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:
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Quora, Tumblr, Snapchat, Picasa, WordPress.com, Blogspot, Blogger, Flickr, SoundCloud, Google+, Google Hangouts, Hootsuite.
Google Play (that means you can't download apps from Google Play without a VPN), Whatsapp, Messenger, Viber, Telegram, Line, Periscope, KaKao Talk, Discord.
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.
Youtube, Vimeo, Daily Motion, Nico Video.
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.
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Twitch, BBC iPlayer, Spotify, SoundCloud, Pandora Radio.
Google Drive, Google Docs, Gmail, Google Calendar (generally all Google services), Dropbox, ShutterStock, iStockPhotos, WayBackMachine, Scribd, Xing, Android, and many VPN sites.
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).
HBO (sometimes it is temporarily banned).
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:)
Other frequently asked questions
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.
The blocking probably has economic reasons in order to give priority to the local cloud storage systems.
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.
[Photo credit (Creative Commons CC0): Pixabay.com]
Category: Survival TipsTags: Internet in China, Survival in China
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