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Should I Host A Website in China?

If you’ve got a company that is based in China or that sells to people in 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? If you are not a registered business in the PRC, you don’t need to host a website in China. You can set up a server and a domain name outside China in Hong Kong in a matter of minutes. Inside China? Time estimates vary, it can be a long process, but worthwhile if you have a registered business in China.

What About The Great Firewall?

The simple fact is that you don’t have to host your website in China – in many cases, there’s no need. 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. 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. Just get the right hosting so as not to compromise on speed…

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 good page 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 as the prime place to locate your server.

Setting up your website in Hong Kong 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.

Hong Kong is also our preferred location, as it is possible to get direct bandwidth into China, which gives a boost over other countries. We specialise in WordPress Hosting in Hong Kong specifically to help your business get into China.

Can I Or Should I Host My Website 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 it is better to host your website in China.

The only delay is the paperwork for your ICP license which could take up to a month to process. This license simply states that you, or your company is legally responsible for data coming from your site.

If you have your business registered in China, contact us and we’ll work with you to get an ICP license setup.

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

Good question. Generally speaking a Hong Kong based server should deliver traffic to the USA and Europe with good speeds. However, if you are going to be experiencing high levels of traffic or dealing with downloads coming from your site. It’s a good idea to consider cloud hosting, or use a CDN for the downloadable files.

If you’ve still got questions about hosting then let us know in the comments!! Alternatively contact us with your questions. If you are ready to host in Hong Kong, check out our hosting packages here.

This Post Has 13 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.

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