We’ve all heard of the Great Wall of China, a truly breathtaking feat of engineering.
However, there’s a less publicized yet equally imposing wall across China.
Rather than being made of stone, it’s a firewall.
The Great Firewall of China creates a digital barrier. It keeps people from seeing certain websites.
When people think of the Great Firewall of China, they usually think about China’s ban on websites such as Facebook, Google and Twitter from within its borders.
But there’s another layer to this firewall: It also keeps people outside of China from accessing certain Chinese content.
Luckily, we have a solution for this: Use a VPN to access a Chinese server.
The Basics of Using a VPN to Get Past the Great Firewall
Most of the time, you can access a Chinese website from outside China. You just might not be able to see all the content on that site. For example, you can go to Youku, but certain videos are blocked if you’re not in China.
If you’re a Chinese native traveling abroad or a foreigner looking to access Chinese content… there is a way in. Download a VPN, or virtual private network, and you can surf the Chinese web to your heart’s content.
A VPN takes the necessary steps to protect your anonymity from the Chinese government. How? It sets you up with a Chinese IP address so it appears that you’re surfing the web from within China. This way, you can access websites that only people in China can see!
If you plan on browsing Chinese sites regularly, you’ll probably want to select an annual VPN subscription. If you pay for a year upfront, each month will end up costing less.
Now you know the basics of how a VPN can grant you access to Chinese websites so you can watch Chinese TV, listen to Chinese songs and learn the language online. These restricted websites are especially useful for Chinese-language learners who want to access authentic materials!
How to Troubleshoot Without Pulling Your Hair Out
Technical problems aren’t so uncommon with VPNs, but they’re pretty simple to fix. So don’t freak out! If you run into technical problems and it’s not your internet connection, try these simple tips to work out the kinks.
First, make sure you’re using a browser that works with your VPN and that both your browser and VPN are updated. Outdated versions of browsers can throw off a VPN’s effectiveness.
One of the most common issues with a VPN is a rejected connection. To see if this is your issue and correct it in a jiff, access the administrative tools under the control panel. Check the “services” icon and check that all the required services are on.
You can also try pinging the VPN server with your IP address to make sure that a TCP/IP connection is present. If your ping works, ping it again, but do so using the server’s fully qualified domain name instead of the IP address.
If the second ping is unsuccessful, there’s a problem with the Domain Name System (DNS).
For Windows XP users, you’ll want to check for authentication problems by right-clicking “connection” and selecting “properties.”
From there, you should navigate to the “security” tab, hit the “advance radio” button and go into “settings” to view the authentication options.
Windows Authentication and RADIUS are the best authentication possibilities. Just make sure RADIUS is compatible with your VPN.
That takes care of the most common issues that can come up. No need to tear your hair out—just sit back, take a deep breath and adjust your settings.
Do you feel prepared? Then it’s time to choose your VPN!
The 5 Best VPNs to Access Chinese Servers and Surf the Chinese Web
There are plenty of VPNs out there. But choosing a VPN with Chinese servers is actually a tad tricky.
Not many VPNs have servers in China. Even popular VPNs such as TorGuard have removed their servers in China. That means there are fewer to choose from than you may think!
Don’t waste your time searching for a VPN that will help you access Chinese content. Here are the best out there.
It’s hard to beat EarthVPN’s prices! If you pay monthly, you’ll pay the low price of $3.99. If you pay for a year upfront, it breaks down as $3.33 per month.
EarthVPN supports three devices at once and a seven-day money-back guarantee. It also offers 24/7 technical support, which will come in handy if none of our troubleshooting tips do the trick. Users also say it’s very ease to use on every device.
However, with some connection problems and lower speeds, it has a few cons when it comes to performance. Most of the problems are related to poor connection, but if an occasional dropped connection doesn’t bother you, you’re golden.
Want to download the app? In the iTunes and Google Play stores, EarthVPN is actually listed as OpenVPN, so don’t be thrown off!
HideMyAss! costs between $4.99 and $11.99 per month depending on your plan. It also offers a 30-day money back guarantee, which can put your mind at ease when choosing this VPN.
HideMyAss! is known for being fast and for offering five simultaneous connections for all your devices.
You even have the choice to schedule IP address changes with this VPN. The more often you change your IP address, the more secure your information is. HideMyAss! may have a silly name, but it doesn’t play around when it comes to your privacy.
HideMyAss! also has almost 1,000 servers in over 190 countries. If you like accessing online media all over the world, your options will practically be limitless with this VPN!
Ivacy is one of the most popular VPNs for users trying to access Chinese websites. If you purchase Ivacy for one month, you’ll pay $9.95 per month. The cheapest option is to sign up for two years upfront, which comes out to only $2.25 per month! It also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Ivacy won the 2019 Fastest VPN Award by BestVPN.com. Some VPNs can slow down your computer when they’re turned on, so if keeping everything speedy is important to you, Ivacy is the way to go.
You can connect up to five devices to your VPN. Ivacy doesn’t keep logs, but it does track one thing: the number of times you try to connect to a server. Ivacy hopes that by doing so, customer support can help you when you go to them with questions about troubleshooting.
You’ll pay $12.99 for one month of Hotspot Shield, but only $3.49 per month if you purchase three years upfront. The service also offers a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Hotspot Shield implements military-grade encryption, meaning your data is safer than ever. It also includes an automatic kill switch. This means that if your VPN connection drops suddenly, Hotspot Shield will shut down your internet connection to ensure no one can see your IP address.
If safety is your main concern, Hotspot Shield could be your ideal fit. Plus, you can use it on up to five devices at once!
Like most of the VPNs on this list, PureVPN lets you connect to five devices simultaneously and offers unlimited bandwidth.
PureVPN also features split tunneling, which allows you to pick when you want your searches to run through your internet service provider and when you want to run them through your VPN.
You also get 24/7 tech support, meaning you have a whole team of experts at your disposal. Not all VPNs come with their own in-house tech support, which makes this a valuable feature.
PureVPN costs $10.95 for one month and $3.33 per month when you sign up for a full year. They even have the option to pay via cryptocurrency!
What’s most important to you in a VPN? Speed? Privacy? Cost?
Wherever your priorities may lie, one of these five VPNs will be your perfect fit for accessing VPN servers in China.
And One More Thing…
If you want access to authentic Chinese content without a VPN, you’ll love FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
FluentU naturally eases you into learning the Mandarin language, and you’ll learn Chinese as it’s spoken in real life.
The program has a wide range of contemporary videos that cover a wide range of interests and levels, as you can see here:
FluentU brings these native Chinese videos within reach via interactive captions. You can tap on any word to instantly look it up.
All words have carefully written definitions and examples that will help you understand how a word is used. Tap to add words you’d like to review to a vocab list.
From the description page, you can access interactive transcripts under the Dialogue tab, or review words and phrases under Vocab.
FluentU’s quizzes turn every video into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part is that FluentU always keeps track of your learning, then suggests content and examples based on what you’ve already learned. In other words, you get a 100% personalized experience.
Try FluentU in your browser or, better yet, download the FluentU iOS or Android app today!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Chinese with real-world videos.