Fang went to university at Harbin Institute of Technology, where he earned a PhD in computer science and became a lecturer. He began working at the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team / Coordination Center of China in 1999 as deputy chief engineer; from 2000 he was chief engineer and director. It was in this position that he oversaw the development of the filtering and blocking technology that has become known as the Great Firewall, officially known as the 'Golden Shield'.
Fang has defended the Great Firewall in the media, stating that it is a "natural reaction to something newborn and unknown" and that such web censoring is a "common phenomenon around the world". Appearing on China Central Television in March 2010, Fang accused Google of conducting censorship such as Chilling Effects.
On 19 May 2011, Fang was hit on the chest by a shoe thrown at him by a Huazhong University of Science and Technology student who calls himself "hanjunyi" (Chinese:寒君依, or 小湖北) while Fang was giving a lecture at Wuhan University. According to RFI, the student discussed the planned shoe attack on Twitter, and with the help of other bloggers, was able to locate the exact whereabouts and the time of Fang's lecture. After the shoe throwing incident, "Hanjunyi" was able to walk out while other students were trying to obstruct school teachers who were going to detain him. "Hanjunyi" had since become an instant internet hero of the Chinese blogosphere, with bloggers offering him a large number of presents, such as cash, airline tickets, buffet dinners at Hong Kong five-star hotels, tours of various sex parlors, sight-seeing tours, a virtual private network, iPad2, admission ticket to Hong Kong Disneyland, escorted tour of Singapore, free hotel rooms, free sex with admiring female bloggers, free shoes and designer clothes. An anonymous blogger even promised him a position in his company if ever "Hanjunyi" is in trouble with the authorities.
During an interview with CNN, "Hanjunyi" said:"I'm not happy about what he (Fang) does. His work made me spend unnecessary money to get access to the website that is supposed to be free...He makes my online surfing very inconvenient."
In April 2016, he was forced to use a VPN to bypass his own creation in a lecture that week on internet safety. Fang Binxing was speaking at his alma mater, the Harbin Institute of Technology in Heilongjiang, China, when he attempted to access webpages hosted in South Korea as a way to illustrate a point about internet sovereignty. The projected image from his laptop came up "Page not found" – a common occurrence for Chinese internet users who live behind the censorship apparatus built by Binxing and run by the Chinese government.
To the audience's amazement, Binxing then tried to bypass the firewall using a VPN installed on his computer – the same tool secretly installed by millions of Chinese to get around censorship efforts, but whose use is heavily frowned upon by officials. As his compatriots looked on, Binxing then had the equally frustrating experience of dealing with a slow and unstable connection to the outside world, with the link falling over twice as he tried to access Facebook and Google.