China practices strict Internet censorship. Access to Google, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and a number of news organizations’ websites including New York Times and Bloomberg are blocked. Even Dropbox, the popular cloud data storage service, is off limit. Shock, panic and anger describe the reaction of Western visitors who are unaware of all this before arrival in China. However, there are ways to minimize the inconvenience.
Google, Gmail, Facebook are blocked in China. Here are some practical tips to help tourists to China deal with the headache.
Google may be blocked but there is always Microsoft Bing.com as a temporary solution for online search. China has its own Internet search giant in Baidu but you’ll find it less helpful.
As far as Gmail goes, the simplest solution is to set up mail forwarding before your trip to have all messages sent to your Gmail account redirected to another email account not blocked in China. Yahoo and iCloud are good examples.
If access to Facebook and Google is crucial for you, you should consider installing a VPN app on your device to bypass the Great Firewall of China. Such apps may come with two versions – free and paid subscription. Paid subscription is ad-free and offers faster speed. However, it is important to keep in mind that online privacy is a fantasy and the VPN service is not always reliable for reasons we don’t want to elaborate.