Using a VPN is a straightforward way to get past the Great Firewall, and unblock the internet in China. A VPN or “virtual private network” is a service that encrypts and redirects all your internet connections. The Chinese government has never stated that using a VPN to circumvent the Great Firewall is illegal, and nobody has been prosecuted for using a VPN. Despite this, China blocks the websites of most major VPNs! Here’s a list of the VPN sites we know are blocked:
- Hide My Ass
- Hotspot Shield
However, there a few good VPNs that are not blocked, these are: Astrill, 12VPN, BolehVPN, StrongVPN (don’t use if you will be pirating) and IPVanish. Currently (to my knowledge) OpenVPN is having a lot of issues (at least in Suzhou, Jiangsu). You’ll find most ports are currently blocked (connection reset). L2TP has proven to be much faster and has no problems right now. If your VPN provider doesn’t support L2TP then see if you can use PPTP as a backup option (L2TP is more secure and reliable than PPTP, but PPTP is better than OpenVPN at the moment).
Here’s more details on the best VPN to use in China:
12VPN are headquartered in Hong Kong, and they have experience with the Great Firewall. They also have a huge Chinese user-base. 12VPN gives you the choice of four server locations for OpenVPN, all of them based in the UK and US. The West Coast of the US is the best choice if your are in China, due its (relative) proximity to Asia. 12VPN provides you with a file of pre-configured settings for the to use with the OpenVPN app (Windows), or the Tunnelblick app (Mac OS X). You simply drop these in the correct location (as 12VPN’s site wiki explains very clearly) on your computer.
12VPN‘s service cost $9.95 per month or $79 per year.
The have 25 servers in 9 different countries, including one located in Hong Kong.
StrongVPN has built a excellent reputation over the years. They have become known for the reliability of their service and the number of servers they offer (350 in 19 countries). They are also one of the few VPN providers that offer 24 hour live help. Until recently, StrongVPN was blocked in China. However, they have now set up some mirrors for China, and they are not longer blocked.
StrongVPN’s Phil Blancett said recently: “We have seen a rapid increase in users coming from China in the past few months. It’s pushed us to automate as much as we can from inside our customer area. Customers can now choose from many locations on the West Coast of the USA, which ensures they have the best possible speed”. Blancett also stated that StrongVPN itself is growing and focusing more on Asia as well: “Early last year we purchased a FCP Routing Device from Internap that allowed us to automatically adjust and optimize our routes. It’s really improved our routes to Asia.”
StrongVPN‘s service costs $30 for 3 months or $85 per year.
If just want to browse the uncensored internet in the short term, you can use the free Tor Browser. Note that, while using Tor, your web page will be somewhat slow to load, and your other internet connections will still be blocked. Also, make sure you use a Tor Bridge.