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How to Use ExpressVPN in China in 2022 (Tip: Do This First!)

Kate Hawkins
Last Updated by Kate Hawkins on May 01, 2022

ExpressVPN is one of the rare VPNs that still work in China and can help you access your accounts (like Facebook, Gmail, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, and more).

All you have to do is launch the VPN and connect to a server — your internet traffic is immediately secured with military-grade encryption, leak protection, and a kill switch. None of your online activity is ever logged, shared, or sold to third parties either.

Just make sure you download ExpressVPN before you arrive in China as the website isn’t available inside the country. ExpressVPN is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee so if you’re not satisfied with its performance, you’re entitled to a refund with no questions asked.

Use ExpressVPN in China

Quick Guide: 3 Steps to Using ExpressVPN in China

  1. Download ExpressVPN. You’ll need to sign up and download the apps to your devices before you travel. ExpressVPN works reliably in China, but it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free.
  2. Connect to a server. You can choose from 3000+ servers in 94+ countries.
  3. That’s it! Enjoy browsing the internet in China.

Use ExpressVPN in China

How Does ExpressVPN Work in China?

To keep your data protected from third parties, ExpressVPN uses military-grade encryption and an automatic kill switch. The 256-bit encryption disguises your internet traffic, making it unreadable to third parties. Anyone trying to view your activity will be unable to decipher what you’ve been doing or where you’re located. To guarantee your data is never compromised, the Network Lock automatic kill switch disconnects your internet if your VPN connection becomes unstable.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN General Settings with kill switch turned on
Turn on the Network Lock kill switch for an extra layer of protection

ExpressVPN has no physical servers or presence in China. This is in line with the company’s strict no-logs policy, which ensures that none of your browsing history or personally-identifying data is tracked, monitored, or stored. This was even proven during an investigation in Turkey when ExpressVPN’s server was physically seized by the authorities but no user data was found.

As non-government approved VPNs aren’t allowed in China, please remember to exercise a basic level of caution if you decide to use ExpressVPN. The protection of a VPN doesn’t give you license to download copyright-protected content and other similar acts. That said, there have been no public cases of foreigners being penalized for using a VPN in China.

Use ExpressVPN in China

Can’t Connect to ExpressVPN From China? Try These Troubleshooting Tips

The Great Firewall of China is regularly updated, so there may be times when you need to adjust ExpressVPN’s settings to keep up with the changes.

1. Set Your VPN Protocol to “Automatic”

ExpressVPN has different protocols depending on what you want from your connection. Some protocols are more efficient for data transfer, while others provide a more reliable connection. To adjust your protocols, open the “Options” menu and go into the “Protocol” settings. Make sure the protocol is set to “Automatic” as this lets ExpressVPN find the best protocol for connecting from China.

Screenshot of the ExpressVPN app displaying all the available protocols including Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2 and L2TP/IPsec

The Lightway and OpenVPN protocols are usually the best options for China

2. Wait For ExpressVPN to Complete the Connection Request

If ExpressVPN is taking a long time to connect, be patient. Your connection could take up to 30 seconds to complete, so only retry the connection if the app tells you that it has failed. If the connection continues to fail, exit the app and restart your device before trying to connect again. It’s particularly important to wait if your regular internet connection is slow, as this could be the reason for a delayed VPN connection.

If ExpressVPN has established a server connection but it’s not working, try reconnecting the VPN before you continue your online activity. By reconnecting, you refresh the connection which could help fix any technical errors or server interruptions.

3. Clear Your Browser Cache

Websites will most often block a VPN’s IP address if it receives too many requests — however, a website can also block your cookies if you keep trying to connect to your account from different servers. To fix this, go into your browser settings and clear your cache and cookies. This removes the block so you can access the site.

Clearing your cache can also help bypass content blocks as cookies sometimes store your location data. If a website sees a conflict between location data in your cookies and the VPN IP address, it can refuse access. Deleting cookies removes that location data so the website only sees the VPN’s IP address, enabling access.

4. Connect to a Different Server

I contacted ExpressVPN over 24/7 live chat and asked for a list of recommended servers for China. This list includes: Japan (Yokohama), US (Los Angeles 5 and Santa Monica), UK (Wembley), France (Alsace), and Singapore (Marina Bay).

You can switch to one of these servers instead to establish a working connection.

5. Activate IP and DNS Leak Protection

It might be that third-party websites and apps are still leaking your real IP or DNS address. To stop this from happening, click on “Advanced” from the Options menu and tick “Prevent IPv6 address detection while connected” and “Only use ExpressVPN DNS servers while connected.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN Advanced Settings with IP and DNS leak protection turned on

Don’t expose your real identity accidentally through DNS or IP leaks

6. Contact Customer Support by Email

While ExpressVPN has a live chat feature on the website, it might not be accessible from China. Fortunately, email support is always available. I suggest Yahoo Mail as a working email service in China.

ExpressVPN’s customer support team will send you a response promptly — I contacted customer support by email and received a response within 24 hours. Make sure you take note of the customer support email address (support@expressvpn.zendesk.com) in case you can’t access the website.

Use ExpressVPN in China

FAQs: VPNs and China

What do I do if ExpressVPN doesn’t connect in China?

In the (unlikely) event that you can’t get ExpressVPN to connect while using it in China, there’s a few things you can do. These include making sure that your VPN Protocol is set to “Automatic”, allowing extra time for the connection request to complete, and clearing your browser cache.

Additionally, ExpressVPN recommends using servers in Japan (Yokohama), US (Los Angeles 5 and Santa Monica), UK (Wembley), France *(Alsace), and Singapore (Marina Bay). These ExpressVPN servers are all known to work in China.

If you’re still struggling to connect, I recommend that you reach out to ExpressVPN’s customer support (via email if you’re not able to access the 24/7 live chat from China). The support team should be able to help you resolve the issue.

Does ExpressVPN really work in China?

Yes! We’ve tested it ourselves and can confirm that ExpressVPN is still working in China in 2022. However, it’s vital that you download ExpressVPN before you travel to China as it’s not possible to access the ExpressVPN website while in China. As long you download the ExpressVPN apps to all your devices before entering China, then you’ll be able to securely browse the internet without worrying about your security.

Why does the Chinese government block some websites?

China’s internet restrictions are in place to protect the public from harmful and misleading content. This includes information that could be considered damaging to the government, suggestive material, and gambling. This is frustrating if you’re visiting the country for a holiday or work, as you can’t access your favorite websites and apps from your home country.

The list of blocked sites in China is changing all the time so it’s impossible to know just how many you won’t be able to view. It currently includes but isn’t limited to:

  • Search engines – Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, Bing, Google (all Google services are blocked)
  • News websites – NY Times, BBC, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Bloomberg, NBC
  • Messaging services – Gmail, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Slack, Telegram
  • Social media apps – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram
  • Streaming services – Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Hulu, Spotify, Twitch
  • Information providers – Quora, Wikipedia, WordPress, Archive

Do other VPNs work in China?

Besides ExpressVPN, there are a few other VPNs that work in China. These VPNs are tested by the team daily to ensure the list is kept up-to-date.

As the Chinese government blocks the websites of non-approved VPN services inside the country, it’s advisable to have the VPN app downloaded and installed before you arrive. If you’re already in China, you might be able to access these websites using a mirror site. You can get these mirror site addresses from your VPN’s customer service team. ExpressVPN’s .onion site (http://expressobutiolem.onion) is also accessible through the Tor browser.

Can I use ExpressVPN on my Android or iPhone in China?

Yes, ExpressVPN’s Android and iOS apps work in China. You can also connect your smartphone to your computer’s hotspot. Simply download the VPN app onto your desktop or laptop — ExpressVPN has dedicated apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chromebook. Launch the app, connect to a server, and then set up a personal hotspot through your WiFi connection. Your phone will be secure as long as your computer is connected to the VPN server.

Can I install ExpressVPN on my router in China?

Yes, you can install ExpressVPN on your router in China. This is a great way to protect all of your devices at the same time, as every device connected to WiFi will be routed through ExpressVPN’s encrypted tunnel (including devices without native VPN support, like smart VPNs and game consoles). You don’t have to worry about forgetting to connect to the VPN or accidentally shutting it off.

Use ExpressVPN in China

Stay Private Online With ExpressVPN Today

With ExpressVPN’s world-class security and privacy features, you don’t have to worry about your internet privacy or being blocked from your usual sites back home. You can continue working on Google Drive, catch up with friends and family on Facebook and WhatsApp, and even read your local news — all without being tracked by anyone who might be watching.

But don’t take my word for it. You can try ExpressVPN in China risk-free as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you find it doesn’t meet your needs, you can get a refund by contacting the 24/7 customer support team. I tested this process myself to ensure it works and the money quickly returned to my bank account in only 5 days.

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Kate Hawkins
Kate Hawkins is a tech-focused writer and web expert with a keen interest in online security and privacy. She enjoys getting stuck into new technology and researching the latest cybersecurity trends to keep readers informed and safe online.