“Can I use Facebook in China?”

Unsurprisingly, this is the most common question I hear when going through the application process with someone. The answer to that question is yes. You can use Facebook in China.

How? It’s easy.

You’ll need a VPN. This naturally leads to the second most common question – what is a VPN?

VPN is short for ‘Virtual Private Network’. To bypass all the technical terms, using a VPN service makes it appear as though you are accessing the internet from another location. You’ll connect through your service of choice and (typically) be able to select from a number of countries and cities. Once connected, your internet connection will operate exactly as if you were within that city.

This means you can get around the Great Firewall of China and have full access to this:

An alleged map of the internet.

An alleged map of the internet.

You won’t only need a VPN for Facebook, you’ll need it for loads of other blocked sites.

Want to share a document on Google Drive? Blocked. Saw a horse in the middle of a busy intersection downtown and want to tweet about it? Blocked. Catching up on current events with the New York Times? Sorry, blocked.

Wikipedia lays down an extensive list of current and past sites that China blocks (fortunately, this list is not blocked).

Why are these sites blocked? It’s a complicated answer. In short, the government has chosen to restrict information in China. If you have a few minutes to spare and want a more satisfying answer, Vice and Shanghaiist team up together in this recent and detailed interview as to why China has chosen to eliminate information from outside of The Middle Kingdom.

Is a VPN Required for Living in China?

Required might be a little strong. If you wish to keep using Facebook in China, Netflix, Twitter and Google Drive – yes, it’s required. It’s the only way.

However, if you wish to surf the web like a local, feel free. China has their own equivalent of your long lost sites. You’ll certainly be stepping up your Chinese reading level!

While you should explore the Chinese internet, realistically, you’ll miss your old sites. Especially Facebook, that’s a big one! Homesickness will certainly set in during your time away. Being able to send a quick message, share a thought and look at pictures of loved ones will go far.

The VPN Loophole: Having Your Cake and Tweeting it Too

Having a VPN allows you to access every site you typically use back home in a safe and secure manner.

Just like most things in life, it ain’t free. We pay a mere $7.50/month.

So, if I’m bored at the Beijing airport in between flights, I have the option to scroll through Facebook and see what people are doing back home, access Gmail and check in with family, or read one of my favorite WordPress blogs.

With a VPN, you have all the internet access you’re accustomed to while living in China!

For both Mac, Windows and even Android users, we recommend Express VPN. This VPN has been consistently excellent during my three years in China. For any hiccups that occurred, we were compensated with six months of free service. That’s a sign of any company worth your time.

Aside From Facebook in China, Get General Internet Security

facebook in china vpn chinese internet great fire wall

Checking Facebook in China and using Netflix is great, but internet security is a VPN’s real selling point. Using a VPN inherently protects your data that is being transmitted through unsecured public Wifi connections and other shady access points you’ll likely end up using. Having a VPN involved makes checking your international bank account from a public coffee shop connection in Inner Mongolia a safe idea.

Rest assured, you will spend time accessing sensitive information while you’re in China. Bank accounts are only the beginning. Depending on what you choose to do, you’ll likely end up sending pictures of your passport, ID, diploma and so much more. You’ll probably also be doing some online wire transfers. With all this sensitive information flowing through your internet connection, shouldn’t it be secure?

Invest in the right VPN for your time in China. New Life ESL uses and trusts Express VPN. It’s affordable, secure and you can use multiple devices. Set up an account immediately after you tell us to find you a job teaching English in China!

Photo credit: fence, internet map, safe cracker

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