Is Gmail Blocked in China?
Yes, Gmail in China is blocked along with all Google services by the Great Chinese Firewall. This includes things such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, Blogger, YouTube, and so on. Anything hosted by Google is unavailable in mainland China.
Can you Access Google in China?
No. Because Google didn”t go along with the Chinese authorities and their internet censorship on their platform, China put measures in place to block their services from the Chinese market in 2010. Google refused to omit certain politically sensitive topics from search, and you can probably guess what those were.
Why is Gmail Blocked in China?
Gmail is blocked because the Chinese authorities doesn’t have access to the user data it demands. If people can send digital transmissions unmonitored, then it can’t be approved. And Google is not alone. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, and others have been blocked by the great chinese firewall since 2009. For more insight, review my article on which sites are blocked in China.
There actually was a time in history when Google had headquaters in Beijing and was providing search engine services in the mainland. But in 2010, that abruptly came to an end, as Google didn”t agree to omit specific search results. They packed everything up and moved to Hong Kong within a couple months.
It goes to show that if a service is not blocked in China, it’s because they have agreed to submit to the government’s internet censorship and user data mandate.
Is it possible to Access Gmail in China in 2021?
Yes, it”s possible. Though Gmail has been unavailable since 2014, I”ve still been able to read and send messages from my Google account without any trouble. So, yes it”s possible if you”ve got the right technology. In this article, I”ll explain exactly what you”ll need to access Gmail or any other kind of email service while in mainland China.
While Google is blocked in the mainland, it is still accessible in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. As soon as you land in China, and you find an internet connection, no mail server will be available either through your web browser on your phone or your laptop computer. You can”t use Gmail in China.
This is problematic because many business people use Gmail for life and work, and in many cases have taken its availability for granted. Gsuite tools are highly utilized by many businesses in the world, and being unable to access these features could make life difficult for people working abroad.
If you rely on Google services, and many people and companies do, are you going to be completely screwed while living in China? Not at all. If you want to use Gmail in China from your phone or your computer, there is a way to get around the Great Chinese Firewall.
Some methods you can use to access Gmail in China include:
Using a premium VPN appUsing a free VPN trial – a temporary solutionCreating a good VPN server with a VPS – but this requires technical prowess
What is a VPN? A Brief Explanation
A VPN server is a virtual private network. It”s like a tunnel under a wall. Even when many websites in China are blocked, a best VPN tunnels under the wall so you can experience the internet the same way you would while you were back home. It works by making your IP address to appear somewhere it”s not so you can access region-blocked content.
This means that you will be able to access different Netflix country libraries and protect your connection while using public Wifi in coffee shops. Every expat in China has a VPN, because good VPNs work.
Is it illegal to use a VPN in China?
It is indeed illegal to sell VPN services directly to Chinese citizens, but from any of the sources I’ve consulted on the topic, it’s a bit of a gray area in China. Best VPNs are not explicitly illegal, but it depends on what you’re using them for. If you’re doing something shady, like engaging in criticism of the Chinese authorities, they’re not going to be very pleased.
For the most part, the government is aware that most foreigners in China probably have and use a VPN every day. But they tend to turn a blind eye unless they have a reason not to. They just don”t want the public at large to have or use them. They don”t really care about our tendency to review viral videos on Facebook or watch YouTube videos in China.
There tend to be news stories every year about the Chinese authorities getting ready to ramp up internet censorship and block all VPNs for good. But so far, that still hasn”t happened.
How to Access Gmail with a Paid Service in 3 Steps
1. After arriving in China, the first thing you have to do is to make sure you either have data on your phone or that you’re connected to Wifi. Unfortunately, many locations in China with Wi-Fi require a text message verification. If you don’t have a SIM card yet, that might be an issue. Know that in some cases, you can set up international roaming in China with your domestic service provider.
2. Next, you have to connect to your VPN in China. If you have a company VPN already, you will need to have the client installed on your phone or computer. If you have a personal VPN already, you can open the software.
3. Connect. It should only take ten seconds for your VPN to connect to the IP address abroad so that you can access your Gmail account in China. After you are connected, you can quickly open your browser or Gmail app and check your email.
How to access Gmail in China for Free
1. Download a VPN provider client such as TunnelBear.
Sign up for a free account by clicking the “Get Started for Free” button on the home page.
2. Enter your email and create a password. You’re not going to want to use Gmail to register if you’re in China, as you will not be able to access it. You can use QQ email services or Hotmail.
3. Head to the email account you used to register and click the Tunnelbear confirmation link.
4. Download the appropriate client for your operating system. You can go to the downloads page to find the app that”s appropriate for you. This includes mobile apps for both iOS and Android. Remember that the Google Play Store is blocked in China so you might have to install the apk file manually.
5. Follow the installation instructions as the prompts appear on your device.
6. To log in to the client, use the email and password you used to establish your account.
7. Select a server. Most VPNs will route your traffic through a server with the lowest latency. The best connections tend to come from South Korea, Japan, or Hong Kong.
8. Connect. Some changes might need to be made to your permissions to get connected.
9. Access to Gmail. Not only will you have access to the email, but you will also have access to any other services or platforms customarily blocked by the Great Firewall, such as Google, YouTube, Facebook, and YouTube.
The Problems with Free Services
Tunnelbear only allows 500 MB of data every month on a free plan. This isn”t a lot, and you”re going to have to upgrade your service if you want more. Video streaming tends to eat through that in a hurry, but just for email, it might be enough.
Another problem is that they aren”t maintained. The Chinese Firewall is continuously being adjusted, so if a VPN service doesn”t make changes on the fly, there will be service outages. Advanced VPNs have services like obfuscation and stealth that can conceal detection.
How to use a Free Trial
If you’re only going to need to access Gmail in China for a short time, then you might want to sign up for a trial to a premium service to get the best possible connection to access blocked services like Gmail.
Here’s how: Sign up for an ExpressVPN account. ExpressVPN is one of the most popular premium VPNs. With a 30-day money-back guarantee, you cancel before the end of the 30 days and get a full refund. The best VPN providers that work in China and also offer either a trial/refund period include: Astrill, VyperVPN, and ExpressVPN. These virtual private network services are perfect for Gmail.
Install the VPN Before You Arrive in China
Because China blocks most of the best VPN websites, it can be difficult to sign up and download VPN clients when you come to the country. This is why you should do it outside of China.
Don’t Be Surprised if your VPN Service Fails
They are continually upgrading the Chinese Firewall, so services aren”t always reliable, sometimes they fail. It might be necessary at times to change services if specific connections don”t work in China.
Get a Backup VPN
Having a subscription to more than one VPN is a smart move if the internet is crucial to you. I recommend VyprVPN as a primary with StrongVPN or Express VPN as a backup. The best VPNs have 30-day trials to take advantage of.
Don’t be Paranoid
I’ve never heard of a foreigner or expat getting trouble for using a VPN in China. Don’t forget that an encrypted connected prevents others from even knowing that you’re using it.
How to Unblock Gmail by Making your Own VPN
Another way to access Gmail in China. You can use Jigsaw, an open source software that helps you create a shadowsocks proxy on a VPS (Digital Ocean cloud server). If you have free VPS credits (most companies give them out to new sign-ups), you can create your own. Private VPNs work to use Gmail in China.
How to Access Gmail without VPN providers?
There is another way to get around this problem is to have your emails redirected to a China-accessible email account like Hotmail or QQ email. There, you”ll be able to read your information and even respond to messages sent your way. Know that this could be a vulnerability, as some sensitive messages could be seen by the prying eyes of the government. Click here to learn how to redirect emails for China.
What Email service works in China?
Yahoo, Hotmail, and Chinese service QQ all work in China.
Can Whatsapp be used in China?
No, this service is blocked along with all other Western social media platforms due to internet censorship. Outside of China, it is accessible. To learn more check my list of sites blocked in China.
Who is this guide for? Anyone in China This guide is for anyone who is visiting, already living, or is