Does WhatsApp/Skype/Google map work in China?

Does WhatsApp/Skype/Google map work in China?

Keyboard lettes: VPN
(Picture by Baidu, accessed on 27th August 2020)

Can I Access Foreign Websites and Apps in China?

Before you come to China, you may already have heard that the you cannot use some Apps like you do in your own country. Indeed, internet in China is something very different from in other countriess. In China, you can visit many foreign websites, but normally you cannot directly access foreign social media or searching engines. You might wonder what 'foreign' is.  If the social media or searching engines are from companies in another country, they are 'foreign', such as YouTube, Skype, WhatsApp, Yahoo, Google, Line, Messenger, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter China has its own set of social media and searching engines with complete functions, say, WeChat, QQ, Baidu, Weibo and so on.

However, it does not mean that China's internet is enclosed. Although most Chinese people do not really need to use these foreign Apps or websites because the domestic ones are convenient enough to satisfy their need, there are still numerous people who need to use foreign Apps and websites for various reasons. They might be foreigners who live in China, businessmen who trade with foreigners, students who are curious about other countries, researchers who need to collect literature of other countries, etc. What they do is to get a VPN. With a VPN, you can use any foreign Apps or websites in China.

About VPN

What is the VPN?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It is an App for establishing a private network on a public network for encrypted communication. It is widely used in enterprise and university networks. The VPN gateway realizes the remote access by encrypting the packet and transforming the packet target address. VPN can be realized through server, hardware, software and other ways.

Describe VPN in pictures
(Picture by Baidu, accessed on 27th August 2020)

How to Use the VPN

VPN sounds complicated, but using it is actually easy. Users can usually download as an App, create an account, pay some money and connect the internet to the VPN. Most VPN are rechargeable, and you will have a trial period if you are using it for the first time, i.e. you can use it for free in the first few days. If you find it satisfactory, you can pay for 1 month, 3 months, 12 months or more. After the payment, your account is activated, and you are free to connect VPN services. Usually, the developer of the VPN App will provide you an instruction on connection. Normally, it will offer several access point for you to choose from. Just click on the access point, and you will be able to enjoy your social media.

Where Can I Find a VPN?

In China, people usually find VPN Apps through the recommendation from others, or search for 'VPN' '加速器' in searching engines. If you are in overseas, it is easier for you to find VPN Apps in various platforms, such as Google Play Store and Apple Store.

Popular VPN Apps

What to Be Informed of

Is VPN legal in China?

VPN is allowed in China. Even CCTV (China Central Television) has an account on YouTube, meaning it has its own VPN system. However, unregistered private VPNs is illegal, and using them is forbidden. In January 2017, the ministry has published Notice on Cleaning up and Regulating The Internet Network Structure Service Market in order to better regulate Internet market behaviour, VPN services included. The main targets of government punishments are individually set-up VPNs without the approval of the department of telecom, and illegal cross-border telecoms business activities. These regulations will not have any impact on enterprises and individuals who use licensed VPNs following the regulations.


A legal VPN is licensed, approved by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People's Republic of China. An illegal VPN might endanger you by trading your private information. Therefore, it is important to make sure the VPN you use is safe.

(Picture by Baidu, accessed on 27th August 2020)

What If I don't Have a Personal VPN?

Your Institution Might Have It

If you work in an international environment, say, an international school, then the school is very likely to be using the enterprise VPN already, as it will need to keep in touch with foreigners and get information from foreign websites. So if you don’t have VPN, don’t worry. Try the Wi-fi in your workplace, it might work.

Find Substitutions of Your Essential Apps

If you cannot get VPN by any means, you can still keep in touch with your family and friends through Chinese Apps. Actually, they are as effective as WhatsApp, Skype and Messenger. The most used social media for chatting is WeChat by Tencent Company. You will need it anyway for work and payment, as it has become an indispensable App for life in China. For searching engine, it is suggested that you can use Bing instead. It has Bing map too, if you need. Overall, living in China without VPN is also very convenient. You will easily get a substitution.  

Related articles from TTJ introduce all the needs for  returning to China safely, as well as the latest relevant policies of the Chinese government. If you need to find a job opportunity in China, please visit the job Board of TTJ.