Why Can’t You Access Gmail in China


Beginning July 2014, Gmail began experiencing severe disruptions & down times causing the service to go completely unusable. Great Fire a China based privacy advocacy group blamed the Great Firewall, but it was soon discovered that the case was actually something else. The Chinese government does not support foreign based tech service providers to operate freely in the country, everything being monitored by the Golden Shield project.

The Chinese government demanded that Google not only host all Chinese user data within the country but give them access to the source servers. After refusing to do so Google were requested to leave the country and all its services banned from access including Gmail.


unblock gmail in china

Hosting the most powerful censorship regime in the world, the Chinese government refused to listen to the US State Department and every other authority that request them to reconsider. Google was asked to move away to nearby Hong Kong where they host their servers to this day. The cherry on top was the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying’s comment:

“China has consistently had a welcoming and supportive attitude toward foreign investors doing legitimate business here,” she said. “We will, as always, provide an open, transparent and good environment for foreign companies in China.”

I laughed for a full 5 minutes when I read Ms.Chunying’s quote, Gmail remains blocked to this day in China.


Unblock/Access Gmail in China With VPN


Chinese netizens can securely bypass the Great Firewall & evade the Chinese Internet Police to access Gmail using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Here is a list of VPN providers that allow you to access Gmail in China using their apps:

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The Great Firewall of China blocks off all online requests made for foreign based communication services like Gmail and blocks them instantly. A China VPN service allows Chinese internet users to bypass the Great Firewall, using what is known as a secure and encrypted tunnel.

Once under the protection of the VPN your IP address is secured by the VPN server. The VPN server hides your original IP address by replacing it with one of its own IP addresses. For example, if you connect to a Singapore VPN server, your IP will be replaced by one from Singapore.


Guide: How to Unblock/Access Gmail in China – Easy Steps


Here is the setup process of VPN on Windows PC:

1. Go to system tray and right click on it to see Open Network and Sharing Center.

2. Click on Setup a new connection or Network from the left hand menu and choose Connect to workspace.

3. Choose use My Internet Connection (VPN) and then mention server address (request provider for server address), type the name of VPN connection.
4. Mark on Allow other people to use this connection, set it up now so I can connect later option too.
5. Click Next and enter your username along with password and click Create. The Connection is ready to use a confirmation message will appear on your screen.

6. Scroll Network and Sharing Centre Window and click Change Adapter Settings.

7. Right click on VPN connection just created and click on it properties.

8. Go towards security tab and choose PPTP(Point to Point Tunneling Protocol)

9. Networking tab should be scrolled and then uncheck TCP/IPv6 (Internet Protocol Version 6) including File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Network, click OK now.

10. Go to Network Connection Window, right click on connection and click the connect button.

11. Verification and authentication message will be displayed now before connection is created.

12. After connecting, you will be able to see an icon connected to system tray. Have fun!


Guide: How to Setup VPN in China on iOS

To setup VPN on your iOS device follow our step by step guide below:

  1. Go to the Settings menu of your device then go to General>VPN> Add VPN Connection.
  2. Select from PPTP or IPSec tunneling protocols and enter a name for connection in description.
  3. Enter the server address (request provider) in server field and your credentials in account and password field respectively.
  4. Send All Traffic switch must be turned on then click save.
  5. Your VPN connection is now ready to connect, go to Settings and click VPN.
  6. Click the Status switch to connect to the VPN and experience complete online freedom.
  7. Pro Tip: You can also get the iOS VPN app and select your purpose and desired server in one click.











Screenshot of PureVPN’s iOS App, Notice that there is exclusive Purpose to Unblock services in China.


Here is the list of providers in descending order with the most US Servers:

VPN ServiceServer LocationsPrice
ExpressVPN136 + Servers in 87 Countriesas low as $8.32/ Month
PureVPN500+Servers in 141 countriesas low as $3.33/ Month
BufferedVPN Servers in 34 Countriesas low as $8.25/Month
Ivacy 250+ Servers in 100 Countries as low as $ 2.50/month
NordVPN 300+Servers in 50 Countries as low as 5.75/month


How to Access Gmail in China


If you want to setup VPN then make sure you have selected one of the best Chinese VPN described above.

In China you can unblock & access Gmail in 2 simple steps on PC & Mac, given you have already subscribed to VPN service. If you haven’t yet, consider the options provided in our exclusive VPN review table above. Once you have signed up, install your Windows, Mac, Android, or iOS app on your device then let’s unblock Gmail.
Step 1
Activate your VPN app and connect it to any server in the USA, Europe, Singapore, Hong Kong etc.

purevpn china
Step 2
Open up a new web browser (clean the cache and history just to be cautious). You will now be able to access your Gmail account and create a new account without having to worry about being blocked out by the Great Firewall.

gmail china2


Precautions To Take When You Access Gmail in China


Although you will be able to access China Gmail without having to worry about the Internet police and Great Firewall, there are certain precautions you must take when you have unblocked Gmail. Always make sure you take certain measures:

  1. Always choose a VPN provider that offers Internet Kill Switch & Auto Reconnect features
  2. Always keep you VPN on when accessing foreign email, communication and social services in China
  3. Always choose a VPN provider based outside China. The Chinese government keeps logs of all VPN services operating in Mainland China.
  4. Log out of social media apps & accounts, email accounts and websites that you have unblocked using VPN.
  5. Remember to clear your PC & smartphone caches after using the service.


Which Google Services are Blocked in China?


The Chinese government has blocked all Google services, here is the list of these services:

  1. Gmail
  2. Google Apps For Work
  3. Google Hangouts
  4. Google Docs
  5. Google Bookmarks and many more


Gmail Alternative in China


Gmail is no longer the most popular & secure email service in the world after the NSA, CIA, GCHQ, ACSC, and Mossad compromised the servers in their respective regions. There are however a number of growing encrypted email services emerging since Google was compromised. Here is a list of the top 3 Gmail alternatives you can access in China:


  1. Proton Mail

Switzerland based Proton mail has been tagged one of the most favored encrypted email services by most Gmail users. All conversations are encrypted using leading edge AES-256bit encryption, none of your emails can ever be handed over since only you have the decryption key. Proton Mail offers both standard/free accounts & premium email accounts with additional storage.


  1. Tutanota

Tutanota is a Germany based fermium service with its own apps available rather than using local apps like Outlook, Android mail feature and iOS default mail apps. Powered by a fairly simply web UI and excellent mobile apps, it is something every Chinese user should consider for important emails.


  1. Mailfence

Mailfence is the signature encrypted email service from the makers of renowned virtual office tool ‘Contact Office’. The Belgium based company has been providing encrypted office & home services with the Email Server being a part of their Office software. Mailfence offers a simple encrypted email solution with apps available for mobile devices. It is a top featured alternative to Gmail and is available to access in China.


In a Nutshell


Hope you like our guide to unblock and access Gmail in China. If you have any questions or requests simply leave us a message in the comments section below. Do share our guide with other users living in China or visiting on vacation.

Ameer Abbas

Ameer Abbas is a senior editor and a most viewed writer on Quora in Internet Privacy, Cyber Security, VPN and Torrents. He has continued work as a privacy advocate with Best VPN Provider and is working towards becoming an established privacy & security author online. Ameer takes a keen interest in technology, geo-political affairs and international cyber laws. Ameer loves outdoor sports including cricket, swimming, athletics, and football.
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One Response to How to Unblock/Access Gmail in China
  1. Ren says:

    I read that you can add a Gmail account to your Yahoo account and access/reply to Gmail that way. Is that true?

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