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If you’re targeting potential customers in China, it is important to ensure your website is fast and accessible in the country. This can be a challenge due to the Chinese firewall, which will often slow down foreign websites or in some cases even outright block a website.
There are a number of things you need to be aware of if you want to ensure your website is fast and accessible in China, so in this blog post, we aim to cover everything you need to know.
What is the Chinese firewall?
For those familiar with China, you probably know that China uses a censorship system to block certain websites and content from being accessed by people in China. The Chinese firewall is also known as the “Great Firewall of China” or simply “the Great Firewall”.
The Chinese firewall was first implemented back in 2003 it was introduced to control the flow of information into and out of China. It can be used to block foreign websites that are deemed to be “sensitive” or “controversial”.
One of the most notable examples of a website that is blocked by the Chinese firewall is Google. Other popular websites that are blocked in China include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. For a more comprehensive list of websites that are not accepted in China, we recommend you check out this web page.
The Chinese firewall can also slow down a foreign website if it is not hosted inside China. This is because the data has to travel further to reach China and because it puts restrictions on how much data can flow in and out of China.
This is why it’s useful to host your website inside China if you want to ensure it is fast and accessible for potential customers in China.
What kind of website content is not accepted in China?
There are many restrictions on the kinds of content that can be published on websites inside China. Website content that is not accepted in China includes:
- Criticism related to politics in China
If you’re planning on targeting potential customers in China, it’s important to make sure your website does not include any of the content above. Otherwise, your website may be blocked by the Chinese firewall.
It’s important to note that these restrictions also apply to WeChat websites and mobile apps. WeChat is a popular app in China, and many businesses use it to reach potential customers. For example, by publishing blog posts or news content, so we need to be aware that all the same restrictions exist across all Chinese 3rd party platforms as well.
The Chinese Firewall is not only about restrictions
One of the biggest differences about living in China is that most popular foreign social media platforms are not available there. This includes Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. A major reason is that these sites are not under the control of Chinese companies, so the content cannot be blocked or censored as easily.
However, another reason is that China wishes to encourage homegrown talented entrepreneurs to build Chinese-made platforms and turn them into fast-growing companies. Since Facebook was first blocked in 2009, it allowed space for platforms such as Weibo, Douyin (TikTok), and Tencent’s WeChat to be developed and gain traction, whereas in other countries American platforms have such a strong foothold, local companies cannot compete.
So where foreign businesses might want to compete in China with local platforms to gain subscribers or followers, they might find the playing field is not level. China’s homegrown enterprises have deep pockets, government support and a pool of very talented engineers.
As a result, many foreign businesses find that the best way to reach Chinese consumers is through using the social media platforms developed in China, such as WeChat.
This is why it’s important to consider a WeChat-friendly website if you want to ensure your website is accessible in China.
Web services you should avoid on your website
As we’ve discussed, many web services are not available in China or are very slow and unreliable. This includes Google maps, Facebook and YouTube. We recommend avoiding integrating these types of services into your website as they will only add to the frustration of trying to use your website in China.
Instead, we recommend using alternatives such as Baidu maps, Weixin or local video-sharing platforms. These services are developed by Chinese companies and are much more reliable in China.
In terms of social media, there is not much point to include links to Facebook or Twitter on your website as these platforms are not accessible in China. However, it can be useful to include links to Chinese social media platforms such as Weibo and WeChat, so that your visitors can follow you on these platforms.
Recently, Linkedin announced the Chinese version would be pulling out of China, so it’s no longer possible to use this platform to reach Chinese businesses or individuals either. So don’t forget to check that any outbound links you include on your website are still working.
Why WeChat is a great addition to your website
As we’ve discussed, the vast majority of China’s netizens are using WeChat on a daily basis. WeChat is not only a messaging app, but it also has many other features such as official accounts and mini-programs, which are like mini apps that live within the WeChat ecosystem.
This makes WeChat a powerful tool for businesses wanting to reach Chinese consumers. A WeChat website is a great way to ensure your website is accessible in China and to reach a wider audience.
WeChat mini-programs are particularly popular as they offer a seamless user experience within the WeChat app. This means that users don’t have to download separate apps for each service they use, which makes life much easier.
Including a WeChat website is a great way to improve the user experience for your Chinese visitors and to ensure your website content is accessible in China.
What are the benefits of hosting my website inside China?
If you’re targeting Chinese consumers, then it’s important to consider hosting your website inside China. This is because the Chinese firewall can slow down foreign websites, and this is often very frustrating for users.
Hosting your website inside China also has other benefits, such as improved performance and reliability. This is because hosting providers in China have a better understanding of the local market and how to optimize their services for Chinese users.
However, it’s important to note that hosting your website inside China comes with some risks. The Chinese government can block websites without notice, and this is often done without any explanation.
Additionally, hosting your website inside China means that you will be subject to Chinese laws and regulations. This includes censorship laws, which means that certain topics and keywords are not allowed on your website.
If you’re considering hosting your website inside China, then it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons before making a decision.
So what’s your next step?
Now that you know more about how to ensure your website is fast and accessible in China, it’s time to put this into practice.
If you’re not sure where to start, then we recommend checking out our other blog posts on this topic. We also offer a range of services to help businesses succeed in China, so feel free to get in touch if you need any help.
China is a huge and growing market, and we want to help you tap into this opportunity. Thanks for reading!