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How to Use Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN in China in 2022

Getting PIA up and running in China is a little tricky. China’s strict censorship and VPN blocks make it really difficult to get VPNs working there.

Private Internet Access’ customer support told me that it’s not guaranteed to work there. My research and tests confirm this; it’s very unreliable in China. However, I’ve found a few ways to get PIA to work if you’ve already subscribed.

There are a handful of VPNs that work reliably in China. I recommend ExpressVPN, which easily bypasses the Great Firewall and its VPN blocks. You can try ExpressVPN risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Use ExpressVPN in China Today

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

  1. Download PIA. Download PIA before arriving in China.
  2. Connect to a server close to China using the WireGuard protocol. You’ll have the best speeds by connecting to a server close to China. PIA’s WireGuard protocol allows you to use it in China.
  3. Start using PIA in China! You can now access your favorite websites and stream foreign content in China.

NOTE: PIA’s customer support told me they couldn’t guarantee it would work in China. I recommend ExpressVPN instead since it can bypass China’s VPN blocks.

Use ExpressVPN in China

Does PIA Work in China?

PIA’s customer service confirmed there is no guarantee that PIA works there due to China’s aggressive blocks. China’s government uses a strong firewall and VPN blocks to regulate domestic internet usage.

Screenshot of PIA's customer support saying they can't guarantee it will work in China

Due to China’s VPN blocks, many VPNs don’t work there

PIA also explains that it’s unlikely to work in other regions with strong geoblocks or restrictions. High censorship countries work hard to ensure that VPNs won’t work. However, you need a VPN in these regions to unblock websites and keep you safe from third-party surveillance.

VPNs protect you by encrypting your browsing activity so the Chinese government and your ISP can’t see what you’re doing online. This preserves your privacy and helps you to bypass the Great Firewall so you can access blocked sites, like Facebook and Youtube.

PIA's FAQ section addresses why PIA might not work in China

Countries with high censorship block VPN activity

To work reliably in China, your VPN needs to use strong obfuscation so that the Firewall can’t tell you’re using it. Because of this, PIA doesn’t typically work in China. However, I have found and tried out some troubleshooting tips.

A handful of VPNs do successfully work in China. So, I recommend using a more reliable one, like ExpressVPN, which uses strong obfuscation to ensure it can overcome China’s Great Firewall.

Try ExpressVPN Today

Best VPNs for China in 2022

1. ExpressVPN — Superfast Speeds in China

  • Lightning-fast speeds
  • Obfuscated servers
  • Can be downloaded within China
  • Can unblock: Facebook, Netflix, Whatsapp, The New York Times, YouTube, Twitter, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more
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ExpressVPN’s speeds are the fastest of any VPN I’ve tested. This is important when you’re in China since the obfuscation you need to bypass the Firewall can slow your connection down. Even connecting to long-distance servers in New York, my speeds were excellent. It’s normal to lose 10-20% of your speed using a VPN, but with ExpressVPN, my speed loss was less than 7%.

ExpressVPN speed test connected to long-distance servers

I was really impressed with ExpressVPN’s fast speeds

It also has a website that you can access while in China, which you won’t find with many other VPNs. China blocks VPN websites. Having a page that works in China means that if you need to re-download the app or change anything in your account while in China, you can do this easily.

You can bypass China’s VPN block easily with ExpressVPN’s obfuscated servers. Obfuscation is what makes VPNs work in China. These are specialized VPN servers that hide the fact you’re using a VPN. With obfuscated servers, you can use VPNs in heavily restricted areas.

It also uses DNS and IP leak protection. Without these, your Chinese ISP can see that you’re accessing banned sites and block you. I performed a leak test, and my IP address, activity, and location were kept safe. Also, its Network Lock feature temporarily stops your internet connection if your VPN is interrupted so that none of your data is exposed while it reconnects.

ExpressVPN also uses TrustedServer technology, ensuring all information on its servers is deleted after each reboot. So the government can’t request your logs or see that you’ve been accessing blocked sites.

The only downside is that ExpressVPN is quite expensive. However, it offers regular discounts, and I saved 49%with its latest discount.

You can sign up for ExpressVPN for as little as $6.67/month. It also allows you to pay using cryptocurrencies, which adds even more anonymity when using it in China.

You can try ExpressVPN risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee. I tested its refund policy by claiming my money back by contacting its customer support, and I had the money back in my account in 3 days.

Use ExpressVPN in China Now

2. Astrill VPN — StealthVPN and SmartMode to Bypass China’s VPN Block

  • Strong obfuscation
  • China-optimized servers
  • Can be downloaded within China
  • Can unblock: Facebook, Netflix, Whatsapp, The New York Times, YouTube, Twitter, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more

Astrill VPN’s StealthVPN protocol obfuscates your VPN traffic, which allows you to bypass China’s VPN blocks. The Firewall inspects your traffic’s metadata to see if you’re using a VPN. By changing how its metadata appears, Astrill VPN bypasses this, and your VPN won't get blocked.

Its Smart Mode feature allows you to use a local IP address to browse locally and an international IP for accessing blocked content. Therefore, you can still access local content safely, like your online banking. This makes it even harder for you to be identified in China since you’re using your original IP address. I think this is a great feature as you can surf the internet with peace of mind.

With its ‘Supercharged’ China-optimized servers, you can dodge censorship with enhanced speeds. It has servers in Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan. I tested Astrill VPN’s China-optimized servers, and I didn’t experience any leaks using the optimized servers — my IP address, ISP, and location remained hidden.

Like ExpressVPN, Astrill VPN also has a dedicated website you can access in China. This means you have access to all information on its website and its 24/7 chat support. It also means you can download Astrill VPN’s app when you’re in China if you hadn’t downloaded it beforehand. I confirmed this by talking to Astrill VPN’s customer support.

Screenshot of AstrillVPN's chat agent confirming that it works in China

A dedicated website in China means you can download the app or access customer support while in China

The downside to Astrill VPN is that I don’t find it very beginner-friendly or easy to use. However, I found that it has detailed video tutorials for each of its apps on its website, so you can watch these if you’re struggling to get used to the apps.

While its monthly plans are a little expensive, you can save a lot by signing up for its long-term plans, with prices starting from $12.50/month. Plus, I got a 50% discount when I signed up using its current promotion.

Astrill VPN is one of the few that doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee. After checking its refund policy, I found out that if you want to try it, you need to choose its shortest plan.

Use Astrill VPN in China Now

3. VyprVPN — Strong Security Features for Private Browsing in China

  • Strong security features
  • Encryption to disguise your activity
  • Fast speeds
  • Can unblock: Facebook, Netflix, Whatsapp, The New York Times, YouTube, Twitter, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more

VyprVPN has robust security and privacy features to protect you in China. Its kill switch cuts off your internet if you lose connection to the VPN, so your data can’t be leaked.

It also offers DNS and leak protection. While testing this, I had no IP, DNS, WebRTC, or IPv6 leaks. This means you avoid any chances of your real location or personal data being visible. Plus, it has a strict no-log policy and is very clear about its privacy policy.

VyprVPN uses Chameleon™ technology to disguise your activity. Chameleon makes your VPN activity look like regular traffic, so it’s harder for the Great Firewall to detect and block.

It uses this with its Smart IP feature, which works by changing the server IP periodically. This makes it harder for the government to detect you’re using a VPN.

VyprVPN also has fast speeds. While I found its speeds to be a little inconsistent during my tests, servers closer to my location gave me impressive speeds. VyprVPN’s Japanese servers give you the best speeds when using it in China.

Screenshot of VyprVPN's app enabling Chameleon protocol that allows you to bypass China's censorship easily

Enable VyprVPN's Chameleon technology to make you invisible and easily bypass China's censorship

The downside is that VyprVPN doesn’t accept cryptocurrency, unlike Astrill VPN and ExpressVPN. I prefer this as a payment method in China as it adds an extra layer of anonymity. However, you can pay with credit cards, PayPal, and Amazon Pay.

It’s not the cheapest VPN to sign up for on the monthly plan, but its annual plan only costs $8.33/month. Plus, it offers good discounts, so you can save 44% by taking advantage of its latest discount.

Luckily, you can also try VyprVPN risk-free since it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. I tested this to make sure it was genuine, and the money was back in my account later that week.

Use VyprVPN in China Now

How to Set up PIA to Use in China

Use PIA’s OpenVPN Connection

One of the ways to get PIA to work is by using its OpenVPN Connection. OpenVPN works by establishing a secure connection between your VPN client and server, making you undetectable. This means you can overcome China’s VPN block.

This is easy to do by selecting it through your Account Settings > Protocols > OpenVPN.

Screenshot of how to enable PIA's OpenVPN's protocol to work in China

PIA’s OpenVPN protocol allows you to use it in China

Use PIA’s WireGuard Protocol

Recently, PIA’s most recommended method is its new WireGuard Protocol. When I contacted its chat support, this was the way the agent recommended getting PIA to work in China. WireGuard’s efficient code base means there are fewer opportunities for leaks.

The WireGuard Protocol is easy to use by simply going to your Account Settings > Protocols > WireGuard.

Screenshot of how to enable PIA's WireGuard protocol to work in China

You can enable PIA’s WireGuard protocol to work in China

Manual Configuration

PIA recommends manual configuration if the OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols haven’t worked.

  1. Download PIA VPN and the OpenVPN Connect app. You need both to do this.
  2. Go to the customer control panel in your PIA account.
  3. Select Go to OpenVPN Generator in PIA’s Settings.
  4. Select the version of OpenVPN Connect you are using. Select your chosen platform and select China as the region.
  5. Select the port. PIA recommends using Port TCP/ 443.
  6. Select Use IP and press Generate. Select Download at the pop-up.
  7. Import the file to the OpenVPN Connect app. This depends on the device you’re using.
  8. Add the file in the OpenVPN Connect app.
  9. Start using PIA in China by connecting to your imported file.
    How to manually reconfigure to get PIA to working in China

    Use manual configuration as the last resort if the OpenVPN or WireGuard protocol doesn’t work

    Use the OpenVPN Connect application to get PIA to work in China

    The OpenVPN Connect app lets you configure the files manually to get PIA working in China

Try PIA Risk-Free Now

FAQs on Using a VPN in China

What is the best VPN for China?

Out of all the VPNs I tested, ExpressVPN was the best to use in China. ExpressVPN reliably works in China, and it doesn’t require complicated configurations. Plus, it has a Chinese website that allows you to download the app in China.

Are VPNs legal in China?

China bans all non-government-approved VPNs, and using them is considered a crime there. China has many laws in place to restrict internet access. However, there is a way to overcome China’s VPN ban.

The ban on VPNs seems to be more geared toward large companies and corporations than individuals. Plus, there have been no instances of tourists facing punishment for using a VPN.

My team and I don’t condone using a VPN with illegal intentions. You should always make yourself aware of the laws of the country you’re in.

Can I use a free VPN for China?

Most free VPNs don’t work in China. The major streaming sites block most free VPNs, and they don’t have the most robust security features.

The VPNs on my list work reliably in China, so I recommend using one of these.

Can I watch Netflix with a VPN in China?

Yes, you can. A VPN lets you access global Netflix libraries while you’re in China. Each of the VPNs on this list can successfully unblock Netflix.

Can you access Chinese content with a VPN?

Yes. I recommend using ExpressVPN to access Chinese content no matter where you are. When I used ExpressVPN to get a Chinese IP address, I could access websites like CNTV, V.Baidu, and IQiyi.

Just connect to a Chinese server using your VPN to access Chinese content wherever you are.

What’s Important When Choosing a VPN to Use In China?

When using a VPN in China, there are some really important features you should make sure it has. These are:

  • Advanced security features
  • Fast speeds
  • Ability to access banned content
  • Servers in or close to China
  • Functioning website in China
  • Generous money-back guarantee
  • Anonymous payment methods

Try ExpressVPN Risk-Free Now

Start Using a VPN in China Now

Many VPNs simply don’t work in China, and PIA isn’t guaranteed to work there. While there are ways around getting PIA working in China, several VPNs work reliably there.

Any of the VPNs on this list allow you to browse foreign websites, stream global content and use social media apps in China.

I recommend ExpressVPN because of its obfuscated servers that make it easy to bypass China’s VPN block.

To summarize, the best VPNs for China are…


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

About the Author

Keira is a professional technology writer and cybersecurity enthusiast. She is a supporter of digital freedom and online privacy.

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