Living in Huaqiao: The Great Firewall (Guest Post)

VPNs are essential if you want to access Facebook and Google in China! Read more…

Brad Russell wrote this is a chapter of the KCIS Survival Guide.
This guide was sent to all new teachers coming to teach at the Kang Chiao International School in Huaqiao.

Whether you’re a die hard gamer or you just want your mom to know you’re safe and sound in China, access to electronics, the internet and the outside world is going to be important during your stay here.

The Great Firewall (防⽕ 城 fánghuǒ chángchéng), first came about in 1997 when China passed the CL97 law to criminalize cyber crimes. While the law was deemed pretty vague and ambiguous, it eventually led to the censorship of the internet in China. Now, sites including Facebook, Instagram, anything Google related, Vimeo, pornhub and even the New York Times are inaccessible. Of course, people are resourceful and there are many ways to get around the firewall including the use of virtual private networks (VPNs).

If you’ve got a smartphone, tablet or computer we recommend you install a VPN provider before you arrive. Kang Chao runs the internet through a VPN which is handy when you want to share YouTube videos with your classes. However, it can be unreliable at times and we probably shouldn’t sit around on Facebook all day – it’s at home that you’re really going to want that VPN. Check out the info on VPN options below.

Let’s take a step backward now though because a VPN is as useful as a sack of rotten potatoes if you don’t have access to the internet! Getting set up is relatively straightforward and generally made easier with the help of someone who speaks Chinese. Check out the living section to help you get through the internet set up process!

Electronic Markets – By Brad Russell

Zhaofeng Road (Line 11)

The Electronics market at Zaofeng road is a five-minute walk from the metro. To get there, exit the metro and walk towards the Kentucky Fried Chicken. About a minute past KFC you will find the market. You can also take the 228 which stops right outside the market. This market has smart phones, tablets, cheap PC’s, routers and other cheap electronic goods.

Xujiahui (Line 11)

This electronics market has higher end computers, gaming consoles and video games. Head to Xujiahui metro station and take exit 10. There is a Carl’s Jr at the entrance to this market. As of 2016, it is smaller than Zaofeng road market because it’s under renovation. Once finished though, it should be bigger than Zaoeng.

Handy Chinese Websites is one of the biggest search engines in China. is the music playlist part. It’s all in Chinese but you can hit the search bar and type in any song. Click the plus button when your results come up and it’ll add it to your playlist. is a great website for purchasing anything from phones to baby toys. is the English version. is your best friend when it comes to booking hotels, trains and flights in China. You can change the webpage to English in the upper right corner of the page. Online payments can be made using Union Pay cards and they also have English customer service if you have any concerns about tickets/hotels you’ve booked.


Cost: $99 USD per year

Express VPN is popular among staff at KCIS and is relatively reliable. It offers you VPN connections through a large number of countries around the world and is easy to set up. The cost covers the use of the VPN on more than one device so you can load it onto your phone, computer, tablet, or even your Xbox. The best connections are usually through Hong Kong 1, 2 or 3.

Cost: $10 USD per year

Ask is great for your phone but shuts off automatically after 20 minutes. There are about 10 connection options and you can load your VPN onto any number of devices.

Cost: Free

Works well on dodgy Wi-Fi but is not ideal for watching movies. There are no options connections so you can never be sure where your internet is flowing through. It’s free though!

Onavo Protect
Cost: Free

This is a great VPN if you have an iPhone. Like many others, it works well on Wi-Fi but it does cut out every now and then requiring you to reconnect. It can sometimes take time to connect but it’s free!


Author: olenakagui

The bug-biting blogger bitten by the travel bug. Writing articles and blogs since 2012.

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