Using a VPN in China

Hong Kong is a great place to move to. It’s true that it’s on our list of most expensive places to move to but the reason it’s so expensive is that it’s such a tremendous business hub and wages there are extremely high. There is a tremendous quality of living in HK, top-notch education, great restaurants, and it’s within flight distance of the best places to travel in Asia. I absolutely loved it both as a tourist and an expat. It is a one of a kind experience and it is not nearly as tough as moving to or traveling in China, additionally – being only partially under Chinese law ,  the internet is not blocked as a part of the Great Firewall of China. You can use  Facebook, Whatsapp and Google.

China is a whole different story. It is not particularly tourist friendly, a lot of people don’t speak English and those who do aren’t understandable. The signs are in Chinese, the food is distinct (not to say yucky), and people aren’t getting out of their way to be friendly. I would not suggest moving there but considering it is soon-to-be the world’s greatest superpower, sometimes work and business force you to move there for either short or long periods of time.

One major major issues in China is that blockage of the internet. There are a lot of services which are just unavailable there. You won’t be able to log into Facebook or Whatsapp or use Google for searches (and Baidu, the leading Chinese search engine, can’t be used by non-locals – it is non-understandable). That pose a serious problem. Not only you travel to the other side o the world to work, you would also not be able to watch TV from back home, or speak to your loved ones through the VOIP services.

VPN Services in China

What expatriates have discovered some time ago (and locals are starting to get the hang of it as well) is that there are services that can help you bypass the Chinese censorship and they are very easy to use and very inexpensive. These services are called VPN – Virtual Private Networks. They enable expats to log into the internet from a non-HK IP, and thus, Chinese censorship fails to work upon using it. Below is a short summary of what VPN are and aren’t.

VPN are:

  • A way to avoid censorship
  • A way to watch restricted content from the country it is not purposed to be available in
  • A way to avoid government surveillance
  • Not expensive. Good ones cost as little as $3 a month
  • Going to slow your connection by a little

VPN are not:

  • Fail proof. Even the good ones have IPs that are sometimes are unavailable
  • Completely and utterly safe as companies try to present them
  • Always available, especially in China that blocks them actively. It’s a mouse and cat race between them.

Which VPN to choose?

The choice of a VPN is not one of the most critical decisions you are going to do upon moving or travelling in China. The costs and functionalities are somewhat alike between various providers. The only thing to keep in mind is sticking to recognizable brands which have proved to be truly confidential with their clients’ data and have the capabilities to take care of. I think choosing any of these “Top 5” will do honestly, unless you WORK online and in that case it’s a completely different thing. I would suggest, in case you really need a variety of IPs and to make sure internet is lightning fast, just to sign up with several providers and see which one meets your standards.





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