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vpnMentor was established in 2014 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering 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 the independent, 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.
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vpnMentor was established in 2014 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering 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 the independent, 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.

Why VPNs Are Illegal in China and How to Get Around It

Kristina Perunicic Updated on 7th February 2024 Managing Editor

Recently, VPNs were banned in China and are now considered a crime by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). This comes as a hindrance to residents of China that have been using VPNs as a method to access various blocked websites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Understanding the Background

Since VPNs are a subject to interference in the country’s internet connection, VPN providers need to be authorized. The MIIT has announced new rules for China’s VPN and cable regulations which are being implemented throughout 2018.

Rather than focusing on authorities working for multinational companies, Chinese administrators are focusing on companies providing VPN services to citizens of China.

Many publications in China, like the South China Morning Post, and beyond, like the Washington Post, implied that numerous legal VPNs providers are present in China. These providers are associated with state-owned enterprises that mostly allow banks and law firms – which pay substantial fees – to legally bypass the Great Firewall, also known as the nation’s largest sophisticated censorship system.

The government has ordered three of the country’s state-run phone carriers, which are China Mobile (860 million), China Unicom (268 million) and China Telecom (227 million), to implement a ban on companies operating on the mainland without a leased web-access line.

Although China controls most parts of the internet available to their citizens, use of a VPN disrupts its mission to accomplish “cyber sovereignty” inside its borders.

The reason behind the government blocking networking sites has to do with the highest level of political struggles and various parties using the internet as a battlefield.

If China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology successfully launches an internet crackdown to close all loopholes, the visitors won’t be able to access common websites blocked by the government. Along with social networks like Facebook and Twitter, international news sites like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal will also be blocked by the firewall of China.

VPNs are Used to Bypass China's Firewall

Within China's interconnected economy, VPNs hold significant importance and are vital for secure communication and worldwide connectivity. Foreign businesses operating in China also utilize VPNs to protect their corporate data and to communicate with their overseas headquarters.

Since the Chinese Government ensures both Apple and Android app stores remove VPN apps, its absence can not only disturb the economy of the nation. Beyond this, it also affects the number of remaining users and could also harm academics, software developers, and foreign businesses.

Due to the Great Firewall, Chinese IP addresses have difficulty in accessing foreign journals, and methods of communication with foreign universities are less adequate. All of which get in the way of China’s global communications.

Different types of international websites are blocked by the government of China. It includes social networking websites, apps, search engines, Media portals, work tools, and porn sites. Since almost all significant sites are blocked in China, VPNs play a vital role in Chinese IP addresses accessing globally popular websites such as Google+, Wikipedia, and many more. Keep in mind that using non-government-approved VPNs is illegal in China. However, there have been no publicly-reported cases of tourists being penalized by the Chinese government.

The Best VPNs That Still Work in China

Because of the VPN ban, it's extremely difficult to get a VPN while in China. However, there are a number of premium VPNs that can bypass the block if you download and install it before arriving in China.

China uses a number of methods to block VPN traffic, and only the best VPNs know how to evade it. Take into account that the use of non-government-approved VPNs is illegal in China. However, the common practice is that China fights VPNs by technologically blocking them.

Using a VPN can often lead to issues, thus highlighting the need for reliable, 24/7 customer service.

Important! VPNs in China can sometimes behave unpredictably. Even though any VPN might temporarily stop working there due to these conditions, the VPNs we've listed below have exhibited the most consistent performance.
Rank
Provider
Our Score
Discount
Visit Website
1
medal
9.9 /10
9.9 Our Score
Save 49%!
2
9.7 /10
9.7 Our Score
Save 59%!
3
9.5 /10
9.5 Our Score
Save 85%!

You can read more about these VPNs and what makes each one great for China in this article.

Other ways to Bypass the Block

A VPN is definitely the best way to unblock websites while in China. However, if you happen to already be stuck in China without a VPN, there are a few things you can do.

Switching to a new VPN provider that is not blocked or switching to a different IP address that isn’t blocked can also help to avoid VPN ban. Similarly, running a VPN server by an individual can provide a unique VPN IP address that isn’t blocked by the government.

Another potential solution to consider is changing your port number, as this could potentially be helpful.

We dive into every other way to bypass the Firewall if you're already in China in this article.

In summary, while China does block VPNs, there exist methods to circumvent these restrictions.

If you are traveling to China, purchasing a VPN that is known to work in China before arriving in probably the best solution. Also, it is common that the Chinese government blocks VPN technology instead of going after VPN users. There are no publicly-reported cases of tourists being penalized for using a VPN there, but you should still proceed with caution.

What are your thoughts on VPNs being illegal and ways to get around it?

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 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering 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 the independent, 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

Kristina Perunicic is a former editor for vpnMentor. She’s a cybersecurity expert with an interest in VPNs and their importance in the digital privacy landscape.

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