I read in some places that Gmail.com is sometimes blocked. Is there a workaround so that I can access my email while I am in China?
My experience with China's internet has been "Have a backup plan" if you need access to some services.
You can use Google's Transparency Report for China to determine the current status of Google Services in PRC. As of writing, no it does not appear to be blocked.
However, there are cases where it has been - and it might happen while you are there. If GMail is a critical service to you - have a backup plan. Here are some solutions that have worked for me and others.
The short answer is, "yes, in most places at most times." But there are some important exceptions.
China occasionally gets into "tiffs" with Google, or other Internet providers, which could cause a service disruption. Also, there may be a crackdown against the internet generally, possibly including email. Here's an example:
As to places, China is a large country, and some places are less developed than others, with fewer T-1 lines, towers, etc. Also, in politically sensitive areas like Tibet and the Uighur northwest, there may from time to time be a crackdown directed against the local population (and their communications), that will affect "innocent" foreigners as well.
Because this question appears as one of the first suggestions on Google, I thought I would give an updated answer as of October 2015. You cannot access any Google services in China without a VPN or a proxy service.
The only site that works is www.google.cn which I do not think many foreigners would want to use considering even the domain itself is not registered under Google even though is connects to an old Google China website. It is easy to get a VPN service though you need external payment methods like paypal to pay for this services.
It's never failed me over there.
Beware, however, that a SSL certificate failure results in nothing but an error message. On a Chinese computer (internet cafe) the error was entirely in Chinese. Since I don't read Chinese the result was totally cryptic. What actually happened was the computer's clock was exactly 3 years in the past.
The last couple of times I've been there Google itself was unusable, though.
Edit: We were there in December 2014, absolutely no Google services of any kind worked. That included Recaptcha.
protected by Mark Mayo Mar 8 '13 at 7:21
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