How to use ExpressVPN in China [January 2024 – Do this first!]

ExpressVPN is one of the few VPNs left that's currently working in China, but you should read this article first. As a longtime VPN user and as someone who lives in and has traveled to China for over 13 years, I know how much of a headache getting a VPN to work can be.

Every traveler that goes to China always asks me how bad is the internet censorship. It's pretty bad! In fact, almost every app and site that we use in the west is blocked! Therefore, using a VPN is the only way to get around this censorship known as the Great Firewall of China. Read this guide and you'll be using YouTube, Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Netflix with ease!

I connected to ExpressVPN in China successfully
ExpressVPN is working in China! But read this article first!

IS EXPRESSVPN WORKING IN CHINA?

As of now in January 2024, ExpressVPN is currently working in China, but you need to do a couple things first to make sure that it’s working. If you want to skip this ExpressVPN China review and go straight to the discount coupon, check it out below:

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UPDATE: The Chinese government has a strict internet censorship regime in place that is in a constant whack-a-mole battle with VPN providers. Sometimes during important events and anniversaries, their efforts increase and it’s harder to use a VPN. As of now, ExpressVPN is still working, but I like to keep a minimum of 3 VPN services active while traveling through mainland China, that way I always have two backup options in case one goes down. Keep in mind the best aspect of ExpressVPN is their 30-day money back guarantee. So if you discover it’s not working after you arrive to China, you’ll get a refund. Check out my Best VPN for China guide to see other options.

HOW GOOD IS EXPRESSVPN IN CHINA?

Make sure you’re using a good VPN like ExpressVPN to beat the great firewall of China.

Over the years, I’ve tried almost all of the main VPN services to get around China’s internet restrictions and to keep my online activities private. I’ve used all the big VPN names like NordVPN, AstrillVPN, VyprVPN, and Surfshark, but ExpressVPN has been the best VPN service for several years now. I consistently use it over other VPN providers to bypass China’s great firewall.

As a traveler who uploads large files for my YouTube channel, I know how important it is to have a good internet connection when traveling. I’ve visited the majority of mainland China and ExpressVPN has worked for me in all the provinces of China, even in sensitive areas like Xinjiang in the far west. For me it’s the most reliable and the fastest VPN out there. It’s worked for me all throughout China’s major cities in places like Chengdu, Xi’an, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and many others. It has even worked for me in rural areas of Sichuan and Yunnan, and the results were still amazing!

So how good is Express VPN in China? Well, to give you an idea, as soon as I land in China, I connect to it on the airplane even before I get off. Then it’s just like there is no internet restrictions at all. I use it to access YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram, Netflix, Gmail, and all of the messaging apps that are blocked in China, on a daily basis. It’s also good to have a sense of online security because the internet restrictions and surveillance in China is widespread.

I mainly use ExpressVPN to upload food videos to my YouTube channel. These videos are in 4K, so they’re quite huge—like, hundreds of gigabytes in size. If you need to upload large files, ExpressVPN’s fast upload speeds are a valuable asset.

TOP FEATURES OF EXPRESSVPN

For me, it’s not enough for a VPN to work in China. I use ExpressVPN in China because it offers several features and capabilities that I actually find useful. Here are my favorites.

FAST SPEED
Download speed: 8.2 MBps (Megabytes per second)
Upload speed: 10 MBps

EXTENSIVE SUPPORT FOR STREAMING PLATFORMS
Streaming platforms supported: Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, HBO, Hulu, Netflix, Showtime, Sling TV

EXTENSIVE OS/DEVICE PLATFORM SUPPORT
Operating systems ExpressVPN supports: Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, Amazon Fire tablet, Android, iOS

WIDE ROUTER SUPPORT
Network routers supported: Asus, Linksys, Netgear, DD-WRT, D-Link, Netduma, Sabai, Tomato, TP-Link

SOLID VPN PROTOCOL SUPPORT
Protocols supported: Lightway UDP, Lightway TCP, OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, IKEv2

AMAZING SPEED
So just how fast is ExpressVPN in China? I was able to get up to 8.2 MBps download speed while at home, on both China Unicom and China Telecom networks. On the other hand, I managed to get up to 4.5 MBps (MegaBytes per second) download speed on my phone on 4G. For upload, I managed to get up to 10 MBps upload speed at home. I conducted the speedtests on speedtest.net.

MAKE SURE TO DO THIS FIRST!

Although ExpressVPN is working in China, you need to perform one important action to make sure the service works for you when you get there.

Make sure to Download ExpressVPN and install it before you enter China.

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I cannot emphasize this enough. All popular VPN sites are blocked inside China. You can’t find ExpressVPN as well as other popular VPN mobile apps on the Apple App Store in China either. And if you’re an Android user, you’re in a worse spot, as the entire collection of Android apps (not just VPN apps) aren’t available in mainland China. That’s because the Google Play Store itself is banned in the country.

So if you don’t have your VPN application installed beforehand, it would be extremely difficult to get that virtual private network to even work in china when you get there, as you can’t even download ExpressVPN anymore in the first place.

HOW TO USE EXPRESSVPN IN CHINA

Before I use ExpressVPN in China, I usually make a few preliminary adjustments on the VPN app to make sure everything goes smoothly. Allow me to share them with you.

SET THE PROTOCOL TO AUTOMATIC
When you set the VPN protocol to Automatic, ExpressVPN will take into account your current network conditions, server location, internet speeds, device OS, and other factors, and then select the best protocol for you. To set the protocol to Automatic, follow these steps:

  1. Launch the VPN app and then navigate to the hamburger-shaped button.
  1. Click the Preferences menu.
  1. When the Preferences panel appears, click Protocol, and then Select Automatic.

ENABLE THE KILL SWITCH
Your VPN connection can sometimes get disconnected due to unforeseen circumstances. If this happens while you still have internet access, data transmitted over that connection can be exposed to eavesdroppers. As a safety measure, ExpressVPN provides internet users with a kill switch that automatically stops Internet traffic as soon as the VPN connection is cut off. To enable the kill switch, you can follow these steps.

On the same Preferences panel I talked about earlier, go to General. After that, tick the checkbox that says “Stop all internet traffic if the VPN disconnects unexpectedly” to enable the kill switch.

ENABLE IP LEAK PROTECTION
Leaked IP addresses can allow other people to track your online activity. While VPN software technically encrypts IP addresses (as well as other data) , some devices still leak out IP addresses during a VPN session. You can prevent this by enabling IPv6 Leak Protection. To do that, go to the Advanced menu of the Preferences panel and tick the checkbox that says “Prevent IPv6 address detection while connected”.

WHAT SERVICES CAN EXPRESSVPN UNBLOCK?

The internet censorship in China is quite intense I must say. Almost all of the services we use in the west are completely blocked. This includes most western search engines and news outlets, Gmail, Google Maps, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Whatsapp, and even Tik Tok which is a Chinese owned company (Douyin is the local version)! Using ExpressVPN allows you to access blocked sites like these and it also gives you a sense of internet security which is priceless. However, there’s one main point to remember! You can see the full list of blocked websites in mainland China for more.

WHAT IF IT'S NOT WORKING?

IS EXPRESSVPN NOT WORKING FOR YOU IN CHINA?
If you’ve successfully downloaded and installed ExpressVPN app before arriving to mainland China but find that it’s not working, the first thing you should do is check the ExpressVPN China status page. However, since VPN websites are blocked in China, that page itself will likely be blocked as well! So one option is to try writing a friend overseas to check it for you.

However, I personally find that sometimes the green spinning wheel just takes a really long time to connect, but eventually it will connect. Try waiting for up to 2-3 minutes if necessary, and eventually it usually connects. If it connects and then the VPN suddenly disconnects, you can either retry that same server and just put up with it, or try another VPN server (check the list below). If that doesn’t work, you can usually try manually changing the VPN protocol. The protocol will likely be set to Automatic, so try the other protocols to establish a secure VPN connection.

As a last option, try picking a VPN server location that’s not included in the recommended locations list on the ExpressVPN China status page.

EXPRESSVPN CHINA STATUS PAGE
If you visit the ExpressVPN’s China status page, for instance, you’ll find:

  • Links to the latest versions of ExpressVPN apps for specific platforms like Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and so on. You will normally need the latest version to connect to the ExpressVPN service.
  • Various tips you can try to establish a connection, like setting the protocol in your ExpressVPN app to Automatic.
  • Recommended server locations, arranged in the order where you have the best chance of connecting.

BUT that page is blocked in China!

Therefore, take note of the recommended servers before you go to China (note, this can change, but as of January 2024 these are still working):

  1. Pick for Me
  2. Japan – Yokohama
  3. UK- Wembley
  4. Singapore – Marina Bay
  5. France – Alsace

I suggest you check that page before you go to China (because it will be blocked to you after you arrive!) and make sure you are using the latest version of the app. If you can’t connect to the ExpressVPN service, there’s no way you can check the status page.

EXPRESSVPN VS NORDVPN IN CHINA

NordVPN is another VPN provider that rivals ExpressVPN in popularity, so people naturally ask me how they compare with each other. Based on my own personal experience, NordVPN is also good, especially in the bigger cities. It’s also fast and works quite decently. However, all things considered, ExpressVPN is still better. You can see more detailed comparisons in my blog post about the best VPN for China. I have covered most of the most popular VPNs for China in that post.

FAQS

Aside from the question “Is Express VPN working in China?”, I also get a lot of other related questions by people traveling to China. Here are the most common ones:

IS THERE AN EXPRESSVPN CHINA SERVER?

Except for the VPN servers in Hong Kong, the answer is ‘No’. Since China bans VPNs in the country, ExpressVPN doesn’t have any physical servers there. So why are there ExpressVPN servers in Hong Kong? Although already technically part of China, Hong Kong still enjoys a certain degree of autonomy. Hong Kong’s legal and political system is different from that of mainland China, so the VPN bans don’t affect them, at least for now.

IS EXPRESSVPN OWNED BY CHINA OR IS IT A CHINESE COMPANY?

No, it’s not. ExpressVPN was founded by two close friends and techpreneurs Peter Burchhardt and Dan Pomerantz in 2009. It was then acquired by Kape Technologies in 2021. Kape Technologies is a British-Israeli digital security provider. So, no, it’s not owned by China. It is not a Chinese company. It is actually based in the British Virgin Islands, a country known for it’s no-data retention laws. That allows it to have a no-logging policy and no conflicts of interest with keeping user data safe and secure.

HOW SECURE IS EXPRESSVPN IN CHINA?

Since ExpressVPN is not owned by a Chinese company, no one from the Chinese government can view the data you send through ExpressVPN servers. Furthermore, there are no ExpressVPN servers in China.

Even on those Hong Kong servers, the confidentiality of your data is still safe. That’s because, as part of ExpressVPN’s privacy policy, the company doesn’t collect logs of your own internet traffic or activity, including browsing history, traffic destination, data content, and DNS queries. It also doesn’t store connection logs, including logs of your IP address, outgoing VPN IP address, connection timestamp, or session duration. Anyone who attempts to view your activity history on ExpressVPN’s servers won’t find anything there.

Last but not the least, ExpressVPN encrypts your data with strong encryption when that data is sent over the network. This is known as data-in-motion encryption. How strong is it? ExpressVPN uses AES-256, a cryptographic algorithm known for its superior ability to protect electronic data. AES-256 is even used by the US government to protect classified information.

ExpressVPN’s AES-256-equipped data-in-motion encryption protects your data from your device all the way to ExpressVPN’s servers. If an attacker attempts to intercept your data at any point as it traverses the network, that attacker will not be able to retrieve any information. All they’ll see will be an incomprehensible sequence of garbled characters.

HOW TO USE EXPRESSVPN ON IPHONE IN CHINA?

In case you failed to download the ExpressVPN app on your iPhone before leaving for China, or if you live in China and are using the China app store, don’t worry. All is not lost. Remember that the problem is that VPN apps aren’t available on the China App Store. So, all you need to do is change your App Store’s location to a country that doesn’t have those restrictions. For example, you can change the App Store location to the United States.

Alright, so how do you do that? There are two ways. The first option is to change your Apple ID’s location. Of course, that will also change that AppleID’s corresponding subscriptions. If you don’t like that option, you can simply create a new AppleID and choose a different location for it.

Once you’ve changed your App Store’s location, you can then download ExpressVPN on your iPhone in China.

HOW TO GET EXPRESSVPN TO ANDROID WHILE IN CHINA?

As stated earlier in this blog post, it’s more difficult to get ExpressVPN to Android in China than getting it to an iPhone. You need Google Play Store to install ExpressVPN on an Android device. Unfortunately, because Google Play Store is banned in the country, you need a VPN as a workaround. So, if you don’t have ExpressVPN installed beforehand, you’re really stuck. That said, just get ExpressVPN before leaving for China, and you won’t have to worry about this problem.

IS THERE REALLY AN EXPRESSVPN WEBSITE THAT WORKS IN CHINA?

Although VPN websites are blocked by China’s Great Firewall, ExpressVPN has a mirror site that will work in China. You can obtain a link for that site if you contact ExpressVPN’s customer support and ask for it. Their customer support email address is support@expressvpn.zendesk.com.

Final Words

ExpressVPN is the fastest and most reliable VPN in the world, so I won’t be surprised if you’re traveling to China and wondering “Is Express VPN working in China?”. If you are, I hope I managed to help you out, and I hope you enjoy your trip!

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