China is the fastest growing economy in the world which also takes the lead when it comes to technology. China is all set to become the first country in the world to launch 5G, which will revolutionize how we use the Internet, with the fastest speeds ever. However, there is a problem.
A significant hurdle stands in the way of not only Chinese users but anyone visiting China. A highly advanced and state of the art surveillance/monitoring system known as the Great Firewall of China, analogous to the physically existing great wall of China.
In fact, online scrutiny seems to be getting tighter and tighter every week. That’s why getting the best VPN has become invaluable for residents and visitors to obtain access to restricted online content.
Every year, a considerable number of tourists visit China; some for tourism and some for business purposes. But, the internet ban affects them all alike. Therefore, visiting China without having invested in a reliable VPN will only result in discomfort. Only a few reliable VPNs are known to work in China.
Why is Web Content Limited in China?
Chinese authorities control the content that is shared on the internet and block foreign websites and apps. China is the most populated country on the planet and its inhabitants represent a quarter of Internet users worldwide. But it is also the country with the strictest control system.
The authorities monitor the content that is shared on the country’s networks, also in private messages such as emails, and block thousands of foreign websites with prohibited content.
In addition, the police have the authority to arrest those who break the laws on Internet and therefore China is the country the most Internet users arrested for over censorship reasons, reported by the human rights NGO Amnesty International.
The majority of accusations are for communicating with foreign groups, signing online petitions, demanding political and economic changes and protesting against corruption.
How do VPNs bypass the Great Firewall?
So how do VPNs get around all those censorship mechanisms built into the Great Firewall? They do so by hiding the contents and destination of your internet connection.
Contents—the actual data containing websites, video streams, chat messages, and everything else you send over the internet—is all encrypted before it leaves your device. By scrambling the data until it reaches the VPN server in another country, the Great Firewall can’t determine what you’re looking at. Other bits of data that could trigger censors, such as DNS requests, should also be hidden, though not all VPNs do this.
The VPN server acts as a sort of middleman to hide the destination of internet traffic. If you were to try to directly load up Twitter, for example, the Great Firewall would immediately spot your connection to Twitter and block it. With a VPN, the censors can only see your encrypted data going to a server. Your data passes through that server and goes on to Twitter. Twitter sends back a video stream through the same server, and China only sees the data coming from that server, not Twitter.
What You Need to Know about VPNs in China Before You Travel
- Right now, most VPNs don’t work in China – even ones that have worked there in the past.
- China has removed almost all VPN apps from the Apple App Store. Google Play, like most other Google services, is blocked.
- How to use a VPN in China: You MUST install your VPN on your computer or mobile device BEFORE you get there. You will not be able to install the VPN after arriving in China.
- Without a VPN, you won’t be able to access a long list of popular websites.
Don’t take any chances with the Chinese government’s tough internet laws and enforcement. The VPNs on our list aren’t just guaranteed to give you unrestricted internet access. They also have the best security features.
Using a VPN in China is the only way to stay safe online.
What is the Best VPN for China?
The “Great Firewall of China”. The infamous force field that blocks all access to foreign content within mainland China. Over the past few years, the Chinese government has gone all out on blocking foreign websites. Even a lot of VPN providers don’t tend to work there. Using a VPN in China is an absolute necessity. Because of that, we are going to focus on some criteria more than others to help us answer this question. We’ll use security oriented factors to help us decide the Best VPN for China.
- Strong encryption to help protect your privacy
- Providers that offer a no logs policy
- The ability to get around geo-restrictions
- Providers with fast servers that perform well in the country
- Large Network to help eliminate network disconnects
- Multi-platform mobile apps – It is important to have support for many devices including Amazon Firestick.
VPNAdvise reviewed over 50+ different VPNs in the last 3 years – searching for the best China VPN server. Based on the above criteria we recommend the following VPNs for China.
Ivacy is a Singapore-based provider that recently added the ability to bypass the Great Firewall to all of its apps. Ivacy unblocks Netflix US, allows torrenting, and comes with 24/7 live customer support. It fared well in our speed tests and operates over 450 servers in 50 countries.
Ivacy keeps no logs and secures connections with un-crackable encryption. Leak protection is built in, as is a kill switch. You can also set up split tunneling, which allows you to choose which apps go through the VPN and which go through a direct, unencrypted connection.
Ivacy allows you to connect up to five devices at a time, and apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
Why should you choose Ivacy in China?
- A huge range of server locations – access any website from any server.
- Anonymous signup – one of the greatest features to have, keeping you completely safe.
- 30-day money back guarantee
With its military-grade encryption and ability to bypass the Great Firewall with ease, NordVPN is our top pick for accessing the internet in China.
This super-reliable VPN has 5,000+ servers around the world, including many servers in Asia-Pacific countries near China like Hong Kong and Japan. This means you’re guaranteed fast connection speeds.
With unlimited bandwidth, lightning-fast connections, and the ability to unblock almost any website, NordVPN is a great choice for streaming. You can also use NordVPN’s SmartPlay feature to automatically bypass geo-restrictions on streaming sites.
Why should you choose NordVPN in China?
- Top-notch privacy protection
- Total no-logs policy
- 6 concurrent connections allowed
- Double VPN and connection obfuscation protection
- Low price attractive to budget-minded users
ExpressVPN is a popular choice for VPN users in China has a lot to do with not only their excellent customer-centric approach but also the reliability of their network and the servers they have deployed specifically to circumvent the Great Firewall. ExpressVPN offers 24/7 customer support via live chat, email, and a ticketing system.
They also provide a substantial troubleshooting section that covers virtually any issue you may encounter with the service. Their robust approach to customer care and technical troubleshooting is especially helpful should you run into any issues using the service in China. Furthermore, ExpressVPN boasts a healthy network of servers in 94 locations around the globe, with many servers near China to ensure top-notch speeds and reliability. Technical features include DNS leak protection, a firewall-based kill switch, and military-grade OpenVPN encryption.
Why should you choose ExpressVPN in China?
- Total no-logs policy
- Reliable, encrypted connections
- Unblock Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, Showtime, Sling TV, DAZN, and BBC iPlayer
- Works on all devicesWindows, Mac, iOS, Android, Routers, and Linux.
- Fast, unlimited and secure unlimited bandwidth and server switches!
- 7-day-a-week support by Live Chat.
CyberGhost is another VPN provider with a heavy focus on privacy and advocates for a free and uncensored internet. CyberGhost boasts a strict no-logs policy and offers excellent encryption via AES 256-bit technology — two features critical for VPN users in China.
They offer over 3,000 servers in more than 60 locations around the world, including a network of wholly-owned “No Spy” servers which provide enhanced security and faster speeds. Currently, CyberGhost offers 10 server locations in Asia, so you can easily access fast and reliable servers to un-censor the internet from within China. On top of providing great security and excellent speeds, CyberGhost is an exceptional VPN for unblocking Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime and Hulu from China.
Why should you choose Cyberghost in China?
- Provides a secure, encrypted connection
- Great at unblocking popular streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer
- Decent, reliable speeds
- Robust encryption standards
- Private: Strong no logs policy
- 24/7 Live Chat Support
Users in China have had trouble with Surfshark in the past, but thankfully the VPN is now able to reliably bypass the Great Firewall of China. Surfshark has 800+ servers in 50+ countries, including many high-speed servers near China. Surfshark allows unlimited simultaneous connections with a single account, which is great for families with a large number of devices.
The VPN’s NoBorders mode is perfect for users in China. When enabled, the mode will automatically connect you to a server with unrestricted internet access to help you escape censorship in China.
All Surfshark servers are compatible with the VPN’s Camouflage mode, which hides the fact that you are using a VPN and allows you to successfully bypass the Great Firewall of China. Surfshark’s CyberWeb feature will protect your devices from ads, trackers, malware, and phishing attempts.
Why should you choose Surfshark in China?
- Takes privacy and security very seriously
- Great at unblocking popular streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer
- 24/7 live chat
- Decent speeds for downloading and streaming
PureVPN is a relatively old head in the VPN game, and so it’s no surprise to see that it’s ahead of the game when it comes to China. It’s built up an alarming number of servers over the years (there are 120 servers in Asia, four of them in China), that you can use across five of your or your family’s chosen devices.
PureVPN takes the ‘VPN for dummies’ approach to its user interface, and we’re not complaining. Choosing a Purpose option displays a list of tasks you might want to carry out – among them being optimized for China. It takes the pain out of trying to work out how to get connected. It’s well worth experimenting with before you set off on your Asian excursion.
And the support options are similarly focused. Pure has a dedicated ‘For Users in China’ section on its support pages, with reams of tricks, tips and information for getting the best of the VPN while you’re there.
Why should you choose PureVPN in China?
- Successfully pass geo –restriction and access blocked content
- More than 2000+ VPN servers so that you can connect easily
- Servers deployed at more than 180+ locations
- 300,000+ IP addresses to unlock content
- 256-bit encryption
ZenMate VPN, you can easily bypass Youku’s geographical restriction and enjoy its content from anywhere in the world. Access any of the TV, Drama, Sports and blockbuster movies and block content in China.
ZenMate VPN offers 35+ servers located in various countries worldwide, including Hong Kong, Australia, Japan, the US, the UK, Brazil, and more. This way you can re-route your traffic to hide your real IP address and exchange it with one from another server, located in China.
This means that not only will you be able to unblock Youku content from anywhere in the world. But you’ll also have the possibility to access the full library of other streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube, YouTube Premium, YouTube TV, and more.
Why should you choose Zenmate in China?
- One Click Connect
- No Logs
- 360° Protection
- Boosting the state of your online security.
- Surf the web anonymously and without any restrictions
VyprVPN is another excellent choice for China thanks to its proprietary Chameleon technology. This scrambles OpenVPN metadata to make sure that it can’t be recognized by deep packet inspection (DPI). In layman’s terms, this means it can hide the fact that you are using a VPN to easily bypass the Great Firewall of China.
The Chameleon technology works so well that VyprVPN is able to provide some of the most reliable connections possible in China.
The vendor has 700+ high-speed servers around the world, including plenty of locations near China for fast connections. You also get access to unlimited bandwidth and secure, user-friendly apps.
Why should you choose VyprVPN in China?
- Great unblocking capabilities
- Stable and speedy connections with secure apps
- Owns and manages its entire network of servers
What to look for in a VPN for China
Here are a few top considerations when choosing a good China VPN:
- Works in China – obvious enough, but not all VPNs can bypass the Great Firewall.
- Speed – you’ll probably want to use your VPN to stream and download, so unlimited bandwidth and fast servers are a must.
- Server locations – servers geographically nearest to China, such as those in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan, will offer better speeds.
- Unblocking – In addition to bypassing the Great Firewall, you may also want to access streaming services like Netflix and Spotify while you’re away. They have their own geographic restrictions, and will require compatible VPNs. ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and VyprVPN all excel at unblocking streaming sites.
- Simultaneous connections – If you have several devices or want to share your subscription with family or friends, you may want a subscription with more simultaneous devices. NordVPN offers the most on our list: six simultaneous connections.
- Customer support – Sometimes VPN websites get blocked, so it’s useful to have multiple channels through which to contact customer support, including email and live chat.
- Apps – Make sure compatible China VPN apps are available for all your devices, as manual configuration may not work in China.
- Security – China is a hotbed for malware, hackers, and scammers, so make sure your connection to the VPN server is secure. Look for the following:
- A no-logs policy
- 128-bit AES encryption or better
- Perfect forward secrecy
- DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leak prevention
- Private DNS servers (not Google DNS)
- A kill switch
If your VPN is not working in China, do this…
Occasionally Chinese authorities will roll out a new method for blocking VPN traffic, which may temporarily block services in China.
Here are a few steps you can take if your VPN is not working in China:
- Find a different VPN server
- Try a different obfuscation method or VPN protocol (if your VPN supports it)
- Use a different port, such as port 443 (for HTTPS traffic)
If none of these tips are working and you still can’t connect to your VPN in China, then simply reach out to your VPN provider for help. You can do this either through a direct email or via their website (if you can access it).
Why is Youku Blocking Your Access?
Youku is a video hosting service that’s only available in China. Which means viewers outside the country can’t access the website.
Your IP address is a dead giveaway for your location. Think of it as a phone number for your computer. Just like someone can block your number, your IP can also be blocked by internet service providers or websites.
Due to the censorship and content licensing agreements enforced by the Chinese government, Youku can only stream within the country’s boundaries.
Which means unless you have a Chinese IP address, watching Youku is impossible. So, if you’re traveling outside mainland China, for instance, you can’t access any of the TV, Drama, Sports and blockbuster movies in the Youku app.
How to Watch Netflix In China
If you live in China currently or are traveling there in the upcoming days, the only possible way for you to watch Netflix in the mainland is by unblocking it through a VPN.
A top VPN will allow you to re-route your connection to a region where Netflix is officially available like the United States or France, thereby unblocking it anywhere in China. The VPN should also be capable of bypassing the Netflix VPN ban, which is a mechanism that bans VPN based connections so that users cannot jump digital fences and access content that’s not available to them in their country.
Are VPNs legal in China?
Yes, VPNs are perfectly legal in China. Nonetheless, the Chinese government is still working hard to prevent people from getting access to tools (VPNs) that can get around their censorship efforts.
In March 2018 Chinese authorities issued an ambiguous statement about the use of VPNs. Actions and policies of the Chinese government suggest that it is illegal for Chinese residents to create VPN services/companies inside China, which would be made available to others in China, but personal use of a VPN appears to be completely legal. We do not recommend using any Chinese-based VPN services.
In a move that angered many, both Apple and Google caved in to Chinese pressure and removed VPN applications from their app stores. This is also a major trend happening in the the United States: private tech companies caving in to censorship demands.
How to Setup VPN in China
To use VPN in China, just follow these steps:
- Go to the VPN website and select a subscription plan.
- Download the apps for the devices you want to use in China, then log in through the app with your account credentials.
- Within the application, go to ADVANCED > and then select “I am in China or other censored country” (toggle on).
- Then click CONNECT and select one of the servers from the list called CHINA OPTIMIZED. After selecting one of the “China Optimized” server location, toggle the VPN connection to ON.
- Enjoying using VPN in China and having unrestricted internet.
The Chinese Government controls the entire internet system of the country and restricts websites of country that could impose threat. The government has put a Firewall that identifies and blocks any website that contains content against China’s interests. Even Chinese Smart Phones do not have similar social media widgets as other phone users, unless they use a VPN optimized for China. The only secure way for public to access geo-limited websites is through VPN for China. For business persons, VPN for China works as a bridge to communicate with the world. But using a VPN is not easy as it seems to be. You should prepare yourself for a slightly rocky ride. But with a little patience and determination, you will be able to use a VPN to access the uncensored internet most of the time.