You’ve heard about the Great Wall of China, but have you heard about the Great Firewall of China?
China has strict censorship rules in place for people in the country to access popular websites and apps, including Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and more. In fact, it is one of the most extensive censorship rules in the world, built upon efforts by the government to maintain a tight reign over new and traditional media. In addition to blocking websites, the internet usage of individuals is tightly monitored. There are also several topics that are not allowed to be discussed, such as the Tiananmen protests.
There are specific Chinese replacements, however, such as We Chat. Which is widely used throughout the country for social networking, ordering transport and making payments. Even the chat groups on this platform are tightly monitored by managers; a tedious task during hours of high traffic.
Censorship laws are not restricted to the internet; television, broadcasts also have limitations as to what can be shown, and a limit to the number of overseas programs that are allowed to be broadcasted. There are even rules in place for the number of foreign actors allowed to appear on Chinese television shows.
China’s special administrative regions, including Hong Kong and Macau have a higher degree of autonomy and are not as strictly affected by these censorship laws.
These rules with a doubt pose great difficulty for expats and travelers to the country who would like to access websites and apps they normally use, but there is a way to work around it. A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, serves to redirect your traffic from a private network to a public network, effectively allowing your internet connection to behave as it would from a different location, and thus keeping you anonymous as you browse.
Whilst efforts have been taken to limit the use of VPNs, there remains the need for international businesses in China to securely transmit day-to-day information to the outside world, and so the usage of the tool by individuals remains a gray area as of yet. It is often simpler to set up your VPN on all your devices prior to entering the country in order to circumvent challenges with their advanced censorship system, but it is also advised to keep up-to-date with which VPNs will work in the country, which can be done through websites such as VPN per la Cina that offer useful updates about the legality status.
It can be confusing for beginners to understand how VPN providers differ from one another. There are a number of factors to consider, such as the speed, encryption protocols, additional services and cost. Further research is always advised to learn about issues such as IP leaking, and so resources, including VPN per la China can help users better understand how it all works. Many VPN providers also offer free trials for clients to get familiarized with their product, and coupons can be sought out for further discounts.