Using the internet in China is hard if you want to go beyond the Chinese web.
Not only are many popular websites and services blocked in the country, such as Facebook or Twitter, but the general speed of international websites is painfully slow.
VPNs essentially build a tunnel to let you use the internet as if you are in another country, where, for example, Facebook isn t blocked.
It s the nearest thing and not a full a solution because, in many cases, regular run-of-the-mill VPN don t work in China, where a very particular type is required.
Even when you find one that does work in China, reliability is a major issue.
The Chinese government has cracked down on VPNs and the web more than usual over the past two years or so, that has included nullifying popular services and, in one case, visiting a developer in person to have software shuttered.