VPN Not Working in China? Do This!

Jim Bob

China Travel Experts


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Yes, using a VPN in China is always a challenge.

As the government constantly tweaks the Great Firewall policies, I hear complaints every year:

  • ‘Damn, my VPN stopped connecting!'
  • ‘My VPN suddenly got so slow.'
  • ‘Should I switch to a new VPN?'

I've struggled with the same issues for years.

Luckily I've accumulated extensive experience and know how to get VPNs working again in China.

More importantly, I know which VPNs can stay working in China, so you don't have to be in a constant cat-and-mouse game.

Want to know more?

Let's keep going!

Why Is My VPN Not Working in China?

You must know China uses the Great Firewall to block access to many popular international apps and sites domestically.

But did you know it also blocks VPN connections?

The Great Firewall constantly gathers data and upgrades to specifically target and block popular VPN providers by fingerprinting their traffic.

This is why people complain their favorite ExpressVPN no longer works in China.

Many popular international VPNs simply don't work in China – I need to make this clear.

In my experience, once a mainstream VPN is blacklisted by the Great Firewall, there's little users can do unless the provider upgrades its servers.

Another situation for VPN failures is tightened internet controls during sensitive periods in China, when massive VPN outages can occur.

I've experienced this many times. For example:

However, VPN disruptions in China are still common during normal times.

Luckily, I have some proven tricks for you to get them working again.

Keep reading.

How to Make VPN Work in China

Data roaming can be a lifesaver

When your VPN stops working, you often need internet access to fix it. In this case, consider getting a data roaming package which provides unrestricted international access.

Once you restore your VPN, you can disable roaming again since the VPN will be much cheaper.

1.Reboot – Simple But Often Effective

This trick often works for my computer, especially after it's been idle with the VPN connection on for an extended time – I'll frequently find the VPN not working the next day.

Simply exiting and reopening the program typically gets it connecting and working normally again.

When it comes to your mobile phone, simply exit the app and reopen it. (For certain VPNs, you might need to update the server list.)

2.Switch to a Different Virtual Location

In general, US, Canada, UK based connections tend to have higher latency and are more prone to Great Firewall blocks.

In this case, I suggest opting for Hong Kong or Singapore servers.

When in China, it's best to select VPN addresses in nearby Asian countries for optimal performance.

3.Keep Your VPN Updated

When you lose VPN access, updating it becomes difficult – this is why I recommend having a backup VPN.

Providers need to continuously upgrade their technology to stay ahead of China's blocks, so you shouldn't ignore any VPN app update notifications or you may suddenly get cut off from the web entirely one day.

At this point, you will need to purchase data roaming to restore network access.

4.Contact Support

This option requires you to have the ability to access the internet, as most VPN provider websites are also blocked by the Chinese internet firewall.

You should inform the VPN company that their service is inaccessible in China; they often have various contingency plans to restore their network.

5.Switch to A Different VPN

For foreigners living long-term in China, having multiple VPN backups is wise.

Personally, I use Astrill VPN as my primary and rotate affordable options as secondary for cost savings, with LetsVPN being my current favorite backup VPN.

With varied backups, someone always seems to work.

6.Just Wait

China's blocking ramps up during important conferences and events when many VPNs stop working.

If you are not in a rush, just exercise some patience as service may resume after a couple days.

I have to say Astrill VPN has remained consistently functional for me (you can verify this on Reddit).

VPN That Works in China

I can understand; dealing with VPN issues can be frustrating, especially when they seem to pop up at the most inconvenient times.

Like when you open your computer, getting ready for a productive day's work, or while you're having a conversation with your family abroad…

I've been through countless instances over the years.

So, I no longer settle for cheap, subpar VPNs.

I believe a good VPN can spare me the endless cat-and-mouse game with China's internet firewall and save me valuable time.

These are the best VPNs I'm currently using.


Best Availability

Best Overall

Astrill VPN

AstrillVPN image Pin
Favorite Feature99% Availability
Promotions:58% off for 2 years

Best Alternative 

Best Overall


letsvpn image Pin
Favorite FeatureEasy to use
Promotions:66% off for 1 year

Best Privacy Protection

Best Overall


protonvpn image Pin
Favorite FeaturePrivacy Protection
Promotions:57% off for 2 year

You can trust me; I've actually used these VPNs, and they perform well within China.

I would never recommend something I haven't personally used just to earn a commission.

You can also search on Reddit to find genuine user reviews for these VPNs.

Here you can check out my comparison list of the best VPNs in China.


Is Express VPN Not Working in China?

Absolutely, ExpressVPN no longer works in China.

I share your frustration with many bloggers still recommending it for use in China – perhaps they haven't actually used it here.

But as someone living in China, I can confidently tell you, do not use ExpressVPN in China; it will only be a waste of your money!

Is NordVPN Not Working in China?

It occasionally drops the connection, but overall, it works well.

NordVPN isn't as bad; they seem to prioritize the Chinese market more than ExpressVPN. When NordVPN isn't working, switching to other servers often does the trick for me.

Is Astrill VPN Not Working in China?

No, Astrill VPN has consistently worked well in China.

As of now, Astrill VPN has been the best-performing VPN for use in China.

Even during times of intense network blocking in China when other VPNs were struggling, Astrill VPN managed to continue working.

Is ProtonVPN Not Working in China?

No, ProtonVPN can also work in China.

If you have an utmost concern for privacy and security, ProtonVPN is your best choice, especially in a country like China where internet censorship is strict.

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