“Internet is SO limited in Europe!” was what one or my Chinese trainees told me after a few months in Europe. “Nothing works!”
He was used to listen to music – and download mp3’s- for free from google.cn/music and ting.baidu.com. At a computer in Europe he gets the message “This service is not available in your location” – a regional IP blocking. – you can try yourself!
I can testify that the music services in China are much better and cheaper and easier to use than Spotify, and they have essentially all artists.
These are no shady sites run by lowly criminals, but by the top global internet companies like Google and Baidu.
There has been much writing in Europe about the Great Firewall of China, which is blocking foreign news and media. In fact, there was a lot of blocking back in the 1990’s, for ideological/political purposes. However, now I think that most of the blocking is for commercial purposes. Websites with great revenues, e.g. Facebook, are blocked, and a Chinese equivalent is available for the local market (renren.com). Most Chinese have most friends in China anyway, so for the vast majority of the population here it is not a problem. And the revenue goes to a businessman in Hangzhou instead of to Marc Zuckerberg. Same with Twitter, YouTube etc. (It is probably completely in contradiction to the WTO treaties…)
This is why many expats in China have a subscription to a VPN service to tunnel through the firewall to get to Europe/US to access these sites.
However, there has not been much writing about the Chinese abroad who have a VPN subscription to get IN TO China. With a VPN into the China-internet, they can enjoy the freedom and luxury of the China-only Internet Media Services.