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How To Get By The Great Fire Wall of China

Out of the Top 100 Global Websites, 12 are currently blocked in mainland China. China has one of the most extensive internet repressive systems in the world. Chinese censorship began with the emergence of several anti-Japanese, anti-pollution, anti-corruption riots, and ethnic riots,  that materialized using online chat rooms and instant messaging. It is rumored that China has an Internet Police squad of almost 30,000 that are at the ready to delete any blasphemous online content on blogs, forums and major portals like Sohu and Sina within seconds. In 2010 alone China closed down 1.3 million websites. The censorship does not apply to Hong Kong or Macau, but strictly to mainland China.

Very quickly becoming the “it” place for expats and foreigners looking for a term abroad or work internationally, China’s internet restrictions have had a big impact on its newcomers.  China’s ban on social network sites like Facebook, YouTube and many blogging sites like Blogger has inspired an underground market of firewall combating devices.  People’s inability to access and divulge in online opinion has become a nuisance; a problem that is hard to believe of a country that is propelling and growing faster than any other. See a list of what media, social network sites and non-governmental organization sites mainland China blocks http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_websites_blocked_in_the_People%27s_Republic_of_China.

So, how do you get by the Great Fire Wall of China? If you want to get full and free (‘free’ as in freedom) internet access in China, there are a several options:

Proxy Servers

Proxy Servers allow web-traffic through another computer before establishing the connection with your target server/website. Proxy servers are not blacklisted in China so many blocked portals and social networks will become accessible. The “Great Firewall” has become better though. In some cases it will do live-content filtering and reset connections. This can’t be be prevented by using a proxy server as the content will still go unencrypted through the Chinese internet. The good point is: there are many free proxy servers you can use (although they are usually slow) and they are very easy to set up.

Free Proxy Server Listing: Proxy4Free.com

Virtual Private Network Tunneling – (also known as VPN)

VPN’s are the most secure, fast and reliable solution to get uncensored internet in china is through a VPN tunnel. This method will wire the complete outgoing network traffic (not only web (HTTP) but also email, p2p, etc.) through  an encrypted connection to a VPN server from where it goes to the internet. That means you are connecting to the internet from the place of your VPN provider. If you wish to connect to the BBC for example you should choose a British VPN provider. You will have an IP address of that place which also leads to localized advertisements e.g. in German if you are using a VPN provider in Germany.

VPN Providers:

Relakks works very well in China. The Relakks Servers are located in Sweden and good accessible from a China Telecom or China Netcom connection. Foreign-used website pages opens even faster using it. Try it for 30 days for free! After the 30 day trial it costs five euro per month or 50 euro  per year. Setup on most systems (Mac OSX and Windows) is easy as there is no software required. It works like a new network adapter.

You can tap into the self-acclaimed “top-secret” US ArmyVPN server, Identity Cloaker. It offers a free demo, but pay six euros for the year http://www.identitycloaker.com/ **Only for Windows users.

Try http://www.vpntunnel.se/en/  to visit censored web sites. Pay five euro a month and get unlimited bandwidth and fast Internet access.

Free Option:

Ultravpn (https://www.ultravpn.fr is totally free and there is no bandwidth limit. Although free sites tend to be a lot slower, as everyone wants free.

Other Options

The two options above should be the best for average users. However there are more options:

  • SSH tunneling works similar to VPN tunneling but only works on specific connections basis
  • Tor is a network of anonymous proxies which can hide your identity very effectively but is also very slow.
  • Sometimes only the name/server entry of particular services are censored and it might help to change to a non-chinese public name/server like OpenDNS.
  • It seems that the Great Firewall sometimes just resets the connection by sending TCP Reset packets. Experienced network administrator could configure the firewall to ignore those.

Check your Security:

If you are worried that your connection is secure before accessing any sensitive or censored information, you can check out this page. It will tell you your outside-IP, your Internet Provider and other information.

3 comments on “How To Get By The Great Fire Wall of China

  1. Pingback: 13 Things To Make You Say ‘Wow’ in China | the people square

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