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Is YouTube Blocked in China in 2024?

Last updated: March 7, 2024

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Whether you’re traveling in China, or living there, if you try to watch YouTube videos in China you will find that the site is blocked for you. The Chinese government has strict censorship rules, and this includes restricting access to popular social media websites, including YouTube.

But never fear! If you’re in China and want to watch YouTube videos or have free and open access to other blocked websites, there is a solution. By using a virtual private network (VPN), you can change your IP address and access YouTube in China, along with any other blocked sites.

However, not all VPNs can bypass China’s Great Firewall and unblock restricted sites, so it’s important to choose a reliable VPN that is actually able to access blocked websites in China. Keep reading to learn more about accessing YouTube in China.

In a hurry? Here’s how to unblock Youtube in China

Is YouTube blocked in China?

Yes, YouTube is blocked in China, in addition to many other social media platforms and websites. This is because of strict internet censorship rules from the Chinese government.

Why is YouTube blocked in China?

YouTube was one of the first social media sites to get blocked by China’s Great Firewall in 2009. The video-sharing website allows users to watch and interact with videos from creators worldwide, which Chinese authorities felt could threaten their government. The government tends to block Western websites and content that may support ideas they find undesirable or that they feel would be critical and questioning of the Chinese Communist Party.

In addition to YouTube, China’s government has also blocked sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vimeo, Pinterest, Google, and more.

Why you need a VPN to unblock YouTube in China

China blocks websites using what has become known colloquially as the Great Firewall. In order to circumvent censorship and access content on YouTube that has been blocked, you will need a VPN. Using a VPN, you can change your IP address to appear as if you are located in a different country and watch YouTube this way.

How to choose the best VPN to unblock YouTube in China

When it comes to choosing the best VPN for watching YouTube in China, these are the criteria you should consider:

  • Works in China. Many VPNs don’t actually work in China, so make sure to choose a VPN provider that is proven to work in China and can bypass the Great Firewall.
  • Unblocking abilities. If you’re going to be using a VPN in China it is crucial that you VPN service have the ability to unblock websites.
  • Server network. Look for a VPN that has a broad server network, and includes servers in locations near Mainland China.
  • Speed. Choose a VPN that has fast speeds so you won’t have a lot of buffering when watching YouTube.
  • Privacy and security. Privacy and security are extremely important when using a VPN in China, as you need to ensure that it can remain undetected by the Chinese authorities and keep you secure from any online threats.

How to unblock Youtube in China with a VPN

To unblock YouTube in China, follow these steps:

  1. Sign up for a quality VPN service like ExpressVPN. We reccomend doing this BEFORE you travel to China, as some VPN websites may be blocked there, and could make signing up for an account more difficult.
  2. Download the VPN app to your device.
  3. Open the app, and sign in with your details.
  4. Select a VPN server in a location outside of China, such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, or Japan.
  5. Once the server is connected, open YouTube and enjoy all the videos available!

3 best VPNs to unblock YouTube in China

There are many VPNs to choose from, but these are our picks for the best VPNs for China to unblock YouTube.

Devices compatible with ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is our top pick for VPNs overall and also works great in China. It has a server network of over 3,000 locations across 105 countries, including servers in locations such as Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong that work well in China.

Features: A great feature of ExpressVPN is its automatic obfuscation on its servers, which will help protect your data while also helping to hide your VPN traffic from authorities. It has unlimited bandwidth and lets users have up to 8 simultaneous device connections. It also has a Chinese mirror site, which is a mirror website you can access from China that may be used to install ExpressVPN on any device you may have forgotten about before your trip.

Speed: Using the Lightway tunneling protocol, ExpressVPN provides lightning-fast speeds that generally stay reliable even in China.

Security: ExpressVPN has robust security features, including AES-256-bit encryption, DNS leak protection, RAM-only servers, a kill switch, and a zero-logs policy. It also has stealth servers to hide your VPN connection on another level.

Streaming: This VPN has fantastic unblocking capabilities and can bypass restrictions on social media, news sites, and streaming services such as YouTube, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Prime Video, and HBO GO Asia.

Compatibility: ExpressVPN is compatible with most devices, including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TVs, gaming consoles, and routers.

Pricing: This is a more expensive option compared to others on the market, with prices starting at $6.67 per month. But it does come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.


  • Automatic obfuscation
  • Strong security features
  • Incredibly fast speeds
  • Great unblocking capabilities
  • Servers work in China
  • Chinese mirror site
  • 24/7 live chat support


  • Pricier option

2. NordVPN

Devices compatible with NordVPN

NordVPN is a quality VPN that is known to work well in China and has good performance. It has over 6,000 servers in more than 60 countries, including servers in

Features: NordVPN has obfuscated servers that are made for the specific purpose of bypassing online censorship, however, it’s important to be aware they are not always reliable in China. It also allows for up to 6 simultaneous connections and unlimited bandwidth.

Speed: NordVPN uses its NordLynx tunneling protocol, which gives it super-fast connection speeds that are great for watching YouTube videos.

Security: This VPN has strong security features, including military-grade encryption, a built-in ad blocker, a kill switch, a no-logs policy, and leak protection.

Streaming: NordVPN can bypass online restrictions to unblock many sites, including streaming sites such as YouTube, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video.

Compatibility: This VPN is compatible with many popular devices, including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and Smart TVs.

Pricing: Prices for NordVPN start at $3.39 per month and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.


  • Works in China
  • Broad server network
  • Fast speeds
  • Strong security
  • Obfuscated servers
  • 24/7 live chat support


  • iOS devices have to be set up manually
  • Obfuscated sometimes don’t work in China

Devices compatible with Surfshark

Surfshark is the ideal VPN for those looking for a quality VPN service without breaking the bank. It has a strong server network with over 3,200 servers in 100 countries, including locations in Hong Kong and Macau.

Features: In addition to unlimited bandwidth, a highlight of Surfshark is that they offer unlimited simultaneous connections, so you can use the VPN on as many devices as you want under one account. It also has a version of obfuscation that will automatically turn on if it senses your VPN connection is facing restrictions called NoBorders Mode.

Speed: Surfshark might not be as fast as the other two VPNs on this list, but it still has very fast speeds that will work well with watching videos or streaming.

Security: Surfshark has many good security features, including AES-256 encryption, a kill switch, split tunneling, a no-logs policy, and an ad-blocker to keep your online activities safe. It also has Camoflouge Mode, so the Chinese authorities can’t detect your VPN activity.

Streaming: Surfshark has no problem bypassing internet restrictions to unblock numerous sites, including streaming platforms such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video.

Compatibility: This VPN is compatible with many devices, including Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux.

Pricing: Prices for Surfshark start at the low price of just $1.99 per month and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.


  • Unlimited simultaneous device connections
  • Fast speeds
  • Good security
  • Great for streaming and unblocking sites in China
  • Low cost
  • 24/7 live chat support


  • Torrenting doesn’t work as well
  • Servers may occasionally be slow

Can I use a free VPN to unblock YouTube in China?

We do not recommend using a free VPN in China for many reasons. The Great Firewall is a tough nut to crack, and many VPNs struggle to do so. The VPNs that succeed at scaling that wall use advanced levels of encryption protocols and security features that most free VPNs simply don’t have. So, chances are that if you try to use a free VPN while in China to unblock YouTube, you will find yourself unsuccessful.

Beyond this, there are many other security risks associated with using most free VPN services. Because they lack security features, you may be vulnerable to hackers and other online threats. Additionally, some companies are able to offer free services because they, in turn, sell their users’ data to third parties, which comes with major privacy concerns.

Free VPNs also tend to have overcrowded servers, which can lead to a lot of internet traffic and slow speeds. So, generally, we recommend saving yourself the headache and sticking with a premium VPN like ExpressVPN.

YouTube alternatives in China

If you feel like you can live without YouTube during your trip, you might want to check out some local Chinese video-sharing sites that are similar to YouTube:

  • YouKu – With a name similar to YouTube, this is one of the most popular and best-known video-sharing sites in China.
  • Bilibili – This Chinese site seeks to compete with YouTube. It originally started as a platform for video games and anime but has since grown to encompass videos across all genres. It also hosts live streams where Chinese users can interact with streamers.

There are numerous other Chinese sites to choose from if you’re in China, but just be aware that you might need a working knowledge of Mandarin in order to navigate and interact with them.


Is YouTube legal in China?

YouTube is banned in China. However, it’s unlikely you’ll face legal trouble if you watch YouTube with a VPN. There is no record of Chinese authorities coming after tourists for using VPNs to watch blocked sites. Instead, they generally target the VPN technology itself to make it harder for those trying to get through the Great Firewall to access social media websites and other sites, which is one of the reasons not every VPN is capable of working in China.

Can I watch YouTube in China without a VPN?

No, you will not be able to watch YouTube in China without a VPN. The Chinese government had YouTube banned in 2009, and the internet in China is subject very strict restrictions. It is very difficult to bypass the Great Firewall, but with a premium VPN like ExpressVPN you can access YouTube and other websites that are blocked in China.


If you’re planning a trip to China and want to be able to watch your favorite YouTube channels or YouTube TV, you’re unfortunately going to find that the site is blocked for you because of strict internet restrictions in place by China’s government.

But with the right VPN, you can bypass the Great Firewall of China and watch YouTube or other streaming sites as much as you’d like.

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