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. Thank you for the information. The website is available in China but unless you already have a premium version you can’t use Spotify in China. More than blocked in China, Spotify doesn’t offer service in China

  1. Add Axios, Daily Mail, South China Morning Post and Washington Post to your list of censored sites. It seems that every Wikipedia site is blocked now. (Yet China expects to have worldwide access for Huawei and other crapware? Foreign companies with should have gotten their governments to respond ages ago.) Yahoo mail works OK, but not the rest of it. Confused about Skype comments. There’s a Skype.cn, which presumably will allow government snooping. It doesn’t have all my contacts, etc. of my real Skype,which so far I have used with a VPN with uneven results. Right? Wrong? Can authorities access my contacts if I use with/without a VPN? Consensus now is that Astrill works better than Express now; also offers a choice of protocols. They’ll help you get access if you’re already in China.

    1. Thank you I’ll add them in my next update, but notice that this is a limited list showing some relevant examples.
      Skype works fine without VPN (a bit slow) but you should avoid to download it once in China.
      About Astrill maybe works better now (not sure about that), but considering the last years I still think Express is a safer bet in the long term (also Vypr and Nord).

  2. Dear,
    Next month I am coming in China so here my app will work
    What’s up, Insta,FB, gmail, IMO
    If all app will not work than what I need to do for connecting family.
    Thanks for advance

    1. Hi there, all that apps are blocked in China.

      They will work if you use a VPN though. We talk about this in the article.

  3. Hello, i’m a chinese citizen that lives in abroad. This summer i’ll go to China. I wanna know if I use a VPN will i be in trouble? And if I can use the VPN, what cant i do in China?

    1. No, you wont be in trouble. I have been using VPN for past 10 years. Just don’t do anything illegal, don’t complain about Gov.

  4. yahoo was recently blocked, so if youre contemplating between yahoo, and hotmail, then hotmail is better for now, but things could change in the future, and hotmail may get blocked too. the current trend is, only more websites can be blocked, not less. back in the day, the media was saying google would never be blocked, because it’s too “important”, but not only did they block google, they also blocked yahoo. and when google got blocked, people assumed they wouldnt block gmail too, but they were wrong. you cant even install google services into huawei phones. even unpopular search engines like duckduckgo got blocked. less popular email services are unlikely to be blocked, especially paid ones, such as at&t email. email from your isp, or telecom (ie bt, optus, telstra, orange, tiscali) are also good choices. also, google maps has never been blocked

  5. Funny you mention about the porn. If you use the Chinese search engine Baidu, you can find any porn you want. Way to go China. Really cleaning up your internet. What a bunch of morons. Maybe one day they will wake up and join the 20th century. Not the 21st. They’re not that ready yet.

  6. Do you know anything about other VPNs? I just bought Surfshark, few friends suggested that I’d try it as it’s new, so it servers shouldn’t be blocked in China.

    1. Hi, I tested Surfshark during my trip to Beijing two weeks ago. It let me access Facebook, Gmail and Twitter. Only one minus, it doesn’t have app for Mac and iPad.

  7. david dallessandro

    i have a girlfriend in Beijing and i want to set her up with a yahoo email account or hotmail etc which one do you recommend ??

  8. Hello, I am not an expert perse, but have lived here for 20+ years and have seen some changes.
    Just to areas a few points and clear up confusion.
    As @july 2018

    Skype in China is franchised to a Chinese outlet, owned of course by Chinese gvt- forget what it is called down there.
    It has never, in 20 years been blocked, extremely slow most of those years, esp on voice or video [use WeChat for that]
    However it is heavily;y censored, some words will be highlighted wiht a suggestion to rephrase, or the message will not fly. As someone else pointed out, M/soft sold its soul in China by agreeing to provide all your personal details if asked.
    It is unlikely therefore that Skype would ever be blocked- but it is so useless it may as well be.

    Internet speed in China is now slower, esp as the author pointed out, in the evenings – peak time, infrastructure is likely overloaded.
    I think it was 2016 when Xi famously lost his cool with the ISP’s over slow connections.
    Some of my friends report work has been done in their area and service has improved, out here, Shunyi, it is still slow.

    VPN; have tried a few – none on the list- I use a proxy server now, found it is no slower or worse than VPN and the basic service is free, try LANTERN. It has its moments, but is basically good enough for most of what I do- mostly Google products, G+, Analytics etc. It is a peer based service, so is, obviously, better when there are more users on line. I dated a Chinese police woman many years back, she told me all VPN’s etc have to be registered with Chinese authorities anyway. Maybe those that are blocked are those that refuse to pay~!

    Email;
    Those reporting issues with free public web based services may find it is more a problem of their recipients ISP that China. I recall there was a big security update a while back, many ISP’s now consider Gmail, Yahoo mail, etc, etc as SPAM. Your mail may well be be blocked by your friends email provider.

    Blogs
    As the author mentioned, hard to be specific, works today, n may not tomorrow. But don’t over look the likes of Sina, yeah, it is a Chinese portal but I operated a Sina blog, In English very successfully. You will need help to set up maybe, either software translate or a friend, but after that, plain sailing. There is, on some sites, mention of a free blog service “blogcn.com which uses a WordPress format very familiar to most foreigners.
    1/ it is no longer free, but the annual fee is peanuts
    2/ it is unreliable at best, a scam at worst, 85% of time it is error 502.
    Don’t be fooled, not worth the money, stick with Sina or get WeChat.

    Anti foreigner
    Although there is certainly more Chinese patriotism around these days, I have not experienced any anti- foreigner as such [AA post June 2018] However, racism is still rife here, dark skinned people or those heavily tattooed may experience difficulty obtaining service in some places, esp smaller, rural, traditional regions. I am not aware of any restrictions on opening bank accounts either- at least mid May 2018 the was no such issue. Maybe part of the problem here is caused by trolls posting inflammatory comments to which other react.

    1. Hi there, thank you for your feedback. I think the “Chinese Skype” is called “tomcat”, or something similar.

  9. pardon me, but i dont believe that vpn’s work fine. they remind me of the dial up connection that we were familiar with in the 90s.

  10. What about webRTC functionality? I was trying to test with a potential client in China, and login works, but did not see audio and video.

  11. Why I use VPN, but still can’t use Whatsapp, it’s keeping connecting. Facebook, twitter can be used.
    What’s wrong?

    1. What VPN are you using? The problem might be that the VPN is only encrypting your browser traffic or only some specific Apps use

  12. Hi, thanks for all your kind advice, I’ve been living in China for 7 years and love it, if u wanna live here happily then u must either get a VPN (before you come) or just use Chinese apps

  13. WeChat always works. WhatsApp does not work (well) at the moment. I wanted to ask about KIK (messager), one of my friends asked me to look into it, does it work right now? BTW I live in Chendu and use ExpressVPN.

    1. well that’s funny got locked out after 12 yrs –hadn’t even put anyone I contacts yet–cant use now because tied to number and don’t have anybody to notify to verify me

  14. Whatsapp.com website is accessible in mainland China at the moment, though i’m not sure how the service itself works.

    Skype is not blocked because it doesn’t utilize end-to-end encrpytion and Microsoft is clearly stating in the EULA that they will provide relevant information to the authorities if asked properly (court order and other stuff; in China easy game). Whatsapp team says they are unable to provide any because they themselves can’t see what is happening in their service.

  15. Hi!
    I will be travelling to China next Monday… i have some questions of what apps are allowed to use, i will be using the wifi from my hotel, so i wanted to know:
    1. can i use whatsapp?
    2. can i use instagram?
    3. can i use gmail?
    thks!

      1. Hi,

        We are going to Beijing and Shanghai in 2 weeks. I would like to know if Skype will work there , will be using the wifi at the hotel. Because skype is now connected to Microsoft. I am wondering if Skype will work there. I’ve read in some forum that Skype doesnt work unless your connected wth a VPN but it says here, it would work without VPN. Thank you.

        1. At the present moment Skype works “fine” in China (a bit slow as always). There’s a bit confusion with Skype because some people read headlines without reading the full news, the only thing is that Skype app is not available any more in App Store and Android App Markets in China.

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