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Does NordVPN Work in China in 2021? Yes. But Do This First!

Updated on: October 19, 2021

If you are trying to distinguish between the good VPNs and the great ones, put them through the “China” test. While many VPNs are able to unblock geo-restricted content from places like the US or UK, only the top VPNs have proven successful at bypassing The Great Firewall.

Because of China’s strict Internet censorship policies, platforms — like our social media sites — that are necessities in daily life are not available on Chinese soil. While the solution to this problem is to use VPNs to get past these restrictions, there are very few VPN providers that are actually able to access the sites that are blocked in China.

Now, for the question of the hour: Does NordVPN work in China? The answer to this question is yes, but keep on reading to find out just how to configure NordVPN to get through this seemingly impenetrable Chinese Wall.

In a Hurry? Here’s How to Get NordVPN Working in China

Step 1: Download and install the NordVPN app on your device.
Step 2: Go to the Advanced Settings tab.
Step 3: Turn on the Obfuscated Servers switch.
Step 4: Click Servers on the top banner to return to the server page.
Step 5: Choose one of the Obfuscated Servers on the list.

Not All VPNs Work in China Here’s Why

The explanation for this can be summed up in 3 words: The Great Firewall.

China’s Great Firewall blocks all of the sites that most of us access on a regular basis, including Gmail, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, and many other popular streaming sites.

Since the Chinese authorities revamped cybersecurity laws in 2017, it was mandated that all VPN services and Internet companies register with the all-mighty Chinese government if they wanted to remain afloat. These Internet companies were also ordered to cooperate with any requests for data that may come from the government during any future investigations. The companies that complied with these orders are now on a list of Chinese-government-approved VPN providers, but, unfortunately, they can no longer be trusted to prioritize user privacy and security — nor can they actually unblock the content that you are trying to access since it is government-restricted.

So, what about the VPN services that stood their ground and refused to submit to Chinese oversight? These are now the target of deep packet inspection and other detection mechanisms, and they have an increasingly difficult time getting their OpenVPN user traffic through the Firewall.

While the Chinese government does make it quite difficult, NordVPN and some of its top competitors manage to break through the Firewall and maintain user privacy and security. Keep reading to find out how.

How Does NordVPN Bypass the Great Firewall of China?

So, if NordVPN is not on the Chinese governments list of approved China VPN service options, how does it work?

NordVPN works in China specifically because it is managing to fly under the radar of the Chinese government. This way, it can operate in Chinese territory without submitting to the Chinese regulations that compromise user privacy, security, and VPN efficacy.

For those of you who may not be clear on this fact, there are actually zero NordVPN servers located within Chinese borders. When you connect to a local Chinese server, you are connecting to a server in a neighboring location, like Hong Kong or Singapore.

In order to get around the blocks on OpenVPN user traffic, NordVPN morphs into Stealth Mode using its Obfuscated Servers feature that hides a user’s IP address and traffic and disguises it as HTTPS web traffic. NordVPN also has a Kill Switch that kills your Internet connection in the event that your VPN drops, ensuring that you are never exposed online.

How to Use NordVPN in China?

Step 1. Open NordVPN on your device

Launch NordVPN and take a look at the option on its “Servers” list for “Specialty servers.”

Step 2. Go to Advanced Settings

Open the advanced settings by going to “Settings” on the top bar and then choosing “Show advanced settings” from the bottom of the screen.

Connection tab

Step 3. Turn on Obfuscated Servers option

Once you are in the advanced settings, scroll down to “Obfuscated Servers” and turn on the switch. This will let you use NordVPN from locations, like China, that is restricted.

Step 4. Return to the main screen

Look back at the top bar of the NordVPN app and click again on “Servers.” This will bring you back to the main server list. You will see that it says “Specialty servers” at the top of the list. If you only see “Obfuscated servers” under the “Specialty servers” heading, you are on the right track. Now, if you look closely at your server options, you will notice that some have disappeared. You are now only able to see the server locations that have Obfuscated Server options.

Step 5. Choose one of Nord’s obfuscated servers and connect

Now, if you know that you want a server in a particular country, you can choose one from the list. If you are not picky, you can just click on a pin from the map and connect.

If at any point you want broader access to the remainder of the NordVPN server network, you can go back to “Settings” and turn off the switch for “Obfuscated Servers.”

Why Is NordVPN One of the Best VPNs for China?

NordVPN has top-notch privacy and security features that will keep you protected and anonymous when browsing the web from China.

If you are trying to access local servers from China, there are no VPN servers located within China, but NordVPN offers great connection speeds on servers that can be found in nearby Japan, Singapore, or Hong Kong.

And, as you have probably guessed already, NordVPN’s over 450 Obfuscated Servers are what make it one of the best VPN services for accessing the Internet in areas with strict Internet censorship.

Other Great VPNs That Work in China

Some of the VPN providers that will also give you a secure Internet connection in China are ExpressVPN and Surfshark.

ExpressVPN is a great VPN for use in China, with super-fast connection speeds, top-of-the-line security and privacy features, and a broad server network.

Surfshark has great server speeds, military-grade encryption, and you can connect to your VPN with unlimited simultaneous connections.

As far as VPNs in China, these three are our top recommendations to give you free Internet access and secured IP addresses on whichever VPN server location you choose. On top of their military-grade encryption and other security features, all three of these have 24/7 live-chat customer support, which can be hugely helpful if you are trying to access the Internet and find that your website is blocked. Having instant customer service in a heavily censored country like China can make you feel like you have an ally in enemy territory.

Now you may be interested to learn more about the above-mentioned VPNs. We’ve actually tested them! Read our ExpressVPN review and NordVPN review to get better understanding of these VPNs.

FAQs

star Will I get in trouble for using a VPN in China?

Technically, only approved VPNs are allowed on Chinese soil. While using an unregulated VPN to access restricted Internet is frowned upon in China, it is not outright illegal.

Because the Chinese government is rather unpredictable, the best way to ensure that you won’t get in trouble if you use a VPN while in China is to download it before you arrive in China, and to read up on the laws and regulations on Internet use and VPN use before you travel.

To this day, we have not heard of anyone being punished — even with a fine — for actively using any VPN while in China; so, from past experience and current research, it is safe to use NordVPN in China.

star Is a VPN legal in China?

VPN services are legal in China, and the Chinese government even has its own list of permitted VPN services.

But, although virtual private networks are not officially illegal in China, most of them are currently blocked. Illegal or not, they are definitely frowned upon, and if your service provider or the authorities is able to detect that you are using a VPN, you will likely be blocked. Thankfully, the top VPNs — like NordVPN — have extra precautions in place to make sure that you are not detected when using their VPN while in China.

star Can you download a VPN in China?

We have made it clear that NordVPN works in China, but if you want to be able to use NordVPN in China, you will need to make sure you download it, or any VPN that is not Chinese-government approved, while outside of China.

In fact, we actually recommend that you download a backup VPN or two in preparation for your trip in addition to NordVPN. You can even load ExpressVPN and Surfshark onto your device in addition to NordVPN, and, when you get back home, cancel the VPN subscriptions you do not need. Because all three of these services have a 30-day money-back guarantee, you can do this easily without any financial risk.

Conclusion

Whether you are traveling or living abroad, it is unreasonable in 2021 to have to go about your daily life without access to your social media and streaming content.

If you are trying to bypass the Great Firewall for access to restricted Internet service in China, NordVPN is one of the most reliable, reputable VPN apps on the market that will help users in China get encrypted Internet traffic and access blocked sites without their ISP or government catching on.

We strongly recommend that you use NordVPN in China if you are planning a trip, or planning on consistently trying to access content that is blocked in China.

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