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
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.
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 –
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.
Doing live translations on your phone is now impossible, unless you have a VPN. Looking at maps on your phone is also much harder.
This has made navigation around the streets of China impossible unless you have a VPN or happen to be able to read and translate Mandarin.
Truly a step backwards for China, and one of the reasons many of the expats are leaving.
If you wish to stay however, you will need a mobile vpn app.
With the mobile app from Hide My Ass, I can access both of these services. The app usually dials up on the first try and connects in under one minute.
Speeds are fast.There are 6 in Hong Kong which I tend to swop between, alternatively Taiwan or the UK or the West Coast of USA depending on what software I’m downloading, or what app I’m using.
This makes life in China bearable, but slow.
Making China life the happy time
Predictions for the future, with economic problems on the event horizon, are not good. We can only see restrictions get heavier, traffic and sites presenting foreign views or content becoming more restricted.
One of my favorite China sites, Chinasmack, is one such example. It takes stories that are trending on Chinese social media, and translates them into English.
It’s advertisers are placing it under pressure, as they view much of their content as ‘negative’ and portraying China in a ‘bad light’.
This site is about to go under and you can support it here.
With the continuing protests in Hong Kong, China is now a ‘watch this space’. Which is getting harder and harder for the residents themselves.