The Great Wall of China is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best known physical features of the People’s Republic of China. Lesser known but perhaps more important is the Great Firewall of China. Officially referred to as The Golden Shield Project, it is a Chinese government project to censor the Internet. In addition to censorship, it is also used for surveillance, that is to say, that the Chinese government though its Ministry of Public Security spies on its citizens and visitors to see what sites they are browsing. Some of the websites that are currently blocked via this project include FaceBook, Twitter and other popular websites.
To some tourists or visitors to China, not being able to access FaceBook or Twitter can be a nightmare especially if they rely on these sites to keep up-to-date with the goings-on back home or to communicate with family, friends and business associates. Many unsuspecting visitors have gotten rude shock after landing in China.
If you are planning a trip to China, there is one way to beat the Great Firewall of China. You need a VPN service. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows you to connect to a server outside the Great Firewall over an encrypted connected. The Chinese authorities cannot see which site you are connecting to and therefore are unable to censor.
Take note, however, that even though there are no laws in China outlawing the use of a VPN, there is a law mandating telecommunications providers to collect detailed information on account users with a view to monitoring web activity. Do not allow anyone to access your laptop or phone. Also, make sure you purchase a VPN service before you travel to China because many VPN websites are blocked in China.