It is getting harder and harder to bypass the so-called Great Firewall of China; luckily there are still several solutions you could use to access the popular social media services and other sites from the world’s most populous country.
What you need is a good VPN that will cloak all the traffic to and from your computer, phone or tablet to “get the job done.” We’re pleased to report that such services still exist despite the Chinese government’s efforts to block them out.
We have compiled the list of the best 5 VPNs that will help you access sites such as Facebook and YouTube from China. We’ve also looked into other features, cause chances are — you will be using VPN for other things, as well.
So without further ado, here are the best 5 VPNs for China:
- 5,000+ servers in the network
- Easy to use - install it and forget it
- One license is good for up to 6 devices
- Strict zero-logs policy
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Chrome extension is just a proxy
- You can't pay with PayPal
Its network includes more than 5,000 servers spread across 60 countries, which directly translates into faster speeds. NordVPN is also very secure, relying on the strong 256-bit encryption combined with secure VPN protocols (OpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2/IPSec). But as a user, you get a seamless experience with all this technology "doing its thing" in the background.
NordVPN is well suited to pretty much every task you throw at it — whether it's accessing a banned site from some country that filters out the internet, torrenting, accessing streaming services, or just wanting to keep a low profile on the web. It also doesn't keep any logs.
We highly recommend NordVPN to anyone looking for reliable service.
- Good for both torrenting and streaming
- Works in China
- Solid network with servers in 60+ countries
- Easy to use apps on multiple platforms
- Live chat isn't always available
- Fairly pricey
In addition, Astrill can also be used for video streaming from services like Netflix and Hulu, as well as for downloading files with BitTorrent.
The company offers a free trial option but for some reason, it is not available for users in China — they have to pay from day 1 in order to benefit from Astrill's features. Something's gotta give...
Astrill's apps are easy to use and available on all popular platforms. Nevertheless, they still manage to provide a host of advanced features tech-savvy folks are used to get.
- Feature-rich yet easy to use
- One of the best VPNs around
- Strong no-logging policy
- Reliable support you can reach 24/7
- Limited number of servers in Africa and the Middle East
- Kinda pricey
ExpressVPN has great desktop apps for Windows and Mac, mobile apps and browser extensions. Also, it is well suited for video streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and others.
However, what makes it stand out is its ease of use. We can't emphasize this enough. One could tell a lot of time has been spent making sure even the advanced features are easily accessible. And we love it for that. Plus, let's not forget ExpressVPN's speed which tends to leave other services in the dust.
- Fast download and upload speeds
- Works with Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, etc.
- Great for torrenting
- Advanced privacy features (i.e. Tor over VPN)
- Relatively small number of servers
- There are no browser extensions
- Live chat support is not always available
Specifically, you can rely on PrivateVPN for both torrenting and streaming, without paying a premium. It is, in fact, one of the most affordable options in its league and we love it for that.
Customer support may not be on par with bigger players but it's not like you should experience many problems anyway. You will get the same level of security and privacy as with other services, and a single license will let you run PrivateVPN on up to 6 devices. Pretty cool.
- Works in China
- Many servers in Asia
- Strict zero-logs policy
- Advanced services like VyprVPN Cloud
- No browser extensions
- Torrenting could be better
VyprVPN runs a large network of servers that are spread all across the world. What's particularly impressive is the number of IP addresses the company owns — it has more than 200,000 global IPs, which is by far the largest number we've seen to date.
Add other features to the mix and you get a well-rounded offering for everyone living/working in China who also happens to look for a way to access all the popular sites and content that is otherwise unavailable in the world's most populous country.
The Great Firewall of China
You’ve probably heard of the infamous Great Firewall of China which the authorities use to block access to some sites and services from mainland China.
Well, you should know that it goes beyond technology with the term also referring to legislative actions that are enforced by the People’s Republic of China to regulate the Internet domestically. As pointed above, it is a censorship tool designed to block access to select foreign websites and to slow down cross-border internet traffic. As a result, Chinese authorities manage to limit access to foreign information sources, block foreign internet services such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, and more — as well as mobile apps — while requiring foreign companies to adapt to domestic regulations.
Beyond censorship, the Firewall has also helped the development of China’s internal internet economy by nurturing domestic companies and reducing the effectiveness of products from foreign internet companies.
Among the techniques the Chinese government uses to maintain control of the Great Firewall are things like modifying search results for some terms and petitioning global companies to remove certain content.
The Great Firewall used to be operated by the SIIO, as part of the Golden Shield Project. Since 2013, that work was transferred to the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), which is the entity in charge of translating the Communist Party of China’s will into technical specifications.
Under the “one country, two systems” principle, China’s special administrative regions (SARs) such as Hong Kong and Macau are not affected by the firewall. However, it has been found that the central government authorities have closely monitored Internet use in these regions, as well.
An interesting tidbit – the term Great Firewall of China was coined by merging the Great Wall of China and “firewall.” Its first use in Beijing was in 1996 by Stephen Guerin of Redfish Group, a Beijing-based web consultancy. A year later, Geremie Barmé first used it in print media and, as they say, the rest is history — with people all around the world referring to it as the Great Firewall of China.
One function of the Chinese firewall is to selectively prevent content from being accessed. To that end, the authorities use hardware made by Cisco, Huawei and Semptian hardware – which enable them to actively filter out what they deem inappropriate content. They employ tactics such as:
- IP range ban using black holes
- DNS spoofing, filtering and redirection
- URL filtering using transparent proxies
- Quality of service filtering
- Packet forging and TCP reset attacks
- Man-in-the-middle attacks with TLS
So the next question you probably have is…
Can a VPN help you bypass the Great Firewall of China?
Sure it can but it is getting harder with the day and you should get the best VPN money can buy. Cause not every VPN is up for the task.
You see, China employs some of the world’s smartest people to manage its Firewall and these guys and gals know the tricks VPN service providers use to let their users roam freely throughout the world wide web. So they block VPN servers’ IP address, snoop into the users’ traffic and more.
Luckily, there are still solutions that can help you bypass the Great Firewall of China. And that’s what VPNs listed here are all about. Most of them have a ton of servers and are constantly buying new IP addresses, making it harder for the authorities to block all of them (IP addresses). And that’s why it is essential to pay for a VPN service as free services don’t have enough resources to pull this off. Heck, as we’ve noted above, even some paid VPNs can’t do that.
So, you better think twice before signing up for a service you plan to use from China. Here are again top services that will help you roam freely from the world’s most populous country: