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Should I Host A Website In China?

Should I Host A Website in China?

If you’ve got a company that is based in China or that sells to the PRC and you’ve decided it’s time to get that website up and running, then you now have an important question to ask- Should I host my website in China?

Yes, like all things administration in China, the hosting of a website is a topic which is often asked about and met with lots of rumours, confusion and misinformation.

The good news is that you can save yourself from all that. How? Don’t base your website hosting in the PRC for your China facing website. You can set up a server and a domain name outside China in a matter of minutes, ready to build your site on.

Inside China? Time estimates vary, but it’s a long process, and one we advise you to skip.

What About The Great Firewall?

The simple fact is that you don’t have to put your website inside China- there’s simply no need in most cases. The Great Firewall of China stops traffic coming into China that is selectively blocked by the government. It doesn’t mean that your site won’t work if it’s based outside the country, or that your customers should make a coffee while waiting for your site to load. Occasionally, some strange sites ( like legitimate software products) have been known to get blocked seemingly randomly, but that doesn’t mean that yours will. As long as you are conducting legitimate business that doesn’t conflict with the censorship rules then your website will work without any problems. Your main issue is to make sure you get the right hosting in the right location.

So Where Are The Best Places To Host?

If you are serving traffic inside the PRC and want to host outside the country to make setting up your website easier and more flexible, then you have a few options. Generally, internet speeds inside Asia are fairly slow with a few exceptions. Japan, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong all have reliable and fast internet, and are close enough to China to give okay loading times.

Typically Japanese and Korean servers are pretty expensive compared to those of Singapore and Hong Kong. Singapore geographically is a little further away, so that leaves Hong Kong hosting as the the number one spot for your China facing solution. Setting up your website on Hong Kong hosting is as easy as setting it up in the USA or Europe from a paperwork perspective. It takes minutes, and does not require any of the complex administration processes that mainland China requires.

Isn’t Hong Kong Now A Part OF China?

But isn’t Hong Kong part of China? Yes and no. Hong Kong is under the jurisdiction of the PRC, but is not subject to the same laws for internet information. This means that Hong Kong hosting is not subject to the same rigorous checks as hosting inside mainland China. You won’t need any special licenses or investigation into your activities.

How Are The Servers In Hong Kong?

Generally the servers in Hong Kong are straightforward to deal with, and we’ve personally experienced consistently good service for many years, which is why we are hosted there. The loading times in the PRC from Hong Kong servers are actually no different to the ones inside China. Our website is a good example. We host on our own eggplant servers which are plugged directly into China’s main networks. As a result our site has an extremely fast loading time inside the PRC. This type of service works really well for hosting WordPress sites, as well as websites using other platforms. If you’re not sure about this kind of stuff, drop us an e-mail.

Can I Or Should I Host In China?

If you have an ICP license to host your site in China (for Chinese citizens and companies registered for business in the PRC), and you are facing mainly a Chinese customer base (for example e-commerce) then hosting inside China is often preferable. The only delay is the paperwork for your ICP license which could take months to process. This license simply states that you, or your company is legally responsible for data coming from your site, should you contravene Chinese information laws. China is not known for quick administration.

In the case of the internet, this problem is amplified. As we all know, China restricts the information coming into China, so it is not keen to letting outside parties post information inside “The Great Firewall”. It much prefers you see your company data and information coming in through the firewall to make sure it is appropriate. But what if its not? Well, rest assured, if all you are doing is focusing on your products and services and not making comment on any political issues, then you have nothing to worry about. However, you should take note that you’ll need to make some amendments to your site, so that it functions properly in China. If you’re not sure about this, drop us an e-mail. We’ll be happy to pass on the details…

Why You Should Use Hong Kong

Hong Kong is currently politically under the wing of the PRC and it’s internet is hooked up directly to the one that serves the China mainland. This means that your Hong Kong server is not suddenly going to get randomly blocked by the Chinese government for some unknown reason.

In addition it has blazing fast servers that also work better than most for connection to the internet outside China . So what’s the benefit? You can have a super fast delivery inside “The Great Firewall” to your Chinese customers and still be able to update your website quickly and easily from anywhere in the world.


What If I Have A Lot Of Customers All Over The World?

Good question. As we mentioned, generally speaking Hong Kong hosting will deliver traffic to the USA and Europe with good speeds. Hong Kong already boasts some of the fastest internet in the world and delivers good speeds around the globe ( our website being one of them!)

However, if you are going to experience extremely high levels of traffic or you deal with downloads coming from your site, it’s a good idea to consider cloud hosting either for your site, or the files that your customers may want to download.

What Is My Next Move?

If you’re ready to get cloud hosting in Hong Kong then check out our page. It shows you what you should be looking for from Hong Kong hosting. If you have any questions, or you are looking to host your website in mainland China, then drop us a message and we’ll be happy to help!

This Post Has 15 Comments
  1. Hello,

    We are an international business looking to host our website through a host in Asia, primarily in order to target the Mainland Chinese market. We do not have a formal business license in China, so I understand not possible to get an ICP License. As such, we are considering seeking a host in HK/Japan.My primary goal in selecting a non-China host is to not be blocked by the great firewall. Do you have recommendations which HK or Japan hosts have the best track records in terms of free access into the mainland/hosts who dont host blacklisted sites?

    Also, I have heard through the grapevine that HK-hosts are very slow in the mainland specifically at night. True? False?

    Thank you very much,

    Aurora

  2. We just registered a .cn domain in China through the Australian company “Instra”. We have been advised having a .cn domain allows the Chinese population to access our site. Is this fact or fallacy.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Richard, thank you for your comment. Having your site accessible in China is not related to having a .cn domain name. Basically most websites are available in China, the main problem is the speed. Your site should be optimized for China and be on a good host. If you are hosted outside of the China firewall, you will only be blocked due to having content on your site that is not allowed. If you want to host your site within China, you would need to apply for an ICP license. I hope that helps!

    2. As someone living in China and running my own art & design portfolio website, the sites which make use of the Google CDN (some frameworks might use it to load resources like CSS, JS etc) tend to load very slow when accessed by users in China. It would be best to either avoid external CDNs or provide an alternative version to the mainland users. Also, all types of domains are accessible unless they are blocked by the GFW for violating their policies.

  3. I am selling Australia real estate and would like to be the contact point in Australia for the Chinese in China when they purhase Australia properties. How can I host a website in China without going thru the hassle of setting up a company and etc? Also, can I host the website in Hong Kong or Singapore and will the website be accessible by the Chinese?

    1. Hi Audrey, Thanks for your comment, in this case, the easiest and most reliable way is to host the website in Hong Kong, as long as the site is optimized to run in China and your content is not sensitive, it should not be a problem to have it accessible in China. If you need further help with hosting in Hong Kong, please feel free to contact us for more info.

  4. Hello,
    I’m an ESL teacher and I want to teach English online. My main market is Shanghai, where I have friends and some contacts to help me find students. However, I would like to create a website to attract more business. I live in Canada. Would WordPress work?

    1. Hi Terri, yes the self-hosted version of WordPress will certainly work for your website. Just be careful when choosing a theme, to make sure it doesn’t link to services that are blocked in China and thus slowing the site down significantly. Also try to host the website in HK to start with, rather than Canada.

  5. Hello,I have an Italian ecommerce and would like to sell in China. You think is better to host in Europe, China or cloud?

    If I host on cloud the website will be fast and available all over the world, right?

    1. Hi Federica, we recommend to host the website in either HK or in Mainland China. The reason is the China firewall can considerably slow down the website if you are outside it, or the site might be blocked altogether.

  6. We are a Chinese Church located in US. We host our site on Google which is not accessible from China. What US-base hosters can we switch to in order to solve this issue? Thanks a lot.

  7. We are based in China (Shanghai) however don’t have our company set-up or running yet. We are planning to sell our own designed home products online in Hong Kong and China, should we have our website hosted in Hong Kong then? Do we also need to register a company in Hong Kong as well? Thank you.

    1. Without a registered company in China, you won’t be able to host in China, so Hong Kong hosting is a good option. You won’t need to register in Hong Kong as well, you can host there without a company.

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