If you regularly use Google (and who doesn’t?), you’re going to have a tough time on the Internet in China. Google and its related sites are just one batch of blocked websites in China, and there are plenty of others. The blocked websites in China can be detrimental for work and play, but especially the former if you’re expected to present any work that involves the use of the off-limits sites.
Blocked Websites in China
Wave bon voyage to Google and all its related site before you head to China. The great Google block reportedly began in 2002, with a short-lived Chinese version of Google available in 2006. In addition to Gmail and Google search, the lengthy list of blocked Google-related sites includes Google Drive, Google Cloud, Google Maps and Google Plus.
No funny cat videos for you in China, with YouTube initially blocked in 2008 during the riots in Tibet. YouTube and similar sites that prevent coverage of local happenings may fall under the block officials deem necessary “to prevent the spread of harmful information.”
Photos of riots may be just as detrimental as videos of riots, which is one of the hypothesis as to why the photo-sharing site Flickr was blocked. Its initial block occurred in 2007, it was briefly restored, and then blocked again in 2014.
Facebook went on the blocked list in 2009, soon after deadly uprisings erupted in Xinjiang. Time reports the Chinese government gives Facebook a thumb’s down for “its ability to spread rumors.”
If you think Facebook is good at spreading rumors, just imagine what rapid-pace Twitter can do. The tweeting site has been silenced in China since 2011.
Don’t count on accessing your Dropbox account to retrieve any files in China. There has been no Dropbox access since it was first blocked in 2010. It had a short availability period in 2014, but then was once again relegated to the blocked list.
‘Sneaking’ into Blocked Websites in China
One of the easiest ways to get around blocks is with Tor, a tool that shuttles your Internet traffic through Tor’s network. Instead of showing an IP address in China, your web browsing is routed over an encrypted network, emerging at an unfiltered, uncensored endpoint.
This allows you to browse anonymously, but it’s not the most secure network. Keep that in mind before accessing sensitive info. It’s also extremely slower than the browsing you’re used to, although it’s still a lot quicker than heading back to the US to download and print the files you need.