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A Timeline On How To Visit Blocked Sites In China
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There are many ways to visit blocked sites in China, though the Chinese government wouldn't want you to know that. As an American expat living in China, I know that sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Vimeo, and other politically oriented (and banned) sites are available in China with a few special tools.

The funny thing is that just a few years ago, before Facebook was blocked in 2009, you could visit blocked sites in China just by going through another site (clicking a link). Yes, I don't know how it worked exactly, but something about changing where the site request was coming from made certain sites available. I don't know if sites are ranked by "danger" and some sites are more blocked than others, but you could only visible some blocked sites in China this way.

Another way to visit blocked sites in China at that time was to use the Google search on a custom search page. I was part of a network called People String and in my login area there was a Google search part for some reason. Whatever the reason, through that Google search I was able to search for blocked sites and access them through Google. Eventually I would hit a wall and get blocked, but at least I could get a few pages in!

Free web proxies worked for a while too. By typing your URL into the web based proxy, you could bypass firewall restrictions and visit blocked sites in China - no matter what the site. This was also a temporary fix. Many times the proxy stopped working after a few pages of viewing and took me back to a sales page, or the proxy was so slow that I got frustrated and gave up.

The only way that has consistently worked to visit blocked sites in China for the past three years is a virtual private network. And its no wonder because its the most secure and reliable way to hide your IP address on the Internet. There is some serious encryption going on with some VPNs, and though the standard is 128 bit encryption, some websites offer over 4000 bits of encryption - military grade stuff.

What this means is that not only is your data totally and utterly guarded against any full frontal attack by Chinese hackers or big brother, all that encryption has a safe tunnel (the tunneling protocol) to provide it safe passage from your Internet capable device to the VPN server. For virtual private network users in China, mobile phone users are going to need IPSec or custom VPN protocols for users in China, but laptop and desktop users can use a standard OpenVPN or SSTP.

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