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Communication Methods In China

Web Access in China

In China the Internet is readily accessible. Internet cafes (网吧 wangba), are abundant throughout China. It is cheap (¥1.5 to ¥4 an hour) to use a computer, albeit one with Chinese software, for an hour or so. Many of them are designed mainly for gaming though and are not useful places to do business. Internet cafes are supposed to require users to show identification (passport), but this is generally not enforced. Traffic may be monitored.

Most of the better hotels provide access from the rooms (often expensive) and/or provide a wireless service in public areas. Also, quite a few cafes provide free wireless Internet service — for example, Starbucks, Italy cafe, Feeling4Seasons Cafe in Chengdu, Padan cafe in Shanghai, etc. Some cafes, especially in tourist areas such as Yangshuo, even provide a machine for customer use.

A word of caution: public computers and the internet lines they are connected to are not secure. Assume that anything you type in can be veiwed by others. Do not send extremely sensitive data such as banking passwords from an Internet cafe.

If you are planning on connecting to the internet with your own computer, be aware that many places (especially college campuses) require you to use Microsoft Internet Explorer and to install (censorship?) software on your system and/or accept certificates in order to use their services. For Mac OS or Linux users, look into using a browser that can fake its identity such as Opera.

The Chinese government has installed systems (commonly known as "The Great Firewall of China") that block various Internet sites, either permanently or temporarily.

The Chinese government is quite serious about enforcing these restrictions, and Internet companies often help them. Both Google and MSN have agreed to censor in order to get Chinese licenses. Yahoo went further; in one recent case they turned in a Chinese user who got ten years in prison! While travellers are generally not at risk, it would be sensible to be cautious. In particular, beware of getting Chinese friends into trouble.

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This article is based on information from an article on Wikitravel contributed by Anonymous and is distributed under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 1.0

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