Is it Legal to Use a VPN in China in 2022?


One of the world’s most expansive and powerful censorship systems is thought to exist in China.

Coined as the “Great Firewall” is China’s collection of techniques used to restrict online speech, including website blocking, keyword filtering, social media censorship, and the detention of content posters that raise sensitive or political topics.

Although China controls most of the web access to its citizens, the best VPN to use in China undermines its quest to achieve “cyber sovereignty” within its borders. 

Cyber sovereignty is the goal. And this objective is driven by the need to control its constituents in the light of the intense political conflict, in which different parties use the internet as a battleground. As a result, visitors won’t be able to access popular websites that the government had blocked when China successfully launched a crackdown on the internet to close all loopholes.

Specifically, one cannot access social media sites like Facebook, Skype, Snapchat, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram. What’s worse is that work and educational apps such as Google Mail, Drive, Zoom, and many more are also banned.

The legality of VPNs in China 2022

Now the question among international travelers is: “Is it legal to use a VPN in China?” and if so,” What is the best VPN to use in China?”

The answer to the legality of VPNs in China is still a gray area. But we, at VPNranks, believe that it is not illegal but with conditions.

You see, everyone knows that if you want to connect to blocked sites in China, you need to use a VPN. But until now, why doesn’t China simply prohibit the use of VPNs?

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Every year, we read news about just how China has cracked down on VPN use, and it seems absurd that they don’t cut off VPNs entirely. Given the number of sites, gaming apps, and social media apps that are blocked in China, it should be simple to block VPNs as well.

So, why hasn’t China completely shut down VPNs? The answer is simple. VPNs are an essential component of doing business in the country. This is especially true for foreign companies that do business in China. VPNs protect the information that businesses send between China and the world.

But as told, the illegality, in our view, comes with conditions. For example, a different condition applies to individual users and corporate VPN users.

VPN in China: Is Personal Use Illegal?

Let’s begin with individual users. For individual or personal use of VPNs, for example, to access sites and platforms like Netflix or Facebook, there is a lot of uncertainty concerning the government’s stance on this one. Given that these sites are blocked, it follows that accessing them through digital tools such as VPNs is also prohibited. But they did not establish an express ban on this; we only read between the lines and implied accordingly.

Given this scenario, we advise that for personal VPN use, you must download them first before entering the country. Make sure that you already subscribe to a VPN beforehand and not just cram your way against the country’s Great Firewall.

By having a subscription already prepared, you can easily use VPN’s features to hide your identity and connect to sites like you normally do. If you only decide to sign up in China, this act is fatal to your cause as the country’s online sites would not allow you to do so.

While there have been reports of locals being imprisoned for using a VPN in politically sensitive areas of China, such as Tibet, these strict sanctions apply only to local Chinese and not to international tourists.

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I doubt a formal ruling on the legality of using circumvention tools to get around the Great Firewall has ever been made. The Chinese government didn’t even openly acknowledge that it blacklisted the Internet until fairly recently. Studies show that less than 3% of internet subscribers in highly censored markets (the same as China) utilize circumvention techniques, but even at 2%, with 450+ million Internet users in China, this is still 9 million users utilizing circumvention tools. But I’ve yet to hear of a case in which a charge has indeed been brought against an Internet user for “jumping off the Wall” using proxy servers, VPNs, TOR, etc.

A woman was sentenced to a lengthy prison term in November for inciting turmoil on a social media site -Twitter. In this case, she retweeted stuff her husband posted, mocking anti-Japanese nationalists by encouraging Netizens to strike the Japanese pavilion. However, no part of her charge related to using a circumvention tool, something that she had to have done to use Twitter.

VPN in China: Is Corporate Use Illegal?

What people didn’t realize was that China was extremely strict with businesses that used VPNs illegally. Businesses, you see, must obtain the government’s permission to use a VPN. They can’t simply use a Virtual private network because it’s required for business.

Long story short- it’s not illegal, but it must be authorized by the government. Corporate VPN providers must be authorized because they are subject to interference in the country’s internet connection. The  Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has announced new VPN and cable regulations for China, which will be implemented throughout 2018.

Moreover, many publications in China and elsewhere, such as the Washington Post, inferred that there are numerous legal VPN providers in China. These service providers are affiliated with government enterprises that primarily enable financial institutions and law firms to lawfully circumnavigate China’s Great Firewall, known as the nation’s most advanced censorship system, for a fee.

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Local Platforms You Can Use in China Without a VPN

Local businesses have been allowed to thrive, while foreign internet companies have been kept at bay by the Great Firewall. When traveling to China, you may want to consider these unrestricted sites and platforms for your convenience. 

Among the larger providers include online commerce retailers Alibaba and, web search engine Baidu, and micro-blogging provider Sina Weibo.WeChat and Tencent QQ are well-known messaging services that resemble WhatsApp and Viber, while Youku and Todou are China’s YouTube.

Some Chinese internet businesses have had a lot of success abroad. TikTok, a short-form video app with an estimated 800+ million daily users worldwide, is operated by Beijing-based ByteDance.

How to Access Restricted Sites in China

Travelers and foreigners who reside in China need virtual private networks (VPNs) to stay safe and anonymous. Although occasionally blocked and challenging to use, outsiders report that the best VPNs in China are still accessible. Before traveling to the country, it is advised to sign up for the service, and you should always assume that your traffic is being watched.

The best VPN to use in China is able to get around China’s VPN traffic blocking techniques, which include a variety of tactics. Remember that using VPNs (for corporate use) not authorized by the government is prohibited in China. However, it is customary for China to combat VPNs technologically rather than by going after those who use them. You ought not to worry about your safety as a result.

Best VPN in China 2022

Hailed as the best for China use is ExpressVPN. This VPN continuously proves its worth in its unblocking capabilities and security. You don’t have to worry about your online identity being exposed or sold when streaming the net in China with this VPN.

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