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How to Use ExpressVPN in China: A Guide for 2023

Sandra Pattison
By Sandra Pattison (Editor)
— Last Updated: 2020-05-28T15:45:17+00:00

If you’re on your way to the Middle Kingdom, you know you need a top-notch VPN to bypass the Chinese government’s internet censor. ExpressVPN is our best VPN, but you still need to make sure it’s working in China. Thankfully, the VPN is, and this guide will tell you how to use ExpressVPN in China.

The Great Firewall is one of the worst forms of censorship around the world (though it doesn’t apply to Hong Kong; well, not yet). The internet is tightly controlled and anything that the Chinese government doesn’t like can be blocked, such as media websites and critical content. 

Plus, you’ll only be able to access monitored social media apps, such as WeChat and Youku, unless you use a VPN in China.

How to Download ExpressVPN in China

Although it’s a simple task to download and install ExpressVPN, China doesn’t make it easy. The ExpressVPN website is blocked in China’s mainland, so you won’t be able to download the ExpressVPN app while you’re there. Your best bet is to set up the VPN app before you arrive in China.

Simply pick one of ExpressVPN’s plans, enter your email address and choose your payment method. 

how to use expressvpn in china sign up

Next, download and install the ExpressVPN app for your device. 

how to use expressvpn in china activation code

Once the ExpressVPN app is installed, enter the activation code you were given in the last step and click “continue.” That’s it.

how to use expressvpn in china set up

How to Use ExpressVPN in China

First, you should make sure you set the VPN protocol to the more secure OpenVPN. Click ExpressVPN’s hamburger menu and select “preferences.”

how to expressvpn in china options

Then click the “protocol” tab, select “UDP-OpenVPN,” and then click “change anyway.”

how to expressvpn in china protocol

To access blocked content from Beijing or any other part of China’s mainland, you need to connect to a VPN server outside of the country. Click on the three dots. You can then choose one of ExpressVPN’s specific server locations by using either the search box or by clicking “all locations.”

how to expressvpn in china app

Once you’ve chosen a server, click the “on” button. When the VPN app is ready, it’ll turn green and say “connected.”

how to expressvpn in china connected

Now you’ll be able to access restricted content beyond the Great Firewall, such as the news or Netflix (read our best VPN for Netflix, as well as our dedicated guide on how to watch Netflix in China). If you have trouble accessing anything from China, switch your ExpressVPN connection to another VPN server by repeating the steps above.

How to Use ExpressVPN in China

  1. Sign up for and download the ExpressVPN app before arriving in China
  2. Change ExpressVPN’s protocol to OpenVPN
  3. Connect to a VPN server outside of China
  4. Access the internet content you want
  5. If you have trouble accessing anything via the VPN, connect to a different server by repeating the steps above

Final Thoughts

You need to make sure you choose a secure virtual private network to circumvent the Great Firewall, and ExpressVPN is the top VPN for China (though NordVPN works in China, too). Now you know how to use ExpressVPN in the Middle Kingdom, just make sure to download the VPN app before you get there. 

Have you used ExpressVPN in China? Tell us about your experience in the comment section. As always, thank you for reading.


  • Is ExpressVPN Illegal in China?

    Your only secure way around the Chinese government’s internet blocks is by using a VPN in China. Some VPN providers are still working in China, but they’re banned — that is, except for government-approved ones, but those are monitored. If you’re caught using an unapproved circumvention tool, you can be fined. ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN services for China, and it’ll stop you from being exposed. 

  • Does ExpressVPN Work in China?

    It’s a tough job keeping up with China’s VPN ban, but ExpressVPN does still work. When its servers are blocked, they’re usually restored and are working in China again quickly. There are no ExpressVPN servers in the country (not including Hong Kong), so the VPN service doesn’t need to comply with data regulation laws, which would go against ExpressVPN’s no-logs policy.

  • How Secure Is ExpressVPN?

    With ExpressVPN, you’re covered by some of the best security available. The VPN uses AES 256-bit encryption, and it has DNS leak protection, as well as IPv6 protection. ExpressVPN also includes an automatic kill switch for protection if the VPN fails. You can read more in our ExpressVPN review.

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