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Ask Slashdot: Ideas and Tools To Get Around the Great Firewall?

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the fire-extinguisher-of-course dept.

Censorship 218

New submitter J0n45 writes "I will soon be traveling to mainland China. While I'm only a tourist, I will still be working freelance for a company back home. I know for a fact that a large amount of the websites I need to have access to on a daily basis for business reasons are censored by the Great Firewall of China. I have been using the Tor Browser for a while now for personal purposes. However Tor has been blocked by China. I was wondering if a personal proxy (connected to a computer back home) would do the trick. Would I be too easily traceable? Basically, I'm wondering if I need to try random public proxies until I find one that works or if there are any other options. What does Slashdot think?"

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218 comments

Breaking laws (3, Insightful)

Mkaks (2738943) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454133)

- While I'm only a tourist, I will still be working freelance for a company back home.
- are censored by the Great Firewall of China

What does Slashdot think?

That you are
1) Breaking immigration laws by working while on a tourist visa.
2) Breaking laws by trying to get around the web censors and doing something not allowed.

Honestly, if you are just going to China to break their laws, why not just stay at home? If you still want to continue then don't break immigration and other laws in the country you are visiting. It's not only illegal but greatly distasteful towards the host country. They are welcoming you as a visitor and yet you are just going to be breaking laws.

Re:Breaking laws (3, Insightful)

ottothecow (600101) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454189)

Can't he just use a corporate-style VPN?

I was under the impression that China was perfectly willing to let this go so that American business travelers had no trouble doing business with them. Maybe not some "shady" roll your own linux vpn...but some Cisco product? Why not?

Re:Breaking laws (1)

evilviper (135110) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454373)

That's the way to go, BUT be sure you have more than one. On multiple occasions, we've lost the VPN connection with our China office.... Couldn't ping our VPN IP address from China, and vice vera... BUT all our other IPs were perfectly reachable. After a few days, everything was back to normal.

This is all with business IPs on both ends, I have no idea if the Firewall will be more strict with personal internet connections, or dynamic IPs, but I'd want at least a completely redundant backup connection (Landline and cellular maybe?) for when your usage gets flagged and you can't work.

Re:Breaking laws (3, Informative)

tapspace (2368622) | about a year and a half ago | (#41455019)

Maybe not some "shady" roll your own linux vpn

I was in China for 10 months, and I used a "shady" roll my own linux vpn (I mean, I didn't roll my own software, I used OpenVPN), and it worked fine. It was faster and cheaper than my friends' solutions.

Obviously, it's a good idea to have a backup to access the web for debugging (openvpn.net is blocked in China, go figure!). Ixquick.com or Startpage.com are great for a super simple proxy fallback.

Re:Breaking laws (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454221)

Errr, so when I'm at a resort in Mexico and feel like cranking out a few lines of code because I actually like my job, I'm breaking the law? That's either messed up or a gross misinterpretation.

Re:Breaking laws (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454283)

Depends on if you went there to conduct business or not.

If you went there with the express purpose of conducting business then it is illegal because you obtained a visa under a false pretext.

No one is going to arrest you for laying around doing nothing on a business visa, but you may run into legal problems if you go do business on a tourist visa.

Re:Breaking laws (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454999)

IANAL, but I have travelled to China many times for both work and pleasure (from Canada).

I was advised that as long as I wasn't signing any contracts or performing services for chinese companies, that I could travel on a tourist visa, and continue with my regular employment responsibilities while I'm gone (including visiting with employees of our Chinese subsidiary). I'm not 'doing business in china' when I am simply continuing to do my regular day job. It's not much different than people continuing to answer work emails while they're travelling on vacation in china.

Trying to get past the firewall is another issue however. That is clearly not allowed, and you'd be subject to their laws and rules. That being said it is extremely common for tourists to sidestep the firewall through simple proxies, etc in order to access the resources they're used to. In fact many reputable hotels in the major centres offer unfiltered internet access for their clients. It depends on the city and the ISPs involved, but it was common in my experience. That doesn't mean it's legal. It just means it's not terribly likely to cause any issues for you. But it's all at your own risk, and everyone's risk tolerance is different...

Re:Breaking laws (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454913)

Errr, so when I'm at a resort in Mexico and feel like cranking out a few lines of code because I actually like my job, I'm breaking the law? That's either messed up or a gross misinterpretation.

First, the Mexican's won't care, Ok?

Second, doing incidental work for your regular job while on vacation isn't against the law in any place I'm aware of. Nobody said you couldn't take a call or answer email while on vacation. But intentionally traveling on a tourist visa with full intent to spend most of your time working amounts to lying on your visa application.

Interacting with the locals (buying/selling/hiring/or being employed) in such a way that it takes away a local job is what every country is trying to prevent. If your employer wasn't going to hire a mexican national to fix the accounts receivable reconciliation routine, and you are dumb enough to do that instead of sucking down a cool one while girl watching on the beach, I'm sure they don't care, as long as you leave money in their country.

But the Original poster stated"

that a large amount of the websites I need to have access to on a daily basis for business reasons

Really? A "LARGE" amount of websites on a DAILY basis for BUSINESS reasons??? On a Tourist visa? That says visa Fraud right there.

Re:Breaking laws (4, Insightful)

Overunderrated (1518503) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454227)

Honestly, if you are just going to China to break their laws, why not just stay at home? If you still want to continue then don't break immigration and other laws in the country you are visiting. It's not only illegal but greatly distasteful towards the host country. They are welcoming you as a visitor and yet you are just going to be breaking laws.

“One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
  Martin Luther King Jr.

Re:Breaking laws (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454387)

“One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

  Martin Luther King Jr.

Ah, a very ironic statement, considering there is hardly anything moral about accessing the internet these days...something tells me this statement was for a far loftier purpose than ensuring that porn habits are fed while traveling.

Re:Breaking laws (3, Insightful)

causality (777677) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454675)

“One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Ah, a very ironic statement, considering there is hardly anything moral about accessing the internet these days...something tells me this statement was for a far loftier purpose than ensuring that porn habits are fed while traveling.

Porn is much, MUCH loftier than the desire to censor it.

Re:Breaking laws (3, Insightful)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454649)

“One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

  Martin Luther King Jr.

And one has a vested interest in remaining under the radar of Chinese law enforcement. Or any other country's law enforcement, for that matter, especially a foreign country's.

Re:Breaking laws (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454665)

If that's the case, then one also has a moral responsibility to liberate those living under unjust laws anywhere, and impose one's own code of "just" laws on other people. There is no moral difference between traveling to another country with the intention of breaking their laws, and invading that country to overthrow the government which imposed those laws - the only difference is one of degree.

Dubya, is that you?

Re:Breaking laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454229)

Agreed, it does set a bad example because you are representing your home country.

If I had to break the law of any country I was visiting, it would not be China.

Re:Breaking laws (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454407)

I would actually rank the Philippines higher on my list of countries to not fuck up in vs China.

Re:Breaking laws (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454245)

I came here to say just this...

Sure you may not like their laws. But you should at least respect what they want? You are a guest there. This is different than being oppressed by those laws. You are basically going there with the explicit intention of breaking their laws. You should hope they dont figure out who you are and just deny you entry once you hit their shore...

Re:Breaking laws (2, Insightful)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454329)

Irrelevant to the discussion. He wasn't asking if he should do it, or why it would or woul dnot be disrespectful.

Frankly, I am in the camp who says... if a country doesn't respect free speech, then why respect them at all? Good for him disrespecting them, they don't even respect the free speech rights of their own people...fuck their government.

Re:Breaking laws (2)

Bahumat (213955) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454547)

Because that invites reciprocation of that attitude from other countries. Most people tend to get angry when foreigners from anywhere come into their country and intentionally disrespect the local cultural mores and laws.

I'll give you an easy, hyperbolic example:

By that same argument, how do you feel about Sudanese refugees performing female genital mutilation just down the street from where you live? How do you feel about them snorting in contempt at you when you show outrage, saying: "If a country doesn't respect my cultural norms, then why respect it at all?"

Etc. Etc.

Re:Breaking laws (2)

causality (777677) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454779)

Because that invites reciprocation of that attitude from other countries. Most people tend to get angry when foreigners from anywhere come into their country and intentionally disrespect the local cultural mores and laws.

I'll give you an easy, hyperbolic example:

By that same argument, how do you feel about Sudanese refugees performing female genital mutilation just down the street from where you live? How do you feel about them snorting in contempt at you when you show outrage, saying: "If a country doesn't respect my cultural norms, then why respect it at all?"

Etc. Etc.

While I don't generally oppose the point you are making (and I agree that the original poster's idea is a bad one), there is a flaw in your illustration.

Female genital mutilation has a victim. Accessing a forbidden Web site that is censored by insecure governments for political reasons does not. The two crimes are not in the same league. When law enforcement stops the former, they are protecting human rights. When law enforcement stops the latter, they are infringing human rights.

Re:Breaking laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454741)

"Good for him disrespecting them, they don't even respect the free speech rights of their own people...fuck their government"

I some guys have the same attitude about their religion and use boxcutters to ruin some buildings in _your_ country, then it's completely different I guess.

The Chinese won't arrest an American (2, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454337)

As long as you are not telling other Chinese people how to break through the firewall, I doubt that Chinese government will go after you. They do not need to add stress to their relationship with the USA, and they would probably prefer to sneak something onto your laptop so they can get some trade secrets than to stop you from using a corporate VPN. The purpose of the firewall is to control Chinese citizens, not to harass foreigners.

Re:The Chinese won't arrest an American (3, Interesting)

DaMattster (977781) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454917)

As long as you are not telling other Chinese people how to break through the firewall, I doubt that Chinese government will go after you. They do not need to add stress to their relationship with the USA, and they would probably prefer to sneak something onto your laptop so they can get some trade secrets than to stop you from using a corporate VPN. The purpose of the firewall is to control Chinese citizens, not to harass foreigners.

At best this is an assumption you've made. The Chinese will willingly detain, try, and punish any foreigner that they feel poses a threat to state security. Moreover, it is probably the U.S. is more concerned with it's fragile relationship with China. When it feels threatened, the Chinese Communist Party will react and not care one iota about the world's reaction.

Not breaking laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454415)

I don't think he's breaking laws about the tourist visa. If he were going to China to work for a Chinese company while on a tourist visa, that's different from what he wrote ("for a company back home"). It's actually pretty typical for some people to do work during a vacation. I don't know why someone would *want* to do that, but it happens.

To answer the OP's question: temporarily buy a commercial proxy service if performance is important to you.

Re:Breaking laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454493)

While this is a stereotype, like most stereotypes it is true in a general sense ...

Anyone who thinks leetspeak is cool and uses it in their user id isn't really worth discussing things with. The level of maturity associated with such people is right around 14-15 years old. They fall into the same category of people who use terms like WindoZe or Micro$oft or still think that sites like The Pirate Bay are things we should keep around because 'it isn't theft!' or 'I downloaded linux from TPB its not for warezing!'

Expecting the submitter to act curtious and mature is pointless. He is just a selfish spoiled brat who doesn't think the rules of the world apply to him because he can come to slashdot and ASK SOMEONE ELSE how to solve his problem.

He's not even bright enough to use freaking SSH like everyone else in China does to get around the problem.

Whats better is the fact that slashdot is posting this crap is a good way to make the Chinese think even less of our behavior than the already do.

What should happen is this little punk should be reported in such a way that his visa is revoked immediately. Acting like a prick to another country just reflects badly on the rest of us, and I certainly don't appreciate that.

Re:Breaking laws (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454517)

- While I'm only a tourist, I will still be working freelance for a company back home.

- are censored by the Great Firewall of China

What does Slashdot think?

That you are

1) Breaking immigration laws by working while on a tourist visa.

2) Breaking laws by trying to get around the web censors and doing something not allowed.

Honestly, if you are just going to China to break their laws, why not just stay at home? If you still want to continue then don't break immigration and other laws in the country you are visiting. It's not only illegal but greatly distasteful towards the host country. They are welcoming you as a visitor and yet you are just going to be breaking laws.

I was under the impression that people doing a bit of remote work for the home office while on vacation was an entirely normal and legal state of affairs(if an unfortunate corruption of genuine vacation time...) If he were doing work for a Chinese outfit, or work in China on behalf of home office, that would be a quite different state of affairs...

Re:Breaking laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454641)

If you still want to continue then don't break immigration and other laws in the country you are visiting. It's not only illegal but greatly distasteful towards the host country.

Yes. Unless you are a Mexican illegally entering the US. Then lots of brainwashed morons will defend your actions, give you access to free government services, hell lots of them even want you to have drivers licenses and vote(!).

Those same brainwashed morons have never taken a look at Mexico's immigration laws. I know they haven't because if they did they'd shut up. Well then maybe I give them too much credit. Since when does being completely wrong and totally hypocritical ever make a moron shut up?

Re:Breaking laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454781)

Breaking unjust laws is not distasteful. It is a moral imperative.

Re:Breaking laws (1)

causality (777677) | about a year and a half ago | (#41455135)

Breaking unjust laws is not distasteful. It is a moral imperative.

That's one half of civil disobedience.

The other half? It's also imperative that you be willing to suffer the consequences of the crime.

Re:Breaking laws (1)

waltmarkers (319528) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454907)

Because people that censor don't deserve our respect or compliance. Information wants to be free. And one day, so will the people of China.

Re:Breaking laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454969)

One planet goddammit! Fuck anybody and everybody who wants to take away our rights! Time to stand up to ALL authority!

Re:Breaking laws (2)

racermd (314140) | about a year and a half ago | (#41455119)

It sounds like he's going to be doing freelance work for companies back home while he's visiting China on his own time. This doesn't sound like he's going to China specifically to work there. If he picks up a freelance job from back home, from a company back home, who will pay him back home, who cares what he does with his time in his own hotel room in China? As far as they're concerned, he's simply enjoying his time visiting China.

That said, I wouldn't want to risk violating Chinese law by trying to get around their national firewall, either, for ANY reason. Additionally, I would be highly suspicious of the customs officials in both China AND the U.S. - neither government is exactly friendly with regards to computers entering/leaving their borders.

If I were the one visiting China, I would leave most of my electronics at home, buy what I need/want locally while I'm there, and finally re-sell them before I leave.

Sure - don't go (0)

GerryGilmore (663905) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454191)

Let's be real - China is a Communist dictatorship, period. Yes, they furnish most of our consumer (and soon industrial) products, but at the end of the day they are a totalitarian dictatorship and if you plan on going there, keep that foremost in your mind. Unlike even the RIAA, they will shoot you dead if you screw with them.

Re:Sure - don't go (2)

zethreal (982453) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454319)

Exactly this. I have a relative that went there on vacation with 20 or so friends. They were walking around late in the evening & turned down a "wrong street" they were all arrested & held for no reason for several days. My relative & his friends think that the only reason they were released was because it was such a large group. When they were released, they were told to never travel without a guide again & make sure they didn't go down that road.

Re:Sure - don't go (5, Insightful)

osu-neko (2604) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454363)

Let's be real - China is a Communist dictatorship, period.

Well, let's be real, then. The Chinese Communist Party is "communist" in the same way the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) is "democratic".

Re:Sure - don't go (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454393)

Well, let's be real, then. The Chinese Communist Party is "communist" in the same way the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) is "democratic".

I should clarify, in both cases, it's a word they use for propaganda purposes, not a reflection of their actual ideology.

Re:Sure - don't go (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454505)

Unlike even the RIAA, they will shoot you dead if you screw with them.

If OP is an American, not likely, if only because they don't want to annoy the US government. Now, if he's from, say, Nepal, all bets are off.

Re:Sure - don't go (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454595)

Nonsense. China is a fascist oligarchy. Fascist in the Mussolini sense of merged state and corporate power, as well as the lack of any individual rights. And an oligarchy, in that it's ruled by a party and not an individual.

SSH (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454201)

Just ssh into a box back home, and tunnel all your traffic through that. Easy, I doubt they are blocking port 22.

You can google it yourself hopefully.

Re:SSH (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454551)

Based on my firewall logs, they not only don't block port 22, they actively encourage it!

Bait (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454231)

Sounds like the Great Firewall engineers are looking for some free security pointers from the rest of the world. Any idea we come up with will be blocked before this schmuck gets over there.

But seriously, you should just take a real vacation and not work. Or cancel the vacation and stay at home, working. Better to play it safe and not end up in Chinese gulag for the next 30 years.

SSH (3, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454239)

I hear that the Chinese won't stop you from SSHing to a system outside of the country. You can turn SSH into an ad-hoc VPN if you'd like:

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/SSH_VPN [ubuntu.com]

Re:SSH (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454535)

About two years ago I had a friend that was in China for a length of time (6 months). I set them up with an SSH account on my home system which they were able to use as a SOCKS proxy using PuTTY. You can even download PuTTY from within China.

Re:SSH (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454777)

When I was in China four years ago I found that internet access depended on where I was. In the middle of bumfuck nowhere, lots of sites were blocked. In Beijing, only explicitly political sites were blocked. Unless the OP is in the business of politics, I'd be surprised if he had trouble accessing anything he needs for his business.

Re:SSH (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41455079)

Run it on port 80 too.

IP-over-DNS always seemed like an interesting idea, since you could even use it for sending traffic through 'wireless capture portals' - where you must first pay/login, but DNS requests pass through fine.

http://slashdot.org/story/00/09/10/2230242/ip-tunneling-through-nameservers [slashdot.org]

I was too lazy to set it up, and seems like it'd be too slow for any serious work, but it's a neat idea.

Don't. (1)

martinux (1742570) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454249)

I am by no means an expert in this but the question has been asked before here and I agreed with the overall sentiment: Don't break the law.

The Chinese government will ensure that you regret being caught.

Re:Don't. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454771)

I am by no means an expert in this but the question has been asked before here and I agreed with the overall sentiment: Don't break the law.

The Chinese government will ensure that you regret being caught.

Unless a great deal goes on under the radar, team China appears to have minimal interest in interfering with the VPNs of foreign business travelers. They occasionally crack down on somebody as part of a quasi-mercantilist spat between a local company and a foreign competitor, or to inform a news entity that it really should be self-policing a bit harder, and industrial espionage shenanigans can't be ruled out; but such travellers tend not to be politically threatening and so not very interesting.

Hi, I'm visiting the US soon... (5, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454271)

And although I will be going as a tourist, I still need to be able to regularly import large quantities of heroin and cocaine. However, this isn't allowed according to US law, so can anyone suggest how I can circumvent this law largely because I don't accept it and want to carry on with my massive heroin and cocaine habits while there...

Local laws, whether you believe they are right or not, follow them if you want to stay out of jail.

Re:Hi, I'm visiting the US soon... (2)

Jeng (926980) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454481)

And although I will be going as a tourist, I still need to be able to regularly import large quantities of heroin and cocaine. However, this isn't allowed according to US law, so can anyone suggest how I can circumvent this law largely because I don't accept it and want to carry on with my massive heroin and cocaine habits while there...

I can't help you with large quantities, but otherwise I recommend FedEx.

Re:Hi, I'm visiting the US soon... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454501)

And although I will be going as a tourist, I still need to be able to regularly import large quantities of heroin and cocaine

Charter private jets, then you will not have to deal with airport security.

Re:Hi, I'm visiting the US soon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454743)

Airport security is a lot more lax than customs.

I'd rather take my chance with the TSA drones.

Re:Hi, I'm visiting the US soon... (1, Interesting)

godless dave (844089) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454657)

Right, because importing hard drugs is morally equivalent to circumventing censorship.

Re:Hi, I'm visiting the US soon... (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454757)

Yes, yes it is. The war on drugs is a war on personal freedom, just like any censorship regime.

Re:Hi, I'm visiting the US soon... (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454961)

Who gives a fuck about morals, it's the local law - follow it or don't be all that upset if you end up doing some jail time.

So long Jonas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454293)

We'll miss you and we'll all be sure to write a petition to get you free.

Hopefully that will only take a few years.

Don't Like the Laws? Don't go. (2)

JimMcc (31079) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454295)

I don't know the legal issues at hand, nor do I know the laws of China, but if what you are planing to do is a violation of those laws you should be prepared for an extended stay as a guest of the Chinese government.

While you might not believe that what they do is correct, moral, or defensible, it is non the less their country. Just as you would expect foreign visitors to your own country to respect the local laws, you should respect the laws of a country that you visit. If you find the laws so personally distasteful that can not abide by them, don't go.

Re:Don't Like the Laws? Don't go. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454555)

The other day a friend of mine was telling me he was going on a trip to the US. He was planning to rent a car and drive it around. He was asking me about obeying the speed limit, whether it's acceptable and what the consequences are.

Here's what I told him:

"...I don't know the legal issues at hand, nor do I know the laws of the US, but if what you are planing to do is a violation of those laws you should be prepared for an extended stay as a guest of the US government.

While you might not believe that what they do is correct, moral, or defensible, it is non the less their country. Just as you would expect foreign visitors to your own country to respect the local laws, you should respect the laws of a country that you visit. If you find the laws so personally distasteful that can not abide by them, don't go."

Re:Don't Like the Laws? Don't go. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454849)

If you exceed the speed limit by more than a certain amount, then yes, you will get to stay in one of our fine government provided housing complexes.

So what was your point?

Re:Don't Like the Laws? Don't go. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41455045)

Just wondering if you would apply the same standard e.g. to Stalinist Russia... While you might not believe that what they do is correct, moral, or defensible, it is non the less their country....
who's country, anyway? The communist party? The people? Is the censorship a product of 'the people' or a product of 'communist party'?

Do you think it's immoral to break a bad law imposed by non-elected government? So forget about morality, it's absolutely OK to connect yourselve home and see censored websites. But if some communist officials find out, you might have a problem. As in communist Russia, nazi germany, or for that matter, even the western states have their share of bad law that's immoral in itself.

Consider the Long Game (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454303)

Yeah I know you're going to think I'm a tinfoil hat guy but basically anything you bring to China should be considered as compromised. iPod, tablet, computer, phone, etc. If you don't use burners, you should definitely at the very least wipe them and start over when you get back into the states. Anything you leave alone in your hotel room probably won't be left alone. Put removable tape over your cameras on these devices.

Also, if you're going to encrypt your traffic, keep in mind that most encryption standards will be broken so if you can set your encryption and you have a speedy machine then set it as high as possible. Basically, you can assume that any sensitive stuff and all of your stuff you send over anything will simply be recorded and written to disc. It's not a question of if they break the encryption. It's a question of when. Make sure none of it matters and you're dead and buried by the time they can break that. The Chinese government is in it for the long game. They are not above corporate espionage.

My personal option would to bring simple devices, treat them as burners and simply enjoy a vacation from work.

The Parking Garage (3, Informative)

FormulaTroll (983794) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454315)

Personal viewpoints on censorship aside, I'd be hesitant to break any Chinese laws while in China. Why, my dad just returned from a 14-year stint in a red Chinese prison...

Re:The Parking Garage (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454557)

Why, my dad just returned from a 14-year stint in a red Chinese prison...

Mind providing more details regarding that?

Re:The Parking Garage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454569)

14 years for what crime may I ask?

Use a VPN Service (1)

DrEnter (600510) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454321)

Use a VPN service. I've used a corporate VPN and one based out of India (to avoid U.S.-centric blocking issues) called SwitchVPN. While they both worked fine, this was a year ago. The best thing to do is look at the current VPN companies and see who is being blocked today and why. If several from one country are getting blocked, choose one based out of a different country that doesn't have close ties with that country. It changes all the time, but it doesn't turn on a dime. It seems like the blocking happens in fits and starts (a bunch blocked a couple months ago, a bunch of different ones blocked next month, etc.) One thing I've found is that corporate VPNs seem to almost never get blocked, so if you have access to one of those, it is a good backup.

This is not a good question for Slashdot (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454325)

Post this question at one of the many expat forums catering to those of us (well into the high 6 figures) who live in China.

What we'll tell you:
1) Sign up for a VPN before you get here.
2) Profit.

It really is that easy. Oh, and the bit about what you are doing being legal or not? here in China there's what's legal, and then there's what you are allowed to do. Sometimes they are even the same thing.

Ya Gotta Be and idjit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454335)

To go into a communist dictatorship with the intention of breaking their laws...

They don't play nice over there kid.

Let me Google that for you.... (2)

DontScotty (978874) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454351)

visitors arrested for circumventing china firewall

oh, I guess there are no results.

Go right ahead!!

(IANAL, URIDIOT)

Don't (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454361)

How long are you going to be there for? Because unless it's months and months, I would urge you to sort out your business affairs in advance and just not bother trying anything "clever" while you're out there. Because believe me, a bit of business inconvenience back home is nothing next to the world of hurt you will inflict upon yourself (albeit with some helpful assistance from others and their nice electrodes) in the admittedly fairly unlikely (but by no means impossible) scenario that you piss off the security side of what is still, despite a bit of spin and economic modernisation, a creepy totalitarian state apparatus.

Anyway... their country, their rules. When I travel to the USA, I'm generally struck by how stupidly low speed limits are, particularly given how well maintained, open and relatively quiet they are compared with ours here in the UK. But I don't plot and scheme for how I can drive at UK speeds - I follow the US speed limits. Now in the case of China, we're talking about rights that are rather more fundamental than "being allowed to drive fast" - but hey, you've chosen to go their on holiday (you've said you'll be a tourist) and you're a guest, so perhaps you should behave like on.

Besides, you'll get a lot more out of your holiday if you aren't constantly trying to work while you're out there. So as I said at the start, do whatever you can to organise things so you don't actually need to work while you're out there (or consider cancelling your trip and re-booking at a better time).

Phone home (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454375)

I traveled to China on vacation in late March this year for two weeks, staying in hotels and also using a shared MiFi-type cellular data connection on a Chinese cellular account. In all cases, I was successful by using Apple's built-in VPN, connecting to an Apple OS X server running at my US home. I was able to run iChat, Skype, and Google Chat voice as well. I ran everything through the VPN (including a Mac, a PC, an iPad, and an iPhone). I had no problems connecting with Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, the New York Times, and anywhere else I wanted to go. The speed was comparable to what others were getting connecting without a VPN to non-blocked US websites, so I didn't take any measurable penalty in speed.

I connected from Beijing, Xi'an, a Yangtzee River cruise boat (on the MiFi, a little slow but to be expected with a cellular connection), and Shanghai, all the time connecting to the same US OS X server. I never had a connection that was lost or cut off.

Er, was. (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454379)

Tor was blocked by China. They've since added bridges [torproject.org] intended to bypass the firewall. It's always been a cat and mouse game with China. Always will be. But right now, Tor works in China. Tomorrow, who knows.

Re:Er, was. (1)

causality (777677) | about a year and a half ago | (#41455003)

Tor was blocked by China. They've since added bridges [torproject.org] intended to bypass the firewall. It's always been a cat and mouse game with China. Always will be. But right now, Tor works in China. Tomorrow, who knows.

The scary part is that they may intentionally allow it (after a token cat & mouse game) in order to perform ISP-wide deep packet inspection. Then they find out who's using Tor, assume they're trying to bypass censorship, and charge them with crimes.

China's approach to Tor (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year and a half ago | (#41455055)

China does not want to keep Tor blocked eternally. They don't want people talking to each other about losing access to Tor; that would just inflate the number of Tor users in the country (see, for example, the increase in Tor use following Tor being blocked). The Chinese government blocks Tor when there is big news that they want to conceal until they get their own propaganda out. They keep techniques of blocking Tor on hand for just such an occasion.

SSH tunnel works (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454427)

I always use ssh proxy (the -D option) and it works very well. Just don't forget to set your DNS to resolve using the proxy as well or it will fail otherwise.

Bypassing GFW is not breaking any law! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454457)

It's completely OK to bypass the GFW.

An HTTP proxy is not enough. The URLs to be proxied is transfered to server side in plaintext, which is blockable.

VPN will be a good choice. Try some service providers like witopia and so on.

No big deal, been there done it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454497)

I was in Beijing and Shanghai for two weeks about a year ago and had no problem using LogMeIn to access my home computer and a VPN to access work machines. Let's see - I wasn't detained, tortured, arrested, followed, harassed or have anything else happen to me. But what do I know...

VPN,VPN, VPN (1)

davydagger (2566757) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454529)

Set up your own VPN stateside, and work from there.

I think its the only real legimate way.

Using personal identifiable information through TOR to clearnet is a horrible idea, because of mallaicious exit nodes. TOR is great for anonymous browsing and research.

Setting up your own VPN stateside you exit to clearnet on a network you know is friendly. I think the chineese government will be less likely to mess with you this way. Given that many companies use VPNs this way, its should be very easy to explain this as business as usual.

StrongVPN (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454539)

We actually have a similar problem, not only do they mess with the DNS addresses for our website, but they packet latency is horrible. I recommend a 3rd party VPN client.

Tor and Vidalia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454621)

I wonder, but It may work at least for browsing https://www.torproject.org/projects/vidalia.html.en

OpenVPN (2)

Col. Klink (retired) (11632) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454635)

I was in China last month and I just set up an OpenVPN server on my home machine and connected to that with no problems. It's noticeably slower, but worked just fine.

Note that it makes sense to use OpenVPN from just about anywhere.

This has been coming for a while (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454697)

It's high time we took back the internet. It's time to create new network(s) to exist alongside the Internet, that interface with the it but use different protocols. We need to create set of network protocols that are traffic and crypto analysis proof. The whole concept of "Internet access is what you buy from X" needs to be turned on its head. Network access should be something you get from 3 of your neighbors. To arms! The Fascists are here!

A Real Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454709)

First, ignore everyone on their moral high horse - the Chinese gov't doesn't give a shit about foreigners bypassing the firewall.

The firewall mostly exists to:
a) Give Chinese companies a competitive advantage in the Chinese marketplace.
b) Stop the average farmer from figuring out just quite how shitty he's got it and why.

As far as bypassing it - that is trivial. Use a VPN and/or SSH tunnel... I've never had a problem doing this.

Comparing this to importing drugs is completely fucking ridiculous. Tons of Chinese citizens bypass the firewall also, especially in Shanghai area.

My 0.02 (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454719)

Knowingly, willingly, and recklessly violating the law in any foreign country is not a good idea, period. It is well known that China does not have the same due process laws and criminal procedure of the United States. You could be charged with a capital offense such as spying and there is very little anyone can do to help you. Your best bet is to take a vacation from work and enjoy your trip. That much said you could look at a tunneling service such as tunnelr [tunnelr.com] which uses OpenVPN to encrypt your traffic and tunnel through a firewall but you do this at quite a bit of peril. What happens if a civil servant monitoring the Great Firewall "sees" a session with a lot of encrypted traffic and it is not going to one of the regular, acceptable locations? Tunnelr also offers SSH encrypted tunneling.

Ignore the "don't" comments... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454747)

...they are seriously lacking in perspective.

Think about this, for a moment, from the perspective of the Chinese state. If a significant portion of their lower class (a group of people who have been shat on by the upper class for centuries) had free, unrestricted, unfiltered access to information about their oppressors, and a way to mobilize together, it would be an absolute DISASTER for the Chinese state, and probably the stability of Chinese society in general.

YOU, as a westerner, are not the target of the Chinese state's censorship efforts. The Chinese state doesn't give a shit if you read about their human rights violations and the atrocities committed for the greater good. They especially don't give a shit if you visit Facebook or Youtube. You just need to make damn sure that you don't squawk about sensitive subjects while you are visiting. Attention to such issues is threatening to the Chinese state.

To all the fools saying "don't do it, you will be in another country, you are obligated to obey their laws, if you don't like it, don't go" - do you REALLY think that the upper class in China can't visit whatever websites they want? Give me a break. Internet censorship in China is designed to prevent the idiot ignorant lower class from shaking things up too much. Same reason you can't turn on a TV in the US and hear anyone having rigorous intellectual discussions about what is actually happening in the world. Doesn't mean the information isn't there, or isn't accessible in some way, or that people aren't talking about it. It just means that the average idiot probably needs to remain ignorant, in order to avert disaster.

To the OP, here are my recommendations.
I get a VPN service (called VyperVPN) thru my usenet provider (the well-known Giganews). It works fine in China. There are a variety of endpoints to pick from. One is in Hong Kong. Several in Europe and the US.

Works with PPTP, L2TP and OpenVPN. OpenVPN is probably the best (seems that some cheap networking gear does not support PPTP properly), although the most difficult to set up.

One thing to note is that DNS servers over there may lie to your machine. So having a list of the IP addresses of endpoints might be beneficial (you can probably write a script to resolve the domain names of all the endpoints and store the IPs in a file *while you are connected to the VPN*). Maybe put the right ones in your hosts file or something.

Re:Ignore the "don't" comments... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454783)

Also, no matter what anyone says, be it the Chinese state, the US government, or anyone, just remember this:

INFORMATION SHOULD BE FREE.

Lived in China for years (4, Informative)

nhtshot (198470) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454789)

I used overplay.net's commercial OpenVPN. There's several competing services specifically tailored to bypassing the great firewall. Overplay in particular has a huge list of servers in different countries. Occasionally one would get blocked, but one of the others would always work.

Best $10/month I spent while I was there.

Regarding the locals laws, etc.. it's a definite gray area. The laws don't say you're not allowed to post or view certain things. The laws just say that the government is allowed to "normalize" (filter/censor).

I used a VPN for years and registered for my internet account using my passport. They knew who I was and could obviously see the VPN traffic. I never heard a word from anybody about it.

Jabronis (2)

brojamma (2718155) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454871)

Do we really need all of these replies discussing the legality/morality? We get the point -- you're all a bunch of stand-up citizens.

SSH, VPN, etc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41454895)

This has been asked her many times. The whole reason I setup SSH & VPN on my router at home is for China. I give a few friends there longing for USA-net who live back there now, and for when I travel there. My IP will likely get blocked in time, but not that hard to change.

Why travel to China? (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454929)

Where is this recent wave of Sinophelia coming from? Why would you want to go to that cesspool of human rights abuses?

SSTP (1)

jago25_98 (566531) | about a year and a half ago | (#41454991)

Focussing on technology,

Other than ssh
  SSTP seems like a good candidate? Shame it's only for Windows unless I'm mistaken an alternative?

The thread is full of (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41455099)

...Mitt Romney trolls! Beware!

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