Google Play is something most mobile users take for granted. With its unbelievably massive app library and rapidly evolving entertainment features, the Play store a real bonus for Android users. Unfortunately, the same doesn’t apply to people in China, where Google’s app store is blocked.
Why is Google blocked in China? Well, it’s a long story. However, it’s not really a problem for the country’s visitors or residents. With a VPN on your smartphone, you can easily beat the ban and access apps and content whenever you wish. Before we turn to solutions, however, let’s look at how the Google Play China ban came about.
What’s the situation regarding Google Play in China?
If you find the Google Play store not working on the Chinese mainland, that’s actually far from unusual. In fact, China has effectively imposed a ban on all things Google to prevent Chinese users from downloading anything from Google Play.
But why is Google blocked in China? Well, the story stretches as far back as 2010, when Google wasn’t quite the global tech giant it is today.
Back in 2010, Google made an unexpected announcement, telling local web users that it would pull out of the Chinese market entirely. The company explained its decision, reporting that Google’s servers had been subjected to officially authorised cyberattacks. Google also noted that Gmail accounts belonging to Chinese political activists had been compromised. As a result, the company pulled the plug on Google services in China.
Thereafter, the tech giant tried multiple times to re-enter the Chinese market. However, the Chinese government had learned its lesson and has made life exceedingly difficult for Google’s services.
Why is Google Play being inaccessible in China a big deal
Google Play’s absence from the Chinese market is a big deal for any Android phone owner. The Play store is the single most reliable place to download apps for Android devices, with over 2.5 million tools available as of mid-2019.
Google Play also allows users to access massive libraries of music, TV shows, movies, e-books, and other digital products. So you can imagine how annoying it must be to arrive in Beijing with your phone, only to find that the world’s biggest Android database is completely off-limit.
Multiple Chinese Android stores have emerged in the absence of the Play store, such as Baidu, the Huawei App Store, and HiMarket. These services can be a good stopgap, but they don’t have the same security and quality guarantee offered by Google.
One of the advantages of the Play store is that devs need to stick to certain guidelines. In theory, if they breach those rules, they can be barred from the marketplace.
Alternatives to Google Play in China are not bound by such restrictions. So there’s an elevated risk of catching a nasty malware infection, along with adware or spyware – not to mention cryptocurrency miners. This means that when you find the Google Store not working, it’s time to find a workaround.
How to access Google Play in China
If need to access Google Play in China, it’s still technically possible. After all, the web is a global network, and anyone can establish a connection with Google Play servers on the other side of the world.
The problem is that the Great Firewall of China ensures that users inside the country can’t get to those servers.
But there are ways to leap over the Great Firewall – all without being detected. To do so, we’ll need two things: online traffic encryption and some form of anonymisation. That way, we can effectively transplant our internet connection to a secure server elsewhere in the world, and download Android apps to our phone without Beijing having any idea of our activity.
Accessing Google Play in China with a VPN
The key tool to use here is a VPN. These tools create encrypted connections between your smartphone and servers in other countries. Also, they assign users anonymous IP addresses, so censors can’t detect their real location or identity.
Here’s a basic guide to getting it done:
- Choose a quality VPN. Don’t opt for a free VPN or inferior providers, since some of them may steal your data or be actually located in China.
- Purchase a subscription – quality VPNs are premium services that tend to charge monthly, bi-annual, or annual subscription fees. If you can find one which takes cryptocurrency, you can buy a subscription anonymously. If not, try to buy a subscription before you land in China, because government snoopers can eavesdrop the purchasing process.
- Download the VPN and log in.
That’s the VPN taken care of. But there may be another step to go through.
Some users may need to download Google Services. Android phones sold in China won’t have Google’s software installed, and without it, you can’t access Google Play.
Remember to launch your VPN before starting the process, because the download is officially blocked in China.
- Use your phone to download the Google Services Framework from a website like APKMirror (which is a reliable Android repository).
- Install the Framework as directed and agree to install all of the Google Apps when asked. You’ll need to grant a few permissions here.
- When that’s done, you should see the Google Play icon on your home screen.
Use Google Services wherever you go
The Play store is a vital source of mobile apps and digital media, so why be without it during your stay in China? If you notice Google Play not working in China, don’t worry. With a high-quality VPN on your smartphone, you can populate your phone with all the apps you want.