China’s government has been continuously combating VPN services, and lately their attempts to block all VPN service websites have been very aggressive. The task of finding a working VPN website in Shanghai or anywhere on mainland China for internet users has become increasingly difficult. Luckily, both VPN providers and Chinese internet users are collaborating to once again bypass and unlock sites in order for users to signup and evade internet censorship.
Additionally to blocking websites, the Chinese government has been very active trying to block VPN servers by attacking connection protocols themselves by blocking ports and throttling speeds down to a drip. OpenVPN has been reported to be heavily affected. This has added yet another level of difficulty for citizens in China to find working VPN services. Luckily, not all VPN providers sat back, and some have developed site-specific technologies to unlock their website and services to China, while securely cloaking their servers, and users from any ISP tracking. Many reports state that older protocols such as L2TP and PPTP still work, as well as up to date and secure protocols SSTP and IKEV.
China has kept a firm clasp on information censorship, and the internet has single-handedly been their biggest opponent. As the economy grew, so did access to technology, and it became inevitable that internet users would unlock the treasure trove of information available at their fingertips. VPNs have always been the most effective way to unblock websites and US google in China, and the government has done all it could to shut down access to such services.
The GFW – Great Firewall of China, is the government’s agency tasked with enforcing mass censorship of their citizens, including all nationwide internet access. WebSitePulse provides a free online tool to test any URL against the GFW to see if it is indeed blocked in China.
Are VPNs legal in China?
While VPNs are recognized as an effective solution to bypass online restrictions in China, it is important to keep in mind that the Great Firewall is regularly updated and due to some inconsistencies in its implementation, it is possible that a service that works well in Beijing, doesn’t work in another city. In addition, the government seems to be taking an even harsher approach towards the use of VPNs. According to a recently leaked police report that appeared, in Xinjiang, a province in the northwest of China, a man was arrested for “downloading violent and terrorist circumvention software”.
While the report was removed shortly after its appearance on Chinese social media, it raises concerns about the possible implications of using VPNs and other tools to bypass online censorship in China. Although it would’t be a surprise to see the government implementing strict laws to prevent the use of VPNs, many people questioned the veracity of the report, while others believe that the authorities are mainly interested in targeting users in Xianjiang, due to an ongoing separatist conflict in the region. In the end, VPNs are widely used in China and in spite of the government’s effort to tackle this technology, it is currently not illegal to use a VPN.
Here are the current Best VPN services for China
– Last Update: December 2016
ExpressVPN – Full Review
The engineers at ExpressVPN are very proud to have effectively designed a working platform for China. The service is reliable, and even more secure than ever. Now using updated stealth technology, ExpressVPN can better effectively protect Chinese users from VPN detection, without any loss in speed or quality of service. Hong Kong, Singapore, and most of Asia is accessible, including a total of 78+ countries for full worldwide coverage of the web. Easy to use apps are provided for all platforms, and the service is good. ExpressVPN’s stealth protocol has been reported to be working well in China, earning them a spot as best VPN for Shanghai.
NordVPN – Full Review
NordVPN is one of the most reliable solutions when it comes to privacy. Thanks to its obfsproxy VPN obfuscation technology (which is also used by Tor to defeat censorship), NordVPN is an effective option for users in China. NordVPN is also recognized for its zero logs policy and for offering strong encryption.. The fact that the provider is based in Panama means that it is far from the jurisdiction of surveillance agencies like the NSA and it is not subject to mandatory data retention. NordVPN supports double VPN and Tor over VPN, which allows you to add an extra layer of privacy to your connection.
PureVPN – Full Review
PureVPN has developed a StealthVPN protocol specific for China. The protocol is available through their Windows app, which composes the majority of Chinese VPN users. Mobile users are well served with the IKEv2 protocol, which has been reported to work well in China. Pure is one of the only providers to offer IKEv2 at this time for both Apple iOS and Android devices. The basic service is not expensive, and allows up to five devices to be connected through the same account. The lower price does not reflect poor service however. A large network of more than 700 servers cover 100 countries, and as mentioned, the service is a good choice for both mobile and Windows users.
VyprVPN – Full Review
VyprVPN provides a very solid VPN service for China at this time. They have great software and an advanced OpenVPN protocols that do just fine getting around detection. VyprVPN’s proprietary Chameleon protocol adds a layer of scrambling that makes it virtually impossible to detect. The software looks great and provides included encrypted cloud storage. They also provide great worldwide coverage, but the service has a downside. Being based in the U.S., they have a temporary log on meta-data, and don’t allow for P2P copyright infringement. DMCA takedowns can be attributed by user account, making it a bad choice for any P2P traffic in general. However, if all you want is to unlock the websites or streaming services, while still encrypting your data to avoid any local Chinese detection or logging of your traffic, Vypr remains a great choice for a working VPN in China.
TorGuard – Full Review
Another great VPN sevice for China is unsurprisingly TorGuard. A pro P2P provider with very strong multi-layered encryption service, TorGuard has effectively provided reliable service for Chinese citizens to bypass internet censorship, all while avoiding detecting or traffic logging. TorGuard utilizes a specially designed obfsproxy for OpenVPN that masks all traffic as regular HTTP protocol data, making it virtually impossible to detect. Encryption, security and privacy and all strong suites for TorGuard, making them a very ideal VPN service for highly censored countries such as China.
Airvpn – Full Review
Since it was created by a group of hacktivists concerned about online freedom and privacy, AirVPN is dedicated to offer its users a solid solution to bypass censorship. The provider has an advanced service that allows users to conceal their VPN traffic insider an SSH or SSL tunnel. This is ideal for defeating the GFW. Users in China can connect to a server in Hong Kong. AirVPN doesn’t keep logs and it uses top grade encryption to protect your data. It also supports important security features like DNS leak protection, kill switch, port selection and VPN over Tor.