The Golden Shield Project also known as the Great Firewall of China, a take on the Great Wall of China is one of the most well known firewall implementations which restricts and controls the type of information that the citizens and residents within China can access. The system has been in place for well over ten years and is one of the most restrictive and well known country wide firewalls in operation.
China is one of the largest exporters of products the world has ever seen and with increased trade between all worldwide countries it is regularly visited by business men and women from all corners of the globe. One of the main concerns when visiting China either on business or for leisure is accessing the outside world that we have become so accustomed to doing.
Why you need a VPN for China
The majority of people like to check in on Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites to keep abreast of what their friends or colleagues are doing while they are travelling, the same can be said for keeping up with videos posted on Youtube and the like.
Unfortunately these are all the types of sites that are blocked in China and this is only the tip of the iceberg. The way information is controlled within China leads to many popular international news websites also being blocked which makes it impossible to even keep up to date with what is happening in the world never mind just what your friends are doing.
For business users keeping up to date with the latest news be it business or every day can be an important part of either running a successful business or being part of one. Without the ability to check up on stocks and world events it can cause a major headache.
The types of restrictions in place are quite wide ranging in China and are rather technical compared to many other countries, this means that using simple systems such as “proxies” very rarely (if ever) work because not only are the majority blocked but there are also systems in place to detect such bypass tactics.
A range of blocking tactics is employed and includes IP blocking, DNS filtering with redirection, Packet filtering, URL filtering and the resetting of connections. As you can understand this gives a massive advantage to those that control the firewall system and enables blocking to be carried out thoroughly.
How to unblock websites in China
One of the best systems to bypass blocks in place is the make use of a Virtual Private Network, also known as a VPN. The reason these can work inside China is they allow your connection in China to basically tunnel out to a server outside of China and while doing this encrypt all the data being sent over the connection.
This means that the great firewall of China can not see exactly what type of websites or services you’re accessing. For example if you tried to visit Facebook the firewall could see that you are attempting to access Facebook and disallow it. When using a VPN the firewall only sees a connection to a random server somewhere in the world and because of the encryption it is very difficult for them to see what it is exactly in this connection that you’re doing.
It isn’t all as clear cut as it sounds and the use of VPN services within China is widely known and attempts to block them are regularly employed. Sometimes due to the size of the VPN provider the actual servers outside of China are already blocked by the firewall and making connection would be impossible.
China are also making use of such tactics like deep packet inspection which attempts to peer inside the encrypted connection and while it is unlikely they can see exactly what you’re doing when they spot actual markers of a VPN connection they will block it as they will assume you’re using it to bypass their initial firewall.
Top 3 VPN Providers for China
- VyprVPN (中国)
Luckily the company Golden Frog via their VPN service, VyprVPN have recently introduced a new type of VPN protocol which is a proprietary protocol. The benefit of this is there is no publicly accessible information available on the workings of this which would make it extremely difficult for the Chinese government to understand the workings behind it and pick up the markers that would lead to the discovery that what it is, is a VPN connection.
Chameleon as it is aptly titled takes the base OpenVPN protocol and scrambles the packet metadata which results in it not being recognisable as a VPN connection to such systems as the great firewall of China.
Why this is a greater improvement over using a general VPN type connection is using deep packet inspection would not flag up the connection as a VPN connection thus allowing you to access all the websites from within China that you would usually use outside of China. So if you wanted to check up on Facebook, read the latest news or access Dropbox then none of this would be a problem due to the Chameleon protocol.
VyprVPN offer the Chameleon service on their Pro and Premier packages, the cheapest costing you just US$8.33 per month if taking a yearly package, it also comes with a three day free trial so you can see fully that it does actually do the job they say it does. If you’re interested in getting started with their 3 day trial then just head over to their website. Due to this unique VPN connection type it makes VyprVPN the best choice for a VPN service in China and comes highly recommended by ourselves as well as regularly being recommended by users on sites such as Reddit.
Image courtesy of Ohmega1982 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net