We’ll start by saying this: as of October 2020, it is still possible to connect to a VPN in China. It has been difficult to connect at times, but indeed, it is possible.
Even though China is found among countries that have banned the use of VPN service, things aren’t that simple. While many would say that VPNs are illegal there, others claim that you can use VPNs without any restrictions. As usual, the right answer lies somewhere in the middle.
If you’ve had to travel to China in the last few years – either for leisure or work- you’ll be aware of how tightly restricted the country continues to keep its internet – and how it’s threatening residents of Hong Kong as well.
For this reason, getting the best VPN for China has become so critical for visitors and citizens to obtain access to limited content. And we’re not talking about some ambiguous websites that you wouldn’t use anyway – China has blocked powerhouses such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Netflix, and much more.
Is it Illegal to Use a VPN in China?
Since China has blocked a lot of VPN services, many providers are not located there. However, some VPN providers can go around the Great Firewall unnoticed. But are they legal? The simplest answer is "sort of."
VPNs have not been publicly declared illegal, but many of them are banned in China, while the government keeps threatening to ban all VPN providers for good.
As we know, the Chinese government has banned the use of those VPN services not approved by the officials (VPNs must offer government backdoor access in order to be approved, which renders them unsafe). However, this law is generally available for corporations and companies rather than individuals.
What about guests who bring VPNs for China? At the moment, it seems like you can use a VPN while visiting China. But that doesn't mean you won't face any trouble if you have one as some visitors entering the Xinjiang region have mentioned that officials have introduced surveillance apps on their phones.
If you happen to be in China, you probably noticed a slower connection, especially when trying to connect to sites hosted outside the region. Even in metropolitan cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, the download speed will be incredibly slow.
A VPN will improve your internet speed by connecting to the server from the local location, especially when you're using local news sites or searching for events on your local location.
Access Sites Locally
Most of the sites are blocked by the site when the originating IP address is from China. Even though this is done for security purposes, it will limit you as an expat to gain access even if it is not restricted in China.
The only possible way to access such sites is to replace your current IP address, which is VPN's whole purpose. Before buying a VPN service, ensure you can access the local server from your country so that you access a local site that doesn't permit external IPs.
Last but not least, if you happen to look everywhere on the internet without any actual need, then watch out for troubles. When you do that, you're basically tempting the troubles by visiting mysterious Chinese websites with plenty of automatic downloads and popups.
A VPN will help you encrypt your data through a secure channel – hindering third parties from viewing it. That's especially beneficial when you are accessing the bank account from your country or paying through a credit card.