The Best VPN for China in 2021? (hint: it’s not what you think)

– Spoiler alert, there
is no best VPN for China and every other video you
watch that says otherwise I can almost guarantee you that that person has never lived in China. If you'll trust me with just
a few minutes of your time I promise you the stories and strategies I'm about to share with you will change the way you
view both the internet and VPNs in China. My name's Josh and ever since I first moved to China in 2006, I've been using VPNs to
stream my favorite shows, access the news and generally
evade the censorship. It's affectionately known by expats as the great firewall of China. My goal here isn't to just
share with you a list of VPNs, make an affiliate commission,
then be on my way. I wanna help educate you on
how censorship in China works, answer whether or not it's
legal to use a VPN in China and then explain my strategy that has allowed me to
successfully connect to a VPN for years in China.

Let's begin with a quick
history of censorship here. It wasn't until the early 2000s that China's Ministry of Information began to censor the internet. It officially began in late 2006 when China started its
Golden Shield Project which is now known as the Great Firewall. It was barely noticeable at first, mainly just porn websites and a few blatant anti-Chinese websites. But then 2009 the flood gates opened or rather they close tightly. YouTube was blocked in
March, followed by Facebook, Twitter and others in July. From 2009 on censorship in
China became so widespread that the question changed from what is blocked in China to
what isn't blocked to China? China says they do this for the protection of their population and in some cases I can see
the merits of this argument but the fact is is that VPNs are extremely
popular among Chinese people. It's the government's way of controlling the flow of information and before you jump on your soapbox about authoritarian communist governments and I admit I'm guilty of that as well.

Take a look at how your own government is starting to quietly
censor the internet, you might be surprised. So with this in mind, the
most common question I'd get about VPNs in China is this, is it legal to use a VPN in China? I'll answer this question with a story from my own experience. A few years ago while I lived in the sensitive Western
region of Xinjiang, my phone that I'd been
using for quite some time it just stopped working. I tried topping it up, restarting it, whatever it was just no longer working. So I took it into China,
UNICOM, my cellular provider and I was shocked when they told me that my service had been
cut by the local authorities and that I would need to
visit the police station to get me started.

But when I got to the station they actually went through my phone, deleted all of my VPNs and also other apps like Skype,
Viber, Signal and others. After they were done my
phone service was reactivated but as a test, when I left the station I immediately re-installed all of those apps to see if my service would be cut again, well, it never was. I tell you this story, basically as a worst case scenario, I've never heard of a foreigner
getting seriously punished for using a VPN service.

Although with China, anything is possible in the
future, I realized that. I can't say with certainty whether it's illegal to use a VPN in China because China's laws and
policies are purposefully vague. If China doesn't like you they will find a way to
nail you for something. But if you just wanna use
a VPN to access your email, watch YouTube, stream Netflix, countless expats in China will tell you the same exact
thing, you're gonna be fine. Okay, now let's jump into
some practical advice here, what is the best VPN for China? The answer is simple
yet vague, it depends.

You see, we all tend to
think that China's internet runs into the single choke point in Beijing where the authorities decide what is or isn't blocked. But this isn't true, China's internet is
actually censored on a local and enterprise level with Beijing sending directives on
what should be blocked. It's up to the Chinese
social media companies to censor themselves and local governments
and cities across China to follow these directives from Beijing and they sometimes put
additional censorship in place just for good measure. Again, I've had the experience
of traveling between cities where an app on my phone
was working in one place and then all of a sudden it
stopped working in another city. The local government
in one city had decided that this communications
app should be blocked when the other city hadn't. This is incredibly important to understand when it comes to VPNs in China because what works in
one place in the country might not work in another.

I've had people tell me
that such and such VPN works really well in Shanghai but when I download and
try it and Shindong, I just could never connect. So if you wanna connect to a VPN in China, here's my three-step strategy that I use and recommend to others. First, I download multiple VPN services that all offer 30 day
money-back guarantees. Here's a list of my favorite and if you'd like to
help support this channel please use the affiliate links
in the description below. Each of these VPNs has
historically worked well in China. They fought through a
number of VPN crackdowns over the past decade and
at least in my experience they have good customer support. Second, once you're settled in China, spend a couple of weeks testing each VPN on different devices. You'll find that some probably
connect easier than others and some have better speeds. The last thing you do
is keep the one or two that you like most and
get refunds on the rest.

I tend to keep at least
two active VPN accounts while I'm in China because there are times when one
experiences a crackdown and I still need consistent
access to the open internet. I'm not gonna sit here
and tell you that one VPN is always the best in China because as I've already said, that's never been my experience, I think most foreigners here would agree. Ask some other foreigners in the area where you'll
live in China what they use, try a number of different services and find out what works best for you. And if at all possible download
and sign up for these VPNs before you leave for China because I can tell you from experience that it's quite hard to do
so once you're here in China. 'Cause as you might expect, China's sensors VPN websites too. What's been your experience so far? I answer all questions in
the comments as best as I can so I encourage you to leave yours now, use the links in the description and please give this video a
thumbs up if it's been helpful.

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