On this website, we have talked about the best way to get around the Great Firewall of China on many occasions as well as how to access the internet without restrictions in China.
However, what happens when we want to access the network that exists within the Great Firewall? This article is intended for people who for whatever reason want to access websites located in China without any type of restrictions.
Summary of the article
- Problem: Browsing Chinese websites outside of the country is extremely slow and some content is restricted (for example videos and streaming on Bilibili, Youku, ManguoTV, iQiy, or PPTV)
- Reason: The Great Firewall and geographic restrictions (copyright laws)
- The best way to resolve this: A VPN with servers in China
- What VPN do we recommend: Transocks, VPN Area and Hide My Ass are to date the best VPNs that we have found for accessing the Chinanet.
- Who do we recommend using a VPN with servers in China?: People of Chinese origin who live outside of the country, Mandarin students, and people who due to their job or for other reasons need access to resources hosted in China.
Accessing Chinese websites from outside of China
A frequent complaint from Chinese who have just moved abroad is the speed of the internet. When you ask foreigners in China, apart from the blocked websites, the complaint is the same. But why does this happen?
One of my preferred explanations for this subject is given by the famous Chinese blogger Michael Anti (Zhao Jing) in a TED Talk:
“The Internet has two internets: one is the internet and the other is the Chinanet.”
Basically, what Michael is referring to is that the Great Firewall of China has isolated the Chinese internet in such a way that any connection from one side to the other becomes complicated and as a result, extremely slow. On a practical level, this means that when Chinese people living abroad try to read his email on 163.com (Chinese Gmail), they would grow desperate when it took them ten minutes to access every email, just like what happened to foreigners trying to access their email from within China (if it’s not blocked like Gmail).
For whatever reason, if you normally visit Chinese websites, you will already know that the enormous exercise of patience. Also, you should consider geographic restrictions. Just like when you try to watch your favorite Netflix or television series online outside of your country, there is a lot of content restricted outside of China. The most prominent examples of this content are videos on Bili Bili, Youku, ManguoTV, PPTV, iQiy, QQ video CCTV or music streaming on Baidu Yinyue, Kugou, QQ Music.
How to browse the Chinese web and unblock websites such as Bilibili, Youku, ManguoTV o iQiyi
To avoid geographic restrictions or save yourself from eternal loading time and errors when visiting websites hosted on Chinese servers, there are several solutions. The most popular ones are proxies, Tor or VPNs. However, we always recommend using VPNs, especially if you’re not an internet expert (click on the previous link to find out why).
Wait! Before you start looking for a VPN, you should know that it is not as easy as it looks. Not just any VPN will work! If finding a good VPN to get past the Great Firewall when you are in China is difficult, finding a VPN that lets you enter the Great Firewall is even harder.
The main problem is that the majority of the best VPN providers, such as ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Surfshark or VyprVPN, don’t have servers in mainland China. While a solution may be to connect to the servers they have in Hong Kong, which substantially improves speed. However, Hong Kong servers are outside of the “Chinanet” and don’t allow you to get around geographic restrictions.
But all is not lost…
The best VPN with a server in China
Over the past years, I have been looking for and testing numerous VPNs with servers in China, and for the moment, I have only been able to find three VPN providers with servers in China that work adequately: Transocks, VPN Area, and Hide My Ass.
|Main Advantage||VPN with Chinese license||dedicated IPs||Countries with servers||It depends on your needs!|
|Guaranteed money back||No||30 days||30 days|
|Monthly plan||25 CNY (3.9 USD)||9.90 USD||10.99 USD|
|Yearly plan||22 CNY (3.4 USD / month )||4.13 USD / month||4.39 USD / month|
|Countries with servers||1 (China)||70||190|
|Desktop applications||Windows, Mac||Windows, Mac||Windows, Mac, Linux|
|Mobile applications||Android, iOS, Windows Phone||Android, iOS, Windows Phone||Android, iOS, Windows Phone|
|Encryption protocols||OpenVPN||OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, Stunnel||OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec|
|Try Transocks➤||Try Ivacy➤||Try Hide My Ass➤|
Using proxies to unblock Chinese websites
During the last years, China has restricted greatly the use of VPNs, and most of the VPN providers removed their servers in Mainland China.
A good alternative is the use of residential proxies.
Good proxy providers offer many locations in Mainland China and the speed and connectivity they offer tend to be much better than VPN providers.
Suggestions for use
- Before using the VPN, close your browser and when the VPN is completely connected, open it again: this is important if you want to use Bilibili, Youku, ManguoTV, iQIYI and other streaming websites
- If you use VPN Area in my experience is that for Chinese servers to work you must select UDP Protocol and Port 8292. To do this you must go to “Show Dashboard” –> “Servers/Speed”.
- If you are using Hide My Ass, some IP addresses are blocked, so if you are on Youku or whatever website you are using and you still get the message that you have to be in China, close the browser and click on Change IP.
- Avoid the time period between 9:00 pm and 12:00 am in China, as servers tend to go very slow due to the high volume of users active in China.
- If you use VPN Area and Hide My Ass, it’s “peak hours” and you only need to browse Chinese websites, you can try to use servers located in Hong Kong, as you will likely be able to browse faster.
Who would be interested in a VPN with a server in China?
- People of Chinese origin
- Mandarin students: Browsing the web in China is an invaluable source of study materials, especially audiovisual materials, series, films, and audio tracks that are hard to find in other places.
- People who want to watch films and series: In China, famous video aggregators contain an incredible library of films and series that are both Chinese and international, which can be watched for free. Just look for what interests you on baidu.com (better with its Chinese name) and it will show you the websites that offer it (YouKu, iQIYI, ManguoTV, and QQ video).
- People who for work or other reasons need information from Chinese sources: I would include myself among these people, as to write many of the articles on this website when I am not in China, I need to consult information sources which are normally located on Chinese servers. Without a VPN, my search would become torture at times, as web pages take centuries to load.