Internet in China: experience from a visitor

On my recent trip in China I used the Internet. I knew of the Chinese Firewall but I didn’t investigate much before going there. I just thought… I hope that I’ll have access to my small VPS server or to my home computer using ssh and from there I can just use SOCKS or something else if I need to. I didn’t have any VPN at that point.

I couldn’t access (but one can access, the Hong Kong one). And I realized that I do access more often that I thought… and I couldn’t access (!!). is not accessible,, either. Or Dropbox: not possible either and I found about Dropbox after uploading the photos of the trip when I was back in London and I shared the links with the Chinese friends (and sadly, and for the first time, I paid one month to Dropbox to have more space… but it wasn’t useful).

I could access my VPS server without problems which was great! (and where I could share the photos after all).

I had my ssh + SOCKS server but from the two hotels where I was the Internet connection was so slow! Downloading files from Europe was about 30 KB/s (just downloading, no SOCKS server or anything like this).

Some days I was just using SOCKS to have “normal Internet”. But on other days I was trying to use “Internet as the Chinese use it!”.

There are many dependencies with Google services: I wanted to download an app for the phone and the app store didn’t work. Or, the thing that surprised me the most: I bought an Easyjet plane ticket without problems, but then I was buying a ticket from Interestingly during the process of buying the browser stopped responding. I was having a look and the problem that their website use some Javascript from Google: which was not available!

I asked a few people. The ones that have international friends know how to use proxies and VPNs. The other ones, without international friends: they just live in the Chinese Internet.

According to Wikipedia it seems that they do this for control and also to help to Chinese alternatives (and I guess that they can control the Chinese alternatives better than international ones).

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