You may have heard that the internet in China is censored, meaning the vast majority of the popular websites and apps that you’re accustomed to browsing daily, such as Facebook, Google, YouTube, Netflix, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp are all banned! This is known as ‘The Great Firewall of China’, and it significantly limits what up to 1.3 billion users can view online daily.
For many people who are planning on moving to China to teach, this can understandably be a worry. Thankfully, however, there is a solution, and it’s called a VPN!
What is a VPN?
A VPN, which stands for Virtual Private Network is essentially a private, secured network between an individual device and the internet. When you connect to a VPN your IP (Internet Protocol) address is masked, and your subsequent internet traffic goes through an encrypted tunnel that cannot be viewed by your internet service provider or the government. Therefore, it is the ultimate solution to overcoming China’s Great Firewall, and the vast majority of ex-pats living in China use a VPN in order to communicate with the outside world.
How to use a VPN
Using a VPN is extremely straightforward. To start with you must choose a reliable VPN and subscribe to their service (see below). Once you’ve done this simply download your chosen VPNs app onto whatever device you’re using, login, and connect to it. Once connected, a private and secured network will be established between your device and the internet, and you’ll be free to browse whatever websites you want, as well as send and receive messages using apps that are restricted in China (WhatsApp, Messenger, etc).
Issues with using a VPN in China
China is the biggest market in the world for VPNs, and the Chinese government is well aware that plenty of people within the country use them in order to browse the internet. They’re on a constant mission to limit the ability of VPNs, whereas the VPN providers on the other hand are constantly fighting back to keep their networks online. It’s a never-ending game of cat and mouse, and as a result, it can sometimes result in VPNs going offline from time to time.
Most VPNs use many servers which are spread across different countries. For a variety of different reasons, the speeds at these serves can change over time, meaning that some VPNs can at times be quite unpredictable. One day you could be streaming a movie on Netflix with no problems, and the next day you may struggle to load Facebook. In order to avoid this, it is important to choose a VPN that is reliable and has a strong reputation of working well within China.
Recommended VPN to use – ExpressVPN
The VPN that we would highly recommend using is ExpressVPN. It is one of the most widely used VPNs in China, and has a brilliant reputation throughout the country for ensuring that users are able to have fast, reliable, and unrestricted internet access!
ExpressVPN has over 3,000 VPN servers, in 160 server locations, spread across 94 countries. This monumental amount of servers is what enables their VPN to be so fast and reliable, and means that the issues listed above in this article rarely occur.
ExpressVPN is compatible with: Windows, Mac, IOS, Android, and Linux for your immediate internet browsing needs. It also works with Smart TVs, Apple TV, Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo in order to give you internet access when watching TV or gaming. Furthermore, they offer 24/7 support to all of their users, meaning that on the off chance that you’re having any issues at all with your VPN, someone will be on hand to help you.
To conclude, the majority of us use the internet daily to assist us with day-to-day tasks, to stay connected with our friends and family, and for entertainment. This can be particularly important when moving to a foreign country, and we hope that this article has assisted in reassuring you that it is possible to stay connected with ease, despite ‘The Great Firewall of China’!
The main points to note are to ensure that you choose a reliable VPN provider by reading reviews, especially those written by users in China, and to consider subscribing and installing a VPN app to your devices before you arrive. Most VPN providers offer free trials, which will enable to you test the speed and reliability of your chosen server before you arrive in China.