how to use vpn in china

Internet access is tricky in China. If you’re trying to learn how to use a VPN in China, you’ve found the right article. Using a VPN in China isn’t as simple as downloading a VPN in the country and start connecting to a secure server.

China has blocked many VPN sites, which means it’s impossible to subscribe to one if you’re already in the country. Even if you manage to slip through its watertight Great Firewall, only a handful of VPNs are functional in the country.

So, you’ll need to sign up and download a VPN app before landing in China and you’ll need to choose one that works. 

What Is a VPN?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It’s a network technology that encrypts internet communication on devices and masks IP addresses.

In an age where the public has to deal with incessant online threats, breaches of privacy, and restrictive censorship, VPN becomes the go-to solution. 

By connecting to a VPN server, the data sent from a device is encrypted. Most top-rated VPNs use AES-256 for encryption, which renders attempts to hack the communication futile.

As mentioned, a VPN also enables a device to change its IP address. If you’re in Australia, your device will take on a US IP address when connected to a US server. This allows users to access geo-restricted content or bypass a restrictive firewall. 

Why Use A VPN in China?

If you’re planning to travel to China, getting a VPN ought to be one of the top priorities. Here’s why.

To Bypass Extreme Censorship

Gmail, Facebook, Skype, Twitter, Instagram, and the list goes on. These are some of the hundreds of apps and websites that are blocked in China. Yet, they have been part of the daily life of most populations in other countries.

If you’re heading to China for work purposes, getting cut off from Skype and Gmail makes communicating with overseas clients terribly difficult. You risk missing out on important emails as the ISP blocks all access to Gmail.

Tourists would have their hope of uploading screenshots of their experience on Instagram or Facebook dashed if they’re not connected to a VPN. China is a beautiful country, but without a VPN, it’s hard to stay connected to other parts of the world. 

Avoid Being Spied On

China’s strict censorship of the internet is fuelled by political purposes. The government is determined to control information that is made available to the public. It’s also an open secret that privacy is non-existing for internet users in China. 

You’ll want to assume that all of your activities online are transparent to the ISPs, which are owned by the government. Every site that you’ve visited, emails, or comments left on forums can be tracked by the government. 

For a government that doesn’t hesitate in cracking down on political journalists, you’ll want to rather be safe than sorry when it comes to privacy. Using a VPN puts you below the radar of the watchful eyes of government agencies. 

Protection From Hackers

The Internet is never safe from hackers whether you’re in China or other countries. It’s easy to be a target of malicious attacks, particularly when you’re connected to public WiFi. Public WiFI is unencrypted and you wouldn’t know if you’re sharing the same network with a hacker.

If you’re concerned about getting hacked, it’s only sensible to stay protected with a VPN that works in China. Never let your guard down when it comes to staying safe on the Internet. 

Is Using A VPN Legal In China?

The legality of a VPN in China has always been some sort of a grey area. Of late, the government has been harping on making VPNs illegal in China. It even goes to the extent of removing all VPN apps from Apple and Android app stores. 

Yet, no foreigners have been prosecuted for using a personal VPN in China. 

How to use a VPN in China? You’ll want to use VPN discreetly in China and avoid activities that are generally illegal in any country.

What’s more important is you need to download a VPN before entering the country as it’s impossible to do so as it has denied access to all VPN websites. 

Best VPNs to Use in China

So, what are the VPNs that continue to outsmart the Great Firewall of China? Here are our top picks. All of these VPNs are user-friendly and you will easily know how to use a VPN in China once you’ve signed up for their services. 


NordVPN remains one of the top-rated VPNs when it comes to security. Based in Panama, NordVPN has a solid history of privacy protection. Its VPN service is one of few that continues to work in China, despite the government’s attempts to shut down VPN providers. NordVPN also boasts impressive connection speed for high-resolution streaming. 


With more than 24,000 servers in 77 countries, Private Internet Access (PIA) boasts good server speed that is ideal for streaming. It’s also proven to work in China and is a good option for accessing blocked content in the country. PIA has a strict no-log policy, which further guarantees your privacy as a user. 


ExpresssVPN allows you to blaze through China’s internet firewall at top speed. It offers arguably the fastest VPN connection in the industry on a network that spans over 90 countries. Speedy connections aside, ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer technology guarantees that no data is retained on its data center.  


Surfshark protects users’ data by using military-grade encryption. It’s also balanced in speed, price, and ease of use. In China, Surfshark’s NoBorders mode will help you wiggle through the government’s strict censorship and access to restricted content. You’ll get unlimited device connections for a single Surfshark premium account. 


As you can see, before heading off to China, it’s a good idea to opt for one of the VPNs above so that you can continue to enjoy internet freedom while you are there. Just be warned, stay discreet so that you can avoid any potential issues. Get a VPN now before you’re blocked by China’s national firewall.

Mark Coulman
About Mark Coulman

Cybersecurity expert with a keen interest in technology and digital privacy. Mark has more than 14 years of experience in creating and managing various reliable WEB applications for IT companies in the EU and the US. Loves 3-4 letter words like PHP, XML, HTML, CSS, DB2, ASP, CRM, ERP, SAP, etc.