Generally speaking, yes, it is safe to use VPN in China. But it does not mean you can choose any VPN you want. This is because not all VPNs are created equal, and China is very strict when it comes to Internet censorship. Its so-called “The Great Firewall of China (GFC)” is being managed by about 2 million Internet police officials. So far, China has already blocked more than 2600 websites. This includes Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Vimeo, and Google products such as Google+ and Gmail.
There are many reasons why the Chinese government is blocking many websites. Besides gambling and pornography, China does not also allow bloggers and journalists to write anything against its government. And because online activities are being closely monitored, a lot of journalists have been charged and imprisoned for their anti-government articles. On June 3, 2013, Weibo closed the comment option where local netizens used to share their thoughts on the Tiananmen protest.
For these reasons, is VPN really a safe way to unblock sites in China? By using VPN, your IP address and geolocation will be hidden. The Chinese Internet police will now see you as someone not logging in from China. But that’s not all; your traffic is also encrypted. This provides you additional security even if you are in Wi-Fi zones where interception from third parties is very easy. And because VPN is also applicable to mobile devices, being online anonymously becomes more convenient.
But again, not all VPNs are the same. Although you can save money from free VPN services, you cannot expect them to be 100% reliable against China’s very strict Internet censorship. On the other hand, paid VPN services offer more secured connection and better customer support. However, avoid those VPNs that offer very low service fees. Note that China is investing good money to block websites, so you need to treat VPN as an investment, too. If you want quality service, you should be willing to pay for it.
Now, what will happen if China still blocks your VPN IP address? Don’t worry, you will not be imprisoned. You are still safe simply because they will not know your real IP address. Your only problem is that you cannot use the same VPN IP address again. But if your VPN service provider is good, you can easily be provided with another VPN IP address. This way, you can be sure that you are really safe while using VPN in China.