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.
Here are the current Best VPN services for China
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.
Surfshark – Full Review
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.
What to do if you are in China and need VPN service but all the websites are blocked?
If you have arrived to China and need a VPN, you may have issues accessing the websites of the VPN services. In this case, you can try the mirror website of providers like VyprVPN so that you can buy a subscription and download the software to get around the Great Firewall. Another option is to send an email to the provider that you want to use and they are likely to send you the information and links that you need to get the VPN. If you don’t know the email address, usually you can try something firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is advisable to get the VPN subscription before you go to China since you will be able to access the websites and won’t have issues purchasing the VPN and setting it up. Once you get to China, you just need to launch the VPN and follow the provider;s instructions to connect to a VPN server. There are providers that have servers that are specifically designed for users in China. These servers use obfuscation (stealth VPN) to mask all OpenVPN traffic, making it appear like HTTPS encryption on port 443.
Can VPNs get around the Great Firewall?
VPN restrictions in China are not easy to bypass and providers face the challenge of catching up with the blocks imposed by authorities. The majority of VPNs are blocked and don’t work in China, but the ones mentioned in our list are still effective when it comes to bypassing the Great Firewall. From time to time, Chinese authorities update the restrictions implemented, which could lead to temporary blocks. The good news is that the VPNs that we recommend for China, usually update their network to solve the problem in a matter of hours. In general, the VPNs that we mention in our list work without issues.
Can you use a free VPN for China?
Using a free VPN sounds tempting, but if you want to bypass the restrictions in China, you need a paid service. Not only they don’t work, but they are also weak in terms of security. In fact, they are likely to compromise your data as some of them may contain malware or may track your activities and sell your information to third parties. What appears to be free can end up costing you more than you thought, after all, privacy and security are essential. The providers that we mention in our list have invested a lot of resources to set up reliable networks and develop technology that will help you to overcome the Great Firewall of China. Free VPNs don’t offer obfuscation so your OpenVPN traffic will be blocked through DPI. IT is better to consider a free trial of one of the VPNs that do work in China.
If the VPN you have selected doesn’t work in China, there is a way to fix this. As we previously mentioned, in some cases, Chinese authorities launch new methods to block VPN traffic. This can cause issues and block your VPN temporarily in China. This is what you can do if your VPN is not working in China.
- You can try a different server
- Try a different obfuscation method or VPN protocol, if your VPN supports this option.
- You can try a different port like port 443 (used for HTTPS traffic).
- If these tips don’t work and you are not able to connect to your VPN in China, you just need to contact your VPN to request help. This can be done via email, if you don’t have access to the website and can’t create a ticket. In case nothing seems to be working and all the options are blocked, make sure to try the alternative page of VyprVPN.
Is it possible to unblock sites in China using a VPN?
Yes, a VPN is the most convenient and effective solution to get access to the content that you want in China. Once you connect to a VPN that uses obfuscation technology that really works, you shouldn’t have problems to get around any blocks or censorship that have been implemented by China. Many popular apps and websites are blocked in China, including Facebook, Instagram, Skype, Twitter, WhatsApp, Tinder, Snapchat, Google services including Google Maps, Gmail, Google search and YouTube.
Is it legal to use a VPN in China?
Although the Chinese government has placed restrictions in the use of VPN, it is still legal to use this technology. However, the authorities launched a statement in 2018, regarding VPN services created by companies in China that are aimed at Chinese users, VPNs were required to register with the government, following their conditions, if they want to continue operating in China. Furthermore, the government forced Apple to remove VPN apps from its App Store. In spite of this, VPNs are still being used in China and they are still legal.
The Chinese government is seeking to prevent the use of VPNs, as this is an effective solution to overcome the strict online censorship that has been implemented. However, there are still VPN services that work effectively to get around the restrictions and they offer a simple and effective way to unblock content and defeat the Great Firewall. Although you will need to get a paid service to get all the benefits of this technology, it is an investment that is worth making since it will help you to regain your online freedom and protect your privacy. Just make sure that when you use a VPN, you get a safe, reliable and well-established provider. Remember that not all VPNs work in China and you should avoid free VPNs since they are blocked and could put your data at risk. A good, premium service on the other hand, will give you the chance to enjoy online freedom and keep your information private, thanks to the high encryption used. You will defeat the GFW and will be able to access the content that you want.