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 your Internet service provider or the government cannot view. Therefore, it is the ultimate solution to overcoming China’s Great Firewall, and most ex-pats living in China use a VPN 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 download your chosen VPNs app onto whatever device you’re using, log in, 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 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 various reasons, the speeds at these servers can change over time, meaning that some VPNs can sometimes 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. To avoid this, it is important to choose a VPN that is reliable and has a strong reputation for working well within China.

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 you to test your chosen server’s speed and reliability before you arrive in China.