What exactly can and can't you do Internet-wise in China? The truth is, with scores of new web-sites and changing regulations, it isn't always easy to tell. That's why we're going to break it down for you right here.
Let's start with what you can do, shall we?
What you can you do on the Internet in China? In China you can access the Internet, however it is a highly censored Internet, meaning certain sites and "questionable" search terms are censored.
Where can you search? The top search engines accessible are the local heavy hitters including Baidu, Qihoo 360 Search and Sogou. International search engines, which are less popular, in-clude Chinese censored versions of: Bing and Yahoo.
What you can search? Well, you can search for a variety of everyday terms but if you start to get a bit too close to politically-sensitive terms (intentionally or unintentionally) you're walking into uncertain territory.
And last but not least, how can you connect with friends? Some of China's local social net-works are among the largest in the world. Social networks available include: Facebook-like Ren-ren, character-limited Sina Weibo,microblog Tecent Weibo, Weixin messenger, and Qzone- a multi-media sharing platform and the largest local Chinese social network with 645+ million users videos.
What can't you do on the Internet in China?
Quite a bit.
In China, the world's leading search engine, Google, along with its many of its helpful utilities like Gmail, Google Maps and Google Drive, are blocked. Also blocked is Duckduckgo-- a search engine that doesn't track your online activity.
Even if you're on an approved search engine, however, there are many terms and keywords which are censored. For instance, spiritually-related topics like Falun Gong and of course, topics related to controversial political events such as Tiananmen Square are no-gos.
Ironically, some terms which could be potentially harmless like 'jiang', which means river, are banned due to their association. In the case of jiang, this is a common surname which happens to be tied to the rumors about the death of Jiang Zemin, former General Secretary of the Com-munist Party of China.
Along with specific terms, international new sources, like BBC.com, a number of file sharing sites, like Dropbox, and porn sites are also blocked completely.
As far as social media, many of the world's most popular social networks are inaccessible. These include: Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, YouTube and Instagram and more.
How to Jump the Great Firewall
Still not sure of exactly what you can and can't do? If you're in doubt and want to know exactly which sites and terms are blocked in China, great resources include Greatfire.org and Blocke-dinchina.net. These site tells you exactly which keywords and websites are currently blocked by the country's Great Firewall.
If you'd rather not tip-toe around China's extensive Internet regulations, the best way to browse the web is with a VPN. A VPN, Virtual Private Network, is a technology that allows you to con-nect to another network, generally located abroad, through a secure and encrypted internet con-nection. This technology allows you to browse with complete anonymity, so you can enjoy the web exactly as you should-- surfing freely.
The author, Karen Mesoznik is the Inbound Marketing Manager at SaferVPN. SaferVPN is a VPN provider that has partnered with movements.org to launch #UnblockTheWeb, a movement that aims to provide dissidents in closed societies around the world with anonymous, unrestricted access to the web.