.
Some of our favorite websites offer a local version for Chinese customers. The app is functioning. But users are not allowed to share data with the international community.
The Chinese government has a good command over the content of the internet. It really is Big Brother watching you. Or maybe big brothers… Because there are over two million people working in the Internet Police. Their mission is to minimize cyber crimes. But they spend most of their time censoring content that goes against the rules. Every year, during the sessions of the People’s Representative Congress, countless websites and servers are shut down.
If reports are true, China can be considered as the world’s largest prison for the Netizens. And the only way out is to use a VPN in China.
As a rule, all new social/content websites are immediately red-flagged as a potential threat. The Internet Police blocks access to the website from China. Then, they review the site content and take a decision: Keep blocking if it's a threat or allow access to Chinese users if it's a false alarm. Once a website is blocked, the only way to get access with a VPN China.
The Great Firewall of China is set restrict access to websites that represent a potential threat to the government. Every time a user in Mainland China connects to a website, the Internet Police scans the URL, IP Address and page content. With a VPN in China, you can bypass censorship and also reduce its range.
However, the saddest technique is not even applied by the government itself. It's self-censorship. And it's maybe more efficient than technological restrictions. Chinese users perceive the're being watched 24/7. And the fear of law enforcement encourages individuals and businesses to willingly censor their own communications to avoid legal and economic repercussions.
List of popular websites blocked in China
All these websites are blocked. However, you can access these while in China with a good VPN. The best VPN for China cloaks your IP address and hides you behind one of its own IP Addresses. If you're located in China, I'd recommend you to connect either to UK or USA servers.
VPNs vs China: A raging war
Many VPNs don't work in China, like free VPN services. Because the Chinese government knows about VPN. And they want to have total control over the Internet. Therefore, they block VPN servers to maintain surveillance and censorship. Only the best VPN for China will give you access to unrestricted Internet.
The Chinese Internet Police keeps blocking the VPN servers. How? By using two techniques to disrupt service: First, deep packet inspection, examines the data in Internet packets to try to determine if it’s a VPN connection. Second, IP blocking, shuts off traffic destined for the Internet addresses used by VPN servers. For further technical details, read what is a VPN and what are the VPN protocols.
The only answer from the VPN companies is to improve the encryption of their packets and to constantly renew the IPs of their servers. This way they guarantee you can keep browsing an unrestricted internet.
How to choose the best VPN for China?
It's hard to select the best VPN for China. Because you can't try it before you get there… And because many companies claim to offer the best VPN, rightfully or not. But not all VPNs can unblock content from China.
China started blocking the OpenVPN protocol, in their latest round of VPN blocking. Therefore most VPNs are down! China increased Internet censorship greatly in 2017, a trend which appears to be continuing… And an all-out VPN ban is slated to take effect in February!
Knowing that OpenVPN protocol is now blacklisted, I decided to keep only VPN providers which offer un-blocked solutions. And unfortunately, there aren't many who can boast to have proprietary protocols to bypass Chinese blockade. But VyprVPN, which has been my favorite VPN to use in China for ages, is one of them.
VyprVPN is the VPN of a Swiss company, which promotes privacy, security and access to a free and open Internet. It’s one of my favorites, because their service is the best against censorship, thanks to proprietary DNS and a patented connection protocol.
Let me remind you why I vouch for this one:
- VyprVPN has patented a proprietary protocol, Chameleon, and offers its own DNS servers. These specifications make it almost impossible to block in China
- Their software is very simple and user-friendly. Select a country (outside of China), click Connect and that's it.
- VyprVPN offers a native app for mobile devices.
And don't forget to switch to Chameleon protocol when connecting! It's very easy: In the Settings, look for the protocol tab, and select “Chameleon 256-bit encryption” protocol. Please note that Chameleon is only available to Premium subscribers.
This was my guide: Best VPN for China | VPNs that work in China. Stay tuned for more articles coming soon.