How to Access Gmail in China – 2018 Solution

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Linkedin

UPDATE: On February 1st, 2018 I can confirm this solution still works. The tool I use in this guide is called ExpressVPN. Feel free to comment below, or go check it out by clicking here. I use ExpressVPN because it is the only one I've found that still currently works to unblock Gmail in China. 

Gmail is still completely blocked in China. But can you use Gmail in China? Yes - you absolutely can.

Do the following to unblock Gmail in China right now:

  1. Start with setting up a VPN account
  2. Install the VPN software onto the device(s) you want to access Gmail on
  3. Next, open the VPN software then connect to a server location where Gmail is not blocked (for example, a US-based server)
  4. Once connected, you will be able to access Gmail.

Time to do this: 5 Minutes

how to access gmail in china

How to access Gmail in China

in more detail:

The Chinese government have a “Great Firewall of China” built into the country’s internet, that allows them to control what websites China-based people can and cannot access.

Why? Primarily to reduce any and all online content that openly criticises the Chinese government.

As a result of this, many popular websites and online services have subsequently been blocked in China that do not solely criticise the government. Gmail being one such service.

We have put together this guide to give you a simple and 100% effective solution to unblock Gmail once and for all, from anywhere in the world so you no longer have to worry about not being able to access your emails when living in/visiting China.

We also made this super simple video walkthrough that not only shows you the steps to follow in real time, but also gives you a super quick education on why Gmail in inaccessible in China. Check it out, or alternatively go through the steps below the video and have access to Gmail in less than 5 minutes:


NOTE: This super quick guide on how to access Gmail from within involves using a VPN. There are a large amount of VPN service providers around today, so I reviewed the very best providers out there and narrowed down my choice to ExpressVPN:


Email is such a fundamental pillar of internet usage, and always has been. So when I heard that China was still -- in 2017! -- blocking access to Gmail, which is the most popular email service in the world, I was shocked.

Feeling more than just a little compelled to help out the internet users of China that are denied access to using an incredibly sophisticated and arguably the most user-friendly service of such a fundamental function of the internet, I wanted to put together this quick guide to provide a solution on how to access Gmail in China effectively, securely and easily. 

So on behalf of all non-China based internet users around the globe that have full access to Gmail, please accept this quick guide as a gesture of support to fighting for online freedom from within that oppressive nation. Let's get around that Great Firewall!

This guide requires zero technical "expertise". All that's required of you is 5 minutes of your time for me to walk you through this solution and have you able to access Gmail (and any other website or online service you want to access) in China effectively and securely. So when you ask yourself the question " does Gmail work in China?" or "can you use Gmail in China?" - you can confidently say: yes!


Why is Gmail Blocked in China?

To understand why the solution I walkthrough below is so effective at unblocking Gmail from inside China, it is important to first understand the reason behind China blocking Gmail.

The reasons why behind Gmail being blocked in China are of the same ambiguity that has surrounded China's IP-level blocking of practically all of Google's popular online services like GDrive and of the course the search engine itself - not to mention a whole bunch of additional popular websites. The following either are, or have been, blocked in China at some point:

- Dropbox (file sharing site)
- DuckDuckGo (anonymous search engine)
- Facebook (we all know what facebook is)
- Flickr (photo-sharing platform)
- Instagram (social photo-sharing app)
- Netflix (most popular commercial media streaming website in the world)
- New York Times (popular news publication)
- Twitter (social hub)
- Wall Street Journal (another popular news publication)
- YouTube (largest video publishing/viewing platform on the web)

Essentially the Chinese government appear to have wiped out all traffic from their nation to any Google service n a bid to (perhaps) drive down the global market value of the corporation. So you can almost guarantee that the vast majority of internet users in China see this block as a huge inconvenience and frustration, thus being opposed to it; rather than understanding and supporting their government's purely global-political reasoning to do this.

Thus, it's basically a very vague and non-specific reasoning behind the nation's blocking of Gmail along with all Google services. So we should not dwell on this and go ahead and skip to the more important "how" behind this block...


How is Gmail Blocked in China?

So the actual technical process being used by China's ISPs (Internet Service Providers) is a complete block at the IP-level. To understand what this means, you just need to understand how IP addresses work. 

An IP address is a numerical string, e.g. 123.45.365, that you are given whenever you connect to an internet connection, whether your home router or a cafe's WiFi or whatever it may be. Each of these IP addresses is unique to that connection. 

Most importantly, the IP address you get when you connect to the internet also tells every website and online service you visit what your physical location is. So because all of China's ISPs are legally obligated to deny access to Gmail at their IP-level, the only solution to get past this block is to somehow change your IP address to one that shows your location as outside China.

Is this possible? Yes -- and surprisingly easily. 

There are a few methods that allow you to change your IP address, however by far and away the most effective, secure and -- most importantly -- privacy-protecting approach is to use a VPN, or "Virtual Private Network".

If you are not familiar with what a VPN is, then do not worry if it sounds a bit “technical” - it really is not. A VPN is actually a very simple (but powerful) piece of software that you can download and install onto any internet-connectable device that you would possibly want to access Gmail from while in China.

Using a VPN should be standard amongst all internet users today, since the privacy protection the software gives you is incredibly secure and worthwhile. With that said, the IP-address changing that a VPN gives you is the perfect solution to unblocking your Gmail account from within China, so for that reason alone we will now walk you through the few quick steps to do this with a VPN.

NOTE: Although you may not be able to access VPN websites in China, this does not mean that VPNs do not work once installed on your device. So it is worth getting access to a VPN by any means possible to do this. 


How to Use a VPN to Access Gmail in China

Step 1: Sign up for VPN

There are a large number of VPN service providers to choose from, many of which are brilliant; some of which are very flawed. It's a safe bet to assume that the cheapest/free VPN providers are not actually giving you the performance or privacy-protection you want -- so after reviewing the very best "Bang for your buck" providers around; I decided to go with ExpressVPN for this solution. Thus, I will use this provider as the example while walking you through the setup steps below. 

So head over to the ExpressVPN website and choose the plan that best fits your commitment and budget preference, then process payment and confirm your account setup via the email you receive. Here's how this process looks to give you an idea.

Once you land on the homepage, choose a package that best suits your personal preference:

how to access gmail in china 2
down_arrow
gmail in china 1


As you will see, ExpressVPN offer a 30-day money back guarantee as well as 3 free months (I believe this deal is temporary, so definitely jump on it now if you can). This is great as it allows you to triple-check that the VPN allows you access to Gmail from inside China, without you having to worry about spending your precious money on a false solution.

Once you have chosen the subscription length that you want, and your account details are confirmed (should be instantly), you will receive a couple of emails from the VPN service confirming your details and login credentials. You will need these to login to the software once you’ve downloaded it, so don’t delete that email!

Let’s now move onto the download and installation process...


Step 2: Download & Install VPN

You will notice in your account confirmation email that you also receive a link to download the VPN software. Click on this link and you'll be directed to the main download area of the website. 

Here you will see the many download links for each and every device that ExpressVPN is compatible with. You'll see that essentially every device you would ever want to use the VPN to access Gmail from is supported, which is great. Can you use Gmail in China on your laptop and smartphone at the same time? Yes - along with many other devices:

how to access gmail in china 4


So click on the appropriate download link for the device(s) you want to access Gmail through, then the installation process will begin automatically. Just follow the steps as prompted for this, then you will have the VPN software fully installed and ready to launch.

To give you an example, here is how ExpressVPN displays the VPN for my Mac the moment I have downloaded, installed then opened it for the first time:

how to access gmail in china 5


Step 3: Connect to non-China Based Server on VPN

The installed software will launch automatically, so let that happen and your next step is to go ahead and connect to the VPN through a server location of your choice. 

This is the important part in this whole solution, because based on the server location you choose -- your "physical location" will change accordingly to reflect this (i.e. your IP address will change). 

Thus, you want to make sure to connect to a server that is located outside of China. Somewhere like Hong Kong or the like will work fine. You can even connect to a US-based server, which will work effectively but may provide a slightly slower connecting speed because of the distance between that server and your actual location.

So go ahead and choose a non-China based server location, click "Connect" and wait a few moments. Once you're connected, you will have successfully changed your IP address!

For any of you that use your mobile device (smartphone, ipad, etc) more often to access your Gmail account, then just check out how easy to use the ExpressVPN mobile app looks. Here it is on my Android smartphone:

gmail in china 2


The app is equally as intuitive and easy to use on your mobile device as on your laptop/desktop computer. All you need to do is choose a location outside China then hit “Connect”. Simple as that:

gmail in china 3


Step 4: Sign Up/In to Gmail

With your VPN connected now, you can now go to Gmail and you will have full and total access to the service! So if you have not setup a Gmail account, you can do this now -- and if you have a Gmail account that you have been unable to access from within China, then you can now sign into that securely and instantly. 

Should you want to change your location to any other server that ExpressVPN offer on their VPN (of which are located all over the globe) then all that you need to do is disconnect then reconnect on any server location you choose. 

ExpressVPN is the most consistently updated and effective best VPN service to use for keeping your Gmail unblocked while in China. However, there are a few other VPN service providers that we have personally reviewed and would recommend giving a shot. Check out the list below:


Alternative Method to Unblock Gmail in China

The way that a VPN works to change your IP address is not solely unique to VPNs. There are ways to change your IP address that do not require using software.

A common example is to use an online Proxy server service. There are literally hundreds of proxy server services available, with some charging and many being completely free.

Important Note: If a proxy server is completely free to use, then you can almost guarantee that it is either already blocked in China or will be blocked by the time you are reading this guide. With that said, here are some free browser add-on proxy services that may still be working and could be worth trying out: Hide.me, Whoer.net and kproxy.com.

The reason we strongly advise to use a VPN over a free proxy is because with a proxy being free you are getting zero support, to any issues with it will go unresolved. Also, since no one is making money from the proxy -- it can take a very long time to have the service updated. In some cases a proxy will never be updated. 


Conclusion

This concludes my super quick and simple guide on how to access Gmail from inside China in just a few steps that will take you no more than 5 minutes to set up.

Clearly the Chinese government is not planning to lift this Gmail block any time soon. So to give yourself the best chance to access your Gmail, definitely grab yourself a VPN and go through the steps laid out in this quick guide.


If you are within China and your local ISP (Internet Service Provider) somehow has blocked access to, for example, ExpressVPN.com, then you can work around this by either using a proxy that works to access the VPN website, or alternatively have someone you know and trust that is located outside China set up a VPN account and download the software for you. They can then send this to you via a method that the Chinese internet allows, like using WeTransfer.com to send a download link to your alternative (non-Gmail) account, like hotmail.com.

Thanks for checking out this guide and enjoy having full access to Gmail while located inside China.

Should you have any issues with the steps in this solution, or with the VPN giving you access to Gmail effectively, then please do not hesitate to let us know by commenting below. We read and respond to every single comment, and love to hear your experience and feedback.

Thanks again and remember to share this solution to anyone asking "does Gmail work in China?", so you can say "yes, if you know how!" 

Summary
Article Name
How to Access Gmail in China in 2018
Description
Quick guide showing how to access Gmail in China in 2018
Author
Chris Beattie

33 Answers

  1. Judy Stein
    August 3, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Thank you so much ! For the explanation. Will be returning here when it is necessary because you gave such good information.

    1. Dennis
      October 13, 2017 at 11:56 am

      I had such a struggle to access my gmail account in China. Even accessing mobile apps in business were a little slow. Thankfully VPNs exist to make lives easier.

      1. Mari Henrichsen
        December 18, 2016 at 5:52 pm

        Hello
        Thank you for the detailed information .
        If I set up the account for a VPN here in us let’s say a server in Miami , do iO then change to a closer one when I arrive to China like to Hong Kong from the hotel wifi in Beijing ?
        Sorry your step. By step is very precise , but I am still confused .
        I will be downalsinf this to my iPhone and ipad for my month stay in china .
        Thank you for helping the technically challenged
        Mari

        1. Chris Beattie
          December 19, 2016 at 7:03 am

          Hey Mari, thanks for checking out our guide. Good question! So you don’t *need* to change to a closer location when you are in China. However, if you stay connected to a server location far away (like connecting to Miami when you’re in China) then your internet *might* be a little slower. Not too much though.

          If you are using the VPN for privacy protection only, then there is definitely no reason to connect to a location far away. The reason to stay connected to a US location while you’re in China would be if you want to access websites and services that are blocked within China, but not within the US.

          With that said, if you are simply wanting to unblock Gmail while you’re in China, then yes – all you need to do is connect to a Hong Kong server since Gmail is unblocked in Hong Kong.

          Hope that makes sense. Thanks again, Mari!

  2. carmela
    November 6, 2017 at 8:19 am

    I have a question that you don’t clarify. Can you use gmail in china on for example my tablet but also my laptop? at the same time? I don’t want to have to log in and out every time on each one. is it possible?

    1. Chris Beattie
      November 7, 2017 at 6:50 am

      Hey Carmela, thanks for your question! I did mention this in the guide but happy to confirm for you — yes! You can use the VPN on multiple devices without requiring logging in/logging out between them every time. Thanks, Carmela!

  3. steve
    November 6, 2017 at 8:26 am

    Chris thanks for the guide but can you tell me, does gmail work in china without a vpn (for example using a proxy browser?) i will try with the vpn anyway but want to try other solutions if its possible.

    1. Chris Beattie
      November 7, 2017 at 6:52 am

      Hey Steve, thanks for your comment! You can have some luck with using, for example, a SmartDNS service, however, I strongly recommend using a VPN because you get that layer of encryption on your connection that a SmartDNS service does not give you. Got to protect your online data privacy! Thanks again, Steve.

  4. Thomas
    November 30, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    Wow I had no idea about the Internet censorship that exists in China. Good thing I came across your blog because I really need access to my gmail​ ​in​ ​China when I visit there next month for a business convention. So this post is really a lifesaver for me! Thanks a mil!

  5. Zax
    November 30, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    Timely article! My friend just asked me the other day does​ ​gmail​ ​work​ ​in​ ​China? I told him no but guess I was wrong. I’m forwarding him your article right this minute. Cool dude!

  6. Charlie
    December 1, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    I think gmail has more filters to blog locations than even netflix does. Are you sure I can​ ​you​ ​use​ ​gmail​ ​in​ ​China with ExpressVPN? This really does promising to help me with both netflix, gmail and a few other site I haven’t been able to get into.

  7. Lamar
    December 4, 2017 at 12:34 am

    Another great post! I guess the Chinese government wants to spy on everyone these days. I didn’t know this. Guess it’s always something!

  8. Melody Koolstra
    December 18, 2017 at 5:10 am

    If you asked me gmail​ ​in​ ​China should not be blocked. I mean its developers have already a ton of security limitations in place. There is no need for more restrictions. Unless the Government has other issues we do not know of,

  9. Andrew Branch
    December 18, 2017 at 7:12 am

    It seems that VPN or no VPN people will still continue to ask does​ ​gmail​ ​work​ ​in​ ​China? Apparently the answer to that is yes but base on the article it is the government issuing the black out not Google. I find that strange actually. Do China and Google have bad blood or what?

  10. Cisko Serna
    December 18, 2017 at 7:57 am

    For someone who never knew this issue until now forget the fact that Gmail is lock out in these parts. I mean can​ ​you​ ​use​ ​gmail​ ​in​ ​China? We may never know but hopefully the block will be lifted. I do not have plans to send any mails to this part of the world but I admit I find this odd because it is Google a big company we are talking here and they have this to contend with.

  11. Robert Short
    December 18, 2017 at 9:09 am

    I tried sending an email to my Chinese friend before but never got through. Since then I always asked myself why or to be precise is​ ​gmail​ ​blocked​ ​in​ ​China? No kidding it may seem so trivial but upon reading this now I know why. I wish I could have known this sooner. Again it is good to finally bury the hatchet I would say.

  12. Kristy Harding
    December 19, 2017 at 12:03 am

    I wish we could have read the full story of this. I mean it is freaking Google a company giant and yet it can still be locked out? Strange indeed.

  13. Sandra Greene
    December 19, 2017 at 1:55 am

    I have no idea that as big as Google is one of their flagship services are blocked in this Even more shocking is the people had to resort to VPN just to access it, In a brighter note its gonna be lifted soon.

  14. Lisa Powell
    December 19, 2017 at 2:41 am

    It seems to me that the government’s move of blocking gmail is wrong. The article did not include why they did such a thing but that is so shallow. They can find more things that need attention leave the mail alone.

  15. Terri Gendron
    December 19, 2017 at 3:19 am

    I still cannot wrap my head about China managing to blocked the Google. Seriously why? Nationalism? I mean at the end of the day it is still mail and just that. Come on!!!

  16. Jenn Haun
    December 19, 2017 at 3:42 am

    These are the cases where VPN shows its potential. It allows people to get a service that is a suitable and secure email. It does not get better than that.

  17. Cecilia Flores
    December 19, 2017 at 3:58 am

    China sure has weird policies in place I mean an electronic mail is becoming an issue? I apologize but I find it funny and amazing too because VPN comes in handy in these situations.

  18. Shauna Murray
    December 19, 2017 at 4:18 am

    I feel bad for the Chinese people. Their own government is depriving them of a must service. Does Yahoo and Hotmail suffer the same problem as well?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.