Probably travelling to China


There was a pretty large upset in my life, it was needed. But, I’m leaving my current job and the plan is to decompress and do some soul-searching, to spend at least a year travelling.

I’m looking at opportunities where people or agencies offer to house and feed you in return for some sort of work exchange. Teaching English is fairly in-demand, and China in particular seems to have a lot of offerings where, not only does a family host you (give you a place to stay and help feed you), but they give you some (fairly small) monthly pay and offer free courses for learning Chinese! It’s almost a free ride plus actual university courses. Tempting!

So, basically, I was hoping to start getting more informed about what I should do to secure/protect myself when using a laptop or smartphone in China. I am under the impression they have some pretty hefty monitoring and I’ve heard (probably exaggerated) folks say that you can “disappear” for saying or even looking at the wrong thing…

Even if those are embelished, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to get a better understanding of the “lay of the land.”

Ignorant as I am, I’m considering bringing my (only) personal phone and laptop. Is that a sensible thing to do, or should I acquire “burner” devices to bring with me?

Sorry if this is the wrong section… I didn’t really know where to put it. I figured the ‘Security’ nature of this topic suited ‘Networking’ above all else.


You’re moving to China long-term, so the usual advice of getting a Chromebook doesn’t apply. Don’t bring anything across the border that contains trade secrets or is evidence of illegal activity. Don’t become a political dissident, don’t go out of your way to talk about Falun Dafa or Tibet or Tienanmen Square. Once you’re there use a VPN all the time, which you will want to do to get past their firewall anyway.


Keep your head down and don’t make a scene and no one (including law enforcement) will care what you do. I would recommend Serpentza, ADVChina, and Laowhy86 if you want to learn about china from a foreigner’s perspective. Get a friend to host a personal VPN as VPNs are being blocked all the time. And never talk badly about china.


Yeah, you might want to get a cheap VM from digitalocean or OVH or something and host your own VPN. I didn’t have much trouble with PIA when I went but that was a couple years ago.

Would “evidence of illegal activity” include storing media that was, perhaps, torrented? Or, like, ROMs or ISOs of games?

My current VPN is PIA, but I’ll see if I have any friends (with a fiber connection) that can set up a personal VPN for me… I’ll have to do some learning on that front. Or maybe do a cloud hosted VPN like you’re suggesting. That would definitely take a bit of homework, but that’s a good thing.

“should I acquire “burner”” yes. This should be pretty easy (especially in Shenzhen). I would own a burner everywhere but china especially.

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Yeaaaaahhhh the Chinese aren’t exactly tough on piracy. I wouldn’t worry about that. Don’t bring porno though.

Re burners, he’s moving to China. What’s he gonna do, sell his old laptop and phone, or put them in a drawer at his parents’ place in Florida?


What I specifically meant by “Should I acquire a burner” was, “Should I not bring my ‘personal/daily driver’ devices?”

Or, should I not bring them back with me?

It would definitely be smart to have a backup phone while travelling internationally, of course.

If you look chinese/asian you might find some difficulty finding a job in teaching english.

I fit the “white monkey” mold pretty well. :wink:


I don’t see any reason you shouldn’t. Just make sure to get a burner.

Why in the world would he need a burner if he has his own perfectly functional laptop and phone? I mean, unless he’s a drug dealer or cheating on his wife.

When you eventually move back to the states, just wipe the phone and laptop. No need to throw them out, you aren’t the CTO of Cisco. Make sure your bootloader is locked if Android.

Businesses sometimes try to flood their with whites workplace to seem more “legitimate”. This isn’t as common as before, but it still happens.

I’m paranoid like that. I would take a burner anywhere even just to avoid spam on my main phone. You can get crazy cheap phones <$50 pretty easily.

When I visit a country with a totalitarian regime, I bring a Chromebook and cheapo Amazon android phone. Totally agree. But moving there is a different matter.

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Do you folks have any recommended sources for setting up a VPN through a cloud service, and how can I double check that I could even reach that cloud service through a Chinese provider?

I see your point. But i’m not saying that it is an absolute necessity but helps anywhere regardless if you are in Europe, America, Kekistan etc.

Use Streisand. Don’t run the Tor or IPsec bits.

No clue how to check from China, unless you find a VPN service with a Chinese POP. But I mean, China’s not going to block all of Digitalocean, OVH, Linode, AWS, Google, etc. Probably.


I think the best option for hosting is some random friend with a spare computer or something. Idk much about cloud hosting, but maybe they will find a way to block foreign ones.

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If he has a reliable friend with a good ISP, sure, that would work too. I would go with the cloud option myself because I want complete control and it isn’t a lot of money.