China Firewall VPN Updates: What Your Business Needs to Know


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China’s Golden Shield project, commonly known as the “The Great Firewall of China,” was in the news recently. The Chinese government has launched a “smarter and stricter Internet filter,” says Nasdaq, making it “more difficult to use services called virtual private networks (VPNs) to circumvent the country’s blocks to U.S. services such as Google, Facebook and Netflix.

The Great Firewall exists for reasons beyond simply restricting access to certain websites. According to an article from Stanford University, China enacted an “Open Door Policy” in 1979 to “bring in Western knowledge and open the country to foreign trade and investment.” China did not want to promote Western ideology, however, creating their dilemma: How do you progress with the Information Age of the West while keeping the culture of your people?

China initiated the Golden Shield Project in 2000 in an attempt to strike a balance. As technology progresses to circumvent it (i.e. with VPNs), the Great Firewall adapts as needed to “promote the building of a socialist harmonious society.” Now blocked completely, many of Google services were shut down since 2011. Facebook and Twitter amongst other social media platforms have also been blocked since 2008 and 2009, respectively.

Despite these regulations, according to Time, Chinese officials still want to promote innovation and entice foreign entrepreneurship. It is clear, however, that businesses and VPN providers in China must play by the rules to maintain a presence within the boundaries of the Great Firewall.

Businesses that have relied on VPN software to work around Chinese regulations are experiencing some distress due to the latest updates. CNN Money quotes business owner, Winger Chen, as being “100% reliant” on Google services, cloud data sharing, and their VPN to access these in China. Chen is not alone. As of 2014, 56% of American companies have experienced difficulty conducting business in Mainland China due to Internet access.

Fortunately, there is a way to alleviate business difficulties in China and obey the regulations at the same time.

Use a Licensed China CDN Provider

CDNetworks is the first fully licensed China CDN vendor approved by the MIIT (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology). Instead of working against the Great Firewall, CDNetworks relies on positive relationships with the Chinese governing forces and the trust that has been earned to consistently deliver China Acceleration CDN services.

Twenty-five points of presence (PoPs) across mainland China assure efficient content delivery to users across the nation, even miles from city centers. Many businesses may try to reach China from Hong Kong; however, Hong Kong’s networks are separate from the rest of Mainland China and can create an extra barrier to entry and 50% slower performance.

Read More: What is a CDN and How do They Work?

Another issue stems from the very few peering points or nodes where networks connect one to one another to transfer the data on its journey to the user. Coming from outside the Firewall restricts page downloading speed because all foreign domains and IP addresses are either blocked or heavily monitored.

Alternatives to Blocked Cloud Storage and Google Services

Many users rely on productivity tools to conduct business in China. While they aren’t Google and don’t include all of the features Gmail now does, they provide similar functionality. For example, Sina offers a popular email service that is the largest in China. QQ is another instant messaging and email service with an international version in English. QQ is owned by Tencent, the same company responsible for Sina Weibo and WeChat (Whatsapp alternative). Tencent also offers a Dropbox cloud storage equivalent in China, called Weiyun. Weiyun is accessible in English.

Alibaba offers another cloud storage option called Kanbox. With Kanbox, you get a Dropbox-like experience and up to 10 terabytes of data storage for free. Unfortunately, it’s not available in English yet. Baidu Cloud and offer other cloud storage options. Baidu Cloud is only in Chinese, but has an English version with an interface similar to Facebook (see below image).

Delivering Your Business Into China


For website domains to be hosted in mainland China lawfully an Internet Content Provider license is required as without one there’s the risk of being shut down or blacklisted. 

There are two types of ICP licenses: 

  • ICP Bei’An – Only has informational content
  • ICP Commercial license – For Ecommerce sites that allow payment transactions 

The ICP commercial license allows you to use your website for commercial purposes and host Ecommerce functions. To apply for an ICP license you will need:

  • Chinese web admin contact ID
  • Chinese Business licence

And to follow this process:

  1. Create an account on Bei’an registration
  2. Upload supporting documents
  3. Submit for review by CPSB (Chinese Public Security Bureau) approx. 30 days. 
  4. Wait for interview

At CDNetworks we can help, even if your ICP application has been rejected. We can host it outside of China using our extensive near China PoPs server network. We can provide a full-service content delivery network to help businesses deliver legitimate content that abides the Chinese law. 

Final Thoughts

Your business can thrive in China without going around regulations and using a VPN service to access blocked websites and online services. Keep in mind that operating in China offers an abundance of eCommerce opportunities. Try a fully licensed China CDN and use alternative productivity tools and your business can flourish.

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