Do I Need A VPN In Hong Kong And Taiwan
China may claim sovereignty over Hong Kong and Taiwan, but the Great Firewall does not extend to these countries, so you dont need a VPN to use the internet there. That said, you might want to use one anyway for extra security and privacy or for access to international streaming services like Netflix US and BBC iPlayer. It certainly cant hurt.
Can I Still Use My Apps If Im Traveling To China
If you try to use popular apps like Gmail and WhatsApp when you travel to China, youll realize right away that theyre blocked. But that doesnt mean you cant use them it just means you have to get creative and go through a VPN.
The best VPNs will allow you to access most of the apps that the Great Firewall blocks, so that you can stay connected throughout your time in China.
Sites Blocked In China
The Chinese authorities go to great lengths to impose a comprehensive ban on various sites and platforms. The ban is almost always fully functional. This means that users in China who do not have a VPN are unable to access these spaces. Furthermore, the Great Firewall of China prevents outsiders from accessing content meant exclusively for Chinese residents.
Furthermore, apps like Google Play, Messenger, Telegram, Discord and Clubhouse are also banned in the country. Search engines like Google, Ask.com and Yahoo also do not function while you are in the country. Perhaps, the worst hit are streaming platforms. You will be unable to use Netflix, Amazon Prime Videos, BBC iPlayer, Spotify, Hulu and Pandora Radio while you are in the country.
However, there are still some apps that are popular in the West that havent been banned in China. They include Facetime and iMessage, used by iOS device owners. LinkedIn, WeChat, and Vevo are all available in the country.
You have to be aware that the online landscape in China is constantly changing. Hence, a site that was accessible one day could become inaccessible the next. Thus, you need a good VPN to bypass these restrictions and access blocked websites. You can confirm if a website is blocked or not by running the URL through tools like guru99 or GreatFire Analyzer.
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The Best VPNs In China
In order to keep yourself safe while still opening the way for internet freedom, you do not just need any VPNs. You need the best VPNs. Through a thorough analysis of what makes a VPN work in China, we have assembled a list of the best VPNs that you can use to stay safe and free in China.
You will note that the best VPNs in China are going to be slightly different than the best overall VPNs. This is because what may work in our countries might not work in China.
How We Tested And Ranked These Free VPNs
VPNs that work in China, especially free ones, are hard to come by. And of the free ones that do work, their limitations mean that you’re not always useful or even secure, so it’s not worth the risk. I spent hours testing and re-testing to make sure every VPN on this list is safe and reliable. Here’s what I looked for:
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What To Do If Your VPN Isnt Working In China
Troubleshooting a VPN in China is no easy task, but there are some tips and tricks to help get you back online in no time. Before angrily slamming your laptop shut, follow these steps to figure out whats gone wrong and fix it.
The simplest solution is to switch to a different VPN service. This is why I recommend subscribing to at least two before you leave for China, so that you always have a backup. If the other VPN doesnt work either, try the following steps.
There are a few ways to increase your chances of finding a steady connection. To start with, try connecting to a different server, perhaps in another country. This requires some trial and error, but its the simplest strategy.
If that doesnt work, switch to a different security protocol. Many of the best VPNs for China allow you to choose between their own protocols and several others . Each one has a different level of speed and security, and some may work when others fail.
Next, try a different device. If youre on your laptop, switch to your smartphone . This might not seem logical, but sometimes it makes a difference!
Finally, your last resort is to use a different network connection. Try a public WiFi network or get a friend to set up a mobile hotspot. The key is to just keep changing things up until something works. And although this process can be tedious, it usually leads to success.
Final Thoughts On Censorship In China
I said it earlier and it bears repeating again: there is no best VPN for China.
There are VPN for China that have historically worked well, but that doesnt guarantee problem-free connections in the future.
Chinas internet censorship isnt centralized and tends to offer varying connection reliability based on location, ISP and even device.
For this reason, as I mentioned in my China VPN strategy, its vital that you subscribe to more than one service. Ive listed a number of recommendations here in this guide, but if I had to narrow it down to the top 3, they would be:
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Best VPN For China Reviews
For each of these VPNs, they reach a standard I set that includes:
- They are at least 5 years old. This means they have a history of working and serving the China market.
- Theyre reliable: All VPNs have had trouble in China, but not all of them work to resolve the issues quickly.
- They offer hundreds of servers across the globe. I like having choices from multiple countries.
- They offer money-back guarantees. Not every VPN works perfectly, so in those cases where it doesnt work well, I want you to be able to get your money back.
Here is a more comprehensive look at each of the recommended VPNs that meet this criteria.
VPN Vs The Great Firewall Of China
It has been more than a decade since the Chinese government realized how powerful the Internet ishow a single thought could be instantly disseminated in one click, how information could ignite political or social catastrophe. The Great Firewall of China was developed in 2003 basically, it is a state-of-the-art project that inhibits the people of China from accessing websites that contain contents that the government deems unfavorable. Over the years, China has tightened its grip on Internet censorship. Still, this GFW is far from perfect.
Since China has blocked almost all popular websites including Google, YouTube, Facebook, etc., people consistently find ways to bypass the GFW. The most effective way is through the use of a VPN. Whether youre travelling to China or residing there, a VPN is more likely a virtual necessity these days. A VPN enables us to access blocked websites in China, but more than that, it also protects users from the dangers of the Internet like hackers & DDoS.
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Why Do I Need A VPN In China
China has strict policies that block access to the content of several websites.
For instance, while in China, you cant access your favorite TV shows of a particular website, let alone obtain updates from sites like Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube.
The country boasts its own social media platforms and has disallowed foreign social media from operating.
Therefore, if you like surfing the internet, you inevitably need the best VPN that works in China to allow you to bypass the countrys censorship and geo-blocking of some services.
A VPN gives the impression that your computer is located in a country where the VPN server is based.
So, it means that if the VPN server is in the US, you can access websites in the US even when they are blocked in China.
However, you must ensure setting up the best VPN for China on your computer or mobile device before setting your foot there. Thats because most websites for VPN providers are blocked in China.
Which VPN To Use In China
These VPNs offered by NordVPN have been our pick for the best VPN service for China:. offers very affordable speed and security features. Chinese users consistently find ExpressVPN to be effective. With VyprVPN you have your own servers, reliable, and fast. Hotspot Shields speed, coverage and efficiency are second to none.
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Purevpn Best Secure Servers
Server security is more of a priority than you might think. Most companies in general do not talk about their server security. If Facebook or Amazon had to talk about it, they would show their hand as having horrible, frequent security breaches. These security breaches can cause big problems for you.
PureVPN helps alleviate this problem by having incredibly well-protected servers and top-of-the-line encryption. They keep their servers safe from external files and programs that make sure nothing ever finds its way onto your computer while you are connected with them.
But you might be noticing that not having viruses on their servers and encrypting their own data is not setting a very high bar. The thing is that most tech companies do not take these precautions except for on their own internal servers. As far as they are concerned, your data can just get stolen.
PureVPN operates differently. The security of their servers extends to you, meaning that it is a VPN that works to keep you safe from both being tracked and having your computer compromised by viruses.
What are its Features?
Given all that, it will probably not surprise you to know that it has its own antivirus software. PureVPN has a slight usability focus that makes its native antivirus software less feature-heavy than others.
- Slower speeds than the competition
How To Unblock Google Youtube And More In China
Thankfully, it’s really straightforward to use a VPN to unblock websites when you’re in China.
If possible, we’d suggest that you get your VPN for China chosen, downloaded and installed before you go there. That way you won’t run into any difficulties accessing the websites of the providers themselves. Then get the app or client for the platform you’ll be using it on – for example, mobile, desktop, TV streaming device, etc.
After that, it really is easy. Get the VPN client/app open, choose a suitable server location , and then turn the VPN on. You device will then believe it’s in the country that you set for the server, and so your chosen service will no longer be blocked. Pretty clever, eh?
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List Of Best VPNs For China:
The Great Firewall of China is known for blocking VPN services. Some VPN providers listed above are currently blocked in China. Please note that although many VPN providers websites are inaccessible from China, their software/proxies might still work in China. In other words, users might be able to get access to their website from outside of China or by using another VPN China users can use to register and download their VPN client or install their proxy, which might still work in China.
Can I Get A Free China VPN
There are free VPN services on the market like Hotspot Shield but while they are great for infrequent, casual use, all of them have some restrictions.
Nearly all have a daily or monthly data limit, which will cut your connection when you’ve run out. Some throttle speeds, while others inject adverts and perhaps even sell you data contradicting the main reason why people get VPNs in the first place.
If you’re going to be relying on your VPN for more than a few minutes a day, we’d strongly recommend you go for a paid version. When you can get unlimited service from a provider like Surfshark for less than $2.50 a month, there’s little reason to hold yourself back with a free version.
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VPN For China Conclusion
A lot has changed in the past year, especially since coronavirus rolled out on the world stage. Since then, even getting to China has been challenging for many people. But assuming you can even get there, you will want a good VPN for China to ensure a safe and free online experience.
Despite extensive and rigorous efforts to block websites in China, a VPN is a simple and easy solution that will consistently get through the Great Firewall and unblock content. And while a good VPN will cost a few dollars per month, it is a small price to pay for getting unrestricted access to all your favorite websites, while also restoring privacy.
Whenever you are using a VPN in China, be sure to only go with a safe, trusted, and reputable provider. As we pointed out above, most of the VPNs on the market are not suitable to use because:
- they are blocked in China
- they may leak your data and expose your activities/identity to third parties
- they may collect your data and sell this to third parties
Nonetheless, a good VPN is your key to an unrestricted, free, and private internet connection wherever you are located. Below is a recap of the best VPNs for China based on my own testing and research.
Enjoy a private, unrestricted, and secure internet when you are in China with a good VPN. Stay safe!
Expressvpn Recommended VPN For China
Youll often read in the news each year when Chinas Peoples Congress convenes that the Internet is under tight lock down bringing all VPNs out of service.
Well, while lots of VPNs have gone out of service during these points in time, ExpressVPN has consistently worked at keeping foreign expats connected to the outside Internet.
For me, thats a true testament on how reliable ExpressVPN is for China and the high-speeds you see when using the service is another perk that distinguishes it from the competition.
ExpressVPN is also super easy to install and when youre incredibly busy planning your trip to China, not having to worry about configuring the VPN on your multiple devices is a huge win.
Although Ive had troubles with ExpressVPN like with any service Ive used, its consistently been reliable over the past few years.
Special Discount: If you want to try ExpressVPN, they have offered a special deal for readers of China-Mike. If you use this link to visit ExpressVPN, they will give you 3 months free on an annual plan!
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How Chinas Internet Censorship Works
For the Chinese Communist government, the control of information is the key to power. For this reason, the Chinese Ministry of Information started censoring the internet in the early 2000s.
But how does this censorship work?
Contrary to popular belief, Chinas internet censorship is not entirely centralized in Beijing. In other words, what is censored in Shanghai might not match 100% what is censored in Chengdu.
The Ministry of Information in Beijing issues directives about what should be blocked in China that get passed throughout the country.
Individual provinces, cities and even counties receive and implement these censorship directives.
they have the authority to go above and beyond what the directives state .
Chinas internet censorship is driven at the national level but implemented at the local level.
I remember traveling in southern Xinjiang a few years ago, a notoriously sensitive region in western China. With each new town we entered, a different set of apps/websites were blocked.
In one small town, even WeChat was blocked!
Heres why thats important for you:
How you connect to the internet in China, including which websites are accessible or blocked, is different depending on where you are in the country.
With that in mind, Id like to share the connection strategy that has worked for me.
What Is The Best Strategy To Use A VPN In China
You can perform the following techniques to use VPN in China:
This strategy allows you to troubleshoot your VPN connection before you arrive in China. VPN software may not work due to antivirus software, firewalls, company intranet restrictions and other technical challenges not related to the VPN software itself. So when actually arrive in China you will be sure that the VPN is working if selected from the above list.
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Recommended VPNs For China 2022
Im going to let you in on a little secret that the VPN industry doesnt want you to know:
There is no best VPN for China.
There are recommended VPNs that have historically worked well in the Middle Kingdom, but because the countrys censorship is a constantly moving target, there is no best.
So to be clear: these are my China VPN recommendations based on my personal experience over the past 14 years. Choose 2-3 from this list to download and install before you travel/move to China.
Recommended VPNs for China | March 2022
- ExpressVPN: Historically the most reliable VPN for China, ExpressVPN has been heavily targeted by China censors. Still, they continue to work well and are the easiest to install and use.
- SurfShark: Although theyre comparatively young, SurfShark has proven to be a reliable option for many in China who have had trouble with connecting. Theyre also super-cheap.
- Astrill VPN: Although Ive had trouble with their customer support, Astrill often connects better than any other VPN on this list. Unfortunately, they dont offer a 30-day money back guarantee.
- NordVPN: Another historically good option that has been targeted by Chinas censors. NordVPNs apps are probably the best on the market today.
- VyprVPN: Their proprietary Chameleon protocol is the best at bypassing Chinas censorship, but it significantly slows down your connection.
- StrongVPN: A reliably fast VPN for China that offers easy-to-use apps at a competitively good value.