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How to Watch BBC iPlayer in China in 2023

If you’re from the UK but want to travel to China, you can’t access your BBC iPlayer account. The first reason why you can’t watch iPlayer in China is that it’s geo-restricted to the UK. The second one is that the Great Firewall blocks the platform in China. I know it can be really annoying when you can't watch your favorite content abroad. Nevertheless, you can still appear as if you're back home if you use a VPN.

A VPN is a simple app that can easily change your virtual location to one from the UK, making it seem like you’re browsing from there. That way, it gives you access to your BBC iPlayer account wherever you are. However, not all VPNs work in China. There are just a few that successfully bypass the Great Firewall.

Out of all VPNs my team and I tested, we concluded that ExpressVPN is the best and most reliable one. It has obfuscated UK servers that work in China. Its speeds are more than fast enough for watching BBC iPlayer without interruptions and in UHD quality (provided your base speed is over 25 Mbps). It also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try ExpressVPN with BBC iPlayer risk-free. You can claim a full refund within the guarantee period if you’re not completely satisfied.

Start Watching BBC iPlayer

Quick Guide: How to Watch BBC iPlayer in China in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Download a VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN because it works reliably in China and easily unblocks BBC iPlayer from anywhere with its UK servers.
  2. Connect to a server in the UK. BBC iPlayer only works in the UK, so you need to connect to a UK server wherever you are.
  3. Start watching BBC iPlayer. Go to BBC iPlayer’s website, log in, and enjoy watching your favorite shows from China.

Watch iPlayer With ExpressVPN

Why You Need a VPN to Watch BBC iPlayer in China

BBC iPlayer is geo-restricted to the UK only due to licensing and broadcasting agreements. This means that you have to be located in the UK if you want to watch any iPlayer content. The platform automatically recognizes your location from your IP address and thus, regulates whether you can access it or not. However, with a VPN, you can virtually change your location and appear as if you’re actually in the UK.

A VPN gives you a new IP address while hiding your real one by redirecting your traffic through one of its own servers. To access your iPlayer account from China, you need to connect to a UK server so that it seems like you’re browsing the internet from the UK.

Additionally, the platform is blocked in China, so your VPN has to have some additional features designed to bypass tough firewalls. The Great Firewall heavily restricts internet use and blocks most VPNs that are non-government-approved. That’s why not all VPNs work in China, so I prepared a list of ones that do. Our team there regularly tests these VPNs to make sure they work reliably. They also test them with every streaming platform, including iPlayer, and all VPNs mentioned below easily unblocked the platform from China.

Watch BBC iPlayer Now

Best VPNs to Watch BBC iPlayer in China in 2023

Important! Note that only government-approved VPNs are permitted in China. However, the country usually goes after the VPN technology instead of the users. No tourists have been fined for using a VPN there, but you should still proceed with caution.

1. ExpressVPN — The Best Overall To Watch iPlayer in China

  • 3,000 obfuscated servers in 94 countries, including 5 UK server locations
  • Superfast speeds
  • 5 simultaneous device connections
  • Can unblock: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Vudu, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more
ExpressVPN Offer February 2023: For a limited time only, you can get an ExpressVPN subscription for up to 49% off! Don't miss out!

All of ExpressVPN’s servers are obfuscated, which means they are tailored to bypass tough firewalls. Just make sure that you keep the protocol settings on “Automatic” as they’re set by default. Obfuscated servers scramble your traffic, thus hiding the fact that you’re using a VPN. All UK servers I tested reliably unblocked BBC iPlayer. Additionally, its Wembley server location is specialized for use in China. Our testers there connected to it and reported that it easily bypassed the platform’s geoblocks.

Its speeds are lightning-fast, so you’ll be able to watch BBC iPlayer from China without any lag. I tested 3 of ExpressVPN’s UK servers and recorded an average speed of 25.1 Mbps, which was just a 9% drop from my base speed of 27.56 Mbps. I was more than satisfied since VPNs usually slow down your speeds by more than 20%. So, even if your base speeds are low like mine, you can still watch your favorite iPlayer content in UHD, which requires 25 Mbps.

A screenshot showing that ExpressVPN's Wembley server unblocked BBC iPlayerThe China-specialized Wembley, UK server easily unblocked BBC iPlayer

ExpressVPN comes equipped with the strongest security features that you need to use the VPN in China. These include AES 256-bit encryption, IPv6/DNS leak protection, and a kill switch. The encryption keeps your personal data (like your iPlayer’s password) secure. The kill switch and the leak protection ensure that your real IP address is hidden at all times.

I tested the kill switch by connecting to different servers consecutively. My internet connection was cut in between each reconnection, which means the feature worked as it should. As for the leak protection, I conducted tests on 5 of ExpressVPN’s servers using, and my real IP was never visible.

Not only that, but it also has a strict no-logs policy, which means that none of your data will be recorded or stored on its servers. That way, no one can get their hands (or eyes) on your personal information. I thoroughly checked its privacy policy to make sure that ExpressVPN doesn’t collect any identifiable data.

There’s just one downside to ExpressVPN — its subscriptions prices are slightly on the expensive end. The cheapest one for a long-term plan is $6.67/month. However, at the moment, you can get a 49% discount if you want to save on your subscription. I even got a couple of months free when I subscribed.

It also has a 30-day money-back guarantee that lets you test it risk-free. If it doesn’t work for you, you can claim a full refund. ExpressVPN’s guarantee is trustworthy and legitimate. I tested it by contacting support through the 24/7 live chat. They replied in seconds, and all I had to do was answer some customer-satisfaction questions. My request was approved, and in just 2 days, I got all my money back in my bank account.

Watch iPlayer With ExpressVPN

2. PrivateVPN — Stealth VPN Bypasses the Firewall and iPlayer’s Restrictions

  • Stealth VPN feature designed to bypass tough firewalls
  • 200 servers in 63 countries, including the UK
  • AES 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and IPv6/DNS leak protection
  • Can unblock: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Vudu, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, and more

PrivateVPN’s Stealth VPN feature is designed to bypass tough internet restrictions, like China’s Great Firewall. This feature hides the fact that you’re using a VPN, so it’s hard for the firewall to detect and block you. It is also great for getting around BBC iPlayer’s geo-restrictions. Our teammates in China highly recommend using Stealth VPN at all times while you’re in the country. I tested 2 UK servers, and both unblocked iPlayer, so I easily accessed my account when I was abroad.

A screenshot showing that PrivateVPN's London server unblocked BBC iPlayerPrivateVPN’s London server let me watch Killing Eve without any disconnections

Its app is very easy to use, no matter whether you’re an experienced VPN user or a beginner. You can quickly get the hang of it and use it to watch your favorite BBC iPlayer content in China. The app is very well organized into “Simple View” and “Advanced View.” The first one, as its name suggests, consists of the simplest basic features that let you connect to a certain server. In its “Advanced View,” you can find all the advanced security settings, including Stealth VPN. To turn it on, all you have to do is toggle the feature on — it takes just 1 click.

PrivateVPN’s drawback is that its server network is not very large compared to the other VPNs on this list. Nevertheless, its servers work very well in China, and all the UK ones I tested reliably unblocked BBC iPlayer. Additionally, the tests I conducted on PrivateVPN’s UK servers showed that my speeds never went below 23.58 Mbps. This was an acceptable 15% drop from my base speed, which let me stream in HD quality.

Its prices are reasonable — you can get a long-term plan for just $2/month. All plans come with the same features, so a yearly plan is always the least expensive option in the long run. I even got 85% off when I signed up for it.

PrivateVPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if you want to try it out with BBC iPlayer. I tested it by sending a request via email and providing my reason. Then, I just had to wait for a confirmation. Once all that was done, I received all my money back on my credit card in 4 days.

Watch iPlayer With PrivateVPN

3. — UK Streaming Server Location to Watch BBC iPlayer From China

  • 2,100 servers in 77 countries, including a UK streaming-optimized location
  • No-logs policy
  • 10 simultaneous device connections
  • Can unblock: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Vudu, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, and more offers a decent-sized server network of 2,100 servers, including a streaming-optimized location in the UK. This special server is designed so that you can reliably bypass the geo-restrictions of UK streaming platforms. I tested with BBC iPlayer when I was traveling abroad, and it easily unblocked the platform. There weren’t any disconnections while I watched EastEnders for long periods. You can find the streaming servers in a separate tab. Additionally, it lets you sort the servers by country or by ping, making it very easy to find a fast one.

A screenshot showing that hideme VPN unblocked BBC iPlayer with its UK serverThis streaming-optimized location easily unblocked BBC iPlayer during my tests also comes equipped with robust security features designed to bypass China’s Great Firewall. These include AES 256-bit encryption and a kill switch — the former ensures your data is unreadable to third parties, and the latter keeps your IP from being exposed. It also offers a Multihop feature developed to get around restricted networks. It lets you tunnel your traffic through more than just 1 server. That way, you get an additional layer of security while you’re in China, so our team of testers there highly recommends using this feature.

However, didn’t do well in my speed tests as ExpressVPN did. While testing’s UK servers, the drop was 35% — from my base speed of 27.56 Mbps, it came down to an average of 17.66 Mbps. However, that was still enough for watching iPlayer in HD quality, which requires only 5 Mbps.

It offers various plans — the one with the lowest price costs just $2.43/month, and I even got 76% when I subscribed. They all come with the same features. It also has a free plan, but unfortunately, it only offers 5 server locations (none in the UK). Additionally, the free plan doesn’t come with streaming support, so you won’t be able to watch BBC iPlayer in China with it anyway.

Its paid plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee that lets you test risk-free. The guarantee is a no-questions-asked one, so all I had to do was send its support team an email with my refund request. Shortly, they accepted it, and I got all my money back in 5 days.

Watch iPlayer With

FAQs on Watching BBC iPlayer in China With a VPN

On which devices can I watch BBC iPlayer in China?

You can watch BBC iPlayer on PCs, laptops, smartphones, smart TVs, gaming consoles, streaming devices, or smart HD displays like Echo Show.

However, BBC iPlayer is not available in China for 2 reasons: it is geo-restricted to the UK, and the Great Firewall blocks it. So, if you want to access your BBC iPlayer account from China, you need to use a good VPN. By connecting to a server in the UK, you can watch BBC iPlayer in China on any of the above-mentioned devices.

Just make sure that your VPN is compatible with the devices that you want to use. All VPNs on my list have native apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. Additionally, they’re compatible with Apple TV, PlayStation, Roku, and many other devices where you can watch iPlayer content.

Can BBC iPlayer detect my VPN while I’m in China?

Yes, if the VPN you’re using either doesn’t work in China or with iPlayer (or both). It’s very important that you choose a reliable VPN that unblocks BBC iPlayer in China. The streaming platform is getting better at detecting VPNs, especially those that can’t keep up with the VPN-blocking technologies. These also include free VPNs, which not only have a hard time unblocking BBC iPlayer, but the majority also don’t work in China.

What should I do if I can’t access BBC iPlayer in China with my VPN?

First, make sure that you’re using a reliable VPN that is proven to work in China, and that unblocks BBC iPlayer. The ones from my list have all been tested and work reliably in China and with BBC iPlayer.

If you can’t access the platform with a VPN that you already bought, there are a couple of solutions:

  • Connect to a different server. You can either connect to another UK server that your VPN offers or re-connect to the same one. Make sure that you choose an obfuscated UK server while in China and keep your obfuscation features on at all times.
  • Change your internet connection. If you’re connected to your 4G or 5G network, try connecting to your WiFi instead.
  • Contact your VPN’s support team. Let them know about your issues with the VPN, and they’ll give you different solutions to make the VPN work with iPlayer.
  • Clear cache and cookies on your browser. You can also use Incognito in combination with this.
  • Update your VPN app. This is important so that your software is up-to-date and running smoothly.
Pro Tip: Get a VPN that offers a trustworthy money-back guarantee, so you can test it out risk-free for a set period with BBC iPlayer before traveling to China. If you think it’s not for you, you can easily claim a full refund.

Is it illegal to watch BBC iPlayer in China with a VPN?

No, but it’s complicated. Only government-approved VPNs are permitted in China. Nevertheless, the country goes after the VPN technology. There haven’t been any cases of tourists being penalized for using any VPN there. The VPNs approved by government are highly monitored, so they're bad for your privacy. Instead, I suggest using a secure VPN that doesn't log any of your data. All the VPNs I listed above are safe, and can bypass the Great Firewall as well as BBC iPlayer's geo-restrictions.

Can I use a Smart DNS proxy to watch iPlayer in China?

No, you can’t because most of them get easily detected by iPlayer and the Great Firewall. What’s more, they don’t offer encryption or obfuscation features, so they’re not suitable for use in China. A full-fledged VPN with strong security features is always a better option. It keeps all your data protected and reliably bypasses iPlayer’s geoblocks from anywhere, including China.

Try ExpressVPN Risk-Free

Start Watching BBC iPlayer in China Now

BBC iPlayer’s content is restricted to the UK only, so you can’t watch it when you’re abroad. That’s where VPNs come in handy. They can virtually change your location to the UK so you can watch your favorite iPlayer shows when traveling. Additionally, the platform is blocked in China due to the restrictions imposed by its Great Firewall. So, your VPN choice is limited since not all of them work there.

All of the VPNs on this list work in China and unblock iPlayer, but the one I recommend the most is ExpressVPN. All of its servers (including the UK ones) are obfuscated, and its speeds are ultra-fast, so you can watch UHD content on BBC iPlayer. It is also backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee that lets you try ExpressVPN out risk-free. If you decide it’s not for you, you can easily get a full refund.

To summarize, the best VPNs for watching BBC iPlayer in China are…

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About the Author

Kristina Joshevska is a content writer with a keen interest in cybersecurity and tech-related topics. She enjoys every aspect of writing and strives for content that is well-researched and error-free.

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