Study: Using a VPN in China (Only 7/51 VPNs Work)

china

Does it feel like it’s impossible to find a working VPN in China?

It’s common knowledge that the internet is heavily regulated in China. The communist regime has blocked many popular sites, including Google and Facebook. There are also thousands of other websites that can’t get accessed when you’re connected to the internet in the country.

The only solution to access these sites is via a VPN. But the problem is that the Chinese government has banned many virtual private networks too. It’s almost impossible to find one that will allow you to log on to most regular websites.

However, it’s not entirely impossible to find a VPN that works in China. There are a select few that do work. Instead of wasting your time signing up for free trials or making the most of a money-back guarantee, take a look at our list of the legal VPNs in China that won’t cause you any trouble with the local authorities.

An Overview of China

If you’re new to the country or unfamiliar with the data rules in China, here is the information you need to know to ensure you’re acting within the laws of the land.

Jurisdiction characteristics
Political culture Communism
Main IT hub location Beijing
Data protection registration NOT required
Data protection officers appointment  NOT required
Data transfer to 3rd party disclosure  Consent required
Unlawful disclosure of sensitive information

RMB 1,000,000

Ten times the value of any benefit gained through the misuse of information

Breach notice obligations Within 24 hours of becoming aware of any data breach
VPN allowance Allowed
Downloading copyrighted content

Not Allowed

Fines of up to RMB 1,000,000, and

up to 5 years in prison

Step-By-Step Process On Finding The Best China VPN

  1. Subscribed to more than 90+ VPNs
  2. Chose 51 promising services for testing
  3. Tried to access VPN websites through Chinese servers
  4. Ran tests with each service with China Unicom Shandong ISP
  5. Documented every single test with Screenshots (SS).

VPN in China Key Insights:

  • 80.9% of VPN websites are not accessible
  • Only 13,7% of VPNs are working

Only 12 of 51 Websites Are Accessible

Unblocked websites:

vpn.asia (SS)
crypticvpn.com (SS)
onevpn.com (SS)
trust.zone (SS)
vpngate.net (SS)
psiphon3.com (SS)
avira.com (SS)
avast.com (SS)
perfect-privacy.com (SS)
us.norton.com (SS)
f-secure.com (SS)
SmartVPN (SS).

Blocked websites:

airvpn.org (SS)
astrill.com (SS)
betternet.com (SS)
browsec.com (SS)
buffered.com (SS)
cyberghost.com (SS)
earthvpn (SS)
fastestvpn.com (SS)
flyvpn.com (SS)
ghostpath.com (SS)
goldenfrog.com (SS)
hide.me (SS)
hidemyass.com (SS),
hola.org (SS)
hotspotshield.com (SS)
ibvpn.com (SS)
ipvanish.com (SS)
ivacy.com (SS)
le-vpn.com (SS)
expressvpn.com (SS)
limevpn.com (SS)
nordvpn.com (SS)
overplay.net (SS)
privateinternetaccess.com (SS)
protonvpn.com (SS)
purevpn.com (SS)
seed4.me (SS)
shadeyouvpn.com (SS)
steganos.com (SS)
strongvpn.com (SS)
sumrando.com (SS)
zenmate.com (SS)
tigervpn.com (SS)
torguard.com (SS)
windscribe.com (SS)
vpnsecure.me (SS)
vpn.ht (SS)
vpninja.net (SS)
vpnunlimitedapp.com (SS)

7 of 51 VPN Services Work in China

Unblocked VPNs: (Click to see the screenshot)

ExpressVPN
Astrill
Strong VPN
VyprVPN
Le VPN
HotSpotShield
Seed4.me

Blocked VPNs:

AirVPN
Avast SecureLine
Avira Phantom
Betternet
Browsec
Buffered
CrypticVPN
CyberGhost
EarthVPN
FastestVPN
FlyVPN
Freedome
Ghostpath
Hide.me
HideMyAss
Hola
ibVPN
IPVanish
Ivacy
LimeVPN
NordVPN
Norton WiFi Privacy
OneVPN
Overplay
Perfect-Privacy
PIA
ProtonVPN
Psiphon
Pure
ShadeYou
SmartVPN
Steganos
SumRando
ZenMate
TigerVPN
TorGuard
Trust.Zone
WindScribe
VPN Gate
VPN Unlimited
VPN.asia
VPN.ht
VPNinja
VPNSecure.

It Seems Nearly Impossible to Use a VPN in China Unless:

  1. You register and install a VPN account in a different country or parts of China where the laws are different (Hong Kong, Macau)
  2. You already have a VPN account ready to use.
  3. Install temporary a Chrome extension like Latern or ASTAR to access the site and download the VPN service. Be aware that those extensions are proxies and shouldn’t be used in the long-term.

Are VPNs Legal in China?

The rules around using a virtual private network in China are not black and white. The technology itself isn’t banned, but you need special permission to use one.

Many businesses and companies in China will use a virtual private network to communicate with their international partners. This may involve accessing their websites, which are potentially blocked in China. But to use a VPN, an official license is required.

A September report from GlobalWebIndex claimed the VPN crackdown was disrupting work and study for entrepreneurs, scientists, and students.

The firm’s survey of Chinese internet users found that 14 percent use a VPN daily. For China’s online population of 731 million, this means 100 million regular users.

However, some services are not approved by the government.

State-run news site: The statement from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology says that “authorized” VPNs will be allowed to conduct business as usual and the new restrictions only apply to companies using unauthorized VPNs, a policy that, the ministry notes, has been in place since January 2018.

That said, the statement in The Paper doesn’t really clarify which users are eligible for approval or how that process will work, leaving plenty of room for additional restrictions if the government decides to go that route.

If you’re caught utilizing a VPN to access banned websites without the proper paperwork, then you’re technically breaking the law in China. The punishment is usually a fine. No jail time has ever been recorded for this offense. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful.

Why Do You Need to Use a VPN in China?

If you’re traveling to China for business, then you’re going to find it very difficult to get any work done without a VPN. There is a high chance that many of the standard websites you access are blocked, and without a virtual private network, there is no way to log into them.

A VPN is also beneficial if you cherish your privacy and don’t want your internet history shared with anyone. When you log into a virtual private network, your IP address will get hidden, and your browsing history won’t be logged with the ISP.

Even Netflix and Amazon Prime Video aren’t available in China. If you’re in the middle of binging a TV series or you’re halfway through a movie, then you’re not going to be able to resume it when you’re connected to a Chinese network. You’ll need to activate your VPN and choose another country to continue viewing your content.

Finally, a VPN will give you peace of mind knowing that your data and information are secure. China ranks 81st on the National Cyber Security Index. This is a global measurement highlighting how prepared countries are to prevent cybersecurity issues. But by taking advantage of the security features of a VPN, you can rest assured that your personal information is invisible and protected against hackers.

The Pros of Using a VPN in China

There are many advantages of using a VPN in China. Some of the most common reasons why you should consider signing up for one before you land in the country include:

·     Protection over your personal information

·     Your web history doesn’t get logged with internet service providers

·     Access to streaming services that aren’t available in China

·     Able to view content that is geo-blocked

·     Admittance to websites blocked or banned in China

·     Complete anonymity online

·     Protection from data breaches and malware attacks, mainly when using public Wi-Fi

The Cons of Using a VPN in China

The most significant disadvantage of using a VPN to overcome the great firewall of China is that you need to apply for a license. Using a virtual private network to access websites that the government has carefully chosen to ban can land you in some trouble. While there are fines for using an unauthorized VPN, there is always the potential that the punishment can be more severe.

There are also concerns around choosing the wrong VPN service and your information getting compromised. Not all VPN companies work the same way. Some of the free VPNs don’t offer the same security features as other services and can leave some of your information exposed to hackers or internet service providers. Free VPNs don’t always provide leak protection or have a logging policy, meaning they don’t give you complete anonymity and take note of what websites you visit.

There are also free VPNs that throttle your bandwidth. Some paid VPN companies may not give you fast speeds either. In these instances, you may not be able to watch videos or utilize streaming services due to server restrictions or data caps.

To avoid these issues, you need to understand what to look out for when choosing a VPN. It can help prevent your personal details from getting exposed and your internet becoming unusable.

What to Look for in a VPN Service

The best VPNs will highlight a raft of features to provide you with a level of certainty that when you’re online, you’re protected. While remaining anonymous should be one of your key concerns when using free VPNs or one that you pay per month, there are several other features to investigate before settling on the right one for you.

Privacy Policy and Logs Policy for Your IP Address

Some free VPN services may advertise that they offer complete anonymity when you’re online. However, their privacy policy and log policy will detail how they handle user data. For example, they may hold on to it for a certain period of time and willingly turn it over to the authorities if user data is ever requested. While it might seem like a lot of pages to read, it’s worth delving into these policies so that your private information doesn’t get stored on a VPN server.

Number of Servers

The best VPNs will brag about how many servers they have. For example, a company like NordVPN highlights that it has over 5,500 server locations, while free VPNs may only offer anywhere from three to five. The more VPN servers on offer, the faster your connection will be when you’re online.

Server Locations

If accessing blocked websites in China is the reason you’re using a VPN, then you’re going to want to ensure that you can access servers across the globe. The more server locations on offer, the more blocked content you can retrieve and streaming services you’ll have available to you.

Data Limits

A free VPN will tend to have a limit on how much you can download in a day or month. Once you’ve hit that cap, your bandwidth will get throttled. Some offer 250 MB a month, and others can be more generous and provide 10 GB. You’ll need to pay a fee per month or sign up for a year plan if you want unlimited data for your VPN.

Simultaneous Connections

Many free VPNs limit how many devices can utilize the service at once. Even some paid services will make you take out one of the higher plans to have simultaneous connections. If you need to connect several devices to your VPN, then ensure that you don’t need to spend more money for the privilege or won’t get disconnected because you’re using too many gadgets.

Types of Devices

The most common devices people want to protect with a VPN are their Windows or Mac laptop or computer. However, some VPNs can also be used on Android and iOS devices. If you need to access websites or blocked content on mobiles or other items, then you’ll want to make sure you can install it on these devices easily so that you don’t have to worry about making a mess of the settings.

The Best VPNs for China

Considering most VPNs are banned in the country, it should be simple to determine the best VPN for China. Here are the VPN services that we know currently work while you’re in the country.

1. ExpressVPN – 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee

There’s a lot to like about ExpressVPN, especially if you’re in China. It has over 2000 servers in 94 countries. It also doesn’t keep any traffic logs, thanks to it being based in the British Virgin Islands, where there are no data retention laws. It’s straightforward to use as well.

The Express VPN app can be downloaded to macOS, Windows, iOS and Android devices, Linux, and even some routers. You’re able to access restricted content outside of China and stream services like Netflix in other countries.

2. Astrill – 7-Day Money-Back Guarantee

The price of Astrill might turn a lot of people off. But it comes with some of the most advanced security features and has a lot of high-speed servers. Most importantly, it can allow you to access content blocked in China.

Not only will it overcome the great firewall, but it also unblocks Netflix and provides peer-to-peer support for torrenters. There’s an ad blocker, kill switch, and leak protection. These features make the price a little more manageable. However, you should know that the server does collect data. So if this is a dealbreaker, then you should choose another VPN on this list.

3. StrongVPN – 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee

Another one of the best VPNs for China is StrongVPN, as it includes 950 servers located in 46 cities from 20 countries around the globe. Despite being based in Florida, the service has a no-logging policy. So even if it’s forced to hand over data to authorities, there won’t be much to pass on.

The service also includes a kill switch and can work across 12 devices simultaneously. The other benefit is that it comes with 250 GB of cloud storage if you need to keep any files or documents safe.  If you’re having any trouble with the platform, then you can also access the 24/7 live chat support, which is handy, especially when you’re in another country like China.

4. Le VPN – 7-Day Money-Back Guarantee

Despite the French name, Le VPN is based out of Hong Kong. It features servers in 114 countries, which is why it’s one of the best VPNs for China. All of the servers provide fast, reliable, and, most importantly, secure connections.

There are no logs kept in Hong Kong of your online activity, and you can connect up to five devices at once. This is ideal if you need a China VPN to access content on your laptop and mobile device. Like other VPNs that work in China, it’s an expensive investment. But it will give you what you need to bypass the great firewall.

5. VyperVPN – 30-Days Money-Back Guarantee

Every server that VyperVPN offers is maintained in-house as it allows them to ensure that none of your personal information will ever get exposed. Its servers are located in over 70 locations, and there are no bandwidth restrictions, no matter how long you stay on the service.

Sadly, it doesn’t work with Netflix, and speeds can differ between countries. But it’s very easy to use on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. You can even get apps for some smart TVs and your router if you prefer to have every connected device protected by VyperVPN.

6. Hotspot Shield – 45-Days Money-Back Guarantee

The Hotspot Shield VPN service continues to expand its operations and servers. It now hosts over 3,200 servers across 70 countries. It includes multiple security features too. There is DNS leak protection, high-level encryption, and zero logging of data to the point that no user can be identified.

The speeds are perfect for bypassing the great firewall and streaming Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix while you’re in China. You can even use it on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices. It also includes a money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the speed or privacy features.

7. Seed4.me – 30-Days Money-Back Guarantee

While it’s one of the smallest China VPN providers, Seed4.me still includes many of the same features as the major players. It may not have 24/7 live chat support or help you with torrenting, but it does include military-grade protection and a kill switch that has been specifically designed for use while in China.

It allows many devices to bypass the great firewall of China, including Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android systems. Many businesses, corporations, and government departments trust Seed4.me as their virtual private network of choice. It’s simple to activate, and it works in China, which is perfect if that’s all you want it to do.

How to Test Your VPN Service

It can be challenging to get a virtual private network to work in China. The government has chosen to block many of the best providers and most of the ones that do work are only beneficial if you’re based in the country.

You also can’t freely sign up for a VPN in China. Before you log in to a virtual private network, you need to get a license to access one and the websites blocked by the government. If you don’t get this paperwork signed off and are caught logging into banned places, you may receive a fine.

If you plan to use a VPN for China, it should include plenty of features. Take note of how many servers are on offer, where they’re located, and what security options are available, like leak protection and kill switches. If you need to access blocked sites on multiple devices, then you’ll want to know how many connections you can have.

If you’ve got the time to test all of the VPN options in China and investigate leak protection as well as other privacy features, then you can utilize the offers available so that you don’t end up spending a cent. But a better method that will save you a lot of time and heartache is to check in with the experts at VPN Testing.

Don’t risk choosing a service that doesn’t work properly in China. VPN Testing knows what to look for to determine the right service to access the websites that you need. We can also translate all of the jargon, so you understand what you’re getting with your VPN connection. Head over now and find the right VPN to use in China today.

Disclaimer: We are not lawyers. This is an informative article for educational purposes only. Citizens and travelers should always do their own research and follow the local laws.

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2 thoughts on “Study: Using a VPN in China (Only 7/51 VPNs Work)

  1. Great question!

    We didn’t conduct a test with Surfshark so unfortunately, I don’t know the truth.

    However, as I did a quick research on it, it seems that Surfshark has worked for some people in the past month.

    If you will give it a try, let us know as well! 🙂

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