The Chinese internet firewall is legendary. So much so that Geremie Barmé, an Australian sinologist, coined the term Great Firewall of China (abbreviated GFW) in 1997. It represents one of the most restrictive internet policies in the world. Globalization makes it tough for the Chinese government to keep a firm grip on their citizens. One way people started to get around those restrictions is by using a VPN. Chinese companies use VPNs to do business outside of the country, so they are crucial to the economy.
Instead of losing control, the government has decided to crack down again. They have blocked all unauthorized VPN services as of April 2018. Unfortunately, they take enforcement seriously. The Chinese are not afraid to spend money enforcing those laws, either. If they catch you using the international network privately or by using “illegal channels,” or related services without authorization, they will fine you up to 15,000 Yuan ($2,178 USD). Those who do and make profits from it will be fined and their gains seized accordingly, it said.
Luckily, there are some well-known VPN providers that will help you get around the ban. They have been around for a number of years, and have honed their systems to match the needs of VPN users in China. We’ll talk more about them in a moment. Remember, you are taking a risk that the government will catch you. There may be additional consequences that we did not list so be careful. Let’s take a look at the best options now.
With ExpressVPN, fast VPN access and MediaStreamer act as a Smart DNS service to unblock access to censored content. The service will help encrypt your connection and help you get around the Great Firewall of China.
|94||160||3,000||OpenVPN, SSTP, L2TP, PPTP||$12.95||$99.95||30 day|
As you can see in the table above, ExpressVPN manages a very large VPN network. ExpressVPN network boasts hundreds of servers in key locations to help protect their user’s privacy. That includes locations like Hong Kong (since it is the closest in the region). You can use their network to protect your privacy, unblock censorship, and enjoy the content you are used to seeing. There are no specific settings that you need to set additionally.
The ExpressVPN app allows you to select a server location down to the city. Since you are trying to get around the ban in China, your best option is to use a server located in Hong Kong. The servers there will likely provide you with the best speeds from mainland China. To choose one, you will want to select the “All” tab, open Asia Pacific, and then open Hong Kong. You can also click on the “All” tab and type in the words “Hong Kong” in the search box. As you can see, we tested a server in Hong Kong and the speed came out to 57.33 Mbps.
Though ExpressVPN has a higher price than some of the other servers in the list, they will definitely get you around the VPN ban. When you combine that with the other features they offer and their large network, the service has a high value. You can connect a computer, handheld device, router, and game console (SmartDNS) with a single VPN account for just $6.67 a month with a 30-day guarantee.
NordVPN is based in Panama which some users prefer to using a VPN company that’s actually headquartered in the United States. You will find that NordVPN has a strong presence because it has servers located throughout the world. Members have full access to their network all around the world for a very good price.
|59||70||3300||OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP||$11.95||$69.00||30 day|
You will find that NordVPN has one of the best mixes of services for the price. Of course, the goal is to help you get around the VPN ban in China. For the best prices, you will want to subscribe to a longer length account. All users have full access to their network and custom software. You can connect using the VPN client for Windows or Mac. They also have an easy-to-use mobile app for both Android and iOS (iPhone, iPad) devices.
NordVPN hosts a number of servers in Hong Kong. The easiest way to select a specific server number is to select the “Servers” tab in the app and then sort the results in alphabetical order. You can then scroll down and select any of the servers they have listed. You can see the load time percentage and the distance to each server. We tested the Hong Kong server and found the performance to be 34.51 Mbps.
Want to access streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world? If so NordVPN is a great choice. They are one of the only VPN services that can still unblock Netflix. You can sign up for unlimited VPN and SmartDNS service from just $2.99 a month with a 30-day guarantee.
Because of IPVanish’s obfuscate traffic feature, you should be able to use their service to help you get around the VPN ban. To get the best speeds for the country, we suggest connecting to a server in Hong Kong (since it is the closest major city to China). When you do, you will find that the connections in the city are fast and should work just fine for what you want to do. That feature makes IPVanish a good choice to use in China.
|60||89||1,200||OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP, PPTP||$7.50||$58.49||7 day|
Along with a number of servers in Asia, IPVanish hosts servers in every continent other than Antarctica. The network does well when we choose servers in Asia for our speed tests. You will find multiple server locations in countries all over the region. You can select a specific location or an individual server.
IPVanish hosts 19 servers in Hong Kong (the closest server in the region) and you can choose to connect to any of them. Strangely, they list servers in Hong Kong in 2 different ways. Though you can find them by selecting China and then Hong Kong, you can also find a different set if you choose Hong Kong as the country. We tested an IPVanish server in Hong Kong, hkg-c18, and found the speed to be 35.70 Mbps.
When it comes to value, IPVanish is hard to beat. They offer unlimited access to their VPN network and custom software for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Amazon Firestick and more for $7.50 a month or $58.49 a year. That works out to just $4.87 a month on the annual plan. Members are covered by a 7-day money back guarantee.
The VyprVPN team is based out of Austin, Texas and has a long history of fighting for user’s Internet privacy. They have hosted an annual privacy panel at SXSW for several years and have even spent time in Washington, DC lobbying for privacy reforms. You will find the VPN service to be in line with their values.
|47||57||700||OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP||$14.99||$74.99||30 day|
You will notice some added features with VyprVPN depending on which account you choose. The VyprVPN Premium plan includes 5 simultaneous connections, VyprVPN Cloud, and Chameleon protocol. Their Cloud feature allows you to control your own VPN server in the cloud while the Chameleon protocol will help you get around the Chinese VPN ban.
The VyprVPN client does not give you the ability to select a specific server while connecting to one in Hong Kong. Instead, you will want to switch the location to Hong Kong. From there. the client will automatically connect you to the best VPN server in Hong Kong. Since you can choose the specific protocol, they suggest using their proprietary protocol that they call Chameleon. We were able to achieve a download speed of 19.68 Mbps after connecting to a server in Hong Kong.
VyprVPN has been kind in offering our visitors a 25% discount. The coupon stacks on top of their normal term discounts. You can enjoy unlimited VPN and VyprVPN Cloud for just $12.95 a month or $60 a year. The annual account works out to just $5.00 a month. New users are covered by a 3-day money back guarantee.
And there you have the best options to help you get around the VPN ban in China. All of those choices should work for your purposes. Just be sure to be careful when using one in the country because of the VPN ban.