How To Watch Foreign TV Shows In China Using VPN

China is a highly conservative country, that has held on to its cultural practices for millennia. As such, Mandarin is widely spoken by roughly 70% of the population with Xiang (Hunanese), Yue (Cantonese, Gan dialect, Min dialect, Wu dialect, and Hakka dialect or Kejia accounting for the rest.

In particular, Mandarin is the official national language within the country and it is used within government offices, public institutions, and during media coverage. English content is not as marketable as those in the listed languages like Cantonese, and so it is difficult to come across highly rated TV-series.

On the contrary, most of the blockbuster releases from Hollywood and the UK are available in cinemas, albeit in Mandarin (subtitles and voice translation).[/p]

In some of the high-end residential areas of its major cities, there is cable coverage for premium clientele. So unless you reside in these posh areas that are tailored for foreigners with deep pockets or those who stay for long periods because of work-related commitments, then it is clear that the internet is the best way to access foreign TV shows in China via VPN.

A fact is that the People Republic of China is renowned for one of the wonders of the world, the Great Wall of China. But ever since the advent of the new Millenium, the internet has become such a phenomenon, that the country’s communist political views led to the formation of the Great Firewall of China.

Why Use A VPN?

The Great Firewall of China is no hype by any means. All the internet data is filtered, and the government has ensured that the content circulating within China is almost purely locally produced and/curated. It has limited the cross-border internet traffic by censorship, and flaunting this rule can lead to some severe penalties or jail time. So how do you bypass one of the most ‘fortified’ firewalls in the world?

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You use a VPN to conceal your IP address which allows you to access Netflix, Hulu, or even Amazon. You don’t have to miss the latest episode of some of the most rated shows on earth yet there is a high-speed fiber internet connection in China, renowned for being one of the fastest in the world.

For a very long time, using a VPN in China (well rated ExpressVPN for example) was not necessary, because people found creative ways to access foreign content. The domestic option was to use Youku ( which is like the Chinese version of PirateBay. But due to copyright policing where most of the movies or TV-series available had to be pulled down due to infringement, it was back to square one, and using a VPN became essential.

Using a VPN will allow you to subscribe to the channel of your choice. Even better is that the VPN will mask your identity by bouncing your IP address across servers in different countries. This makes it seem like you are living outside China, but in the real sense, you are right within its borders.

If you have any doubts, then you can subscribe for a free trial to confirm how effective streaming these services, actually is. You do not want to pay for a monthly subscription to Amazon only to find out that after 3-days your access has been revoked or the Great Firewall has restricted your access.

Not all the VPNs are effective, so you should scour the internet to find the best which gives you real value for your money. Some offer discounts which make them a very economical option although you should check the speeds available.

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A cheap VPN might subject you to slow buffering. It is mostly because another aspect of the Great Firewall is that Non-Chinese websites are subjected to very slow internet speeds. This is one way the government discourages people from accessing foreign content. But there is a myriad of other ways to watch foreign TV shows in China some of which we shall highlight.

Benefits Of Using A VPN In China

  • It masks your identity by hiding your IP address
  • It allows you to access foreign content from any country in the world while you are within China
  • It allows you to subscribe and subsequently stream data from leading entertainment networks such as Netflix
  • It is safe because the servers hosting the VPN ensure that there are no malware threats

Other Options

If using a VPN seems like a very complicated way of doing things for you, then there are simpler ways. In fact, if you are in China for probably a week and you do not want to miss your favorite show’s weekly episode, then paying for a VPN would be expensive.

Similar to Youku, Sohu ( is another option. While Youku has faced legal trouble that has adversely affected its rating, Sohu, on the other hand, is flourishing. Somehow, the operators of this site have found a way to upload foreign content regularly. They don’t upload any content, because they have also ensured that the latest episodes and movies are released on the global international market.

Another cheap option would be to buy the DVDs. Since there is a foreign presence in China, there is a huge demand for foreign TV shows which is why there is a lot of DVDs imported. When you consider that there is also a thriving bootleg-industry in China, then you know that DVDs can get even cheaper if you traverse the numerous stalls within urban areas where you find the pirated versions.

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Some websites also upload international programs for streaming, but the downside is that they might be in Chinese with poorly translated subtitles which reduces the thrill of it was in English.


Seeing as there are a couple of options to access foreign content for TV in China, it goes to show just how technology has advanced over the decades. For sure, the VPN is the best option to access foreign content from any location in the world where there is an internet connection.

It is the mode that we would highly recommend unless you are okay with watching local content in Mandarin which is not a bad thing because it exposes you to a culture where you can learn a thing or two in the process.