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Is YouTube Blocked in China in 2023? Here’s How to Watch It!

Last updated: December 9, 2021

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YouTube is a popular US video-streaming and sharing platform that is used by more than 2 billion people in countries all over the globe.

If you try to access and watch YouTube in China, though, you will find that this app/website is blocked.

In March ’08, YouTube was blocked by Beijing in the midst of the Tibetan riots, becoming one of the first social media websites restricted in China. Now, the list of website and app content blocked in China has grown to more than 8,000!

If you want to bypass Chinese censorship and continue watching YouTube even while you are in China, you are going to need to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Keep reading this article to learn how to access the YouTube website or app, despite this block.

In a Hurry? Here’s How to Unblock YouTube in China

Is YouTube Blocked in China?

Unfortunately, YouTube is, in fact, blocked in China.

If you attempt to access YouTube from mainland China, all you will see instead of your YouTube videos is the following message:

If you are looking to unblock and access YouTube from China, you will have to use a VPN.

Using a VPN, you can access sites blocked in China by connecting to servers in other countries nearby or around the globe.

Since most VPNs are completely useless in China, you will have to use one that is on our list, below.

Why You Need a VPN to Watch YouTube in China

In order to preserve the culture of its country and its people, the Chinese government has set out to block access to websites in China that might be contrary to Chinese values.

Websites that users access every day, like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube, and other media and streaming sites, are banned in China.

Fortunately, while the Great Firewall is certainly one of the strongest virtual barriers in the world, it is not impenetrable. Some VPN providers make it their mission to help users access the Internet in China.

When you connect to a VPN from China, your IP address and location are hidden and replaced by an IP corresponding to your VPN’s server outside of Chinese borders.

Note: Since most VPN websites are blocked from China, you will need to download a VPN to your devices before arriving in China in order to use your VPN service for accessing and uploading videos on YouTube from China.

How to Choose the Right VPN for Unblocking YouTube in China 

Since YouTube is blocked in China, you will need to find a VPN that is able to bypass the Great Firewall of China.

Here are some of the important features to keep in mind:

☑️ Speed: To upload videos or to watch uploaded videos, Internet users will need fast enough speeds so that there is good video quality and no buffering.

☑️ Reliable Success: To access shows blocked in China, users should choose a VPN that can reliably and consistently get past Internet blocks in China. Not every VPN makes access to the Internet in China a priority.

☑️ Privacy and Security: Because it is China that blocks YouTube, and not vice versa, you will want to make sure to access the YouTube platform with good Internet protections. Choose a VPN with military-grade encryption and a no-logs policy to ensure you can get through any block without being detected.

☑️ Money-back Guarantee: If you want to make sure you can access YouTube even though YouTube is blocked, get a VPN that lets you test it before committing to a long-term plan so you can make sure you can open YouTube before being locked into a plan.

☑️ Good Support: If you are still having trouble accessing the Internet in China, or from anywhere else, it is good to have a VPN that gives you access to 24/7 live-chat support so you can get help with troubleshooting needs in minutes.

ExpressVPN is our go-to VPN, checking all of the boxes above.

3 Best VPNs for Watching YouTube in China 

If you are looking for the best VPN, here are some of the most reliable options for helping you bypass censorship to access YouTube from anywhere in the world:

No Provider Review Price/Month Visit Site
1 ExpressVPN Review $4.92 Visit Site
2 NordVPN Review $3.92 Visit Site
3 Surfshark Review $2.92 Visit Site

Can I Use a Free VPN to Unblock YouTube in China? 

If you are looking to access blocked websites from China, a free VPN will almost certainly not do the trick. In fact, most paid VPNs are still not able to get past the blocks imposed by China.

One of the most basic reasons that these free services are ineffective is that, since free VPNs don’t make money off of users’ subscriptions, they simply don’t have the resources to expand to stay ahead of these Chinese IP blocks.

On top of this, free VPNs are notoriously bad at keeping users private and secure online, which will mean that, if you were able to get past these blocks, you will be exposed and vulnerable to punishment by the government in China.

Can I Use a SmartDNS to Access YouTube Videos?

You may have heard of SmartDNS, and you may be wondering if you can use this method for accessing YouTube in China.

Unfortunately, this method won’t work.

While SmartDNs may work well when you are trying to access geo-blocked sites like Hulu or Netflix in China, YouTube is a bit trickier.

SmartDNS helps by spoofing your location so you can bypass any geo-restrictions by the streaming website or provider you are trying to reach, but since China itself blocks YouTube, you will have to also encrypt your traffic by using a VPN.

Streaming Video in China: Tips and Tricks 

When you are looking to stream content, like videos, online, the most important issue to keep in mind is your speed.

You may have had the annoying experience of trying to stream when your video was constantly buffering or freezing, and I am sure you do not want to experience this again.

To prevent any lags in speed when accessing YouTube in China, here are a few tips:

☑️ Shut Open Apps: To maximize your speed when watching your videos, shut any other open apps in your background, since these apps may be eating up your bandwidth.

☑️ Stay Up-to-Date: It is easy to reject updates to your system if you don’t have the patience to approve them, but carrying out these upgrades and updates is actually crucial to your speed, making sure your system is using the latest software and programs.

☑️ Assess your Speed: You can check your speed for free on a site like this. YouTube suggests that you have speeds of no less than 1 Mbps for your download speed. In order to watch good quality streams, you will want between 3 and 5 Mbps. If you see that your speed tests show that your speeds are inadequate, find a new network or upgrade your current network.

Other Sites & Services Blocked by the Chinese Government

Other websites, including social media websites and services, that are blocked by the Great Firewall are:

☑️ Google (Google Docs, Gmail, etc)
☑️ Dropbox
☑️ Twitch
☑️ Vimeo
☑️ Spotify
☑️ Wikipedia
☑️ WhatsApp

And social media websites like:

☑️ Facebook
☑️ Instagram
☑️ Pinterest
☑️ Snapchat
☑️ Tumblr
☑️ Twitter
☑️ and more

Using a reputable VPN, like ExpressVPN, you can get past this censorship to access any of these sites, including YouTube, in China.


What are YouTube alternatives in China?
One of the reasons that China blocks foreign sites is to encourage users to access some of its native options instead. If you want a local alternative to YouTube, a few of the options are:

☑️ Funshion
☑️ iQiyi
☑️ LeTV
☑️ Sohu
☑️ Tencent Video
☑️ Youku Youku
☑️ 56.com

and more


Since YouTube is blocked in China, you will need to use a reputable China VPN service to bypass censorship and access YouTube in China.

We recommend ExpressVPN as the fastest, most reliable VPN for China, with servers located in 94 countries around the globe.

We are constantly updating our articles as regulations and blocks change, and as new VPNs are added to our list, so keep checking back for any changes.

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