VPN China: Everything You Really Need to Know!

Unfortunately, anyone travelling to or living in China automatically loses access to thousands of websites on the Internet. These include Google Mail, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many other sites. With a VPN service, vacationers and residents still have the opportunity to access their favourite sites and protect their online activities from registration. However, the Chinese government has already announced that it wants to crack down on VPNS, which is why reputable VPN access is needed.

Why Do You Need a VPN Access in China?

In China, a firewall called “Great Firewall of China” is used. This firewall blocks content and censors the Internet accordingly. Chinese residents and tourists no longer have access to thousands of websites, which is why a VPN is indispensable for easy surfing.

Blocked Websites and Apps

As early 2008, 30 000 state employees were working on sifting through, rating and possibly blocking countless websites every day. There are now over 3 000 websites blocked for Chinese Internet visitors.

Particularly well-known blocks in China are:

  • Google services: Google’s search engine, email provider Gmail, map service Google Maps, file hosting service Google Docs and much more.
  • Social Networks and Communities: Facebook, Twitter, Instragram, Tumblr, Blogspot, Pinterest, Badoo, Xing and many more.
  • Other: YouTube, mobile and Chinese Wikipedia, Dropbox, SoundCloud, Vimeo, Dailymotion, DuckDuckGo, Flickr, WikiLeaks, Amnesty International and more.
  • News: The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Epoch Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, TIME and more.

However, some of the listed websites are occasionally or regularly available depending on the access point or current situation in the country.

Important: Many Chinese laws do not apply in Macau and Hong Kong, and so other blockages or in some cases no blockages of certain websites are recorded

Espionage by the Chinese Government

Already years ago, allegations were made concerning the Huawei company. The company is accused of spying on data for the Chinese government. In turn, Huawei is now suing the US government, as it is almost impossible for the company to do business in America. Although the chance of success is not very high, Huawei wants to “set an example” to all.

The allegations, which range from espionage to sabotage, have always been denied by Huawei. But that’s not all. As recently as 2018 there have been reports that China allegedly stole from other countries as well. A Chinese hacker group is said to have successfully infiltrated at least 45 US authorities and other targets to procure countless gigabytes of data. Companies are often especially worried about possible Chinese espionage. Here again, a secure VPN connection can help.

Companies are often especially worried about possible Chinese espionage. Here again, a secure VPN connection can help. (Foto: alexlmx)

Are VPNs Legal or Illegal in China?

The fact that many websites are censored in China is well known. But is it illegal to use a VPN in China? The answer to this question is not easy, because it depends on:

  • whether you live in China or are vacationing/visiting.
  • what the VPN is used for
  • who carries out the inspection or asks about your activities.

There are several VPNs that are “waved through” by the Chinese government. For all other VPNs the use is prohibited. Organisations and companies in particular are affected by this ban, not individuals.

Good to Know: Anyone who, as a Chinese citizen, still uses VPNs that were not approved by the government, can expect punishment (imprisonment or fines).

If you are a visitor to China, it is not currently illegal “per se” to use a VPN. OF course, you might still have problems because the Chinese government is not always transparent. According to recent information, the worst that can happen to you in China while travelling as a visitor is that you must remove the VPN from your mobile device.

Which Websites and Apps are Blocked in China Withou a VPN?

Thousands of websites are blocked by the Chinese government to promote their own Internet censorship. More than 30 000 state employees are working to find, rate and potentially block new websites. Above all, western news reports, social media platforms and search engines are affected by this censorship.

Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Etc.

To prevent communication on Western portals, most social networks are blocked by China. This applies, for example, to the Facebook network, but also Twitter, YouTube, the image portals Instagram and Pinterest; even job networks such as Xing are affected.

Google Services Galore

The company Google appears to be a special thorn in the side of the Chinese government. Many of its services are affected by censorship, so that citizens in China, for example, cannot perform a classic Google search. Also, Google Mail and Google Maps are blocked, as is the viewing of documents via Google Docs and other functions.

Uncensored News Pages

If you just want to find out more about China, it’s not easy to get uncensored news. The classic news portals, such as the BBC, the New York Times, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, the Epoch Times (even the Chinese edition), Reuters and many more are blocked. If you want to get information, you must either rely on a VPN or make do with the censored news from China which, however, often reveals only half the truth.

Instructions: China VPN with Shellfire

As a vacationer in China, you can disguise your location and access the entire network in uncensored form using a VPN. At the same time, you can protect your activities online and stay anonymous the whole time. Below we’ll tell you what options you have with Shellfire.

Shellfire VPN

Warning: Our VPN software is currently not working in China. We will keep you up to date and will update this post as soon as our VPN in China works again. In the meantime, we recommend you to use our Shellfire Box, whose integrated Client VPN also works in China.

The first solution is software. All you must do is download the VPN software. The app is available for free.

  • Windows: Just download the free Shellfire software from our website.
  • Mac OS X: For Apple operating systems, you can find the app for free in the Mac App Store.
  • Android: to get mobile access to the Shellfire software, download the app for free on your Android smartphone or Android tablet.
  • iOS: You can download the mobile app for iOS devices (tablet and smartphone) in the Apple App Store.

Shellfire Box

The second option is a hardware solution. We offer you a VPN router with the Shellfire Box, which has many advantages:

  • It is easy to install
  • You can surf safely and reliably
  • You can also use VPN with PlayStation or Xbox
  • You can use the Shellfire Box with the Apple TV or a Fire TV Stick from Amazon
  • You remain anonymous on the Internet
  • You can access blocked content

Once you have the Shellfire Box, you can simply connect the devices you want with the box and then start playing. Simply select a country whose servers you want to connect to, so that you are technically no longer in China but in another country (without censorship).

Follow this link for more information on the Shellfire Box!


In China, Internet content is heavily censored. This means that among other things, Facebook, Google, YouTube, Instagram and many other services and websites are blocked by the government. To still have access to these sites as a tourist in China, a VPN is used. With the software or hardware solution from Shellfire, you are well equipped to defend yourself against censorship while surfing anonymously and protected.

Incidentally, the Shellfire Box or app is not only advantageous for circumventing Censorship in China but also, for example, to receive foreign media libraries in Germany or to avoid other restrictions (for example, Netflix).

(Image credits: tanaonte / 123RF)

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