For most people, accessing the internet is a simple everyday activity. All you need is to click on a link, type a web address, or do a simple search on Google and you will be able to visit any website at any time. However, things are a little different if you happen to be in mainland China due to the internet restrictions imposed on citizens by the government.
Often dubbed as the “Great Firewall of China”, the government’s control over what you can access and do on the internet is far-reaching. By the time of publishing this guide, over 8,000 websites and applications including popular ones like Facebook and Google were blocked in China.
The Chinese government uses several techniques to block websites it deems unfriendly or inappropriate for their population. Some of the barriers are implemented at the ISP level while others are done through sophisticated methods such as DNS spoofing and IP dropping. However, you can still access geo-restricted content via a VPN server in China as most people do when they travel there.
Here are some of the most popular websites and application that you cannot access in China due to the Great Firewall as of today:
Social Media Websites & Apps blocked in China
China has always had a difficult relationship with most Western social media platforms. Most of the normal social media sites you use every day in other countries are blocked in China. Efforts by the social media owners to get access to the Chinese market have not borne any fruits. Here are some of the blocked social media sites:
- Facebook and all its affiliated websites and applications (Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger).
- Hootsuite, among others
From the above list, you can tell that pretty much every non-Chinese social media network is blocked. The only major social media platform available in the country is WeChat, which belongs to a company that is under the control of the Chinese government. This can be a great inconvenience to foreigners and Chinese citizens who want to access social media platforms out of China. A majority of Chinese and foreigners have to use a VPN when they want to access these websites. With the help of these VPNs, one can unblock sites.
Search Engines blocked in China
Here are some of the popular search engines that you cannot access in China:
- Google and all its variants including the Hong Kong-based version of the number one search engine in the world. This despite the fact that most Chinese smart devices use Android as an operating system.
- Yahoo and all its variants
- Duck Duck Go
The only search engine that is popularly used within China is Baidu which is also under some level of control from the Chinese government. That said, most foreigners and tech-savvy Chinese citizens still use Google as their primary search engine when they want to find information outside China. You will need a VPN to use Google or any other search engine in China.
Video streaming websites & Apps blocked in China
- YouTube and YouTube TV
- Tik Tok- This popular video streaming/ social media website was recently blocked in China despite its Chinese roots.
- Daily Motion
- Nico Video, among others.
The only popular video streaming websites and apps you can access within China include Tencent, Douyin, Weishi, Youku, and a few others that are mostly copycats of popular western streaming websites or under some level of control from the government.
News Websites blocked in China
The Chinese government continues its crackdown on foreign news websites that it deems unfriendly or hostile to the Chinese people. Popular news outlets such as the New York Times are inaccessible in the Chinese mainland. Here are a few popular news websites that you cannot access in China:
- The Wall Street journal
- The New York Times
- Financial Times
- Daily Mail
- The Washington Post
- The Economist
- The Guardian
- Spiegel Online
- The Independent
- NBC News
- Apple Daily
- France 24
- Radio France International
Radio Free Asia, among many others
Other useful websites blocked in china
In addition to News, Search and Social media websites, the Chinese Firewall also block or restricts the following useful websites for users on the public internet (without a VPN):
- The American Bar Association’s websites
- NASA Jet Propulsion Lab
- Jehovah’s Witness websites
- Chinese Google Maps
- Deviant Art
- SlideShare, among others
Using a VPN in China has other benefits besides allowing you to access blocked websites such as protecting your privacy and giving you an extra layer of security while on the internet. You will also be happier knowing that your internet activity is private and cannot land you in trouble.