China holds a special place when it comes to internet freedoms and online privacy. Unlike the rest of the world, China hosts its own highly restricted cyberspace powered by its own online media, news, applications, social platforms and other online technologies. Most foreign websites, news outlets, mobile & PC apps, social platforms and web services are blocked within China’s cyberspace.
Our guide aims to educate in particular Chinese internet users, vacationers plus business individuals traveling to China and How To Use VPN in China. The extensive guide will instruct you how to secure your online privacy and bypass the Chinese firewall technology using a China VPN services to access all global content available on the internet today.
Best China VPN actively to secure you from the Great Firewall and assigns you a completely new IP address allowing you to access any online service blocked without having to worry about the Chinese internet police.
The Best VPN For China Services Compared
For your convenience we have compared the 3 leading VPN services for China in a feature comparison below. You can pair up best vpn for china against each other and compare the number of global servers, compatibility, user scores and other interstices aspects we used to rank the providers.
|Speed Rating||5.0 / 5.0||4.0 / 5.0||3.5 / 5.0|
|Server Network||500+ Servers140+ Countries||250+ Servers44+ Countries||97+ Servers78+ Countries|
|Compatibility||iOS & Android AppsMac & PCDD-WRT Routers||iOS & Android AppsMac & PCDD-WRT Routers||iOS & Android AppsMac & PCDD-WRT Routers|
|Support||24/7 Live Chat||24/7 Live Chat||Support Tickets|
|Refund Guarantee||7 days||7 days||30 days|
What is a VPN, and Why Do You Need VPN For China?
VPN or Virtual Private Networks are exclusive privacy & security tools designed to:
- Replace your IP address with a new one, also known as IP Masking
- Hide all your online activities using leading edge Tunneling & Encryption technologies
A VPN creates what is known as a virtual network using your existing ISP connection. Once the VPN has established the network all your activities pass through what is known as a, secure tunnel, which ensures that all data & requests passing through it are encrypted into alphanumeric code.
While tunneling is used to hide all your online activities from the ISP, the Chinese internet police, the Great Firewall of China and other Chinese surveillance technologies, encryption ensures that all data transfers are made useless to others by converting them into meaningless text. If you notice in the diagram above, tunneling is indicated by the blue arrow, while encryption is indicated by the thin red line around the arrow.
A Simple Illustration Demonstrating the VPN Encryption Process
China restricts its cyberspace using an assembly of technologies restricting its local netizen population and visitors from accessing any foreign websites that challenge the legal requirements of operating within the country. The Communist Party not only restricts the internet for political reasons but also controls the news, media & entertainment that can be delivered online.
There are more than 60 online regulations defined & implemented by the Chinese Communist Government. Amnesty International reported that China hosts the highest number of imprisoned journalists, bloggers and social activists in the world. Internet watchdog, Reporters without Borders, gave China the following raking in 2015:
Reporters without borders stats for china
China’s internet is third from the bottom and has one of the worst obstacles to access, limits on content and violations of user privacy in the world. You can access the complete FreedomOnNet report in Chinese & English.
The Chinese government’s weapon of choice, The Golden Shield Project or more commonly known as The Great Firewall of China, proactively blocks all foreign media, news, streaming services, social platforms, games and apps that do not comply with Chinese cyber legislation.
Which Websites are blocked in China?
The Chinese government blocks all online news sources that present an alternative point of view for instance The Wallstreet Journal, Guardian, The Economist, Time Magazine, The Independent, Gizmodo, Tech Crunch, Ars Technica and hundreds of others. The Chinese government demands self-censorship of news before it is published by online news outlets.
The list of social networks blocked by the Chinese Government goes all the way from Facebook, Reddit, SnapChat, WhatsApp, Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Gmail Services, Microsoft Live Services and any other service we can randomly think of. All such social platforms are replaced by knockoffs developed by the Chinese government that are actively monitored and censored
How China Blocks VPN Services?
Courtesy of the Golden Shield Project the Chinese Government has complete authoritarian control not only over its peoples live, but also over the entire Chinese internet too.While blocking websites, censoring news&media over claims of nationalism, and monitoring social feeds remains intact, the Chinese government now actively blocks & disrupts VPN services.
Usually, VPN connections are blocked off in various ways. One way that the Chinese government definitely uses is blocking off the Ports that VPN providers’ use. These ports are used throughtunneling protocols for examplePPTP orSSTP,thus allowing the Chinese internet police to immediately identify the VPN connection.
Similarly, data packets are inspected by the Great Firewall of China to identify VPN connections from foreign servers. The Golden Shield Project achieves its censorshipby filtering all VPN connections using its Great Firewall Technology. Although it is legal to use VPN within China, routinely the Chinese government conducts massive crackdowns on VPN users & services.
Every year VPNs & social networks are intentionally disrupted by the Chinese government on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square tragedy. In January 2016, the Hong Kong Free Press reported how the Chinese government partnered with cloud service providers including Microsoft Azure Chinato discourage the use of circumvention tools like VPN & proxy servers. An official notice sent out to customers by cloud providers states that:
“According to the telecom regulations and the requirement of MIIT and Internet supervision agency, no company or individual can provide hosting service for illegal “over the wall” proxy sites, or illegally mount any VPN service to abroad. Recently, the regulators have found several Windows Azure customers violated the related regulations and demanded immediate shut-down of the service deployment.
We will continuously receive notification from the regulators to close such sites or shut down service deployment. In order to avoid unnecessary risks and losses, we recommend that you conduct self-examination and rectification immediately. In case you have involved in any above illegal behaviors, please stop immediately. Otherwise, you would assume all the consequences of such violation.”
The only time the Chinese government thought of blocking circumvention tools running through cloud services a massive internet blackout occurred. When the Chinese government blocked cloud servers of greatfire.org project. Thousands of websites were inaccessible and rendered blocked, while netizens were left stranded with no means to access the outside world.
Why China Blocks VPN?
To answer the why all it takes is a basic search on Google News and you will be bombarded with featured articles over just why the Chinese government blocks VPN & other circumvention tools.The official story of the government is discouraging content that that is politically incorrect,criticizes China’s government& its laws, questions Chinese socialist values,and undermines the solidarity of Mainland China.
How To Access YouTube and Facebook in China Without VPN
As both a precaution and recommendation we will always advise to use a VPN when accessing any foreign social network& website from China.
Certain proxy servers still active within China allow netizens to bypass the Great Firewall and access services including YouTube and Google+ services from anywhere in mainland China.The most prominent ones that we have come to know of are listed here for your convenience. You can easily get around the Great Firewall to access favorite social services and YouTube without a VPN.
Do remember that VPN is the safest way to bypass the Great Firewall,a proxy server will not protect your identity and your location hence sending over the Chinese internet police over to you.
The Fastest VPN Services for China
Determining the fastest VPN services for China demands that you test them individually. Over several flash based broadband testing services (like Ookla) and file sharing services (like uTorrent). This will not only provide real-time speed statistics but also show the reliability of various VPN servers.
We tested our best china VPN providers with a 10 MBPS test connection under controlled conditions. All results are average speeds from 5 tests run on every server.
|Provider||US Server||UK Server||Singapore||Hong Kong|
|PureVPN||9.69 MBPS||7.37 MBPS||9.78 MBPS||9.91 MBPS|
|ExpressVPN||7.02 MBPS||6.02 MBPS||7.84 MBPS||6.06 MBPS|
|IvacyVPN||8.91 MBPS||6.96 MBPS||8.28 MBPS||4.83 MBPS|
|IPVanish||3.26 MBPS||6.86 MBPS||5.84 MBPS||6.88 MBPS|
|TotalVPN||2.88 MBPS||7.29 MBPS||5.93 MBPS||4.48 MBPS|
Always review and test VPN providers for China before subscribing to them. Industry pioneer ExpressVPN has long provided Chinese netizens high speed connectivity and stable servers to connect to US & European servers to easily unblock social platforms including Facebook and Google. Access reviews of VPN providers from our 5 Best China VPN services listed above to know more.
How to Unblock Websites in China
Although the leash on the internet is kept tight from the Chinese Communist Party in China unblocking websites is simple & easy given you have the services of a Best China VPN provider. With over 670 million internet users in China, but it has been reported previously that there are more Chinese Facebook users’ that the UK population.
Unblock Facebook in China With VPN in 3 Steps
To unblock Facebook in China, here is what you need to do:
Step 1 – Sign up to a VPN Provider
For example, ExpressVPN:
Step 2 – Download the relevant App for your Devices, Then connect to a Hong Kong, US or European Server (We have used an Android Phone and connected to a Luxemburg server due to its excellent speed)
Step 3 – Go to Your Phone Browser or Simply Download the App from the Google Play Store
Screenshot of the Facebook Android app unblocked on the Google Play Store (inaccessible without a VPN in China)
Chinese netizens can use the same process to unblock Facebook on their PCs, Macs and iOS devices.
How to Unblock Instagram in China
Photo sharing app Instagram has been the heartbeat of social enthusiasts all over the world. Unfortunately, Chinese netizens are restricted from accessing the app or the website from within Chinese cyberspace.
Unblocking Instagram on your mobile or PC is simple just like Facebook above. Follow these simple steps to unblock Instagram on your mobile devices (we have used the PureVPN Android App connected to a UK VPN Server):
Step 1 – Clear the Data in your Phone Settings for Google App, Google Play Services and Google Play Store
Step 2 – Connect Your VPN Service to a UK or USA server
Step 3 – Go to Google Play Store and Search for Instagram and Click “Install”
Note: Never Disconnect your VPN while using Instagram Or other social apps banned within China
To access Instagram on your PC simply connect your VPN app to a USA or European server and access the official Instagram website:
You can also Log In to Instagram using your Facebook ID.
How to Unblock Google Services in China
Similar to Facebook and Instagram, you can also unblock all Google Services including Gmail, Maps, Google Docs, YouTube, Google Drive and many others with a single app. All you are required to do is once again connect your PC or mobile device to a VPN service and access Google services normally like you would do in a foreign country.
While unblocking websites and social media services is easy within China with a VPN, it is essential that you maintain absolute security within Chinese cyberspace. There are some essentials that you must review within a VPN provider for China before subscribing. These essential features include:
- The number of servers and IP addresses available from the provider for robust privacy & anonymity
- Number of simultaneous connections available with one account for your different devices
- Compatibility of the VPN provider to support your various devices and operating systems
- Internet Kill Switch to ensure you are safe even if the VPN disconnects
- Auto reconnect option in the VPN provider’s app
- The number of Tunneling Protocols available from the provider. OpenVPN, IKEV2 and L2TP over IPSec are the leading protocols when it comes to Best China VPN services.
How to Use PureVPN in China
Industry Pioneer PureVPN has provided its high speed VPN services in China for close to a decade. The service is now powered by more than 550 global servers across 100+ countries. PureVPN has also introduced redesigned versions of its Windows, Mac, iOS and Android apps with added features, improved security, new language options, in addition to an improved user interface.
PureVPN Desktop App
Once subscribed the new PureVPN Windows app is available to download from the provider website. With a new interface and a collection of new features, the new PureVPN app tends to make it easier for new and intermediate VPN users to install and use the app. To use the PureVPN Windows app, launch the app from your desktop and choose your desired server from the
Now connect your desired server and browse the internet freely.
Using the PureVPN App On Android
An all new PureVPN Android App is now available on the Google Play Store and on PureVPN’s website. Chinese netizens will only be able to download the app from PureVPN’s website. PureVPN offers an optimized range of servers specifically for Chinese users allowing them to connect to the fastest & most secure servers in a click.
Once connected you can access all blocked apps, websites and online services blocked within mainland China.
How to Use Ivacy VPN in China
To access Ivacy VPN in China, you will first require an account from Ivacy VPN.
Ivacy VPN Windows & Android Apps
Established with 250+ servers across 44 countries and a massive arsenal of 12,000 IP address, Ivacy is a brand redesigned for robust online privacy & data security. Ivacy is not only perfect for browsing the web securely from China but also a recommended choice for downloading torrents and videos online.
Ivacy VPN offers leading edge apps for Windows, Mac and Android allowing subscribers to instantly bypass geo-restrictions and firewalls without having to run around configuring settings here and there. The simple to use apps are also available to download from the provider website and you can trial the service with restricted features on Android.
Screenshots of Ivacy VPN Windows App (Left) & Ivacy VPN Android App (Right)
How to Use ExpressVPN in China
Express VPN holds a special place in every one of its subscribers’ hearts delivering delightful privacy, security and circumvention tools designed for a global market. The brand is not only known to bypass geo-restrictions and protect against online threats, but also known to circumvent the Great Firewall of China.
Yes, ExpressVPN is one of the few VPN providers that still cater to the huge netizens population of Chinawith its turbo speed servers, leading edge apps and quality customer service. ExpressVPN operates in over 90 countries delivering privacy &security servicesfor HD streaming, secure torrenting, unblocking websites, hosting servers, managing IP cameras, conducting business safely, bank & shop online securely and much more.
ExpressVPN is a premium VPN provider and requires a subscription before you can start using the service. To subscribe you can visit the official Express VPN website, and get an account. Once subscribed to the service, head over to your account area to download the app for your respective device. Here is how to proceed:
- Sign-up to ExpressVPN
- Goto My Account (located in the top navigation bar)
- Download the app for your device (Windows, Android, iOS and Mac apps available), or configure the service manually.
- Launch the app and login with your new credentials
- You will be redirected to the server selection menu
- Choose yourrequired server and double click it
- Let the app connectand browse as usual
Best Free VPN for China
While premium VPN services are the way to go, there is a massive selection of free VPN providers for China. It is important to understand that these services are never really free and what is at stake is more valuable than money.
In a brave new online & connected world, the real price if using free VPN services is “YOU”! Your online activities, your downloads, your buying habits, the brands you like, the food you eat, the movies you watch and where you work are all of interest tofree VPN providers.
Consider the fact that the service is free and as far as I know “there is no free lunch in business”, which means there is something that we are not being told. Most free VPN providers in China offer their services with unlimited data but fail to address their limited features including:
- One device connection per user
- Limited servers to connect to
- Limited speed on servers
- No privacy policies
- No apps
- Unsecure servers
While free VPN for China allow only one device to connect with an account, premium China VPN servicesoffer connectivity over multiple devices.For instance PureVPN offers connectivity on upto 5 devices with their appand 20 devices when configured on a router.
Privacy Policies are a crucial element of any privacy & IT provider. This document establishesthe policies outliningof storing, sharing and protecting personal information of subscribers. This document indicates who will have access to your data, if data is retained for longer periods of time and if law enforcement will be given your information upon a warranted request. Free VPN providers in China offer no such policies.
One of the most critical issues of free VPN in China is their inability to secure their servers with proper measures. Since they have no funding and subscription income you can expect that your data is always under threat with these providers. Free providers earn their income by offering your browsing activities, habits and personal information to 3rd party marketers & IT giants.
We have already reviewed variousmajor free VPN providers that offer proper feature bundles including defined privacy policies, PC & mobile apps, multi device connectivity, unlimited data, multiple servers and military grade server & user security. The top three on our list include:
As online restrictions and censorship grow in China, a VPN for China’s cyberspace has become essential to secure yourself from persecution and punishment by the Chinese Internet Police. A VPN secures your identity, online activities and social activity from the Great Firewall and secure your activity from being monitored by the Chinese Internet Police.