Is Google blocked in China?
Is Google blocked in China?
Google Search is partially blocked in China. Requests from the mainland to Google Search, including Google.com and Google.cn, are automatically redirected to Google.com.hk, the company’s Hong Kong servers.
Depending on what you search for on the Hong Kong version, the results may or may not be censored while in China. Searching in Chinese for sensitive keywords–Dalai Lama, Falun Gong, Tiananmen Square incident, etc–will likely turn up an error page. This is a result of keyword filtering by the Great Firewall, China’s nationwide internet censorship system. More benign searches may return results normally, but whether links are accessible depends on their individual standing with Chinese authorities.
Likewise, all Google services are blocked in China, including:
- Play Store
Tip: To access sites blocked in China you will need one of the new remaining VPNs that still work in China. You can see the working options in our China VPN list.
How to unblock Google in China
You can access Google in China by using a VPN, or virtual private network. A VPN encrypts a device’s incoming and outgoing internet traffic and routes it through an intermediary server in a location of the user’s choosing. In this case, you could simply connect to a server outside of mainland China to access Google normally.
Our top recommendation is ExpressVPN. The provider makes easy-to-use apps for Windows, Mac OS, Android, and iOS. It’s a favorite among expats in China for its reliability, speed, and 24/7 live support.
Note that if you plan to visit China, get your VPN set up and working before you leave. Most VPNs’ websites, apps, support, and documentation are blocked in China.
Here’s how to unblock Google in China:
- Sign up for a VPN that works in China. We recommend ExpressVPN.
- Download and install the VPN app for your device. Windows and MacOS users can get the app on your VPN provider’s website. Mobile users on Android and iOS can get it from Google Play and the App Store, respectively.
- Open the app and sign in with your account username and password. You might also be required to enter an activation code upon first setup.
- Select a server location outside of China. Closer servers tend to be faster, such as those in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore.
- Click the Connect button and wait a few moments for the connection to be established.
- Once the VPN is connected, you should have access to Google and all of its services.
VPNs are normally subscription services that require monthly or yearly payment. A good VPN will offer strong security, fast speeds, good customer service, and plenty of servers to choose from.
Not all VPNs will work, however. Chinese authorities caught on to VPN users and has blocked many VPN servers. For this reason, we maintain a list of the best VPNs for China that have proven to be reliable.
Connect to the server. Once the connection is established, you can Google to your heart’s desire.
When and why was Google blocked in China?
At its peak, Google Search in the form of Google.cn once comprised more than one-third of China’s search market. In 2009, the Chinese government started demanding that Google self-censor results and remove links to certain overseas websites. Google refused. Then, when an alleged state-sponsored attack on Google servers attempted to hack the accounts of some Chinese dissidents, Google decided to end its mainland China operations entirely.
In 2010, Google shut down Google.cn and instead redirected all mainland traffic to Google.com.hk, its Hong Kong search portal. In the time since, Google’s share of the search market dropped to less than three percent.
China now blocks all Google services.
Is Google blocked in Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Macau?
No. Google is freely accessible in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau. These countries are not behind mainland China’s Great Firewall. A VPN is not necessary to use them, but travelers might still want a VPN for additional security while abroad.