This is What the Internet in China is Like

China’s ‘Great Firewall’ is dismaying. Links to the outside world get worse and worse. When I lived in China 2002-2010, we went through periods of openness, times when typhoons downed key overseas cables, periodic targeted blocks of news outlets like BBC and NYT, and on it grew in scale to the situation today: a wide swath of the outside internet is inaccessible without VPN.

Shown in my browser, I used my VPN to load AOL Reader, then turned it off, and started opening my regular news and blog sites. “Page Cannot be Displayed” or endlessly trying to load for nearly all.

Internet in China

In my Shanghai Meetup, the votes for current best VPN went to ExpressVPN. China-based VPNDada, Cloudwards, and the site Best VPN, also rank ExpressVPN as tops. I have been struggling along with Witopia and need something better so will try this one next.

Some hotels connect through Hong Kong which is great if you can find ’em!

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  • Chris F.

    I have heard ExpressVPN rated highly, and used to use Witopia, so I can certainly feel your pain there. We left Witopia about 2-3 years ago for 12vpn, which has been top-notch. What I most like about 12vpn is the incredible service. Neil, who I believe is either the founder or at least has been there since the beginning, responds to each of my support requests, so that I have lately taken to just addressing him directly when writing. We move around a lot in China, and there’s usually little tweaks needed to different settings, and he’s very patient in sorting through the mess with me.

    As far as the service, we have the annual plan and have two computers constantly running the vpn so as to keep our Dropbox accounts synced. Except for the tweaks needed when we move around, there’s rarely any downtime, and they respond to server outages in hours — not even necessary as they have dozens of servers to choose from.

    I was sorry I couldn’t make it to the SH meetup. We were planning a trip to Nanjing and I was going to hop on a train for the night, but things fell apart and we had to run to Chengdu instead.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Chris F – thanks for another option. Sorry missed you in SH – Chengdu is one of my China favorites, I would run there anytime.

  • I have used ExpressVPN for my past two China trips, and I must say it works fairly well. There are some frustrating disconnections and I experienced a couple times where it had trouble connecting, but overall I’m quite satisfied. The speeds were quite good, and the customer service was excellent (although it was done by email, and I’m a gmail guy, so if I didn’t have data on my phone it might have been an issue).

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