5 Best VPN for China to Break Through Great Firewall [2020]

VPN for China PhotoAs you probably already know, most VPNs in China do not work. We are continually trying them out and performing new tests to find out which VPN services are legal in China.

If you are traveling to China, don’t forget to download a VPN before your trip — once you get there, you won’t be able to do it. Google services are off the market in China, including Google Play, as are most VPN apps from the App Store.

Do VPNs Work in China?

Yes, there are good VPNs that work in China. However, they should be downloaded before going to China. Once you’re in China, you won’t be able to download and set up VPN services as China has an advanced online censorship system, called the Great Firewall, that restricts any access to using VPNs.

Here is the list of five VPNs that work in China:

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. NordVPN
  3. Surfshark
  4. Private VPN
  5. Astrill VPN

ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Shanghai

expressvpnExpressVPN is the best VPN for Shanghai and China overall. 

Its best features include:

  • Compatibility with desktop (Mac, Windows, Linux, etc.) and mobile devices (Android, iOS)
  • Amazing speed anywhere
  • No leaks, high security, and privacy
  • Over 3000 servers in about 150 countries around the world
  • No login policy
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • RAM storage
  • 24/7 live chat support with agents

ExpressVPN is probably the safest option because you can use obfuscated servers, so it looks like your VPN is regular traffic.

It has a smart DNS option to mask your current location. The download speed is fantastic, and there is a kill switch that helps block your traffic if the connection breaks.

ExpressVPN doesn’t require logins, and nothing can be traced back to you — all data will be deleted and cleared when you finish your session. Note, however, that it provides no more than three simultaneous connections.

It is more expensive than other VPN services, but ExpressVPN also boasts a money-back guarantee with no questions asked within 30 days. It currently offers a yearly plan that costs $8.32 per month (you’ll be billed $99.95 annually).

Visit ExpressVPN

NordVPN — Best VPN to Use in China 

nordvpn-chinaIf you’re looking for a cheaper option that still works perfectly in China, NordVPN’s features are a top choice for you.

These include:

  • 370+ servers close to China
  • No logs, as the company is based in Panama
  • Incredible speeds
  • Compatibility with desktop (Mac, Windows) and mobile devices (Android, iOS)
  • CyberSec Ad blocking feature
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • 24/7 live chat support with agents

It is an excellent choice because, with one subscription, you can connect up to six devices simultaneously. It features a kill switch, as well. With obfuscated servers, no one can know you are using a VPN, or track you down.

If you often use torrents, this one of the best VPN for torrenting provides great P2P servers. Its encryption hides the IP address, which makes your information safe. Another feature is the possibility of unblocking many websites, including Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, and more.

There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee period, but we doubt you’ll need it.

A yearly plan costs $83.88, which comes to about $6.99 per month. You can also get a three-year subscription that is the most affordable option — you’ll be billed $3.49 per month or $125.64 every three years.

Visit NordVPN

Surfshark — VPN That Works in China 

surfshark-vpn-for-chinaSurfshark VPN works in China and has features that will attract you. Some functions worth taking a look at are:

  • Strict no login policy
  • Switching between multiple countries
  • More than 1000 servers worldwide in 60+ countries
  • IP privacy
  • Compatible with desktop (Linux, Windows, macOS) and mobile devices (Android, iOS)
  • Camouflage mode for added privacy
  • AES 256-bit encryption

Surfshark offers many high-speed servers in Asian countries, so if you’re a gamer, this could be the top VPN for gaming to use in China. Its stable NoBorders Mode can bypass the Great Firewall of China without any problems. You can use it for Playstation, Xbox, and other game consoles.

You can work in China using multiple devices since one account has unlimited simultaneous connections. Like the previous two, this service has a kill switch option. Moreover, its CyberWeb feature keeps you safe from ads and viruses.

If you change your mind, there’s no need to worry since there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee. Note that the provider’s prices are quite reasonable — $1.99 per month for a two-year subscription or $47.76 that you pay every other year.

Visit Surfshark

PrivateVPN — Best Free VPN for China 

private-vpnPrivateVPN is the best free VPN for China to our strong contender for the “top VPN provider in China” title. It offers high speeds and exceptional privacy, among other features.

Some of the most important features are:

  • More than 150 servers in over 60 countries
  • Switch servers without limits
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • No login policy
  • Compatible with desktop (Linux, Windows, macOS) and mobile devices (Android, iOS)
  • Fast connections
  • Live 24/7 chat help
  • Guaranteed privacy thanks to the company’s location in Sweden

The program’s stealth mode will protect and hide your activity as well as unblock geographical restrictions, which will allow you to watch Netflix with VPN, Hulu, AmazonPrime, etc. You have an option to choose from multiple security protocols and see which one works best for you.

PrivateVPN’s servers are located in Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan, among others, so the connections are fast with military-grade 2048-bit encryption. You can connect with six devices at once. The company is relatively new, but it’s snowballing, so expect additional features soon.

If you want to buy VPN for China, PrivateVPN offers excellent deals and a 30-day refund. For a 13-month agreement, you will be charged $3.82 monthly or $49.68 at once. They also have a 7-day free trial.

Astrill VPN — Good VPN for China 

astrill-vpnThis might not be the very best VPN for China, but depending on what you need, Astrill is a good VPN for China and offers some useful features.

It provides speed and security, among the following characteristics:

  • Unlimited connections at the same time
  • More than 100 servers in 63 countries
  • SmartMode for automatic VPN traffic
  • Anonymous surfing
  • Customizable
  • Compatibility with desktop (Linux, Windows, macOS) and mobile devices (Android, iOS)

There are no leaks whatsoever since Astrill uses extra configuration to help you bypass geo-blocks. P2P sharing is possible on any server. Watching movies has never been easier with access to Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, HBO GO, BBC iPlayer, etc.

This VPN does not keep any logs and has unlimited bandwidth.

Astrill VPN has an automatic kill switch, and there are no IP and DNS leaks. Thanks to their reliable and secure servers in Hong Kong and Japan, there are no speed problems. Their customer support isn’t that prompt, but they do offer a 24/7 chat feature.

They do not offer a refund if you’re unhappy with their service, but you can try it out for free for seven days. The price for one year is $120 or $10 per month — there are no discounts.

How to Use VPN in China

To use VPN in China you should download a VPN before going to the country.

Below, we describe how to use a VPN on Express VPN’s example:

Step 1: Choose your ExpressVPN subscription plan and sign up.

use-vpn-in-china

 

Step 2: Log in to your account.

use-VPN-in-China-2

 

Step 3: Select Set Up ExpressVPN under Active Subscriptions.

use-VPN-in-China-3

 

Step 4: Set up the VPN on your OS.

Step 5: Connect to the servers.

How to Check if a Website is Blocked in China?

If you want to check whether a particular website is blocked in China, you can use various online tools. The most popular is Comparitech

Here is how it works: 

  1. Click on the link above;
  2. Enter the URL of the website you’d like to check (you can copy/paste it);
  3. Find out whether the website is blocked.

How Does China Block VPN Providers?

Based on the research from ThousandEyes, here are the most popular methods of how Chinese authorities can block VPN providers:

Manual enforcement

Approximately 50,000 workers make up the Chinese Internet police manually. Police tracks online content, directly removes inappropriate content, or orders websites, internet hosts, and service providers to remove objectionable material. 

IP blocking

IP blocking is a method that forces routers to block specific IP addresses that got into the IP blacklist. This blacklist is injected via BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) using null routing.

Null routes are transmitted into the network for destinations on a given IP blacklist, causing routers to drop all traffic bound for blocked IPs and effectively create a black hole (places where traffic is silently dropped without informing the source that the date hasn’t reached out its recipient).

While null routing can only block outbound traffic and allow inbound traffic, it is typically sufficient to block a website, as most Internet communication can only be established by two-way interaction. 

The government may form a centralized blacklist without interference from the ISPs (Internet Service providers), and thus without the chance of leakage. 

Null routing often adds only a small load to the filtering routers from ISPs, and no individual devices are needed.

DNS tampering and hijacking

Tampering with DNS involves falsifying the response that the DNS server returns, either by deliberate manipulation or DNS poisoning. 

The server could provide fake info about the associated IP address, any domain-specific CNAMEs (canonical name records), the domain’s authoritative servers, and the domain itself.

As a result, users are given no clear answers for blocked sites such as Facebook and domain-level blocking of websites. Together, DNS techniques and IP filtering can effectively seal both domain and IP rates off blocked pages and servers.

Collateral DNS Damage

The Great Firewall doesn’t differentiate between the traffic coming in and out of the country while deploying DNS injections. 

As a consequence, when large-scale collateral damage occurs, it affects communication outside censored networks while censored links are traversed outside of DNS traffic.

Collateral damage may occur if a path goes through a censored network, even though both the source and destination are in uncensored networks.

Using anycast DNS authorities, where a single IP address may represent a widely distributed server network, further complicates the picture. 

When two resolvers attempt to access the same IP address in different networks, they can enter various physical servers through different routes, some of which may pass through censored networks.

Deep packet inspection and keyword filtering

Most content inspection schemes operate by going through a proxy to pass all traffic that refuses to represent outcomes for prohibited material. 

However, a proxy-based system that would be incredibly costly and difficult to scale would be able to cope with the traffic volumes of an extensive network or a whole country.

The alternative method of inspection of material deployed by China uses intrusion detection system (IDS) components. 

Filtering routers transfer copies of the traffic to IDS-based out-of-banded tools. 

The packets proceed unhindered on their route while the IDS technology inspects the copies to decide if the packet contents, including the requested URL.

If the IDS technology senses unauthorized content and decides that a link is to be blocked from a client to a web server, the router injects TCP resets (with the RST flag set) into the data streams so that the endpoints exit the link.

Self-censorship

The Chinese government has also succeeded in promoting a system of Internet self-censorship. 

Not only are ISPs required to track and filter traffic on their networks according to state guidelines, but the law also requires all Internet companies operating in China to self-censor their traffic.If you’re wondering whether you can get arrested for using a VPN in China or how to get a VPN in China, read the following section to find the answers to the most frequently asked questions.

FAQs

What is the Great Firewall of China?

The Great Firewall of China is a set of legislative and regulatory actions and technologies enforced by the Chinese government. 

The main goal is to regulate the Internet domestically, for instance, to block specific websites or slow down traffic.

How Does VPN Bypass the Great Firewall?

VPN establishes an encrypted tunnel between the user and the server. 

Once the user is connected to a VPN, their real IP address is replaced with the server’s IP address, and they’re able to access the website. 

First, the VPN goes to the server through a tunnel and then forwards the requested website. 

To the proxy server or the router, this traffic appears to be the heading of the VPN but not the required website or URL. In such a way, it doesn’t get blocked by filters.

Where Can I Buy a VPN for China?

As we’ve already mentioned, you can buy or try for free a VPN for China from any of these best VPN providers. 

However, it is essential to set it up on your device before arriving in the country.

We would recommend ExpressVPN as one of the best options.

Which Free VPN is Best for China?

We found these to be the best VPNs for China:

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. NordVPN
  3. Surfshark
  4. Private VPN
  5. Astrill VPN

However, they’re not entirely free. Some offer free trials or somewhat limited functionality for a free version. But all of them are trustworthy and secure.

We recommend buying a subscription if you like their service.

Do VPN Services Work on Mobile Devices in China?

Yes, they do work on mobile devices in case you haven’t forgotten to download a VPN on your iPhone or Android before going to China.

Is It Legal to Use a VPN in China?

For foreigners visiting China, a reliable VPN service is a must because the Chinese government bans many websites we use daily. Some news sites, messaging applications, video sharing apps like YouTube, and social media apps like Facebook are not allowed in China.

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