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Major US Companies Blocked By China’s Firewall

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The cold war between China and the United States is getting more intense. The fact that the US government has blacklisted Huawei and some other Chinese companies from doing business in America is not easing the tension between the two advanced countries.


But the US blacklist is only one end of the stick. For many years, China has barred some US tech companies from doing business in the country. The communist government in China has strict laws against the use of certain websites and social media platforms. China’s “Great Firewall” of internet censorship backs up all of these.


The Chinese ban prevents companies like Dropbox, Google, Facebook and, more recently, Wikipedia from reaching the country. With over 800 million internet users, China is a huge market that these tech companies are missing out on. However, the US companies still get huge revenue from Chinese companies placing ads on their platforms.


Just like with every law, there are still some loopholes. Chinese citizens sometimes bypass the firewall illegally and somehow still manage to find ways to access these blocked websites by using virtual private networks (VPNs).


According to a censorship tracker, China blocked these US tech companies from accessing the internet in the Asian country.


1. Twitter and Periscope



Twitter was blocked in China in June 2009. This happened right before the 20th anniversary of significant Tiananmen square protests where the army killed students. However, Twitter still has about 10 million active users in China despite the ban.


2. Snapchat



Even though Snapchat is blocked in China, the company still has an office for its smart sunglasses company, Spectacles. However, it isn’t very clear when the platform was blocked in the country.


3. Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp

Mark Zuckerberg


Facebook was first blocked in July 2019 at the time when there were deadly riots in China and protesters used the social networking site to communicate. Instagram was then blocked in 2014 during a protest for democracy. WhatsApp had the most recent block in 2017.


4. Google



Google, alongside all its other services like Hangout, Blogger, Google Play, Google Maps, YouTube and Google driver, has been blocked in China off and on since 2007. Later in March 2008 during another riot in Tibet and finally in March 2009.


The Google search site was shut down in 2010 over censorship issues. Gmail and Maps went offline in November 2012. It came back on but was taken off again in December 2014.


5. Reddit

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman


The site which prides itself as the front page of the internet was blocked in 2018. A number of people thought it should have been earlier.


6. Tumblr

Tumblr CEO


This site was blocked in 2016. Before then, the pages on the platform that contained p*********y and politics had been heavily censored.


7. Pinterest

Asian country China blocks US firm Pinterest


This site that helps with everything from fashion to home décor was blocked in March 2017. This period also coincided with a major political event in China: the annual Two Sessions.


8. Dropbox

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston


This storage platform was blocked in May 2010. Access was consequently temporarily restored in February 2014. However, in June of the same year, 2014, the website and apps were blocked again in China.


9. Quora

China blocks US firm Quora
Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo


The popular question site was blocked in China in August 2018. It is interesting how it was not earlier.


10. Medium

Ev Williams, CEO Medium


This blogging site for writers became inaccessible in China from April 2016.


11. SoundCloud

Soundcloud Co-Founder, Alexander Ijung


This music-sharing site was first blocked in September 2013, and it’s been off and on since then. It was also blocked in May 2015.


12. Wikipedia

China blocks US site Wikimedia
Wikimedia founder Jimmy Wales


The Chinese version of Wikipedia was blocked in 2015. In May 2019, the country’s government banned it in all languages.


13. Vimeo



Vimeo has been taken down in China since October 2009.


14. Flickr

China blocks US Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer


Flickr was first blocked in June 2007. This was a few years after it was acquired by Yahoo. Even though the photo sharing sites has changed ownership, it is still blocked in China. It was bought by SmugMug in 2018.

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