Best Chinese VPN Services 2020: Tested and Secure for Android and iPhone Devices
China’s digital censorship is the stuff of legends as well as the butt of internet humor. Using a set of techniques and tools known as the “Great Firewall of China”, China has been able to keep an Orwellian overwatch on what information gets out and in the country.
However, the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought these techniques under the microscope, with China’s initial attempts to hide and bury information related to the virus being considered an important factor in its wild spread.
Keeping that in mind, having unfiltered access to information and news has literally become a matter of life and death. The best way to evade China’s totalitarian digital antics is still via a VPN.
While a lot of VPNs promise users seamless service in China, in our experience few can match the performance and reputation that Ivacy offers. Having this service could not only keep you updated on unbiased news regarding COVID-19 but also ensure you’re aware of any future potential dangers.
List of VPNs to Access Chinese Content
- Ivacy VPN: 6 Reliable Chinese Servers | Best VPN for China | Best Price: $2.25/mo .
- PureVPN: 12 Best China VPN Servers (Shanghai & Beijing) | Best Price: $2.91/mo .
- ExpressVPN: Best VPN Service for China to Bypass GFW | Best Price: $6.67/mo .
- Surfshark: 1040 Servers in 61 Countries | Affordable VPN at just $1.99/mo .
- TorGuard: Strong Security and Protection $4.16/mo.
How Does China Block Sites and VPNs via GFW?
In an attempt to strengthen Cybersecurity, the Chinese Government has passed several controversial laws; stifling political dissent, affecting communication technologies, the formation of international entities, eliminating “freedom of speech”, and affecting areas of academia to business and policymaking.
The country wants zero reliance on anything “outsider” and even takes action against services that could bypass their laws i.e. VPN China services. If you’re like me, this could trigger some curiosity, as to how is China doing this.
Below I dissect the many methods of China’s censorship machine, diving into the technology behind the infamous “Great Firewall” a.k.a. GFW:
Let me warn you, things do get quite technical. I’ll try my best though to simplify it as much as possible…
5 Best VPNs for Chinese Residents and Expats
To evade online privacy and internet freedom related issues in the People’s Republic of China, these top 5 Chinese VPNs should prove incredibly useful.
1. Ivacy VPN: 1000 Servers in 100 Countries (6 Chinese Servers)
Pros: 5 simultaneous connections + Unblocks all streaming platforms + Chinese mirror websites are available.
IvacyPrime app for China. Split Tunneling (Ivacy actually created the feature) and Automatic Kill Switch. Available on iOS, Mac, Windows, and Android.
Final Verdict: Ivacy is a leader in the marketplace of VPNs, creating the Split Tunneling feature, located away from Internet Enemy Jurisdictions, and even winning awards as the Fastest VPN several times.
It has a verified no-logging policy and has not been caught even once revealing any data to government authorities. The best part of all: they are the only VPN to offer a dedicated app for Chinese residents, called IvacyPrime!
Users in China can download IvacyPrime from two dedicated Chinese VPN pages:
How to Use Ivacy in China
To defeat the censorship in China, Ivacy offers the most functionalities. It offers a native app for its Chinese audience, giving it an edge over others in the marketplace.
This app can run on your Ivacy premium subscriptions too, but you will have to download it separately by visiting this mirror website link.
Currently, you have dedicated Chinese apps for Windows, Android, and Mac.
As you can see below, the IvacyPrime has a separate installation menu. It is not the app you will download normally through the official website, but rather a tweaked version.
It gives Chinese residents the options of unblocking social websites and streaming platforms directly from within the app, so they do not even have to open the browser and enter the URL:
As part of my favorite features for China, if you click on the “gear” icon and go to “Connections”, Ivacy even presents you with the option to manually change the port.
If the IvacyPrime app ever stops working in China. You can contact Ivacy’s support team and request them to give a working port for either the OpenVPN (TCP or UDP) protocol.
The second you enter the recommended port by the support team, your IvacyPrime app will start working once again, allowing you to unblock websites seamlessly, within the country.
2. PureVPN: 2000 Servers in 140 Countries (12 Chinese Servers)
Based in Hong Kong (away from 5, 9, and 14 Eyes Alliances), PureVPN is another reliable service for circumventing geo-restrictions in China.
The provider offers an undefeatable StealthVPN feature, which enables you to tunnel all sites and connect to servers in different countries for access in China.
Users in China can download PureVPN’s dedicated apps for different devices from the links below:
How to Use PureVPN in China
If you want to access PureVPNs obfuscated servers, you will have to use their “Internet Freedom” mode. You can activate it by following the easy steps below:
- Install the PureVPN Windows app.
- Enter the login details inside the app.
- Click on “Select Mode” from the top right corner.
- Select “Internet Freedom” from the list of options.
- Go to “App Settings” and select the “UDP” protocol.
- Select “Advanced options” and click on “Multi-Port”.
- Tick the “Activate Multi Port” option and select “Manual”.
- Enter any from the ports below one by one.
- Connect to any servers from the US, UK, Hong Kong, Singapore.
3. ExpressVPN: 3000 Servers in 94 Countries (0 Chinese Servers)
ExpressVPN is one of the leading privacy tools in the marketplace, offering unmatched security and privacy to users around the world. It is away from “Internet Enemy” jurisdictions.
The provider even offers a verified zero logs policy, which even the Turkish Authorities could not break, during an investigation concerning the assassination of the Russian Ambassador of Turkey.
Users in China can download ExpressVPN from their dedicated Chinese page here.
How to Use ExpressVPN China
In order to bypass the GFW using ExpressVPN, you will need to connect to their StealthVPN servers in Hong Kong, specifically designed to defeat censorship in China:
- Download the ExpressVPN Windows app.
- Log into your account and enter the activation code.
- Connect to servers designated for China Users.
- For instance, Hong Kong – 2 uses Obfuscation.
- Enjoy bypassing VPN blocks!.
4. Surfshark: 1040 Servers in 61 Countries (0 Chinese Servers)
Based in the British Virgin Islands, Surfshark just like the names above is located in a safe jurisdiction, where user privacy is respected and protected.
The newcomer has become quite famous in a short time, due to its budget-friendly deals and ability to unblock VoDs and bypassing the GFW in China. Their apps and quite user-friendly too.
Users in China can download ExpressVPN from their dedicated Chinese page here.
5. TorGuard: 3000 Servers in 55 Countries (0 Chinese Servers)
Despite being based in the US, TorGuard tends to be quite a resilient service, offering users protection from the government’s mandatory data retention.
There have been zero instances of the provider cooperating with security agencies. Their security is unmatched and the availability of dedicated IPs further boosts its credibility.
Supports SOCKS5/SSH/HTTP/SSL. MITM attack protection. Secure G/PGP encryption. Perfect forward secrecy available. Dedicated IP addresses!
Alternatives to Using a VPN in China
It is hard to doubt the usefulness of VPNs, particularly for unblocking VoD services and engaging in P2P/Torrenting. These tools are the epitome of enjoying anonymity.
Especially, in countries like China, where “The Great Firewall” bans access to all foreign services. Does this mean you should rely on VPNs entirely? Not necessarily!
These are two alternatives you can use to receive internet freedom in China:
Data-Roaming with a Foreign SIM Card
Buy a data-roaming SIM from any foreign country or simply from Hong Kong. You can find many SIM cards with data roaming activated for as low as $19.99.
These SIMs have their own data plans. Usually, they come with a 1.5GB data limitation. However, you can opt for a more suitable plan, if it suits your budget.
One of the best China Data SIMs I recommend is from a company called GMHK. You can get the SIM from this eBay link here for $19.99. Shipping costs may add $5.99.
Simply add the SIM in your phone and enjoy unblocking all your favorite apps/websites/services without any hassle!
Created by a Chinese programmer called “Clowwindy”, the ShadowSocks Proxy is an open-source encrypted proxy project. It is used very commonly in mainland China.
This because of its ability to anonymize your network. Unlike other proxies, ShadowSocks utilizes encryption. This allows users from anywhere worldwide to bypass firewalls
The best part of all: you do not have to pay a single penny for using the ShadowSocks Proxy. You can try it by clicking here.
States in China that Do Not Require a VPN Service
Hong Kong and Macau are famous destinations for many, thanks to their amazing nightlife, modern architecture, vibrant lifestyle, and. modern architecture.
At the same time, they exist as the safest locations in terms of internet censorship laws. Where China blocks all access to the outside world, Hong Kong and Macau believe in a FREE lifestyle.
Residents of both states do not have to face the torment of a walled-off internet. However, this still does not mean that the Government or Communist Party is not watching your every move.
Also, there is not much time until the agreement between both states with China regarding internet laws and censorship changes. So, it is still vital to invest in reliable VPN solutions.
How to Protect Yourself from Government Surveillance in China
The “Great Firewall of China” has amassed a great reputation for being incredibly hard to penetrate, preventing users within the country from accessing services in other countries.
The Government tries its best in controlling what content is available for seeing to its citizens. In light of this, they indulge in internet surveillance activities. Follow the steps below to protect yourself:
- Keep All Data Off the Cloud – All your passwords, documents, and pictures could become part of the internet data lump. Try moving all your personal information to a secure external hard drive or USB, preferably encrypted.
- Use End-to-End Encryption –For protecting all your private conversations, it is crucial to use end-to-end encryption. One of the most famous tools that offer this feature is “off-the-record (OTR) messaging).
- Add Strong Passwords to All Accounts –Whether it’s your email, social media, or any other account, make sure to always keep strong passwords with a mix of alphabets, numbers, and various characters.
- Use VPN over Tor Configuration –Nothing beats the VPN over Tor configuration by adding an extra layer of privacy! It is almost impossible to trace your identity, as your network passes thousands of nodes around the world.
- Use Anti-Virus/Malware Software –Many anti-virus and malware solutions come equipped with advanced tools and threat detection systems that disable the network upon identifying any kind of attack.
Wrapping Things Up
Hosting the most powerful censorship regime in the world, China is a tough country to live in. Though there are alternatives to all websites/services blocked, it is highly irritating not to be able to access the ones you actually want to.
With all the factors taken into consideration, I highly recommend Chinese netizens to sign up with Ivacy to bypass the Great Firewall. As an alternative, I would suggest them to go for the infamous Hong Kong provider, PureVPN.
I strive to be as accurate as possible with the complexities of the “Great Firewall”. Nevertheless, do feel free to give your own suggestions about the best China VPNor share your experience with any of the providers mentioned above.