If you are planning to visit China or are already a resident there, you might be aware of how life without a VPN is restrictive and confining. The prospect of no social media or streaming platforms and somewhat having half the internet blocked is enough to become frustrated and bothered.
Things start seeming even direr when half the VPNs you connect with, are already banned by the country through the Great Firewall. However, the VPNs mentioned in this article are the answers to all your unspoken prayers!
Tried and tested for China, they allow super-fast streaming and unrestricted internet! But before that, you might need this insight on exactly how restrictive life in China is without a VPN.
Why Do I Need a VPN in China?
In China, using a VPN goes beyond the idea of online tracking, hiding your IP address, and encrypting the data traffic. There are a lot more reasons why you would need a VPN to bypass the Great Firewall. Here’s a brief insight into the reasons why should one use a VPN in China:
- Bypass geo-block: The best VPN for China will bypass several geo-restricted websites, social media platforms, and streaming platforms such as Netflix.
- Combat cyber-attacks: According to Panda Security, 60% of the computers in China are infected with malware. With VPN’s ad and malware blocker feature, you can reduce the risk of your data getting into the wrong hands.
- Access blocked websites and search engines: Whether you want to access any blocked search engine or website, the best VPN for China will obscure your IP address and location and help access them without the fear of being tracked.
- Prevent government surveillance: The Chinese app providers and ISP retain users’ activity logs for 60 days. A VPN can encrypt your data traffic, making it impossible for anyone to see what you’re doing online.
China has almost half the websites on the internet banned! Which also includes social media and streaming platforms! So unless you are planning on being bored to death onto your trip there, or you are a resident who wants to explore more of the internet, use one of the following VPNs that bypass the Great Firewall VPN block:
All these VPN uses strong encryption and are fully featured-packed, leaving no room for any threat actors to disrupt your browsing experience. Thus, you can consider using them to protect your internet privacy in China.
Is It Legal to Use a VPN in China?
There is a great debate over the legality of VPNs in China. Using VPNs in China is not declared illegal even though many VPN providers are blocked.
A few years back, the Chinese government announced a crackdown against unauthorized VPNs and declared their services illegal. Everything was going smooth in China until Beijing launched a 14-month countrywide campaign against unauthorized internet connections. It also included VPNs that are valuable anonymity tools and help users bypass the country’s advanced censorship, i.e., the Great Firewall.
Soon after this announcement, the VPN providers start disappearing from the local app stores, making things worse for privacy-conscious people. The Inquirer reports also reveal that any individual caught using an unauthorized VPN in China will face $145.
It is not the first time that the Chinese authorities have put such a ban on VPNs. the higher authorities shut down the phones of all such people who were using a VPN.
As a whole, you can use a VPN in China but have to be careful as it is not easy to escape the censorship filters.
Four Tested and Tried Best VPNs for China
After testing many VPN providers, here are the five best VPNs that guarantee maximum online protection in China. Now let’s dive into these VPNs and learn what do they offer:
For providing the utmost security, fast and consistent connection speeds, and a range of supported features, NordVPN is the best VPN for China. The VPN provider’s popularity is stemmed from its impressive features that include:
- Kill switch
- Double VPN
- Tor over VPN
- IP and DNS leak
- Dedicated IP address
- SOCKS5 proxy
All these features allow you to surf the web privately. Moreover, the VPN also provides security-enhancing solutions such as NordPass and NordLocker, which help combat other internet privacy-related issues. Here is more insight into NordVPN’s privacy and security features:
- Jurisdiction: It belongs from Panama that falls outside the jurisdiction of five eyes, nine eyes, and 14 eyes alliance.
- Log Policy: The VPN has a verified no-log policy. It twice underwent the third-party log audit process.
- Obfuscated Mode: It uses obfuscated or Stealth mode to circumvent censorship filters in China.
- Encryption: NordVPN used military-grade encryption and NordLynx protocol to keep your data out of the reach of snooping eyes.
- VPN Protocols: NordLynx tunneling protocol and OpenVPN protocol ensure secure and fast data transfer.
Moreover, it also uses a cybersec feature to block intrusive ads. You can even use NordVPN for unlimited streaming and torrenting:
- Streaming: It unblocks various streaming platforms, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus.
- Torrenting: The SOCKS5 proxy, dedicated P2P servers, and unlimited bandwidth allow unrestricted torrenting.
NordVPN subscriptions cost $3.67/m. It allows you to retain privacy even during the subscription process through anonymous payment methods such as bitcoins.
Because of its fast speed and server security, ExpressVPN emerges as another best VPN for China. The VPN offers servers in China and neighboring countries so browsing speed is not the issue with ExpressVPN. It also provides other features that strengthen your online security while you browse the internet. These features include:
- Network Lock (kill switch)
- VPN leaks protection
- Trusted server technology
- Zero-knowledge DNS
Besides this, other things boost your security and privacy levels like:
- Jurisdiction: The VPN provider belongs to a privacy-friendly jurisdiction with no risk of data being monitored or stored.
- Log Policy: ExpressVPN exhibits a strict no-log policy and has a third-party log audit report to prove its stance.
- Obfuscated Mode: Its Stealth servers disguise the VPN traffic as regular traffic and help in bypassing censorship.
- Encryption: It ensures online security by using strong AES-256 bit encryption.
- VPN Protocols: It uses OpenVPN, IKEv2, and Lightway protocol. Lightway is ExpressVPN’s proprietary protocol which uses ChaCha/Poly20 cipher and thus is most secure.
Besides providing a top-notch level of security and online protection, ExpressVPN is also used for torrenting and streaming purposes:
- Streaming: The VPN updates its servers that work perfectly well with Netflix making it one of the best VPN for Netflix. You can also unblock content from BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and more.
- Torrenting: P2P-optimized servers and a split tunneling feature ensure a safe and secure torrenting experience.
Overall, ExpressVPN is a great option to use in China. Although it is a bit expensive, you can try out the two-year plan that costs $8.23/m.
3. Surfshark VPN
With a low price, risk-free money-back guarantee offer, and having several privacy-focused features, Surfshark VPN is another option to use in China. It provides excellent online protection to the users, and all credit goes to its impressive features like:
- Kill switch
- Multihop Cleanweb (malware blocker)
- WebRTC leak protection
- DNS and IP leak protection
- Private DNS servers
- RAM-only servers
This VPN for China also offers a decent server network and fast connection speed which doesn’t cause any connectivity issues while you surf the web. Surfshark’s exceptional performance is also because:
- Jurisdiction: Its headquarters are in British Virgin Island, which follows no mandatory data retention laws and doesn’t log or share users’ data.
- Log Policy: The VPN is a no-log VPN with a verified log audit report.
- Obfuscated Mode: The camouflage or obfuscation servers help in bypassing firewalls efficiently.
- Encryption: It uses uncrackable encryption and robust algorithms to keep your data protected.
- VPN Protocols: The use of OpenVPN and WireGuard protocol further strengthens your data security.
The VPN provider also has a NoBorders mode that allows you to get around the internet restrictions in China. Other additional benefits include:
- Streaming: Unblocking Netflix and other popular streaming platforms without any speed issue.
- Torrenting: Download torrents safely and maintain your security with the split tunneling feature.
Overall, Surfshark is the best option to use because of its low price. You can purchase it at the lowest price of $2.49/m and secure your browsing experience in China.
VyprVPN is a great choice to use in China. By offering all essential security-enhancing features, it ensures maximum online protection over the web. Some of these features are as follows:
- Kill switch
- Site blocker
- Connection per app
- Public WiFi protection
- VPN leaks protection
- Tor over VPN
Other valid reasons behind the top-notch level of security and privacy offered by VyprVPN. It’s because:
- Jurisdiction: The VPN is a Switzerland-based VPN provider with no harsh anti-privacy laws. Also, it is not part of the global surveillance alliance, so by no means can your data be tracked or retained.
- Obfuscated Mode: VyprVPN uses the Chameleon protocol for bypassing the deep inspection packet used by the Great Firewall.
- Encryption: Along with secure encryption, it also uses a 2048 bit RSA key and SHA 256 authentication to safeguard your data from all prying eyes.
- VPN Protocols: It uses various encryption protocols like OpenVPN, Chameleon, WireGuard, and IKEv2. WireGuard ensures fast speed while OpenVPN and Chameleon guarantee enhanced security.
All this shows how impressively VyprVPN maintains your digital privacy. But it does offer more benefits like:
- Streaming: VyprVPN allows users to unblock US Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, and Hulu by updating its servers.
- Torrenting: The VPN provides unlimited bandwidth and enables you to download torrents across all servers.
The VPN price is not too high. A three-year subscription plan costs $1.67/m with a 30-days money-back guarantee offer.
How to Choose the Best VPN for China?
There are dozens of VPN providers available in the market, all claiming to be the best. But to pick the best one with exceptional performance is the actual test.
To get more benefits from a VPN in China, make sure that you consider the following privacy and security-enhancing features in a VPN:
- Encryption Security: VPN encryption determines that your VPN is maintaining your data security or privacy. It is therefore crucial that your VPN provides robust encryption through secure protocols and ciphers.
- No-Log Policy: A VPN with a no-log policy signifies how private the VPN is. It ensures that the VPN doesn’t hold any track record about the users while connected over the web.
- VPN Leaks Protection: It means that the VPN is not leaking any of your sensitive information like your IP address, DNS requests, and WebRTC.
- Malware Blocker: It is an advanced feature that allows you to block potential malware, ads, and spyware that attempts to target your network. In China, cyber crimes are pretty common.
- Kill Switch: A unique security boosting feature that blocks the VPN traffic and protects your IP address from leaking when the VPN connection drops.
- Obfuscation Mode: A unique feature that disguises the VPN traffic as regular traffic and helps in bypassing censorship. They change the data packets and make it impossible for the firewall to block the VPN traffic.
Looking into these features will help you determine the privacy and security your VPN is offering. It is best not to trust any VPN that doesn’t offer such features as it might get blocked due to the Great Firewall.
Other Relevant Features
Apart from disrupting privacy and security, life in China means deprivation from several online entertainment prospects such as torrenting or streaming. Considering that, while choosing the best VPN for China, it is best that you look for a VPN that offers the following features too:
- Compatibility with Streaming Sites: The best VPN for China is the one that allows the user to unblock content from various streaming sites. The streaming sites include Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO, and Hulu.
- P2P Optimized Servers: These are special servers designed for a fast torrent downloading experience.
- Speed: The VPN speed should remain fast and consistent across all servers and should not cause any buffering or connection lags.
- Server Location: A physical place where the VPN servers are located. The vast the server network will be the quicker it connects you to the nearest servers.
- Simultaneous Connection: It means that with a single subscription account how many devices you can connect with the VPN provider.
Having this set criteria while choosing the best VPN for China will help you make the most out of your subscriptions.
How to Test If a VPN Is Reliable for China?
If you’re using a misconfigured or unreliable VPN in China, it will result in data leaks and breaches. To avoid any such situation, you should run various tests to check the reliability of your VPN. The following mentioned below is the test that you should run to check your VPN’s claim. So, here you go:
IP Leak Test
To test your VPN for IP leak, run an IP leak test at whatismyipaddress.com. Once you’re done, compare the displayed IP address with the one provided by the VPN server. If they are the same, it means your VPN is working fine, but if it matches your actual IP address, it means that your VPN is leaking your IP address.
DNS Leak Test
To perform a DNS leak test, use the www.dnsleaktest.com tool and perform a standard test. The IP address shown should be different from your actual IP address. If it does, then your VPN is not leaking your DNS.
WebRTC Leak Test
It is always a great idea to perform a WebRTC leak test from www.browserleaks.com. You should see the VPN’s IP address in the test result to ensure that your VPN is not leaking your WebRTC.
IPv6 Leak Test
Another way to test your VPN’s credibility is to conduct an encryption test. Use either Wireshark or Glasswire free network analyzing software. The result should be an unreadable data format. If not, then your VPN is failing to encrypt your data.
Which Is the Best Free VPN for China?
You can find numerous free VPN providers over the internet but using one for China is unsuitable. These VPNs don’t have the capability or potential to bypass the Great Firewall, mainly because of their weak security infrastructure. Thus during deep packet inspection, they get blocked.
Many free VPN providers don’t exhibit a zero-logging policy. They gather and share the users’ information with third parties and generate revenue through it. Also, they can be a source to spread malware or adware onto your device and harm sensitive data.
Nonetheless, free VPNs don’t satisfy the security needs of an individual and thus should be avoided at all costs.
Is Astrill VPN the Best VPN for China?
Many VPN providers claim to give off the best performance in China; Astrill VPN is one. It comes with essential security boosting features and a Stealth VPN protocol that helps in circumventing the censorship filters. But there’s a significant concern over its logging policy.
Astrill VPN keeps the last 20 connection records that include device type, country, connection duration, connection time, and Astrill client app version number for 30 days. Although they claim that it doesn’t include any personally identifiable information, we can’t trust the company because it doesn’t provide any proof either in the form of a no-log audit report.
All the best VPN for China mentioned in this article have a verified third-party log audit report or transparency report. Therefore, they are more reliable than Astrill VPN.
How to Use a VPN in China?
A VPN is the best solution to get around the internet restrictions in China. To connect to a VPN in China takes less than five minutes. Here is the step-by-step guide for using a VPN in China:
- Select a VPN for our list for the best VPN for China.
- Subscribe to it and sign up for an account.
- Download the VPN app on your relevant device. Follow the instructions that appear to pop up on your screen to complete the installation process.
- Once you’re done installing, open your VPN app and log in to your VPN account.
- Pick up a server of your choice. The server you choose depends on your purpose for using a VPN. If you’re using a VPN to bypass censorship in China or enhance your online security choose a server within China. But, if you want to access streaming content on Netflix or any other streaming services, you need to select a server outside China.
- Tap to connect and wait till the connection is established.
- Check your VPN icon. If it turns green, it means that your VPN is working.
Now all your data is secure and protected, and you can browse the web freely and anonymously.
Are All VPNs Blocked in China?
In past years, a Bloomberg report revealed that the three major internet mobile companies, upon the instructions of the Chinese government, blocked individual access to VPN providers. However, the report was found to be false, but the concern over blocking VPN access was still there.
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology made it clear that only unauthorized VPNs used to conduct illegal business get blocked. Moreover, China also blocks the IP addresses and domains of many known VPN providers, which have caused several VPNs to be completely shut down or suffer from temporary downtime. By updating the software and server address, they can fix the issue.
The best VPN for China mentioned in this article works exceptionally well in China so, you should consider using them.
How Does China Block VPNs With the Great Firewall?
The Great Firewall is China’s system that regulates the internet. This internet censorship system uses various methods to block VPN services. Some of these methods include:
- IP Blocking: As the name suggests, your IP addresses are blocked to prevent you from accessing various websites and online content.
- Deep Packet Inspection: The Great Firewall inspects the unencrypted data packets and searches for sensitive keywords. If that particular keyword is blocked, the content is restricted for the user.
- DNS Filtering. Content is blocked or restricted in this method when you type a website URL, have and your device doesn’t provide an address.
- URL Filtering: The government has asked ISPs to block different URLs. If you want to access them, you can’t access the web pages.
Fortunately, most of the VPNs mentioned above use obfuscation technology that makes your data traffic looks like regular HTTPS traffic and helps you in bypassing the censorship filters.
Why Is My VPN Slow In China?
There is a common misconception that VPNs slow down your connection speed. However, in reality, nothing much happens. In China, if your VPN is working slow, there are probably other reasons.
The VPN can be working slowly because of network congestion, ISP throttling, or VPN server congestion. In all situations, you can switch your VPN servers and improve your connection speed. The best VPN for China has servers in Beijing, Hong Kong, Japan, and other neighboring countries, and connecting to them can improve your connection. But if the authorities block your VPN, you cannot have a fast or average connection speed no matter what efforts you make.
How is the Best VPN for China Bypassing the Great Firewall?
The best VPN for China helps you bypass the Great Firewall by hiding your data traffic and destination. It simply encrypts your connection and makes it impossible for anyone to detect what you’re doing over the web. In this way, the VPN can unblock the web pages, websites, and content you want to access. Moreover, the encrypted traffic goes to the remote VPN server where it is decrypted and then to the destined websites. It might look like you’re using the internet from any other location other than China.
Can I Bypass the Great Firewall Without a VPN?
If you’re wondering if you can bypass the Chinese imposed restrictions without using a VPN, there are proxies that you can consider using. Several free proxies or SOCKS5 proxy applications can help you bypass the Great Firewall, but they do have their own issues. Firstly, they aren’t as fast as a VPN, meaning there is no guarantee of a stable connection. Also, they are unreliable when it comes to data encryption and doesn’t work well either with streaming or torrenting.
As a whole, a VPN is a more reliable, secure, and trustworthy method for bypassing internet restrictions in China.
Using any random VPN in China is risky. The best VPN providers mentioned in this article offer impressive security and have all those essential features required to circumvent the Great Firewall. So, choose any VPN providers that match your needs and enjoy a safe and secure browsing experience in China.