Google is banned in China

The list of blocked websites in China

You will probably already know that sites like Facebook, Youtube or Google.com are blocked in China and that a VPN is the only way to access them.

But what about the other hundreds of websites we usually use?

Are we sure they will work in China?

One of the most common questions we get asked is whether a particular website or app, like Dropbox, Google Play, is blocked in China.

In this article we will List all websites that are not currently behind the Great Firewall of China or that the system developed by the Ministry of Public Security to control access to websites has been classified as "dangerous" for Chinese citizens.

Which websites are blocked in China?

Here is a list of the most popular websites that are currently blocked in China:

Social

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Quora, Tumblr, Snapchat, Picasa, WordPress.com, Blogspot, Blogger, Flickr, SoundCloud, Google+, Google Hangouts, Hootsuite.

Apps

Google Play (that means you can't download apps from Google Play without a VPN), Whatsapp, Messenger, Viber, Telegram, Line, Periscope, KaKao Talk, Discord.

search engines

Google (both Google.com and the majority of the local versions like Google.com.hk, Google.fr, etc.), Ask.com, Duck Duck Go, Yahoo, various foreign versions of Baidu and Yahoo.

Video

Youtube, Vimeo, Daily Motion, Nico Video.

Media

The New York Times, Finacial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Bloomberg, Reuters, the Washington Post, South China Morning Post, The Independent, Daily Mail, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Spiegel, LeMonde, L'Equipe, Google News, many pages from Wikipedia, Wikileaks.

Streaming platforms

Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Twitch, BBC iPlayer, Spotify, SoundCloud, Pandora Radio.

Working tools

Google Drive, Google Docs, Gmail, Google Calendar (generally all Google services), Dropbox, ShutterStock, iStockPhotos, WayBackMachine, Scribd, Xing, Android, and many VPN sites.

Porn

Almost all porn sites are blocked. I don't know of any exceptions.

Websites and apps that are NOT blocked in China

Below is a by no means exhaustive list of websites and apps that are popular in the West and have not yet been blocked in China:

Calls and video calls

FaceTime, Skype (not very reliable).

Instant messaging

iMessage, WeChat

Streaming platforms

HBO (sometimes it is temporarily banned).

search engines

Bing, Yandex.

E-mail services

Yahoo Mail, Hotmail

What can you tell me about Chinese sites?

In general, Chinese sites work and they are also extremely fast. Be aware that some Chinese sites will no longer work properly (for example, many videos on Youkou will no longer be available) when using a VPN. This is because some sites only work in China and you “hide” your Chinese IP address with that of another country when you turn on a VPN.

What if the page I'm interested in isn't on the list?

The list published in these articles is not exhaustive and keep in mind that the situation is constantly changing - a site that is blocked today could work tomorrow - and the opposite - a site that works today might work stop working in twenty minutes.

To check if a website is blocked, simply enter the URL into the Greatfire Analyzer.

There are also pages that are partially blocked (on Wikipedia, for example, some pages work perfectly, while others do not work at all), pages that sometimes work and sometimes not, and pages that, although not blocked, are so slow, that they are practically useless. The classic example is video calls on Skype: the connection is often so slow that you want to end the call.

Is there a solution or do I have to give up?

The only solution is to subscribe to a VPN service (here are the services we currently recommend).

Please note, however, that especially after 8:00 p.m. (Beijing time) the pages served by servers outside of China (essentially all western pages) are often so slow that they are unusable. I'm not sure why, but my theory is that this is the time when traffic between China and the west peaks (as it is morning in America and afternoon in Europe).

Therefore, the data lines are exhausted and you can say goodbye to your connection! I don't even know if the problem is the result of the Great Firewall or just a physical limit between China and the rest of the planet.

Is It Legal To Use A VPN?

Disclaimer: Here at SDC we are not qualified to advise you legally. So if you choose to use a VPN, do it at your own risk.

That being said, our interpretation is that it is not in and of itself an illegal act to use a VNP (short for Virtual Private Network) as it has to do with technology that was designed to take advantage of private networks even extend to connections traveling around the Internet (or on a public network).

The VPN is therefore software that was designed to improve the security of your connection (click here to find out more about the technical details). In reality, many universities and, I suspect, Chinese government agencies use a VPN system to isolate their internal network from the public.

So the problem isn't really using a VPN, but rather the fact that you're accessing sites that aren't allowed in China. Is that a crime? The reality is that we don't know and that is why we cannot give advice.

From a practical point of view, our opinion is that the Chinese don't really care whether you use a VPN to log into Facebook or Dropbox.

Of course, if you plan on misusing the internet, with or without a VPN, be aware that you are risking your ass both in China and abroad:)

Click here to find out which VPNs we currently recommend!

Other frequently asked questions

Does WhatsApp work in China?
WhatsApp has been almost completely blocked in China since September 2017. While voice messages or photos and video calls cannot be sent without a system like a VPN, text messages sometimes make it through the block.

Other instant messaging apps such as FB Messenger, Line, Telegram or Viber are also blocked in China. The only exception is the Chinese app WeChat or Weixin.

Is Skype blocked in China?
For now, Skype continues to work in China, although the quality of voice and video calls is often quite poor and all of these calls can be monitored by third parties. With a VPN, you can improve the quality of Skype's services and prevent you from being spied on. The Skype app also cannot be downloaded in China unless you are using a VPN.
Does Instagram work in China?
Most of the western social networks, such as Instagram, are blocked in China. So if you want to keep posting your photos on Instagram or see the updates from the people you follow, you will need to use a VPN or similar service.
Are iTunes and the App Store locked in China?
Although iTunes and the App Store are not blocked in China, much of their content is filtered and therefore not available. In addition, they do not work for an indefinite period of time, which is very annoying if you don't have a system to bypass the block.
Are Yahoo and Yahoo Mail blocked in China?
Although the Yahoo website and Yahoo Mail can still be accessed, Yahoo's search engine (search.yahoo.com) was no longer available in China as of September 2018.
Is Pinterest blocked in China?
Is LinkedIn banned in China?
At the moment, LinkedIn is not blocked in China and usually works without any major problems. However, you should keep in mind that the websites hosted abroad are usually slow to load.
Is Snapchat allowed in China?
Like many other social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, Snapchat is also blocked in China. So if you want to use Snapchat while in China, you will need to have a VPN to use it.
Is Dropbox blocked in China? Why?
Yes, at the moment you cannot access Dropbox without a VPN in China. If you have Dropbox installed on your computer, synchronization will not work until you connect to your VPN.

The blocking probably has economic reasons in order to give priority to the local cloud storage systems.

Can I use FaceTime in China?
FaceTime can be used in China without any problems. However, as with Skype, its performance is by no means optimal.
Does Viber work in China?
As of 2014, like many other similar services, Viber has been blocked in China. Therefore, your only way to have full access to Viber's services during your stay is to sign up for a service that allows you to bypass the block, such as VPNs.
Is Quora banned in China?
Since August 2018, you can no longer access Quora in China without a system to bypass the Great Firewall, such as a VPN.

Not all other similar Q&A services are blocked in China. While Yahoo Answers and Stack Exchange can still be accessed, AskReddit and Answers.com are blocked.

Is my website blocked in China?
Many websites are blocked by the Great Firewall every day. To find out if your website is blocked for users connecting from China, please visit this website. You should also keep in mind that your blog will not be accessible if it is hosted on the free WordPress or Blogpost services.
Why is my website blocked in China and what should I do?
The Great Firewall blocks websites that may contain sensitive content. The problem is that they are blocked based on IP address, and sometimes websites that shouldn't be blocked for their content are blocked based on the content of the sites they share a server with. If your website has been blocked for this reason, the best thing to do is to get a dedicated IP address from your hosting provider.
What are the alternatives to Facebook in China?
The alternative that is most similar to Facebook in China is Renren.com (人人 网). However, this website has gradually declined in popularity over the past few years and very few users are currently using it. At the moment, the app-within-an-app model is called WeChat, much more popular and, among other services, it also offers a mobile platform that is very similar to Facebook.
What are the alternatives to Twitter in China?
The microblogging platform in China that is similar to Twitter is Weibo.com (微 博). However, like other “social networks” in recent years, as a result of the appearance of WeChat lost in popularity.
What are the alternatives to YouTube in China?
There are several alternatives to YouTube in China, the most popular of which are Tudou, Youku, Tencent video, and iQIYI. All of these platforms are grouped on Baidu video (百度 视频).
What are the alternatives to Instagram in China?
There are several photo sharing websites and apps in China. However, as of now, none of them are all that popular. One of the most popular services is Nice, which currently only has 12 million active users, which is well below the 500 million users of WeChat.
Which search engine should you use in China?
In China, the most widely used search engine is undoubtedly baidu.com (百度). However, other search engines can be used, such as Yahoo or Bing, although the Great Firewall filters the results. Unless you want to search for Chinese websites, which Baidu is a good option for, using a VPN is the only way to really find what you're looking for (with no filters and restrictions).

[Photo credit (Creative Commons CC0): Pixabay.com]

Category: Survival TipsTags: Internet in China, Survival in China