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How to use LINE and Gmail when traveling in Mainland China!

When you travel or go on a business trip to mainland China, you should be aware of internet censorship. As a result, SNS and Google services such as LINE, Instagram, Twitter, etc. cannot be used in China. In this article, we will introduce the SNS and applications that are not originally available in China and explain how to use them as if you were in Japan.

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There are internet restrictions in Mainland China!


The reason why you cannot use SNS and Google services in mainland China is because of "internet restrictions" by the Chinese government. In mainland China, the government censors the Internet and monitors sites through a system called the Great Firewall (Golden Shield). This system is named after the Great Wall, a famous spot in mainland China.
One of the purposes of Internet regulation is to prevent foreign information from flowing into mainland China. As a result, foreign SNS services such as LINE, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as services from foreign companies such as Google and YouTube, cannot be used in mainland China, where Internet censorship is strictly enforced.

What SNS and apps cannot be used in mainland China?


So, what specific SNSs, apps, and Internet services are not available? The answer is: services that are "foreign" from the perspective of mainland China. In other words, if the company providing the service is not from mainland China, there is a high possibility that it will be subject to the Chinese government's Internet restrictions.
Below is a list of some of the SNS and Internet services that are commonly used by Japanese people but are not available in mainland China. Please check them before your trip or business trip.

Examples of SNS and Internet services that cannot be used in mainland China

  • LINE
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Skype (excluding paid versions)
  • Google services such as Google Maps, Gmail, and search engines
  • Yahoo! Search
  • YouTube
  • Nico Nico Douga

How to use SNS and apps in mainland China as you do in Japan


Many of the SNS, apps, and Internet services mentioned above are familiar to you, and you may find it inconvenient if you cannot use them in mainland China. Here are three ways to use these SNS and Internet services in mainland China. Depending on the length of your trip and the purpose of use, you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

Method 1: Use rental Wi-Fi (Recommended)

The first method is to rent a Wi-Fi router that can be used in mainland China, which allows you to use social networking and Internet services as usual simply by connecting your smartphone to the Wi-Fi router. This is also recommended for those who want to use the service without complicated settings and for those who want to share it with family and friends.

For rental Wi-Fi, make sure to check if the plan allows you to use SNS and apps in mainland China. Depending on the provider, you may need to select a paid option such as "China VPN*" or a more expensive dedicated plan such as a "special line" to use the service.

With Telecom Square's international Wi-Fi rental "WiFiBOX," you can use social networking and the Internet without restrictions in mainland China at a discount with no additional options or special fees.

Click here to apply for WiFiBOX.

*What is VPN?
VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a system that creates a virtual private line on your Internet connection, allowing you to legally use SNS and other services on your computer or smartphone safely and securely in China by registering the settings on your Wi-Fi device. With conventional Wi-Fi rentals, the most common way to use the Internet in China, as in Japan, is to sign up for a VPN option.

Method 2: Use a prepaid SIM card for Hong Kong

Method 2) is to purchase a prepaid SIM card sold by a Hong Kong telecommunications company in advance and use it on a mail order site. First, make sure that the SIM lock on the phone you plan to use is unlocked. Once you arrive in China, you can use both LINE and the Internet by replacing the SIM card you purchased. Please note, however, that this requires more time and effort to set up than renting Wi-Fi, and there are restrictions on compatible smartphone models.

Method 3) Using overseas roaming

Method 3) is to use overseas roaming after arriving in mainland China. If you are a user of a major carrier, communication will automatically switch to overseas roaming when you start using your smartphone after arriving in mainland China. This allows you to use SNS and the Internet without any settings. However, overseas roaming is not recommended, as it is extremely likely to be expensive even for short periods of time. Unless you have no choice, you should basically turn off mobile data communication when traveling overseas, including mainland China.


In this article, we introduced the Internet restrictions in mainland China and the social networking and Internet services that cannot be used due to these restrictions. Use LINE, Twitter, and Google services in mainland China just as you do in Japan by using rental Wi-Fi, SIM cards, or overseas roaming.