Can you use a VPN in China in 2023

Important! VPNs in China can sometimes behave unpredictably. Even though any VPN might temporarily stop working there due to these conditions, the VPNs we’ve listed below have exhibited the most consistent performance.

Why VPNs Are Illegal in China and How to Get Around It

Why VPNs Are Illegal in China and How to Get Around It

Recently, VPNs were banned in China and are now considered a crime by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). This comes as a hindrance to residents of China that have been using VPNs as a method to access various blocked websites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Understanding the Background

Since VPNs are a subject to interference in the country’s internet connection, VPN providers need to be authorized. The MIIT has announced new rules for China’s VPN and cable regulations which are being implemented throughout 2018.

Rather than focusing on authorities working for multinational companies, Chinese administrators are focusing on companies providing VPN services to citizens of China.

Many publications in China, like the South China Morning Post, and beyond, like the Washington Post, implied that numerous legal VPNs providers are present in China. These providers are associated with state-owned enterprises that mostly allow banks and law firms – which pay substantial fees – to legally bypass the Great Firewall, also known as the nation’s largest sophisticated censorship system.

The government has ordered three of the country’s state-run phone carriers, which are China Mobile (860 million), China Unicom (268 million) and China Telecom (227 million), to implement a ban on companies operating on the mainland without a leased web-access line.

Although China controls most parts of the internet available to their citizens, use of a VPN disrupts its mission to accomplish “cyber sovereignty” inside its borders.

The reason behind the government blocking networking sites has to do with the highest level of political struggles and various parties using the internet as a battlefield.

If China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology successfully launches an internet crackdown to close all loopholes, the visitors won’t be able to access common websites blocked by the government. Along with social networks like Facebook and Twitter, international news sites like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal will also be blocked by the firewall of China.

VPNs are Used to Bypass China’s Firewall

Within China’s interconnected economy, VPNs hold significant importance and are vital for secure communication and worldwide connectivity. Foreign businesses operating in China also utilize VPNs to protect their corporate data and to communicate with their overseas headquarters.

Since the Chinese Government ensures both Apple and Android app stores remove VPN apps, its absence can not only disturb the economy of the nation. Beyond this, it also affects the number of remaining users and could also harm academics, software developers, and foreign businesses.

Due to the Great Firewall, Chinese IP addresses have difficulty in accessing foreign journals, and methods of communication with foreign universities are less adequate. All of which get in the way of China’s global communications.

Different types of international websites are blocked by the government of China. It includes social networking websites, apps, search engines, Media portals, work tools, and porn sites. Since almost all significant sites are blocked in China, VPNs play a vital role in Chinese IP addresses accessing globally popular websites such as Google+, Wikipedia, and many more. Keep in mind that using non-government-approved VPNs is illegal in China. However, there have been no cases of tourists being penalized by the Chinese government.

The Best VPNs That Still Work in China

Because of the VPN ban, it’s extremely difficult to get a VPN while in China. However, there are a number of premium VPNs that can bypass the block if you download and install it before arriving in China.

China uses a number of methods to block VPN traffic, and only the best VPNs know how to evade it. Take into account that the use of non-government-approved VPNs is illegal in China. However, the common practice is that China fights VPNs by technologically blocking them, and not by chasing after the people who use them. This means you shouldn’t have to worry about your safety.

It’s not unusual to experience problems when utilizing a VPN, hence the importance of having access to trustworthy customer support that’s available around the clock.

Important! VPNs in China can sometimes behave unpredictably. Even though any VPN might temporarily stop working there due to these conditions, the VPNs we’ve listed below have exhibited the most consistent performance.

Can you use a VPN in China in 2023?

Can you use a VPN in China in 2023?

The Great Firewall is the main reason you’d want a VPN in China: the former restricts your access to online platforms or data, and the latter opens up the gate to information freedom. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are easy to install and configure to conceal your location, protect your data, and access websites and other web content. But are VPNs legal in China? Do they work? Let’s get into it.

Table of contents

What is the Great Firewall of China?

China’s Great Firewall, also known as the Golden Shield Project, is an internet censorship and surveillance project. It blocks web pages and content that might result in anti-government sentiment. This means that it restricts Chinese citizens from accessing certain foreign websites, including Google, Facebook, and YouTube. It is the world’s largest national firewall.

The government claims that this firewall exists to create a sense of unity among Chinese citizens. How? By not providing access to content that may promote hatred, disturb the established social order, advocate terrorism, and several other reasons.

Why you need a VPN in China

So officially, the Great Firewall of China is used to crack down on terrorism and such. But in practical terms, the system uses various methods to block content, including:

  • Limiting access to foreign websites and news sources;
  • Using automated algorithms that detect forbidden content and keywords on social media;
  • Filtering online search results that are deemed unfriendly or harmful to the government.

Basically, you want a VPN so you could post on Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram as if you were at home. It’s necessary to read your usual news websites, like BBC. And if you want to chill out at your hotel on a rainy day and go to Twitch, Discord, or DeviantArt, you’ll also need a VPN.

Are VPNs in China illegal?

Short answer : VPNs are not illegal in China, but their use is heavily restricted.

Long answer : Using a VPN in China is not officially illegal. China allows VPN providers to operate as long as they cooperate with the state, which defeats the privacy purpose of having a VPN in the first place. Many VPN services are banned, and the government often threatens to block VPNs altogether.

The Chinese government has even gone as far as removing all VPN apps from China’s Apple Store.

So, why doesn’t China block VPNs and VPN software altogether?

Well, it’s because VPNs are required for business in China, particularly international trade.

VPNs protect data sent between China and the rest of the world. Shutting down all VPNs in China would drastically limit the ability of global companies to conduct business in China.

There are still many inconsistencies regarding individual rights versus business rights for using a VPN. But, it’s important to note that to date, no foreign VPN users have ever been punished for using a VPN while traveling in China unless they were using it to speak out against the state or the Chinese government.

Does a VPN work in China?

Some VPN providers do work in China, but you can’t have VPN server locations in the country unless you play by the government’s rules. And even if you do, there are issues with the VPN services.

The Great Firewall is constantly adapting. China’s tactics are sophisticated, and they find new ways to limit their citizens’ access to the internet. That’s why patterns of what does and does not work in terms of VPNs are inconsistent and difficult to detect or analyze.

The biggest problem is that it’s possible to distinguish VPN usage from the regular traffic. So, it has become a constant battle between VPN providers and the Chinese government. It’s interesting to note that there are additional issues with VPN connections during China’s more significant national holidays, like the Chinese Communist Party’s anniversaries.

And here’s another fun fact. No free VPN services work in China — their internet authorities easily detect free VPNs. In China, connecting to a VPN requires obfuscated servers and connection protocols far beyond the basic encryption used by free VPNs.

Does Surfshark work in China?

While we cannot guarantee flawless access at all times due to external factors beyond our control, we strive to provide the most reliable and consistent service possible. We continuously invest in cutting-edge technologies and adopt innovative strategies to maintain our service’s stability and effectiveness.

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How to choose the best VPN for China

If you’re getting a VPN for China, you better subscribe to one before getting there. And then you want a very secure VPN, which rules out the free offers. So here are a few recommended features to be on the lookout for:

NoBorders mode

NoBorders lets you use Surfshark in geo-restricted areas. If you try to use Surfshark in China, our app detects this and immediately switches to NoBorders mode. This provides you with a list of servers that function well with network constraints.

Kill Switch

Kill Switch protects your privacy by disconnecting you from the internet if your VPN connection drops. This ensures that our industry-leading encryption and security measures always secure your important data. So even if the VPN connection is spotty in China, you won’t be unprotected.

RAM-only servers

If all servers run on volatile (RAM) memory, any data on the hard disk is immediately erased when a server is shut down. Therefore, no one can physically take data from servers. All Surfshark servers are RAM-only.

No-logs policy

No-log VPN providers don’t record your online movements or behavior. The VPN server only maintains enough data to keep your VPN connection active and deletes it afterward. This protects the users’ IP addresses and browsing data from falling into the wrong hands.

Camouflage mode

From the outside, Camouflage mode makes your connection seem a conventional internet connection. It does so by eliminating any VPN traces using the OpenVPN VPN protocol. This option doesn’t compromise your security in any way.

Tips to use and connect to a VPN in China

If you’re planning to travel to China and think you might need a VPN, I recommend setting one up beforehand . Otherwise, you might not be able to access your VPN provider’s website. Also, make sure you get all devices you’re planning to use covered (mobile, laptop, tablet, etc.)

If you’re already in China (or live there), here are some tips on how to get and use a VPN :

  • Try themanual download and setup. Since access to websites and apps is often restricted, look for manual setups online. If you can’t access the website, you can contact your VPN provider via email (e.g., [email protected] ) and ask them to send you the manual config and a guide.
  • Use the OpenVPN protocol. Surfshark’s OpenVPN protocol was designed to obfuscate your connection. This means that whoever’s monitoring your traffic won’t see that you’re using a VPN.
  • Use the NoBorders mode. If you’re using the app, make sure to turn on the NoBorders mode. This will show you a list of servers that work best under government restrictions.

What websites are blocked in China?

The internet is an integral part of our everyday lives. So much so that we often take what we can access on the internet for granted. Unfortunately, several popular websites are blocked by The Great Firewall in China. Take a look at some of them below. Do you see any websites that you frequently visit?