We review vendors based on rigorous testing and research but also take into account your feedback and our affiliate commission with providers. Some providers are owned by our parent company.
Learn more
vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
Advertising Disclosure

vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

Does ExpressVPN Work in China? How to Use It in 2024

Akash Deep Updated on 7th May 2024 Fact-checked by Kristina Joshevska Cybersecurity Researcher

Not many VPNs work in China, but ExpressVPN is one of the few that do. Thanks to its advanced features and technologies, you can secure your connection and use sites safely, even in China.

ExpressVPN offers automatic obfuscation on all its servers, which hides the fact that you’re using a VPN. It even offers workarounds so you can download the app when you’re already in China.

While you shouldn’t need to configure it to get it to work there, there might be times when you find ExpressVPN isn’t working in China as expected. That doesn’t mean all is lost — I'll share some recommended configurations, just in case you run into issues. ExpressVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out. If you’re not satisfied with the service, it’s easy to get a full refund. Editors' Note: Expressvpn and this site are in the same ownership group.

Try ExpressVPN for China >>

Important: We do not endorse using VPNs for illegal activities. China has banned non-government-approved VPNs, but there are no publicly reported cases of tourists being prosecuted for using one. Still, use VPNs at your own risk and follow local laws. Due to strict internet regulations in China, VPN connections can sometimes be unstable. Despite this, ExpressVPN is known to be the most reliable.

Quick Guide: How to Use ExpressVPN in China in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Get ExpressVPN. It’s best to sign up and download ExpressVPN before you arrive in China since its website is blocked by the Great Firewall. The setup process is simple for major OSs like Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.
  2. Connect to a server. I recommend selecting a nearby server for speedy connections.
  3. Start browsing. Enjoy secure access to the internet from China.

How to Set Up ExpressVPN to Work in China (+ Other Troubleshooting Tips)

ExpressVPN’s website is blocked in China, so it’s best to download it before you arrive there. If you’re already in China, you can email ExpressVPN’s support team (support@expressvpn.zendesk.com) and ask for a mirror link — this is another version of the ExpressVPN site that hasn’t been blocked by the Great Firewall. Using this link allows you to sign up, download the app to whatever device you need, or update the software.

Once you’ve installed the app, a few quick configurations will ensure ExpressVPN works in China without hassle.

1. Set the Protocol to Automatic

When you set your security protocol to Automatic, ExpressVPN will automatically choose the one that’s best for your network. It offers a variety of protocols, each designed to cater to different needs. Some give you a more secure connection (like OpenVPN), and some prioritize speeds (like Lightway).

However, ExpressVPN recommends selecting the Automatic protocol option for obfuscation to work properly. To do this, click Options > Protocol > Automatic.

Screenshot showing how to change protocol in ExpressVPNExpressVPN will automatically choose the right tunneling protocol depending on your network

For added convenience, you can also set ExpressVPN to connect to your last used location automatically whenever you start up your device: this can be toggled on under General Options.

2. Enable the Kill Switch and IPv6 Leak Protection

When using a VPN in China, you should keep the kill switch on at all times. This protects your data if you lose connection to the VPN. You can activate the kill switch in 2 steps:

  • Open the General settings menu. You’ll find this under Options when you click in the top left corner of the VPN.
  • Activate the kill switch. Underneath Network Lock, check the box next to Stop all internet traffic if the VPN disconnects unexpectedly.

IP and DNS leaks can expose your real IP to the firewall. If the VPN fails or the browser sends WebRTC requests, your online access will be restricted or unsecured. When you connect to ExpressVPN, DNS leak protection is enabled by default. However, you need to manually enable IPv6 leak protection. You can do this in 2 easy steps:

  • Open the Advanced settings menu. This is located in the Options area under the cog icon.
  • Enable IP leak prevention. Check the boxes next to Prevent IPv6 address detection while connected.

3. Clear Your Browser’s Cache and Cookies

Sometimes, websites can track your real location through the cookies and cache stored in your browser. If the location data saved in your browser doesn't match your VPN's IP, you might face problems when trying to use certain websites.

There’s an easy workaround — simply go to your browser’s settings and clear your cache and cookies. You'll typically find this option in the privacy and security section. But be aware, this action will remove saved passwords, and websites may load more slowly initially.

If you prefer not to clear everything, you have the option to selectively remove cache and cookies related to the sites that are restricting access. This easy step can help you use sites safely in China.

4. Re-Connect or Try Another Server

A poor internet connection or a technical glitch could cause the VPN to stop working. It may take up to 30 seconds to connect to the server if your internet isn't fast enough, or it might not work at all.

Wait until ExpressVPN’s connection status shows Failed before trying to re-connect. If the connection fails, close the app, restart your device, and then try to connect again. Also, make sure to wait for the app to show the Connected status before you start browsing.

If the VPN application indicates it's connected but fails to work, consider re-establishing the connection to the server. Doing so will provide you with a new IP address and potentially resolve the problem.

You can also try connecting to a different server. I contacted ExpressVPN’s chat support to find the best servers for China. The representative was extremely helpful and redirected me to a web page with troubleshooting tips for connecting in China.

As of the time of writing, ExpressVPN recommends the following servers for China:

  • Japan (Yokohama)
  • USA (Los Angeles - 5 and Santa Monica)
  • UK (Wembley)
  • Singapore (Marina Bay)
  • France - (Alsace)

5. Re-Install or Update the App

If connection problems persist, try re-installing the app. Corrupted files or changed settings often cause issues. But, before uninstalling, make sure you have the installer file ready, as downloading it again in China can be difficult.

Also, check that your app is up to date. An older version might not work as smoothly, especially if ExpressVPN has released updates to improve performance or fix bugs. So, update your app to the latest version before you head to China. If you're already there and need to update, use ExpressVPN’s website mirror link.

6. Get in Touch With Customer Support

You can also contact ExpressVPN’s customer support and ask for guidance. Since the website is blocked in China, you can email support@expressvpn.zendesk.com (Hotmail still works in China).

The support team is prompt and usually sends a response within 24 hours. If you already know the most current mirror site link, you can use it to contact ExpressVPN’s 24/7 chat support, too.

How to Download ExpressVPN If You’re Already in China

There are a few ways to download ExpressVPN if you’re already in China. Let’s have a look:

  • Contact ExpressVPN support. Reach out directly to ExpressVPN's customer support at support@expressvpn.zendesk.com. The support team can provide a mirror link to a working version of ExpressVPN’s website, allowing you to download the app.
  • Change your App Store region. For iOS users, an easy workaround is to change your App Store region to a country where ExpressVPN is available. This will let you download ExpressVPN directly from the App Store.
  • Use your home country's SIM card. If you have your home country's SIM card, you can use it to subscribe to ExpressVPN via your mobile data connection. Using your home SIM card can sometimes allow for less restricted internet access. This is likely due to international agreements between telecom providers. However, this can vary depending on your specific telecom provider and the country of origin of your SIM card.
  • Find a secure third-party download source. Look for reputable third-party websites that offer the ExpressVPN installation file (APK for Android, executable file for Windows). Ensure the source is trustworthy to avoid downloading malicious software.
  • Ask a friend outside China. Friends or contacts outside China can download the ExpressVPN installer and share it with you via a secure file-sharing service. This method is particularly useful if direct download options are not viable.
  • Use another VPN. If you have access to any other VPN that works in China, you can use it to visit the ExpressVPN website and download the app.

How ExpressVPN Works in China

Best Feature Automatic obfuscation to secure your connection in China
Speeds Fastest VPN we’ve tested; ideal for lag-free HD streaming
Simultaneous Device Connections 8 to protect all your devices in China
Works With Facebook, Netflix, WhatsApp, Gmail, Google, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, BBC, and more
Editors' Note: Expressvpn and this site are in the same ownership group.

The main reason ExpressVPN works in China is due to its advanced obfuscation. This masks VPN use by scrambling your metadata and disguising your encrypted data as normal traffic, letting you use it on restrictive networks. The obfuscation kicks in automatically when the app detects deep packet inspection (DPI) or other restrictions, so you don’t have to enable it manually.

ExpressVPN is also one of the fastest VPNs out there. When our UK tester connected to its Yokohama and Marina Bay servers, they saw an average speed drop of only 11%. This is impressive, considering obfuscation usually slows down your connection. There were no slowdowns as we streamed non-restricted YouTube videos in HD.

To uphold its privacy promises to users, ExpressVPN doesn’t host any of its servers in mainland China. The government requires all online movements to be tracked and stored, so not having servers there means ExpressVPN doesn’t have to comply with this. Plus, it has a strict no-logs policy, which was verified by two separate independent audits in 2019 and 2022.

While ExpressVPN isn’t the cheapest (plans start at $6.67/month), it’s the most dependable option for China. You can pay via credit cards, Bitcoin, PayPal, Union Pay, and more. It’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try ExpressVPN out. If it doesn’t meet your expectations, you can get a full refund.

Useful Features

  • Servers in Hong Kong. ExpressVPN doesn’t have servers in mainland China, but it does offer some in Hong Kong. This means you’ll get speedy nearby connections when you’re in China.
  • Mirror site. Although ExpressVPN’s main website is blocked in China, it offers a mirror link so you can download the VPN while you’re there. To keep this mirror link working, it’s frequently updated, so it’s best to reach out to customer support (via email) to get the most current URL.
  • Strong security. All your data is protected with military-grade encryption, IP/DNS leak protection, and a kill switch. Our extensive tests showed no leaks when using ExpressVPN's servers.
ExpressVPN Offer May 2024: For a limited time only, you can get an ExpressVPN subscription for up to 49% off! Don't miss out!

Internet Freedom and VPN Status in China

China implements internet censorship using the Great Firewall (GFW). This digital barrier blocks content that the Chinese government exclusively determines is unacceptable, which largely concerns international websites and services. Citizens and visitors in China are heavily restricted in what they can see, say, or do online.

The following sites are some of the sites blocked by the Great Firewall:

  • Streaming platforms. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Spotify, Twitch, etc.
  • Social media sites and apps. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
  • International news outlets. BBC, NY Times, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, NBC, etc.
  • Search engines. Yahoo, Google, Bing, etc.
  • Messaging services. Gmail, WhatsApp, Telegram, Skype, Slack, etc.

The Computer Information Network and Internet Security, Protection, and Management Regulations of 1997 outline what content should be restricted. These regulations are intentionally vague, granting the government broad discretion to censor a wide array of content.

Any online material that critiques the government, even in a balanced and factual manner, risks being classified as "inciting division," "openly insulting other people," "damaging the reputation of state organs," or conducting "activities against the constitution." The prohibition extends so far that even trivial online discussions, such as those about celebrity news, could be deemed illegal.

In this tightly controlled digital environment, VPNs are becoming increasingly popular. Despite the government's crackdown on unauthorized VPN services, many VPN providers still work in the country by using obfuscation techniques. However, the effectiveness of these VPNs is constantly tested by the government's relentless efforts to detect and block unauthorized internet access.

Unfortunately, this means that only VPNs sanctioned by the Chinese government are 100% reliable within the country. While ExpressVPN is known to be the most reliable VPN for China, it may still experience periods of downtime as it works to adapt to the ever-changing Great Firewall technology.

FAQs on Using ExpressVPN in China

What can I do if ExpressVPN is not working in China?

If you find ExpressVPN not working in China, there are several steps you can take to resolve the issue. Here are some of the quick things you can try:

  • Switch to a recommended server. If you're facing issues, try switching to one of the server locations that ExpressVPN recommends for China. These servers are optimized for better performance on restrictive networks.
  • Update your ExpressVPN app. Make sure your ExpressVPN app is up to date. The latest versions may contain updates that enhance connectivity and functionality on restrictive networks.
  • Reach out to customer support. ExpressVPN's email support is also pretty responsive. If you're still facing difficulties, contacting them can provide you with personalized help. Whenever I had to contact support, they always responded within minutes.

Does ExpressVPN have servers in China?

ExpressVPN doesn’t have servers in mainland China, but it has some in Hong Kong and Macau. This means it doesn’t have to conform to China’s strict data-logging policies. The Hong Kong and Macau servers give you nearby locations for speedy connections in China. And since Hong Kong and Macau don’t censor the internet heavily like mainland China, you’ll have access to a more open internet using them as well.

Can I use ExpressVPN on iPhone, Android, and Windows in China?

Yes, you can. ExpressVPN has native apps for all major platforms, including iOS, Android, and Windows. All of ExpressVPN’s servers use automatic obfuscation, so your VPN use is hidden in China, allowing you to secure your connection. Its Lightway protocol has been integrated into its mobile apps as well. So, the special obfuscation tech needed won’t slow down your internet speeds like it can with other VPNs.

That being said, it’s best to download ExpressVPN before you arrive in China. The app isn’t available in China’s Apple App Store, and Google Play is blocked completely in the country. So, you can’t download the app easily from within China. However, you can create a new App Store account and set it to a different region where VPNs aren’t blocked (like the US, for example).

Does ExpressVPN’s site have a link that works in China?

Yes, it does. It’s one of the very few VPNs with a working mirror site for China. To get the most up-to-date link to its mirror site for China, you should contact its customer support via its support email address: support@expressvpn.zendesk.com.

Is ExpressVPN illegal in China?

It’s complicated. ExpressVPN is not approved by the Chinese government, and any VPN that doesn’t have an official license approved by Chinese authorities is technically banned in the country. But it’s usually the VPN providers (not individual users) that could face legal action, and their websites are blocked in the country. If you’re traveling to China, it’s best to download ExpressVPN before you arrive.

However, it's worth noting that in 2019, an individual in Guangdong province was fined 1000 Yuan (around $140 USD) for using a VPN. This was a rare case, and it's uncommon for tourists to face legal consequences as there are no public records available. However, it does highlight the need for caution when using non-approved VPNs in the country.

At vpnMentor, we don’t condone using a VPN in a way that violates the law in your country. Always stay up to date with local laws and those in the countries you’re traveling to.

Is ExpressVPN owned by a Chinese company?

No, it’s not — ExpressVPN is owned by Kape Technologies, headquartered in the UK, which also owns other top VPNs like CyberGhost and Private Internet Access. However, ExpressVPN itself is headquartered in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands. There are no data retention laws there, so ExpressVPN doesn't have to keep any identifiable information about you. This allows the company to honor its strict no-logs policy without any outside interference.

ExpressVPN Still Works in China

ExpressVPN is a solid choice if you’re looking for a VPN to use in China. It offers military-grade security measures like DNS/IP leak protection, a reliable kill switch, and automatic obfuscation to keep your online activity private in China. It has servers in Hong Kong and Macau but not in mainland China, so you can rest assured that it doesn’t have to conform to the country’s strict data retention laws.

You can also try ExpressVPN out for yourself since it offers a money-back guarantee on all plans. You can get a full refund within 30 days if you're not completely satisfied.

The best VPNs that work in China are…

Rank
Provider
Our Score
Discount
Visit Website
1
medal
9.9 /10
9.9 Our Score
Save 49%!
2
5.3 /10
5.3 Our Score
Save 59%!
3
9.2 /10
9.2 Our Score
Save 85%!
Privacy Alert!

Your data is exposed to the websites you visit!

Your IP Address:

Your Location:

Your Internet Provider:

The information above can be used to track you, target you for ads, and monitor what you do online.

VPNs can help you hide this information from websites so that you are protected at all times. We recommend ExpressVPN — the #1 VPN out of over 350 providers we've tested. It has military-grade encryption and privacy features that will ensure your digital security, plus — it's currently offering 49% off.

Visit ExpressVPN

We review vendors based on rigorous testing and research but also take into account your feedback and our affiliate commission with providers. Some providers are owned by our parent company.
Learn more
vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

About the Author

Akash is a writer at vpnMentor dedicated to providing readers with unbiased and expert advice on online security and privacy. He specializes in analyzing the latest cybersecurity trends and providing up-to-date information to help readers make informed decisions.

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