What Apps Are Banned in China in 2023

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What Apps Are Banned in China in 2023

As you set on your journey to the vast Chinese lands and culture, it’s crucial for you to know the limits of your digital expedition. With China’s evolving laws and regulations that cater to its population’s needs, its technological ecosystem is built to self-sustain. 

One of the most populated countries, China’s active internet users piqued at a staggering 1.05 billion in January this year. So, while many apps and websites are not permitted within its borders, there are plenty of alternatives to fill in the gap. 

In this blog, we’ll list down the websites blocked in China and how you can responsibly navigate the digital realm there. Read on for all the latest news and updates. 

Understanding the Types of Applications and Websites 

Before you hop on your exciting adventure, you must understand the types of apps and websites protected by China’s data legislature laws. 

In this section, we’ll explore the types of banned websites and apps, and how you can continue using them with a secure VPN. 

What Apps and websites are blocked in China
What Apps and websites are blocked in China? Image source: iStockPhoto

Social Media Apps

With an increased accessibility to networking apps, social media stands as one of the most important and fast-paced digital platforms globally.  

It helps us connect with people from across the world with the gentle tap of a button. However, most of the usual apps are banned in China. 

Here’s a list of some of your favourite apps that would not work in China: 

  • Facebook
  • Twitter (now X)
  • Instagram
  • TikTok (available locally as Douyin)
  • Snapchat
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn (available locally as MaiMai)
  • Tumblr
  • Clubhouse

Alternative options to access these apps include using a safe VPN or the following approved apps: 

  • Douban
  • Douyin
  • MaiMai
  • RedLittleBook
  • BiliBili
Social Media Apps Banned in China in 2023
Social Media Apps Banned in China in 2023. Image source: TravelChinaSolo

Communication and Messaging Apps

Famously called the Great Firewall of China, the Chinese authorities have developed regulations to moderate the usage of several communication and messaging apps. Equipping yourself with the right tools to stay in touch with your loved ones while overseas can ensure smooth sailing. 

Here are the most common communication and messaging apps banned in China:

  • Gmail
  • Google Chat
  • Google Hangouts
  • WhatsApp
  • Facebook Messenger 
  • Telegram
  • Line
  • Signal
  • KaKao 
  • Discord 
  • Viber 
  • Zoom 
  • Skype

If you want to reach out and connect with people within and beyond the Chinese borders, here are a few alternatives:

  • WeChat
  • iMessage 
  • FaceTime
  • Tencent QQ
Communication And Messaging Apps are Banned in China in 2023
Communication And Messaging Apps are Banned in China in 2023. Image Source: TravelChinaSolo

Work-Related Apps

Whether you’re planning a business trip or going on a solo trip across the seas, you may need to work digitally. In this case, it’s necessary to note that many productivity tools and apps do not operate in China.

Find them listed here:

  • Google Docs, Drive, etc.
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • Slack
  • Hootsuite
  • ChatGPT
  • Shutterstock

We know that you cannot avoid accessing these tools in your schedule. Your best bet to tackling this is using a standard VPN or using the following alternatives:

  • WPS Office
  • MailMaster
  • Voov Meeting
  • ES File Explorer
Work-Related Apps are Banned in China in 2023
Work-Related Apps are Banned in China in 2023. Image Source: TravelChinaSolo

Entertainment and Streaming Apps

With increased access to entertainment, gaming and streaming services worldwide, you may find yourself hooked, no matter whether you are at home or travelling. Today, your favourite games, series or movies are available at your fingertips.

But there may be a few restrictions on what streaming and entertainment facilities you can access in China. We’ve listed them down here:

  • YouTube
  • Vimeo
  • Spotify
  • Amazon Music
  • SoundCloud
  • Twitch
  • PlayStation
  • Steam
  • Reddit
  • Netflix (website is accessible, content restricted)
  • Hulu (website is accessible, content restricted)
  • Disney+ 
  • Amazon Prime
  • HBO (local version may be available)
  • NBC
  • FOX (local version may be available)
  • Tinder
  • Adult content sites 

However, Chinese streaming apps may have alternative options if you’re looking to relax with a tub of popcorn. Here are some famous ones:

  • Tencent Video
  • iQiyi (local Netflix)
  • Youku
  • BiliBili
  • Kuaishou
  • Huya
  • Zhanqi
  • Apple Music
Entertainment and Streaming Apps are Banned in China in 2023
Entertainment and Streaming Apps are Banned in China in 2023. Image Source: TravelChinaSolo

News Websites

Staying updated and connected with the events around the world is crucial. With Chinese data protection and moderation laws, there may be several news outlets that you cannot access.

Here is a list of the banned websites in the news arena:

  • Reuters
  • TIME
  • Financial Times
  • Wall Street Journal
  • New York Times
  • BBC
  • CNN
  • The Guardian
  • CBC
  • ABC
  • The Economist
  • The Daily Mail
  • Le Monde
  • Wikileaks 

Although these websites are blocked within China, there are substitute news outlets permitted by the government authorities. They are as follows:

  • The People’s Daily (newspaper)
  • Beijing Daily (newspaper)
  • Guangming Daily (newspaper)
  • Liberation Daily (newspaper)
  • Xinhua News Agency
  • China News Service
News Websites are Banned in China in 2023
News Websites are Banned in China in 2023. Image Source: TravelChinaSolo

Search Engine Websites

In an attempt to censor content and moderate its usage, the Chinese authorities have further banned many search engines. If you want to look something up, you should beware of the censorship and search for your answers accordingly.

Search Engine Websites and Apps are Banned in China in 2023
Search Engine Websites and Apps are Banned in China in 2023. Image Source: TravelChinaSolo

The list of banned search engines in China is as follows:

  • Google (voice and text)
  • Amazon Alexa (voice)
  • Wikipedia
  • Yahoo!
  • Quora
  • Ask.com
  • DuckDuckGo

If you want to access any information over the Internet, your best options are:

  • Baidu (Maps and Search)
  • Sogou
  • Qihoo 360
  • Haosuo
  • Shenma
  • Youdao (for translations)

Investment and Finance

While travelling, online payments can be of utmost importance. With secure and seamless payments, you can enjoy a variety of services and shop for your needs. Further, trading and investment-related activities may require your attention daily. 

It is, therefore, important to know what banking and investment activities and facilities are banned in China. Luckily, China does not restrict any banking activities or websites. However, a few investment websites may not be allowed. They are cryptocurrency-based apps- Coinbase and Binance. 

Conclusion

As a responsible traveller, respecting the country you’re visiting, and its norms is necessary. In order to stay safe and make the most of your trip, understanding the laws and regulations with regard to your digital usage is even more important. 

Enjoy your trip to China with these competitive and home-grown alternative Chinese apps and websites to immerse yourself in its rich culture. If you ever need them, VPN services are always a great substitute!

We wish you safe travels and hope you have the information you need about the Chinese digital realm. 

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