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Life behind the great firewall of China: VPN in China

Life behind the great firewall of China: VPN in China

Update China internet – January 2015

As of 1st January 2015, the Chinese government further tightened it’s grip on the nation’s internet access.
A rude awakening for many expats hoping to get on the ‘net – nothing worked.

Things have calmed down a little, but the fall-out is as follows:-

1) All foreign sites are throttled.

Regardless of CDN’s, font-libraries, supplementary elements, platforms etc.; foreign sites are subjected to government level ‘throttling’.

2) Mobile VPN’s don’t work.

Astrill, one of China’s largest VPN’s – no longer able to support mobile VPN access.
Hidemyass, the VPN I use, connection is intermittent at best.

This thread on Shaghai expat reports, some are experiencing more luck than others, depending on what VPN you subscribe to.

China’s Internet access – Life behind the great firewall

Since May of last year, when the troubles in Hong Kong first erupted, the Chinese government has been changing the way the internet works inLife behind the great firewall of China China.

We’re all aware of the ‘great wall of China’, the system by which China monitors and prevents sites it doesn’t wish it’s residents to view.

Previously, this would have been Facebook, Twitter, certain searches or selected content would be blocked.

Also Youtube.

Not really a massive problem, you could still update your phone, look at maps and do a quick translation. At home, sites were slow to download, but acceptable.

Since May 2014, that’s all changed

China internet restrictions since May 2014

The following sites have been blocked wholesale.

Twitter, Facebook, Google (all sites), Soundcloud, Instagram.

New York Times, Bloomberg, selected international Wikipedia pages, Wikileaks, BBC news and radio.

Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, iStockPhoto.

Flickr, Change.org and most VPN sites.

China now throttles all foreign websites

Something the government does now is ‘throttle‘ foreign websites. ‘Throttle‘ it, makes elements ‘timeout’ and leaving you with an improperly rendered and unreadable page.

This maybe due to font libraries, or CDN (content distribution networks), such as Google font libraries or Edgecast respectively.

Many sites access these services to serve content in a more efficient manner. When this content is blocked, the whole site fails to work.

As a foreign speaking resident, this causes you problems.

The only way to get around this is –

China VPN

There are a number of companies offering VPN, or Virtual Private Network services

**A VPN is a protocol executed to access the internet through a tunnel, a tunnel where your real IP address and location is never revealed.

to get round these restrictions, and be able to go on the websites and access the services you would at home.

I won’t trawl through them, there are sites which tell you how much and the relative features etc.

I picked the one with the largest network of servers. Hide My Ass!

It’s got services in Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong.

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Top 10 apps for visitors to China

Top 10 apps for visitors to China

If you’re planning a trip, or maybe living there as an expat, these are the apps you’re going to want to have installed to your phone to get the most from your experience.

They are my

Top 10 apps for China

Hanping Chinese Camera - china-app
1) Hanping Camera

Takes pictures of text and converts them to English language. Used it quite helpfully on the train to Guangdong, it will have problems if your phone doesn’t have a good camera or if you’ve got shaky hands.
I went through the entire interpretation of the Chinese menu with a Chinese girl, and it got them all correct.
Can’t be bad!
Download at Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.embermitre.hanping.app.reader.pro

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Root Toshiba Excite AT200

Root Toshiba Excite AT200

Toshiba Excite At 200
Toshiba AT200

Just got this little tablet off Taobao.

Priced at just 1,200 Yuan, or around £140 it seemed pretty cheap for a Toshiba tablet.

1st day of use, I discover there is no apps store and Google Play Store isn’t installed. Nor is any other app store.

Next step! Root the AT200! Get the Google Apps installed and have the thing do what I want.

Shock Horror!

Toshiba have something written into their EULA! Yes Toshiba and Android have conspired against the customer!

Contrary to previous court rulings on allowing users UNRESTRICTED access to their devices, in this case you aren’t granted those rights. Toshiba will not let you access and change core aspects of this tablet.

You don’t have the rights and abilities you might have when you buy a new PC.

Can’t add or alter things in the operating system, making it useless for many developers and professional level users.

Let this be a warning to any buyers of the Toshiba Excite AT.

Nice looking tablet. Without full user rights.

Suitable for me so

/grumble over

 

 

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Access Google Play in China, download playstore apps in China

Access Google Play in China, download playstore apps in China

Google Play China: Making US Google play into Chinese Google Play

This guide will instruct you on how to access Google play store in China, or any locale in the world!

It works for all phone types.

It works for all models and carriers.

It will show and make available all the apps and content as available in Google Play Store, US.

Requirements

Phone, USB cable, Internet connection, VPN access (I use HMA), Supporting files.

** Your phone MUST be rooted and running ClockWorkMod OR be able to INSTALL FROM ZIP**. You’ll need to access configurations and allow programs superuser privileges in the /system folder.

Process

Installing Google Play Store on any phone

  1. **Firstly, we need to access the Google Play Storesupported devices page and locate your device. If your device is supported, move on to step 4. If not, (and you’ll find many of the devices sold in China aren’t supported by Google), choose a device from the device list that is the closest approximation to your model.
  2. Install File Commander (included in supporting files). With File Commander, access the /system/build.prop, it will look like this…
    Access Google Play Store in China
    Change the product code for your phone so it works in Google Play Store

    Scroll down to the ro.product.model = GT-S7566
    change it to the model compatible with Google Play Store.
    in my case ro.product.model = GT-S7562. Save the file. A number of screens will come up asking if you wish to change the write permissions of the new file.
    Accept them.
    Restart your Phone.
    It will tell you Android is loading updated software and gave you a short waiting screen.
    Wait.

  3. Next you need to transfer the GAPPS file to your phone’s SD card.
  4. Install the GAPPS file: restart the phone in Recovery mode by pressing UP+DOWN+HOME+POWER simultaneously. Navigate to the GAPPS zip. Install the zip.
  5. Reboot
  6. You will now need to fire up your mobile VPN software to access Google Play from your mobile phone in China. As it is now blocked.

Your phone will now work with Google Play Store and all free apps.

Access Play Store apps in any location Worldwide

This little cheat will allow you to ‘pretend’ you’re a U.S. resident.
Google go to great lengths to make their products available under the correct jurisdictions. If you want your phone to ALWAYS have the maximum apps and content, things will be changing regularly to make sure this stays the case. Search on the ‘net or should subscribe (to my blog), to keep abreast of changes.

  1. Install the Market Enabler apk included in the Supported Files.
  2. Log on to your VPN service. From your VPN go to the ‘Help’ section or knowledge base. From here you should find information about allowing their service to be accessed from your mobile device.
    Using a proxy
    This is the Knowledge base from my VPN

    My VPN’s knowledge base looks something like this. It has all the information you need.
    The process isn’t a difficult one. The hosts guide will guide you through it.

  3. Fire up Market Enabler. Select one of the carriers (in the U.S.) by pressing and holding.
    Select ‘fake this connection now’.
  4. Fire up your VPN Proxy you just set up in step 2. from your mobile device. In mine, it’s in the other settings section.
    Access Google Play Store in China and Worldwide
    Access Google Play Store in China and Worldwide

    If all goes well, it will tell you your device is connected. You will now be surfing from the U.S. from a U.S. carrier for all intents and purposes. (Check this with http://www.iplocation.net/).

  5. Fire up Google Play Store. This will now be running as if you’re a resident of the United States even if, like me, you’re accessing Google Play Store from a mobile in China.

Disclaimer: If you follow this guide exactly in facsimile, you won’t encounter problems. I take no responsibility for your actions other than those following the method above.

 

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Google Play Multi-region access-Noobs Guide:Google apps without installing google play

Google Play Multi-region access-Noobs Guide:Google apps without installing google play

Samsung Galaxy GT-S7566
The new Samsung Galaxy GT-S7566

 ** UPDATE: The information in this guide may no longer be available. Since the changes in mid-2014, many of the GOOGLE APPS services have been severely restricted or curtailed. https://www.michaeltyler.co.uk/life-behind-the-wall-vpn-in-china/

In this guide I talk about accessing and downloading Google apps (apk)’s without having to have the Google Play functioning on your smartphone..

Imagine the horror! After purchasing a brand new Samsung Galaxy S Duo S7566, you discover that due to the regional nature of corporate money making and Geo-politics, you’re disallowed from downloading the latest apps from Google Play just because you live in CHina!

The easiest way around this is to ROOT your phone, remove all the Chinese bloat and apps and set your locale up as somewhere more friendly, perhaps the US or Senegal…

This Rooting will make your phone function like a finely tuned vehicle, or render it useless, depending on your technical skills.

Due to the fact I’ve just purchased my phone, I won’t be taking this route. Instead, I’d like to present…

Accessing Google Play without Rooting your phone – A noobs guide

There’s no rooting involved in this method, just follow the simple steps and you’ll be able to access and download Google Apps on any device from any locale, including China.

Step 1) Check your Device:

No matter what software you’re running, or the state of your build, you need to check your device is supported by the apps store. The list of supported devices is here https://support.google.com/googleplay/answer/1727131?hl=en. Find your device on the list.

Step 2) Log and and visit Google Play:

1 Visit is enough for Google Play to recognise your device. If it doesn’t do this automatically, select the My Orders & Settings link at the bottom. Navigate to the settings tab and it should show a picture of your phone.

Step 3) Download the newest version of Kies:

This is the bundled file management software for Samsung phones. Each manufacturer has a different software. For Samsung phones, you can find the latest version of Kies here http://www.samsung.com/us/kies/.

Step 4) Install Kies:

It may take some time to apply the hotfixes. For my build and locale it was enough time for me to make a drink and then some. About 10-15 mins in all. Once the installation starts, you can wait a little longer.
Installing Kies simply INSURES you have the latest drivers and firmware installed on your phone.

Step 5) Download Snappea:

This is a GUI that draws information directly from your phone. It allows you to transfer files, apps, contacts, mails and messages directly to and from your PC. Download Snappea http://www.snappea.com/.

Step 6) Launch Kies:

Navigate to the ‘Apps Store’. This may require more time whilst changes are made according to your set-up and locale. Be patient.

Step 7) Launch Snappea:

Step 8) Plug in your phone (USB).

Step 9) In Snappea:

The dropdown on the top-left. ‘Connect new phone’. Select ‘connect from USB’.
If this fails, (as was the case with my Chinese market GT-S7566 Samsung), Enter the name of your phone manually in the ‘Phone name incorrect’ option.

Snappea will launch a new window with the name of your phone and all the different functions provided by the software (messages, contacts, sync, etc.)

Step 10) Click the ‘Google Play’ icon:

Select the ‘sign in’. Log into your account and begin downloading.

Hey Presto! Access Google Play apps from all over the world!

No rooting

2 Software downloads.

About 1/2 an hour of your time.

Troubleshooting

Unfortunately, your device still needs to be on the list of Google Play’s supported devices. Which can be found here. https://support.google.com/googleplay/answer/1727131?hl=en

 

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