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If you are travelling to China, you are going to have technical issues trying to access your favorite websites online. China uses a strict firewall that they refer to as the Great Firewall of China, which is kind of funny if you ask us. Jokes apart, this sensor blocks sites like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Gmail and several thousand other websites.

Your solution? An awesome VPN to get around the firewall.

Best VPNs for China

Due to its strict policies, China has forced people to look into alternate ways of accessing their favorite sites online. They do so with the best VPNs for China known for their service.

We cannot stress enough on the importance of using a reliable paid VPN services in China for surfing online with ease. Here, we have assembled a list for you to choose from.

1- ExpressVPN

  • Best for high speed
  • Based in British Virgin Isalnd
  • 148+ VPN in 94 Countries
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Speed-optimized network
  • Apps available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Blackberry
  • VPN Apps for all devices

ExpressVPN happens to be at the top of the list for best VPNs worldwide, which means that it is also popular with people in China. Other VPNs have had trouble bypassing the strict firewall of China, but ExpressVPN has effortlessly bypassed it. In addition to that, it provides users with thousands of servers spanned across the world including in Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan. South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand. These servers increase the overall speed of ExpressVPN.

ExpressVPN has deployed its “stealth” VPN server in Hong Kong to fight against China Firewall which makes it more reliable than other VPN services.

2 – NordVPN

  • High security standards
  • Military grade encryption
  • Cost-effective
  • 30 Day Money Back Guarantee
  • Apps available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
  • Round the clock customer support available in Chinese
  • 11 servers in Japan and 14 servers in Hong Kong

NordVPN personally does not have any servers located in China, which can lead people to believe it might not work as well but the truth is complete opposite. Due to the lack of its servers in China, NordVPN is the only China VPN that isn’t on Chinese government’s radar thereby reducing its chances of being blocked.

3 – VyprVPN

  • 700 servers all around the globe
  • One of the fastest VPN due to self owned servers (no 3rd parties)
  • Chameleon protocol to defeat China Firewall (not available for iOS)
  • Can be purchase within China
  • Apps available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
  • 30-day money-back guarantee and 3 day Free Trail

VyprVPN falls under the category of the few VPNs that do function within China. The brand prides itself on offering users with the Chameleon VPN protocol which protects data from deep packet inspection. But you must know that the iOS client does not offer the Chameleon feature.

4 – PrivateVPN

  • Can bypass firewalls through L2TP
  • Servers in Hong Kong (over 100 servers in 56 countries)
  • Zero logging policy
  • Apps available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
  • 30 day refund policy
  • 6 simultaneous connections

While this VPN might not provide all of the features its competitors provide, this VPN is capable of bypassing the firewall of China with the L2TP VPN protocol. If you need access to basic websites that you love socializing or online streaming through, this VPN is definitely your answer.

Why Do I Need a VPN in China?

China’s citizens suffer the wrath of the Great Wall of China and only get access to severely geographically restricted content online. In the recent years, China has cracked down on several VPNs of the world. It can be referred to as the Netflix of VPN detectors, which makes it almost impossible to crack. The operative keyword being almost here. This is where VPNs come into play.

The best VPNs for China that we have mentioned in this review are only the few that actually can function in China and offer you access to restricted online content. If you are visiting China then you will find it highly difficult to function without accessing basic websites like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Gmail. After all, that even eliminates the possibility of contacting others through email! A VPN is absolutely required for someone visiting China now or in the near future. It is important to do your research before visiting the country so you aren’t dumbfounded in the face of severe content censorship.

What Can I Unblock With a VPN in China?

What is interesting is that China’s censorship doesn’t focus as heavily on domestic content as it is mainly concerned with preventing residents of China from accessing international content. Following is a list of websites currently blocked for use in China that you can easily use one of the VPNs we have listed to unblock.

Website Current Status in China
Google services All services are blocked
Youtube Only Available in cities Haikou and Sanya
Facebook Only Available in cities Haikou and Sanya
Twitter Only Available in cities Haikou and Sanya
Instagram Blocked
Pinterest Blocked
Tumblr Blocked
Flickr Blocked
Whatsapp Blocked
BBC Blocked
HBO Blocked

What You Need to Know About VPNs in China Before You Travel

In 2017, the Chinese government declared that it will be blocking all of the VPNs in the following year. Though this hasn’t happened yet to every VPN available, there are a few vigilant ones that are still standing tall regardless of the continued crackdown on VPNs in China.

  1. There are a few things you need to know about VPNs in China before you decide to enter the country. We will list a few of them for you.
  2. China has blocked almost every VPN on the Apple App Store.
  3. In order to use a VPN in China, you need to download a VPN on your desktop device or phone before you enter the country so that you can use it.
  4. Not all VPNs function in China, which is why you may need to sign up with a few beforehand.
  5. Due to the strict rules in China regarding internet use, using a VPN is going to be dangerous whether or not you get away with it.

What is the Great Firewall?

This is the name given to China’s advanced internet censorship system. This project was officially called the Golden Shield Project but was later changed to the Great Firewall of China. This allows authorities to not only monitor but to also restrict the access to international content all over China with the help of web IP blocking, deep packet inspection, URL filtering, keyword filtering, DNS tampering as well as manual enforcement when necessary.

VPN vs GFW: Ongoing Battle

For the citizens of China, the use of a VPN has become a daily necessity that trumps everything else. The Great Firewall of China is quite effective and does tamper with VPN services by disabling them but the VPN services prevail in the face of such disturbances and emerge victorious, like the VPNs we have listed for you earlier on.

You must keep in mind that even then, all VPNs tend to get blocked by the GFW every now and then. As you can see from the comments posted on Shanghai or Beijing expat forums that no VPN is perfect when it comes to the GFW but regardless, they are trying. China is a worthy adversary in the face of all things VPN.

The GFW uses a variety of strategies to detect and block VPN servers. One of these methods is deep packet inspection in which traffic is inspected as it passes through local ISP servers to detect popular VPN protocols such as OpenVPN. Top VPNs like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, VyprVPN, and PrivateVPN scramble these data packets to make it almost impossible to detect whether a VPN protocol is being used or not, and this is why we have suggested them to you.

Are VPNs Legal in China?

The use of a VPN wouldn’t entirely be referred to as illegal in china, as much as it is frowned upon. There hasn’t been a single case of an arrest in China due to the use of a VPN. The authorities want to limit content and censor, not punish citizens.

In the recent years, we have come across so many headlines that suggest that VPNs aren’t legal. Though the Chinese government has issued notices to ban VPNs, they don’t convict people who use VPNs regardless of it. The notice doesn’t state that VPNs are illegal, it just states that in order for any VPN to operate within China, it needs government approval, which of course is not a possible step that any VPN wants to take. Giving in to the government and making some sort of deal with it would compromise the security of a VPN’s clients and soon the government will request that a VPN keep data logs, which would defy the whole purpose of using a VPN to maintain anonymity online in the first place.

Final Thoughts

We know how important it has become to maintain online anonymity these days. With major companies and governments using user data without permission for their own benefit is never a good thing. Then how can geographically-restricted content be any better? Though the Great Firewall of China may be vigilant in eradicating and blocking VPNs all over the country, several VPNs have still thrived away from the microscope. The VPNs that we have listed for you in this post will help you understand just which ones you need to subscribe to before you plan a trip to China.

Allena Dominus

Started the career as a Product Manager, I now reveal the ins and outs of the digital world, online privacy, IoTs, and the trends shaping the technology industry and much more.

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