Is Youtube blocked in China?

Yes, Youtube is blocked in China.

Attempting to load the Youtube app or website while in mainland China will return an error. Youtube videos embedded on other sites will not load. Likewise, Youtube’s paid content and Youtube TV are also blocked.

Tip: If you want to unblock YouTube and other restricted sites you will need a VPN. Most VPNs won’t work, however, so pick one from our China VPN list.

How to unblock Youtube in China

Accessing Youtube in China is still possible through a VPN. A VPN, or virtual private network, allows you to route your internet traffic through a private, encrypted connection. The service will connect you to a remote server which then allows you access to blocked sites and apps. For China-based VPN users, that could mean connecting to a VPN in Europe, the Americas, or anywhere that Youtube is openly available.

Here’s how to unblock Youtube in China with a VPN:

  1. Sign up for a VPN that works in China. Our top recommendation is ExpressVPN.
  2. Download and install the VPN app. PC and Mac users can get usually get an app from their provider’s website. Android and iOS users can get their provider’s app from Google Play and the App Store, respectively.
  3. Open the app and sign in. You might be required to enter a one-time activation code upon first setup.
  4. Select a server location outside of China. Hong Kong and Taiwan are popular locations that offer fast connections from mainland China.
  5. Hit the Connect button and wait a few seconds for the connection to be established.
  6. Open Youtube in the app or web browser and start watching!

Important: If you plan on visiting China, be sure to sign up for a VPN and download the necessary software before you go. VPN websites and western app stores are usually blocked in China. We recommend ExpressVPN. It’s worked reliably in China for years and offers unparalleled security, speed, and ability to unblock region-locked content. Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Fire TV, and certain wifi routers.

See also: Our guide to using ExpressVPN in China

There are free and paid VPNs available but the former are typically too slow, have limited bandwidth, or won’t work in China. However, most reputable paid VPNs will offer unlimited bandwidth, strong security and no data caps. The best VPNs, particularly the ones that allow you to access content that is blocked in China, will offer their services for either a monthly or yearly subscription.

Is Youtube legal in China?

Even though Youtube is blocked in China, it’s not illegal to watch it. There is no precedent of anyone being charged with a crime for watching Youtube or using a VPN.

China is well aware of the fact that many internet users are accessing blocked websites using VPNs. As such, the country has employed various methods to block VPN access behind its Great Firewall. This includes blocking VPN connections or even blocking access to VPN websites, thereby disallowing users to actually download VPN programs.

Why and when was Youtube blocked in China?

The video sharing website has been blocked in China since 2009, and was among one of the first social media websites to get blocked by the Great Firewall of China. Youtube, which is owned by Google, allows users to access videos created by users from around the world. This presents a threat to the Chinese government, which tends toward blocking any content that may be critical of the Communist regime, or which may support ideas that promote democracy in China.

Youtube is not the only social media website blocked in China. Facebook was also blocked in 2009, along with Twitter, Picasa, Blogspot and Vimeo. As these social media websites are based in Western countries (mostly the United States), China cannot force them to filter content for Chinese users. In that situation, China opts to block the website’s access altogether.

Blocking websites like Youtube does have some benefit for China. The country has its own versions of Youtube that are very popular. The primary go-to for Chinese users is the site Youku.

Is Youtube blocked in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau?

Youtube is not blocked in Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Macau. These places have free and open access to the web, so a VPN is not required. However, travelers might still want to employ a VPN for additonal privacy and security, or to unblock region-locked content from their home countries.