It is a fact that the Government of China controls the Internet access of its citizens. A lot of people could argue that they have limited freedom with these restrictions, while others see it as the “necessary evil” which saves a lot of citizens from becoming addicted to social media and similar platforms.
One of the most reasonable explanations is that, by blocking popular western sites, their Chinese competitors get a lot more traffic. Therefore, instead of using Facebook Messenger, Viber or WhatsApp, the citizens of China use WeChat. In fact, according to this article by statista.com, WeChat is the third most popular chat app after WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
The Great Firewall of China
The Chinese built the Great Wall of China to repel the Mongol invasion, and that seems to have worked for them up to a certain extent. Therefore, they decided to copy this formula and apply it to the web, creating one of the largest IT projects in this country which has only one purpose – to block all unwanted sites from reaching the citizens of China.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular sites in the western world that are blocked by The Great Firewall of China.
Google, along with all its features and tools, is blocked by the Great Firewall. In fact, it has a local subsidiary, google.com.hk, which is heavily restricted and may show only the results that are in accordance with the rules.
Facebook & Instagram
Mark Zuckerberg has tried to negotiate with the Chinese government for a couple of times but was always negated access to their market. Therefore, Facebook and Instagram remain heavily restricted in China.
Twitter may be blocked in China, but it somehow managed to find its way through, and popular Chinese companies, such as Huawei, use it to promote their products, mainly to the western users.
YouTube was one of the first sites to be blocked in China due to the fact that one can find a lot of content which may not be suitable for Chinese citizens. Furthermore, the freedom of speech allowed on this video-centered site doesn’t comply with many rules and regulations imposed by the Chinese government.
Although the residents of China can access Netflix’ site, they cannot access the content offered on it. Apart from Netflix, numerous other streaming platforms are not allowed, such as Hulu, Amazon Prime, Twitch, Spotify, and more.
China is a country with a heavy media control. In other words, freedom of media is almost non-existent, and some of the prominent news sites from the west, such as The New York Times, Financial Times, The Economist, Bloomberg, and others, are not accessible. Even many important pages on Wikipedia cannot be accessed by the residents of China.
Needless to say, all pornography sites are banned from China, and the citizens don’t have any kind of access to pornographic content even on the platforms from within the country.
How To Access Restricted Sites If You Are In China
Both the Chinese government and its citizens are well aware of the phenomenon called Virtual Private Network (VPN). It assigns a new IP and creates a virtual network so that users in China appear as if they were in some other parts of the world.
VPNs are not allowed in China, but there is no way to prevent them. Thousands of tourists who visit Mainland China use them to access Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media that are forbidden there.
How To Choose The Best VPN?
Every VPN service has certain advantages and disadvantages. For example, most of them are paid, but there are also a couple of services that are free of charge. If you plan to go to China either as a tourist or on a business trip, you should definitely read some of the VPN reviews on Hot5.com and decide which one may be the best option for your voyage.
The Chinese government has some very strict rules when it comes to surfing the web, and while many agree with these restrictions, others heavily oppose it. One thing is sure – people who visit China cannot get used to these restrictions, especially the users of social networks who are used to checking them all the time. Therefore, various solutions to that problem emerged, with VPN being the most prominent and the most promising one.