The Great Firewall of China is implemented by the government in order to control the internet. Currently many sites you may use on a regular basis are blocked permanently (Facebook, YouTube, Blogger, to name a few). It is becoming increasingly more restrictive, as recently Google and many of its services have been blocked indefinitely. It is certainly possible to to go about your daily internet activities under the GFC, but if you feel that it is substantially disruptive, you can choose to purchase a VPN which allows you to bypass it. VPNs are illegal but many people do use them on a regular basis, both foreigners and locals.
Have you ever Instagramed on your computer? No – I didn’t think so. So because now Instagram is blocked courtesy Umbrella Revolution, make sure you can get around with a VPN usable on MULTIPLE DEVICES. Woe to the one who finds their VPN only works on a computer and NOT their phone, lest they shell out another 99 dollars for VPN numba 2.
Also, thanks to the CCP, Gmail is sporadic. So before you leave for the the People’s Republic, be sure to use Apple Mail or Outlook or something on your laptop so you aren’t accessing www.gmail.com. Those servers are blocked but the 3rd party connection with SMTP or PPTP or ABCE something still holds strong.
While giving a voice to the proletariat via social media platforms could undermine one-party control (someone else can write about that), this is not the only explanation. For example, why is Weibo allowed but Twitter if they pretty much do the same thing? Another explanation is also cause the Politburo wants to protect their land’s businesses and startups. Case in point Baidu vs. Google, YouKu vs YouTube or the showdown of RenRen Wang vs Facebook. Guess who wins when you play on China’s turf? Good luck Zuck…
However, America fights this firewall with fire too, blocking Huawei Phones (spies anyone?), foodstuffs made in China (see Jan. ’15 news from PetCo as one example) and Tourism Births ala 北京遇上西雅图 seeking the 14th amendment. All true.
I would be careful when dealing with this topic. The reason is because the use of VPNs is like many things that we know are to be true of a variety of nations around the world and I will not mention specific examples because most people I think already know — it is something that we might engage in; however, that does not mean that it is 100% legal. Many people would tell me well of course it is legal, but on the other hand, then why would the government go around shutting down connections to outside internet sources and/or why not have a completely open internet if it was totally legal.
The truth is that they are not trying to protect us, but are trying to protect the common people in China who would not know what to do with the information once you get it. While I would agree that it is about protection of local companies, it is more about access to information or more precisely what people can do with that information. You need to check the sources as to why different websites were blocked (e.g. the real reason Facebook and the New York Times for example are blocked)
If you are thinking about a VPN, the free ones, of course provide a lot of junk on your computer, and I personally would only use a recommended one by a friend that may have a website but is not one of them that many people list all over the internet or that most people know about. The reason is that you are less likely to experience problems with it and remember that in China EVERYTHING is monitored whether on a VPN or not.