The List of Blocked Websites in China

The list of blocked websites in China

You probably already know that websites such as Facebook, YouTube or Google are blocked in China and that the best way to access them is with a VPN.

But what about the other hundreds of websites or apps that we use every day?

Can you be sure that they’ll work in China?

One of the most common questions we get is whether a given website or app, such as Dropbox or Google Play, is blocked in China.

In this article, we list all of the popular websites and apps which currently don’t work behind the Great Firewall of China, which is the system developed by the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) to control access to online services considered “dangerous” for Chinese citizens.

Blocked websites in China: highlights and latest news

VPNs continue to provide access to websites blocked in China

VPNs continue to be the best way to get around the Great Firewall of China. Nonetheless, last year, many VPNs stopped working or their services were affected substantially.

In this article, which is updated monthly, you can see which VPNs continue to work in China.

LinkedIn is not available in China

At the end of 2021, Linkedin closed the Chinese local version due to difficulties in adapting to local data protection legislation. However, the platform has been replaced with a local application called InCareer. This app is a simplified version of LinkedIn that still allows employers and job seekers to connect with one another but removes the social feed.

Zoom is partially blocked in China

In August 2020, Zoom released a local version for users in China. The international version is blocked. Individual users can join meetings but cannot organize them. Premium users have to subscribe through the local partner to be able to create meetings.

WhatsApp and other popular messaging apps don’t work in China

Since September 2017, WhatsApp is blocked in China. Currently, without using a VPN, you can’t send or receive voice messages, videos, images, or any other type of files.

Text messages can sometimes get around the restrictions, but they can take hours or days.

Other popular messaging apps, like Messenger, Telegram, Snapchat, and Line, are also blocked.

Skype continues to work in China

In December 2017, the Skype app disappeared from the App Store and other app markets in China. Even so, Skype has never stopped working in China.

App Store doesn’t allow to download VPN apps in China

App Store blocks users located in China from downloading VPN apps, which means that you will not be able to download any VPN or update it unless you have a VPN active on your phone (manually configured or by downloading the app in advance).

TikTok is blocked in China

Despite being owned by a Chinese company, TikTok is blocked in China, like other popular social media platforms. China has a local version of TikTok called Douyin.

List of blocked websites in China

Here’s a list of the most popular websites and apps which are currently blocked in China:

Social

Apps

Search Engines

  • Google (Google.com and all local versions)
  • Ask.com
  • Duck Duck Go
  • Yahoo
  • Various foreign versions of Baidu

Video Sharing

Media

  • The New York Times
  • The Financial Times
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • The Economist
  • Bloomberg
  • Reuters
  • The Washington Post
  • The South China Morning Post
  • The Independent
  • The Daily Mail
  • LeMonde
  • L’Equipe
  • Google News
  • Many Wikipedia pages
  • Wikileaks

Streaming Platforms

  • Netflix (no service, website accessible)
  • HBO Max and HBO Asia
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Hulu (no service, website accessible)
  • Twitch
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Spotify
  • SoundCloud
  • Pandora Radio
  • Some local versions of HBO, Fox and Syfy
  • NBC
  • PlayStation

Email Providers and Work Tools

  • Gmail
  • Google Drive
  • Google Docs
  • Google Calendar
  • Generally speaking, all Google services
  • Zoom (local version)
  • Dropbox
  • ShutterStock
  • SlideShare
  • Slack
  • iStockPhotos
  • WayBackMachine
  • Scribd
  • Xing
  • Android
  • Most VPN websites

Adult Websites

Adult websites are almost all blocked; I don’t know of any exceptions.

List of websites and apps that AREN’T blocked in China

Below is a non-exhaustive list of websites and apps that are popular in the West that haven’t yet been blocked in China:

Calls and Video Calls

  • WeChat
  • FaceTime
  • Skype (not very reliable)

Social

  • WeChat
  • InCareer (Linkedin local version)
  • Douyin (Tiktok local version)
  • Xiaohongshu

Instant Messaging

  • iMessage
  • WeChat

Streaming Platforms

  • Tencent Video
  • iQIYI
  • Vevo

Search Engines

  • Bing
  • Baidu
  • Yandex

Email Providers and Work Tools

  • Yahoo Mail
  • Hotmail
  • WeTransfer

What about Chinese websites?

In general, all Chinese websites work and are extremely fast. Note that if you’re using a VPN, some Chinese websites will not work properly (for example, many of the videos on Youku won’t be available). This is because some websites work only in China and by turning on a VPN, you are “masking” your Chinese IP address with that of another country.

How to know if a website is blocked in China

The list published in this article is not exhaustive. Keep in mind that the situation is constantly changing: a website that’s blocked today could work tomorrow and vice versa – a website that works today could stop working in twenty minutes.

To check whether a given website is blocked, you can just enter the URL into one of the numerous tools like the ones offered by Comparitech, guru99 or the Greatfire Analyzer.

Besides, some websites are partially blocked, some go on and off and others, despite not being blocked, are so slow that they are practically unusable. The classic example is video calls on Skype: the connection is often so slow that you’ll want to skip the call.

How to access blocked websites in China

The easiest and most popular solution is to subscribe to a VPN service (here you can find the services we currently recommend).

However, note that especially after 8 PM (Beijing time), websites hosted by servers outside of China (basically all Western sites) are often so slow that they are unusable. I’m not sure why, but my theory is that this is the hour of peak traffic between China and the West (since it’s the morning in the USA and the afternoon in Europe).

As a result, the data lines are maxed out, so say goodbye to your connection! I don’t even know if the problem is a result of the Great Firewall or simply a physical limit between China and the rest of the planet.

Is it legal to use a VPN?

Disclaimer: here at SDC we are not qualified to give any legal advice; therefore if you choose to use a VPN, you do so at your own risk.

That being said, our interpretation is that using a VPN (an acronym for a Virtual Private Network) is not an illegal act in and of itself, since it uses a technology developed to extend the benefits of private networks to connections that browse the Internet (or for use on a public network).

Therefore, a VPN is a software designed to improve the security of your connection (click here to learn the technical details). Specifically, many universities and presumably Chinese government offices use a VPN system to isolate their internal network from the public.

So, the problem isn’t so much using a VPN as much as the fact that you’re accessing websites that aren’t permitted in China. Is that a crime? The reality is that we have no idea and therefore can’t offer any advice.

On a practical level, our opinion is that the Chinese government couldn’t care less if you use a VPN to log on to your Facebook profile or your Dropbox.

Of course, if you intend to use the Internet fraudulently, VPN or not, be aware that you’re taking a risk both in China and abroad.

Is it true that all VPN access has been blocked?

This information, published by Bloomberg in 2017 and originating from an unknown source, was quite doubtful at the time and was quickly debunked by the Chinese Ministry of Industry.

China indeed started a campaign to limit VPN use in 2017, which reached its peak in 2018, but it was mainly focused on companies with headquarters in China, such as GreenVPN. Despite one-time attacks, this campaign was not extended to all VPNs, probably for two main reasons: technically speaking, it’s difficult to be able to block access to the global network, and this could severely affect the Chinese economy (many small businesses and individuals depend on this type of service for their business activities).

In 2017 and 2018, many VPNs stopped working or their performance was seriously affected. During the following years, periodic campaigns of increased restrictions have taken place, reducing the functionality of many VPNs. However, some well-known VPN services (such as those we recommend in this article) continue to work well, and it’s unlikely that they will stop working. These types of campaigns have become common over the years, especially around important political or social events (the Olympic Games, party congresses, etc.).

Other frequently asked questions

What social media platforms are blocked in China?
The majority of Western social media platforms are blocked in China, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, TikTok and many others.

In China, there are multiple local social media platforms. The most popular one are WeChat and XiaoHongShu.

Is WhatsApp blocked in China?
Since September 2017, WhatsApp has been almost completely blocked in China. While sending voice messages, images or making video calls is only possible using a system like a VPN, text messages sometimes are able to get through the blockage.

Other instant messaging apps, such as FB Messenger, Line, Telegram, or Viber, are also blocked in China. The only exceptions are the Chinese apps WeChat or Weixin.

Is Skype blocked in China?
Currently, Skype continues to work in China, although the quality of voice and video calls is often quite poor and these calls may be monitored by third parties. A VPN can help you improve the quality of Skype’s services and avoid being spied on. In addition, you can’t download the Skype app in China unless you have a VPN.
Is Instagram blocked in China?
The majority of Western social media websites such as Instagram are blocked in China. That means that if you want to continue to post your photos on Instagram or see updates from the people you are following, your only option is to use a VPN or a similar service.
Are iTunes and the App Store blocked in China?
Although iTunes and the App Store are not blocked in China, much of their content is filtered and therefore not available. In addition, every once in a while, they stop working for an indefinite period of time, which is very annoying if you don’t have a system to get around the blockage.
How can I access Google in China?
a href=”https://www.saporedicina.com/english/unblock-google-china/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Google and all of its services (Gmail, Google Play and Google Docs) are blocked in China and you won’t be able to access them unless you have some way to get around the Great Firewall. Currently, VPNs continue to be the best solution.
Are Yahoo and Yahoo Mail blocked in China?

While the Yahoo website and Yahoo Mail are still accessible, Yahoo’s search engine (search.yahoo.com) has not been accessible in China since September 2018.

Is Pinterest blocked in China?
As of March 2017, like with other social media websites, Pinterest is not accessible in China unless you use a system to get around the Great Firewall of China, such as a VPN.
Is LinkedIn banned in China?
LinkedIn has been replaced by InCareer a local version with much fewer functionalities.
Is Snapchat allowed in China?
Just like other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram, Snapchat is blocked in China. Therefore, if you want to use Snapchat during your stay in China, you will have to have a VPN service to be able to use it.
Is Dropbox blocked in China? Why?
Yes. Currently, Dropbox can’t be accessed in China without a VPN. If you have Dropbox installed on your computer, synchronization won’t work until you connect your VPN.

The reason for the blocking is probably a business reason, so that preference is given to local cloud storage systems.

Can I use FaceTime in China?
FaceTime can be used in China without problems. Even so, just like what happens with Skype over certain connections, its performance is far from optimal.
Does Viber work in China?
Since 2014, Viber, like many other similar services, is blocked in China. Therefore, your only option to access Viber’s services without restrictions during your stay in China is to acquire a service that allows you to get around blocking, such as a VPN.
Is Quora blocked in China?
Since August 2018, Quora has been inaccessible from China without using a system to get around the Great Firewall, such as a VPN.

Not all other similar question-answer services are blocked in China. While Yahoo Answers and Stack Exchange are still accessible, AskReddit and Answers.com are blocked.

Is my website blocked in China?
Many websites are blocked daily by the Great Firewall. To find out if your website is being blocked for users connecting from China,you can check out this website. You also have to remember that if you have a blog on the free services WordPress or Blogspot, your blog won’t be accessible in China.
Why is my website blocked in China and what can I do?
The Great Firewall blocks websites that may contain sensitive content. The problem is that the blocking is carried out at the IP address level, and sometimes websites that shouldn’t be blocked due to their content are blocked due to the content of the sites with which they share a server. If your website has been blocked for this reason, the best solution is for you to get a dedicated IP address from your hosting provider.
What are the alternatives to Facebook in China?
In China, the alternative most similar to Facebook is Renren.com (人人 网). Nonetheless, over the past years, this website has progressively lost its popularity, and now very few people use it. Currently, the app-within-an-app model called WeChat is much more popular, and in addition to other services, it offers a mobile platform that is very similar to Facebook.
What are the alternatives to Twitter in China?
The microblogging platform most similar to Twitter in China is Weibo.com (微博). Nonetheless, as has happened with other “social media,” Weibo has lost a lot of popularity over the past years due to the appearance of WeChat and XiaoHongShu.
What are the alternatives to YouTube in China?
In China, there are multiple alternatives to YouTube, with the most popular ones being Tudou, Youku, Tencent video and iQIYI. In any event, all of these platforms are grouped on Baidu video (百度视频).
What are the alternatives to Instagram in China?
There are multiple photo sharing websites and apps in China, but for the time being, none of them have become very popular. One of the most popular is Nice, but for the moment, it only has 12 million active users, which is far from WeChat’s 500 million users.
What search engine should I use in China?
In China, the most used search engine is without doubt baidu.com (百度). Even so, other search engines such as Yahoo or Bing can be used, although the results will be filtered through the Great Firewall. Unless you want to look up websites in Chinese, for which Baidu is a good option, using a VPN will be the only way to really find what you are looking for (without filters or restrictions).

Best Working VPNs for China (our choice)

Express VPNExpressVPN: Fast, easy to use, and a reliable VPN for China. The recommended choice for non-tech-savvy people.

Nord VPNNordVPN: Reliable, complete, and easy to use. One of the most popular choices in China.

IvacyIvacy: Good performance in China at a very low price. The recommended choice to have as a backup.

SurfsharkSurfshark: Cheap, very complete and it has an excellent performance in China. A good alternative to the big providers.

Photo Credits: Photo by Gerd Altmann on Pixabay

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188 thoughts on “The List of Blocked Websites in China”

  1. Libya

    On January 24, 2010, Libya permanently blocked YouTube after it featured videos of demonstrations in the Libyan city of Benghazi by families of detainees who were killed in Abu Salim prison in 1996, as well as videos of family members of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi at parties.[52] The ban was condemned by Human Rights Watch.[53] In November 2011, after the Libyan Civil War, YouTube was once again allowed in Libya,[54] but did not launch a local version of the site until early 2015.

    Source: Wikipedia

  2. there are so much better vpn software out there?why do you keep reviewing the same ones?express vpn is one of the worst so far. I always had problems connecting successfully. Most of the people prefer astrill. Also i personally use premium version of Hotspot shield vpn and i am very happy with that. Also paid 12vpn is very good too. By the way free betternet vpn and thunder vpn can sometimes connect much better and faster than the other paid ones.

    1. Thank you for your feedback. We try to review the VPNs that in our opinion worked well in the past, still work, and probably will work in the future. Of course, this can be a bit subjective and some people would prefer other VPNs

  3. is there a possible way to enter to Kakao Talk? I’ve heard that you can use it if you have an account created with an international number

  4. I’ll be spending the summer 2020 in mainland China. While there I want to take an on-line class from an American college. Is that possible? Thanks.

    1. I don’t think it will be blocked, but you never know. You can use the tools suggested here to check it.
      Notice that accessing websites hosted outside China can be extremely slow without a VPN

      1. Thanks. One site says it appears to be accessible from mainland China, and the other site says 100% blocked: (CURLE_COULDNT_CONNECT). : ( Looks like I should get a VPN.

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