You can’t use Notion in some parts of China. The country blocked the tool, adding it to The Great Firewall’s list of blacklisted domains, in 2020. A short while later, Notion had managed to restore access in some areas in the mainland where it’s still accessible today — though some customers are still unable to access the service without a VPN.
What Parts of China Does Notion Work?
We ran the Notion.so domain through a connection checker and it returned positive results for Beijing, Shenzhen, Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang Province and Yunnan Province, meaning Notion is accessible from the main areas of mainland China. It’s probable, however, that they aren’t using the same version you and I are today.
In order for Notion to keep the lights on in China, it would have likely had to make some changes to bow to the same set of regulations that rule all content creation platforms in the region. This could see Workspaces created in the region open to the local internet watchdog to audit, and restrictions on joining external Workspaces.
What this means is people in China may be able to use Notion to create and join Workspaces with other people in China, but access to the outside world and the Workspaces created there are shut off — unless you’re using a VPN (more on that in a little bit). That means they wouldn’t be able to access these Notion templates either.
We have reached out to Notion to see if it can share more details on its operations on China and whether locals are using a more restricted version of the service, operated on a government-regulated intranet of sorts as many would expect, and we’ll update this resource if and when we hear back, but we aren’t holding out much hope.
One thing is for certain though: If the Chinese government can access Workspaces in China, that’s the only region where they can do it. There’s no way Notion would have provided them with a backdoor into all of its servers. It’s a San Francisco-based startup after all — Notion stores our data on secure servers, encrypted in transfer and rest.
Why Did China Block Notion?
While unclear, China, being a communist state, usually blocks services that allow the spread of information that it would otherwise like to restrict. It likely blocked Notion because it could be used internationally and Notion wouldn’t provide China with a network-wide backdoor to eavesdrop and censor as it saw fit.
Will a VPN Unblock Notion in Restricted Areas?
If you are planning a trip to China and are concerned about not being able to access your Workspace, you’ll be pleased to hear that you can use a VPN to unblock it. We recommend NordVPN. It’s cheap, doesn’t keep logs (it doesn’t store identifiable information) and it’s functional. You can even use it to watch international Netflix.