Hello again! As I already mentioned I’m staying in China for a few weeks in order to celebrate the 2017 spring festival together with my wife’s family. In this post I will share some facts about my experience about being on the other side of the Great Firewall of China without a VPN.
Writing a Blog from China
I like spending some time on this little blog and I just love travelling. As I have already mentioned, all my wife’s family lives in China. Since we are planning to stay here a longer time each year once we reach financial independence, initially I had some worries whether I can write and publish my posts from here.
As you can see I have no problems with this at all. If you are planning to start your own blog, don’t be afraid of local restrictions (within the legal frames of course). Maybe North Korea is a different story… WordPress works perfectly from China and it is the same in all the countries I have posted my articles from so far.
Trading Online from China
As you might know, Chinese people are basically not able to access the international stock markets. However, this does not mean that access to foreign trade platforms is blocked. I have no problems with accessing my online bank and I could also place orders on the online platform of my broker.
My purchases of January were all made from China, even though the shares I bought are traded on both NASDAQ and Euronext. Of course for Chinese people opening international trading accounts and placing money on them from China would be more problematic…
Popular Online Websites and Apps
It is quite well known that Google is not accessible from China. This is not just true for the search engine, but also for any Google related sites. I cannot access my Gmail, my Google Analytics and Adsense account etc. YouTube is not an exception. During my stay I use the search engine of Yahoo, which works perfectly.
Facebook also does not work from China. Interestingly though I receive some Facebook notifications on my phone and also some messages of my friends come through. I personally believe that even if Facebook was allowed in China, it would not be very popular. First of all most of the Chinese speak no, or very little English. Secondly, they have a platform called WeChat (which is accessible all over the world by the way).
You should imagine WeChat as a hybrid of Facebook, WhatsApp, Facetime, Skype etc. I also use it myself from time to time. There is a very interesting documentary about WeChat that I will embed to this post once I return to the Netherlands. In case you cannot wait until then, you can check it out under this Vimeo link. (Interestingly I could access the Vimeo site but I could not start the video from here.)
I also cannot access Twitter. Nevertheless similarly to Facebook, I receive Twitter notifications on my phone, I just cannot access the app.
At the same time I have no problem using apps like WhatsApp and Skype, so I do not feel at all like being cut off from the rest of the world. Also almost all of the websites I tried to visit were accessible, even foreign news portal like CNN or BBC.
If you are planning to visit China for a longer time but you are afraid of being disconnected from the rest of the world, don’t be. You will experience some difficulties with accessing a part of your accounts. If you are using Gmail, you should consider setting up the forwarding of your incoming mails to another mailing client during your period of stay.
In exchange for such difficulties, you will be in a beautiful country with friendly people, good food, and endless amount of natural beauties. I really recommend visiting other parts than the major cities, as China has so much more to offer. Some appetizers for the end: