In our daily work, our internationally positioned customers often ask us why their websites are not delivered at all or only very slowly on the Chinese mainland. The answer to this question is both simple and complicated: the reason is the "Great Chinese Firewall".
It is common knowledge that publications in China are subject to strict censorship. It applies equally to print products and online services. The Chinese leadership has a great interest in what messages are distributed within Chinese borders. In order to control and filter this, a technical construct was developed that is popularly known as the "Great Firewall of China" - in reference to the Great Wall of China.
All external data streams must get past this firewall, which significantly slows down the transmission speed. Depending on the content, it can happen that the firewall cannot be passed at all, and Chinese Internet users wait for the content of your website to no avail. Until a few years ago, this firewall was relatively easy to bypass with particular technical solutions (such as VPN tunnels). However, this no longer works today, so other solutions have to be considered.
One option is to have the website hosted on a server that offers a direct connection to the Chinese network. This is comparatively easy and quick to implement, but still comes with limitations in the performance of your website. In other words, the contents will be delivered (depending on the specific content), but it may take quite a while for a page to load.
There is also the possibility of hosting a proxy server in China with a Chinese IP address. In this case, the website continues to be maintained outside of China on your own web server, but is temporarily stored on a proxy server within China. That way, static content can be delivered to Chinese Internet users with very high performance. Dynamic content (such as search results pages or special content behind a frontend login) will still be loaded from your regular web server and delivered with some delay.
The catch: a so-called ICP license ("Internet Content Provider License") is mandatory for this solution. The license is issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and must be applied for by a Chinese partner. This partner can be an employee of your Chinese subsidiary or one of your sales partners. Depending on the type of online service (purely informative or commercial), this process can be very time-consuming and should be planned several months in advance.
Finally, it is also conceivable to host the entire website in China. It means that the language or country version of the site is separated from the existing multilingual service (such as a corporate website) and hosted and operated separately on a Chinese server. Maintenance and service for this service is more expensive; however, the data stream will only take place within China and no longer has to pass through the Chinese firewall. This also has a positive effect on page performance. However, an ICP license is mandatory in this case as well.
The evaluation of user statistics via Google Analytics, the placement of ads via Google AdWords or the integration of YouTube videos will not work in China. If you want to be able to display and analyze your website comprehensively in China, you should or must switch to corresponding alternatives.
The direct counterpart to Google in China is called "Baidu" and provides a large part of the common Google systems for the Chinese market. For example, the Google Analytics functionalities can be achieved with Baidu Tongji; the ad placement á la Google AdWords with Baidu Tuigang.
We would be happy to assist you in selecting suitable alternatives for the Chinese market - just get in touch with us!
It is important to check the significance of the Chinese market for your own company or your own online service to decide, based on this, how much effort is appropriate and justified for a Chinese branch of the service. We are happy to provide advice at this point and also help with the selection of a suitable hosting partner. In some projects, for example, we work with our partner WEBER.cloud China, which can also support the implementation of the three options mentioned.
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