List of usage of VPN in China
List of usage of VPN in China

What is a VPN & Why Do I need a VPN for China?

VPN is a network service that enables you to hide your internet identity and also avails content that otherwise would have not been accessible from your geographical location. This may be because the content is only meant for a particular area, or because it’s restricted to a particular area. In our case, we are dealing the latter.

In China, you can’t access certain websites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and various other websites and apps including the Google Play store. Here you can see a full list of websites banned by the Chinese governement.

This is thanks to China’s sophisticated censorship system popularly known as the Great Firewall of China.

This, therefore, means that if you live in or are traveling to China, you surely need a VPN service to help you circumvent this censorship system. When you use a VPN, the main service it offers you in china is masking your IP address.

You are able to choose a server located in another country. When connected, you are given an IP address belonging to the country where the server is located. Since the Great Firewall is configured to filter content mainly using IP addresses belonging to China, you’ll have got yourself a through way!

However, the government knows this too! The Great Firewall of China has therefore been updated to detect most VPN connections, and this is responsible for the fact that not all VPNs work in China.

Others may work but are just plain slow.

This is why we dedicated ourselves to helping you find the best VPN for China, and that keep your internet fast, safe and reliable.

In this article, we are going to show you the best VPNs for China 2017, which will offer you great service and are still working.

We will also provide you with great information that will give you insight into internet blocking in China.

It’s important to note that even though you may find other VPN, ExpressVPN and VyprVPN are the most reliable services for China that offer you great uncensored quality and are for sure working in 2017.

The Top 3 VPNs For China

Top Rated : ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN test and review - Home page

ExpressVPN is the VPN service that we recommend for China. With this VPN, you’ll get clean, simple and dedicated mobile and desktops applications. The service offers some of the best VPN speeds in China that you can get anywhere (7mbps-10mbps).

Speed Test of Express VPN from China, Shanghai
Speed Test of Express VPN from China, Shanghai during peak hour

This is because, for example, ExpressVPN has Hong Kong and Los Angeles servers that are specifically designed and optimized for VPN users in China. Additionally, it also has servers in nearby locations such as Taiwan, Japan and the US West Coast dedicated for China users.

ExpressVPN also has a pretty reliable network service, and network drop-outs are rare unlike when using most other VPNs in China.

The application provides you with a neatly designed interface that makes it easy for you to select a favorite server. What’s more, it has a greatly useful auto speed test feature that lets you run a test on the servers, so that you can be able to select the server with optimal performance in your region.

ExpressVPN also allows you to use the same account on up to three devices simultaneously. This means that you can use it on your computer, mobile phone, and tablet or any other device, without needing to sign off from a device and then sign into another.

ExpressVPN also features a WebRTC and DNS leak protection and a great OpenVPN encryption that has a perfect forward secrecy.

Though a bit pricier than most other VPNs, ExpressVPN offers you real value for every single cent. Their services are worth it, and they have a great customer support service that helps you to resolve any issues you are having quickly.

They also offer you a 30-day money back trial, and so you can be able to get a full refund whenever you feel like!

ExpressVPN Pros

  • Zero usage logs
  • .onion web address
  • “stealth” servers in Hong Kong
  • Wide range of servers (In 87 countries)
  • 30-day Money-back guarantee

ExpressVPN Cons

  • A bit pricey (if you don’t take advantage of the special deal)

ExpressVPN has reserved a special deal for our readers. When you buy a 12 months plan you will receive 3 months free. This special offer drops the price to an amazing $6.67 per month, a very economical price for the best VPN on the market.

ExpressVPN Special Deal
Buy 12 Months Subscription And Get 3 Months Free
30-Day Money Back Guarantee

2nd Choice: VyprVPN

VyprVPN, fastest VPN connection, VPN China

VyprVPN can be termed as one of the fastest and most secure VPN service available today. This is majorly due to the fact that the company owns its entire infrastructure. It also features great encryption technology across all its plans.

For Premium VyprVPN users, there is a stealth technology called “Chameleon,” which is specifically designed for China users to defeat the Great Firewall. The company also makes use of UDP ports in all its applications. This helps in overcoming blocking and other throttling issues.

Like ExpressVPN, VyprVPN has some strategically located servers for China users. They have a Hong Kong server which is practically the best mobile phone server for speed and reliability. It also has dedicated servers in Los Angeles and the US West Coast which offer high internet speeds.

Its desktop user Interface is also pretty awesome. It’s clean, quick and easy to use especially when it comes to changing servers. They also offer a 30-day full refund, so feel free to try them out.

VyprVPN Pros

  • Quick 24/7 support
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Servers in 70 countries
  • Connect multiple devices
  • 30-day money back guarantee

VyprVPN Cons

  • No P2P (File sharing)
  • Connection logs

Try VyprVPN For China
30-day Money Back Guarantee

3rd Choice: NordVPN

On June 2017, NordVPN has implemented a new advanced VPN solution for Windows. Thanks to this service update now NordVPN users in China can have full access to the Internet.

However, at the moment only Windows users can enjoy this new features. We inquired NordVPN about further updates for other OS, and their technical team is currently working hard to make the Mac OS App fully functional in China as well.

NordVPN for China

NordVPN is certainly one of the best VPN connection on the market, and this service update for China comes as great news. The company once again prove true to its fame as one of the best VPN on the market.

All you need to do to use NordVPN in China is to:

  • subscribe to one of its plans
  • download the app
  • run the App
  • connect to a VPN server
  • start surfing the web in total freedom

However, it may sometimes happen that the Internet doesn’t work anyway. The problem is that China’s Internet restrictions may vary depending on cities or regions.

In the case of problems connecting to the Internet, you just need to follow this simple procedure:

  1. Go to the “Settings” menu
  2. Click on “Advanced Settings”
  3. Enable “Obfuscated Servers”

This process is simple and pretty straightforward, but if you are not sure about what to do you can go to the Help Center where you will find a tutorial on how to set your VPN for China. Alternatively, just take advantage of the Live Chat support, and they will guide you through all the process.

NordVPN Pros

  • Strict No-Logs policy
  • Strong encryption
  • P2P & BitTorrent supported
  • Servers in 59 countries
  • 6 devices multi login
  • 30-day money back guarantee

NordVPN Cons

  • VPN protocol switches are not user-friendly

Try NordVPN For China
30-day Money Back Guarantee

 

Why Astrill Is Not Recommended In China

Astrill was at one point arguably the best VPN service you could use in China.

Probably due to its popularity some years ago, it became a major target of the Great Firewall.

Their services were then blocked, starting with the website. Astrill.com became unavailable in China, and its alternative domain getastrill.com went down the same path. Now, to get Astrill, you have to use a VPN to visit their site, sign up and download the applications.

The other way is to do that from another country which is not blocked.

However, the service itself has also been greatly affected. While it used to be pretty fast, Astrill users in China now have to deal with slow speeds and many outages due to stronger blocking.

This has made Astrill a very unreliable VPN to use in China.

At some point in April 2016, many Astrill users couldn’t even connect to the service. They received a message from Astrill saying, “Due to increased censorship in the upcoming 10 days, VPN service might not work well in China. We expect everything will get better after March 14. You will be compensated for the time service is unavailablewhen the issue stop.”

Astrill is not good in China

At some other point when Astrill was having connection problems again, many Astrill VPN users received an angry message from Astrill, which blamed them for the blocking problems that Astrill was facing.

Astrill even called them stupid, something which didn’t go well with them.

Astrill blocked in China, best VPN for China

Apart from that, their customer service is also not really reliable in China. Once you face a problem, it can take days or even forever for you to be attended to.

Once you also subscribe for the free 7-day trial, chances are that when you’ll want to cancel it the request won’t go through, and you’ll be charged.

All these issues combined together just put out one point across, ‘DON’T USE ASTRILL VPN IN CHINA!’

What Are The Best VPN Protocols To Use In China

The Great Firewall is usually updated regularly to ensure that it blocks VPN network access. However, here is a list of protocols that you can still use in China;

  • OpenVPN: This is one of the secure protocols you can find. However, it strangely is very unreliable. The GFW experts have been able to block most of its ports and therefore it’s no longer as effective as it used to be. Spoofed RST packets happen to be the main cause.
  • L2TP: This protocol currently works well in China, and it is one of the fastest you can use.
  • PPTP: This is an inferior alternative for L2TP. Unless L2TP doesn’t work for you, don’t consider PPTP. It’s slower and less reliable.
  • SSTP: This protocol is reliable for establishing a connection over secure HTTPS (port 443). It allows you to securely access networks behind NAT routers, firewalls and Web proxies. With this one you don’t have to worry about typical port blocking issues.

New Legislation On VPN For China

There’s an assertion that came out claiming that China has blocked out all VPN use. This claim is inaccurate.

It is, however, true that the new law clamps down ISP, CDN enterprises and Internet data centers that provide secure communication channels like VPNs.

This however only affects companies within China, but not companies from other countries that offer their services to China. China residents can still use VPN services from VPN companies outside China and access uncensored content

When Do I Install The VPN?

If you are traveling to China, we strongly recommend that you install the VPN on your computer and mobile phone before traveling. This is because the Great Firewall has even been updated to block some VPN sites. You will also have a lot of trouble installing it on your phone as you can’t even access the Google Play Store!

Free VPNs In China

The cheap or free VPNs out there are not really designed to by-pass China’s great filter. They are only put together using the basic OpenVPN protocol for security, but they have a limited number of servers and offer a small bandwidth.

This is a great problem since the Great Firewall can filter basic OpenVPN connections. The internet services in china also vary depending on regions, and therefore you need a VPN service that offers you a careful selection of server locations.

Is Torrenting Allowed And Working In China?

Almost all the commercial video streaming companies based in China use torrent protocols to enable the service.

Torrenting in itself is not blocked, but some torrent search/ index sites and torrent trackers are blocked.

The Great Firewall locks out almost all non-China torrenting sites, leaving only the ones based in China.

To access full torrenting services without fear of getting caught, you have to use a VPN.

On this regard, we recommend you to use ExpressVPN because is the only VPN provider still working in China that allows torrenting or P2P.

Which Internet Service Provider (ISP) Is The Best In China For Fast And Reliable Internet

China Mobile

This is arguably the best ISP in china, and most of VPNs work on it and the speed is very high. It also the only provider that allows you to use 4G when connected.

Its base stations are widely distributed and has different tariff packages to cater for the needs of different users. Due to its quality services, it however charges higher than both China Telecom and China Unicom.

China Unicom

This provider is the best to use VPN on, and it also has high speeds and reliability. It offers quality signals for 3G cards and charges relatively lower than China Mobile. Its signal for 2G cards is however poor.

China Telecom

This provider is famous for controlling international traffic and throttling it. It however has the best signals for 3G cards among the three operators.

It’s important to figure out all the specific services of the package you choose, in order to avoid spending unnecessary money on the unwanted service.

Blocked Websites In China

Just after around almost 4 years of gaining internet access in 1994, the Chinese government started working on ways to restrict the free flow of information. It became operational in late 2003. The project started as the Golden Shield Project but later came to be known and despised as the Great Firewall.

Over the years, it has been continuously updated to deal with the advancement in technology, especially which is meant to circumvent the filtering. Chinese internet users have therefore been blocked from some of the most important internet resources. Even billion-dollar companies like Facebook and Google, are just some shuttered dark rooms in China.

The Great Firewall has blocked over 3000 websites, and this number continues to grow. The major websites and services that have been blocked include;

  • Gmail.com
  • Youtube.com
  • Facebook.com
  • Twitter.com
  • Soundcloud.com
  • Vimeo.com
  • Blogspot.com
  • WordPress.com
  • Wikileaks.com

Most search engines have also been blocked. These include;

  • Google
  • Baidu Japan
  • Yahoo Hong Kong
  • Yahoo Taiwan
  • Baidu Brazil
  • And most recently, DuckDuckGo

There are no guaranteed sites that can’t be blocked, and you can use services like blockedinchina.net to see if a website is blocked in China. Or you can find here the complete list of websites blocked in China.

Is Google Blocked in China?

Google Search is partially blocked in China. Requests from the mainland to Google Search, including Google.com and Google.cn, are automatically redirected to Google.com.hk, the company’s Hong Kong servers.

Depending on what you search for, the results may or may not be censored. Searching in Chinese for sensitive keywords–Dalai Lama, Falun Gong, Tiananmen Square incident, etc.–will likely turn up an error page.

This is a result of keyword filtering by the Great Firewall, China’s nationwide internet censorship system.

To access the full service of Google, you have to use a VPN network working inn China like ExpressVPN or VyprVPN.

Is Gmail blocked in China?

Gmail is completely blocked in China, and you cannot access it unless you have a way of evading the Great Firewall. This is only through a VPN or a similar service like ExpressVPN or VyprVPN.

Is Snapchat blocked in China?

Most social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter etc. are blocked in China. Snapchat is unfortunately not an exception. To use it, you have to go through a VPN network. The VPN provider still working inn China in 2017 are ExpressVPN and VyprVPN.

Does WhatsApp work in China?

As of now, WhatsApp works just fine in China.

The only problem with WhatsApp is when it comes to downloading the application. Google Play and iTunes, which are the official download sites are blocked. You either have to download it using a VPN, or download from a third party website that uploads the APK.

Does Instagram work in China?

Instagram is a major social network, and almost all services of this kind have been blocked. To use the app, you most probably need a VPN service like ExpressVPN or VyprVPN.

Does Viber work in China?

Viber fell under the tough trap of the Great Firewall way back in 2014. To access this service, you may need to acquire VPN services not blocked in China for instance ExpressVPN or VyprVPN

Is Skype blocked in China?

As of now, Skype is not blocked in China. It has however been affected, as the quality of voice and video calls is quite poor. What’s more, these calls may even be monitored by third parties. To avoid all these and improve the service, you can use a VPN.

Is Twitter blocked in China?

Twitter is also blocked in China. You have to circumvent the Great Firewall for you to access twitter in China.

Are iTunes and the App Store blocked in China?

iTunes and App Store are the major services that provide you with applications for iOS and Android respectively. Unfortunately, these two are censored and you have to use a VPN to reach them. The only VPN working properly in China are at the moment ExpressVPN and VyprVPN.

Can I use Facetime in China?

Facetime currently works in China. It however faces quality of voice and video issues, just like Skype.

Is Yahoo and Yahoo email blocked in China?

Yahoo search is in itself not blocked in China, and so is Yahoo Mail. Only its few local versions (Yahoo Hong Kong & Yahoo Taiwan) are blocked.

However, the search results you get are filtered. If you want to search the web uncensored you need to use ExpressVPN or VyprVPN.

Is Quora blocked in China?

Quora is one of the few services that have not been affected by the Great Firewall so far. You can access it without any problems, and it’s also not filtered. However, this may not continue for long!

Is Dropbox blocked in China? Why?

Yes, Dropbox is not accessible from China, without a VPN.

Even if you install the application outside China or using a VPN, synchronization won’t work without a VPN like ExpressVPN or VyprVPN

However, Dropbox may not have been blocked for similar purposes as the others. Most probably, it was to give priority to local cloud storage services.

Is LinkedIn banned in China?

Currently, LinkedIn works just fine in China. Unlike other allowed services, it doesn’t have many problems. However, it’s important to note that websites hosted outside China tend to load slowly.

Is Reddit accessible in China?

As of now, Reddit is not blocked in China. It has however been blocked intermittently in the past. This is probably because it’s not so popular, and therefore not perceived as a threat.

Accessing Facebook In China

VPN China Facebook blocked

As mentioned earlier, Facebook is blocked in China. This, therefore, means that to reach it, you have to find a way of going around the firewall, by using a VPN or a similar anti-censorship technology.

China is one of the largest countries in the world and has billions of people with internet access. It offers a large attractive & un-tapped market for Facebook. Due to this, Facebook is considering censoring its content, in order to be allowed to reach the Chinese Internet market.

If this goes through, you may be able to access a censored version of Facebook from China. However, if you want to access the full services of Facebook, you still have to use a VPN service.

Alternative Ways Of Getting Around The GFW

Though there can only be 1 or 2 effective ways, there are many ways of killing a rat. Other technologies have been developed to elude internet censorship in China.

They are not as effective as VPNs, but you can at least use them to get to a blocked VPN site if you are in China. You can, therefore, be able to sign up and download a VPN software.

Shadowsocks is one open-source proxy application that is worth of mention. It is widely used in mainland China to circumvent the GFW. You can also use Tor with obfsproxy services for this purpose.

The other way is to create your own server. This, however, requires you set it up using a laptop in another Country before you leave for China and will limit you to only one server choice.

Using proxies, however, can be slow or provide you limited bandwidth. The only reliable option is to use a VPN service.

Conclusion On Best VPN For China

The Great Firewall is an effective system, and therefore you can expect it to work effectively to some point.

However, there can only be a few things that the experts out there can’t get around with. You can use the information provided here to get yourself a favorite VPN for China.

Though you won’t get the exact service as other unblocked countries to the dot, with a VPN, you will be sure to get a pretty effective service.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I am not sure that you are a vpn user from China. Because Express is not a choice for Chinese users. I am user of Astrill, they had some issues in mid 2016 with iOS app however Stealth was working fine on my Mac device so I purchased Express because I mostly use my iPhone. Purchasing Express was a big mistake. Astrill released new iOS app within a week and I applied for refund from Expressvpn but they refused to refund my money.

    Since you guys are guiding people through your platform, I would suggest you to please do proper research and use the service yourself before posting such articles. Your writing leads people to make decisions so don’t post without enough research.

    • Dear Sarah,

      Thanks for your feedback.

      I am personally living in China and using Express VPN on a daily basis. I am also having a subscription with Astrill, VyprVPN, Hidemyass and several others VPN Providers. All the VPNs we shall recommend on this page are tested on a Weekly Basis from China using different ISPs (China Telecom & Unicom) and different devices.
      From our tests, ExpressVPN has proven to be the most reliable VPN in China mainland. Actually, I am currently answering this message while being connected to ExpressVPN from Beijing, on a China Telecom internet connection with their Tokyo 2 Server and getting good performance (streaming on YouTube in HD, good ping, good download speed).

      About iPhone (IOS):
      From our tests, Astrill does not tunnel your APP Traffic but only web traffic on IOS which could cause issues if some of your APPs are blocked (some newspaper or game apps are not working without VPN as the Great Firewall is blocking them).
      With Express VPN, you have a choice of protocols which is not the case with Astrill where you can only change ports. Changing protocols can be useful in countries like China as Open VPN connection, for example, is heavily blocked or throttled.

      On desktop version with Astrill, I am facing reliability issues. Most of their servers are not usable and their support has not been able to help.

      Most of the expats I surveyed in China are as well facing a lot of issues with Astrill and complaining about their support being inefficient.

      Could you please tell us what the issue you are facing with ExpressVPN on your iPhone is, as I tried it just now and it’s working very well from our testing.

      Thanks

  2. I deliberated strongly over VPN choices before coming to China. Last year in the States, I’d purchased ExpressVPN but its Internet kill-switch ruined my Macbook Pro. The only help the company could offer me was via email–and of course this means waiting days even to get a reply with som superficial fix that doesn’t work. I finally cancelled my account (during 30-day trial), and had to shell out over $300 total for Apple to fix my machine. The LA Genius Bar told me the issue (Internet freezing even after VPN software is removed from system) is common. I work online, had projects due, couldn’t get online regardless what ExpressVPN advice I followed, and worst of all, the company stopped replying to my emails once it became clear their LIMITED TECH KNOWLEDGE (among the email help department) couldn’t assess, let alone fix, the problem. Being without my computer and missing deadlines cost me 6-projects worth in excess of $21K.

    But I got transferred to China, so here I am. EVERYONE online recommends ExpressVPN for China, so despite my apprehension, I contacted their support team to ask what they’d do for me to prevent similar issues in the future. They guaranteed me the problem wouldn’t happen again–and if it did, they’d be certain to be there for me. Well guess what? Since coming to China with ExpressVPN on a brand new 2017 Macbook, the VPN keeps disconnecting. That’s not so much of a problem (it is, but perhaps it’s just to be expected here). I disabled the Internet kill-switch, but whenever the VPN disconnects I AM LOCKED OUT OF THE INTERNET. Again! I’ve even quit ExpressVPN, restarted… but, ironically, I have to be connected first and choose to disconnect in order to change servers or other settings.

    On any given day, I’ve been bumped off EVPN at least a dozen times. I’ve tried the Tokyo1 & 2 servers; the LA1, & 2, & 3 servers; the Hong Kong servers; even the Frankfurt servers. Doesn’t matter. I realize the company is trying to get around active protocols by the Chinese government, but what I find unacceptable is the lack of customer service. Of course, after each major incident, I email the support team, sending them the diagnostic files–once I’m able to get back online. I’ve received word back from them ONCE since my arrival in China. Once more, they’ve abandoned me because the problem is persistent. Despite the specious sales pitch they gave me when I was still in the US.

    As a result, I have no faith in ExpressVPN and very little faith in companies that continue to recommend them as the best VPN service. I’m not a technician. If your product I’ve paid full price for doesn’t work, someone from your team should be available to help me. Either together we learn the problem can’t be fixed–and I’ll respect your honesty–or we fix it. Don’t just keep emailing the same shallow, vacuous tech advice and then ABANDON your customers because the problem doesn’t go away.

    Maybe you (article author) and your acquaintances have had good luck with ExpressVPN, but since I am in contact with a large US/European expat community here with our multinational company, I’m hearing a LOT of similar complaints about ExpressVPN as I’ve articulated here. More people need to know that not only is ExpressVPN not a guaranteed solution to accessing the Internet reliably (even when ExpressVPN is active, many of us are having trouble attaching documents, sending files, moving files to the cloud…), but also when they’re stuck with a real problem, ExpressVPN may simply abandon them–despite the yearly subscription fee that’s already been conveniently collected.

    • ExpressVPN has been always inferior in VPN scene, instead of improving the service they spend their money on sponsoring VPN blogs and reviewers. (Check the privacy guy guide and leaks)
      The best VPNs are those you dont hear of them in blogs, they are well known and reliable.
      the best advice forget about ExpressVPN and VyprVPN.

    • Hi Tom,

      sorry to hear you had a bad experience with ExpressVPN. Sometimes not everything turns out as it should.

      However, we recommend ExpressVPN because we use it daily to connect from China and we’ve never experienced any major issue.
      For instance, I am a Macbook Pro user and the Kill Switch works totally fine on my machine and on all the other devices I use.
      Anyhow, I totally understand that if you’ve happened to have some bad experience you may now prefer to explore a different path.

      For your reference, NordVPN has announced today that they managed to enter the Chinese market and their connection is now working in China. We didn’t have a chance to test it ourself yet but I will shortly update the article. Keep in mind that NordVPN has a 30-day money back guarantee so you can give it a try risk-free.
      Hopefully you will have better luck.

  3. So much hate in there… I’m using Express VPN and what has been said in this article is true. the VPN is reliable… I’m in Hong Kong as so far i am happy with it. My 2 cents…

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