Internet Restrictions are something you need to plan for before heading to China. It can be quite annoying for anyone trying to communicate or access information – whether on business or tourism we all expeerience frustration not being able to access certain websites and applications.
There are ways around restrictions – today we will talk about how ODM get our work done using a VPN (Virtual Private Network).
Difference between a Proxy Vs VPN
- Proxy settings are applied to a chosen web browser. The web browser is routed via the proxy server. Services like Skype / MSN etc.. are not affected and can be blocked.
- VPN settings are different, they encrypt all your internet access, replacing local ISP , for all applications that are connected to the internet.
VPN’s are very easy to find and are quite cheap for the efficient service they offer. There are many different VPN services offered when doing a simple Google search. Shanghai staff use Astrill‘s VPN service to access the internet from our Shanghai office. This is a paid service so you don’t get all those annoying Pop ups and the service is pretty reliable.
There are numerous websites that are blocked in mainland China, here is a sample list of websites that are blocked this hour – all can change in the blink of an eye…..
- Google Documents (Gmail functions but not perfectly).
- Many Blogs (WordPress, Blogger working very intermittently ). *
- Google and Yahoo (sporadically).
- Foursquare – on and off today….
- Amnesty International.
VPN access will change your IP number and make it appear as if you were connecting from a country with no internet restrictions. Once connected the user can navigate online to any website they desire. This service cost 65$ USD for a one year one account membership.
There are also packages for business that require VPN access. Quite a low price for privacy, internet protection and fast downloads. People on business in China will definitely require a VPN access in order to have secure internet access – it also can protect you from industrial espionage. This is an issue to take extremely seriously, especially in China when dealing with private and valuable business information or knowledge.
The Chinese government can lift the ban on any website at any time they want. The internet restriction started off in 1996 when the Chinese Communist Party decided to restrict access to the internet in order to prevent individuals from communicating internationally on their own. The CCP put in place a team of Internet Police officials. It is believed that this force counts over 30,000 officers. Their job is to track famous Chinese nationals or dissidents and follow there internet access, publications and communications with the outside. They also perform the task of deleting sensitive information concerning China, the communist party and corruption.
Picture below shows a map of the world with the internet restriction levels around the world. Source of Map: Wikipedia.