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The Great Firewall of China. Everything You Need to Know

great firewall of china

In comparison to other nations’ rules, China is recognized for its strict rules surrounding information control. The Golden Shield Project, often known as the Great Firewall of China, is a Chinese government effort overseen by the Ministry of Public Security.

The goal of this initiative, as the name indicates, is to monitor and control what can and cannot be viewed through the Internet.

This effort began in 1998 and continues to improve restriction tactics through a variety of approaches. According to empirical research conducted by the OpenNet Initiative, China has “the most advanced content-filtering Internet policy in the world.”

IP blocking, which blocks IP addresses for certain domains, packet filtering, which examines data packets for problematic phrases, credit records, and speech and face recognition, are some of the technological approaches utilized.

Search Engines in China

Baidu, China’s most popular search engine and website, utilizes severe restrictions in its own search algorithms.

Baidu has a long history of being the most aggressive and stringent online censor in the search industry. Baidu says that it is doing so to assist in the enforcement of current censorship regulations.

China’s 800 million online citizens have limited access to the Internet, which excludes Google, Facebook, YouTube, and the New York Times.

China is able to manage such a massive ocean of material because of the world’s most extensive censorship system, dubbed the Great Firewall.

It’s a collaborative endeavor between government watchdogs and technology and telecoms firms obligated to follow the state’s regulations. The stakes extend beyond China, which is serving as a model for other authoritarian states to follow.

What is the Purpose of China’s Great Firewall?

The Chinese government uses the Great Firewall for a variety of objectives.

First, censorship allows the government to regulate the flow of information entering the nation to some extent. The Chinese Internet follows the party line, supports the official narrative, and silences dissenters.

Second, the Great Firewall has cultivated an economy that favors Chinese firms that are based in the country. With foreign tech behemoths outlawed or heavily controlled, Chinese firms may thrive in their place, frequently copying and optimizing their approach for the Chinese market.

How Does the Great Firewall of China Works?

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology licenses and regulates all Internet service providers in China, which means that any material entering and leaving the country may be watched and manipulated by the Chinese government.

Although China’s Great Firewall is a large and complex system, it operates in a simple and basic manner for its users. When trying to access banned sites in China, such as Facebook, the page simply does not load.

It will look as though the webpage is trying to load all the time. You won’t be notified that it’s been filtered, but the message is clear: the Great Firewall has barred you.

Several approaches were used to provide a catch-all mechanism under the Great Firewall.

  • URL Filtering: Web traffic is filtered using a URL filtering database, which denies access to domains on the database’s list. Websites with sensitive terms, such as Tiananmen Square, are banned or censored selectively.
  • Self-censorship: Chinese companies are legally accountable for their content, and breaches will result in heavy punishments ranging from fines to shutdowns. As a result, several big corporations have established enforcement teams to oversee and verify that their platforms do not include banned content.
  • DNS Poisoning: When users access websites, their computers contact a DNS server and acquire an IP address. The Firewall operates by poisoning DNS replies, delivering erroneous addresses, and rendering websites completely unavailable.
  • Manual Enforcement: Hundreds of thousands of civilian personnel are hired all throughout China to implement censorship and filter out “harmful” information that is considered damaging to China’s progress. These government-hired censors keep an eye on internet material, alerting authorities to any possible breaches and allowing officials to conduct on-site investigations. The monitoring operations, however, may now be automated thanks to recent advancements in AI technology. Back-end access is available on some sites, allowing censors to alter material directly.
  • Blocking VPNs: A widespread practice of using a virtual private network (VPN) to get around the Great Firewall. VPNs are the most cost-efficient and effective way to get through the Great Firewall, albeit they aren’t foolproof. The Firewall detects “VPN-like” activity and terminates the connection, preventing it from connecting to foreign servers.

Bypass the Great Firewall of China

You can perform a great firewall of China test to check which apps and websites do not work in China.

There are ways to bypass the Great Firewall of China. Using a virtual private network is currently the most straightforward technique to circumvent China’s Great Firewall.

Suppose you are trying to access torrenting or gaming services that are banned in your jurisdiction. You may protect your online identity by spoofing your location with a VPN. Even if you’re in Shanghai, you’ll appear to be in Germany or the United States.

On the technical side, VPNs establish a private network for you to utilize within a public network like the Internet, concealing and protecting the information you transmit and receive.

That data is encrypted, which means that no one in the middle, even the Chinese government, can see what’s going on.

Before you go to China, sign up for a VPN service. It’s far more challenging to set up a VPN once you’ve arrived in China.
Most VPN software has been banned from the Chinese iOS app store, and the websites where you sign up and download the software are usually restricted. Make sure you’re ready to begin using a VPN before you leave.

ExpressVPN is widely regarded as the most acceptable option to bypass China’s Great Firewall. It starts at roughly $8 per month with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Once you’ve decided on a VPN service, make sure to install it on all of the laptops, tablets, and smartphones you’ll be bringing into China.

It’s recommended to download it on your devices as well as utilizing it as a Chrome or Safari browser extension.

When you install the ExpressVPN browser extension, it can spoof your HTML5 geolocation as well as change the perceived location of your IP address.

Remember to test your VPN before going to China to make sure it works and that you understand how to use it. To do so, open the VPN software on your device and browser, then select a server to connect to.

Try loading a few online pages after the VPN is up and running. You may notice some results in the local language when using search engines like Google. That’s a positive sign because it means the site thinks you’re coming from the falsified IP address.

Life Without Internet

Can you imagine how different your life would be if you didn’t have access to the Internet?

Life has progressed to the point where even the most fundamental tasks, such as paying bills and booking tickets, are now simple.

In July 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Council endorsed a resolution denouncing an Internet shutdown to limit information distribution.

The most commonly cited justification for internet shutdowns in these countries has been to prevent people from spreading materials that could stir anti-social attitudes in a delicate scenario.

The UN Human Rights Council, on the other hand, believes the extent of the reaction is unjustified.

Simply said, when the government shuts down the Internet to ostensibly keep the peace, it is infringing on our right to free expression, which the UN believes should be safeguarded both online and offline.

About author

A finance major with a passion for all things tech, Uneeb loves to write about everything from hardware to games (his favorite genre being FPS). When not writing, he can be seen in his natural habitat reading, studying investments, or watching Formula 1.

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