How to Use the Internet from China

If you’re visiting China and want to use the internet, you’re in for a nasty surprise: Many sites you take for granted, like Google and Facebook, can’t be accessed from the People’s Republic. This block, often called the Great Firewall, can be annoying, although there are some ways to get around it.

The Great Firewall is a block on outgoing traffic from Chinese IP addresses. So, if you’re on a connection from Beijing or Shanghai (and, since recently, Hong Kong), you can’t access sites like Facebook, Google, or a large number of Western media outlets (One example of the ever-changing list is here. How-To Geek isn’t on it, or at least, not yet.).

We have a full guide on how the Great Firewall works, but, in short, it blocks traffic in several ways, making it very hard to get around. For example, if it detects a certain keyword being used on a site, it will make it so that any request to connect from a computer in China to that site returns an error. The best example is the phrase “Tiananmen Square Massacre,” an event in 1989 when the Chinese army murdered protesters in a central Beijing plaza.

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