How to Watch Netflix in China

With the consistent increase in streaming services year after year, you might not want to abandon Netflix even for a day when you’re in China, whether visiting or permanently. You can watch Netflix in China easily with the right VPN. 

For a more in-depth explanation about how to watch Netflix in China, take a look below at our comprehensive guide. We’ll take you through the basics to the more concrete VPN options for Netflix streaming in China.  

How to Watch Netflix in China

Even with all of the restrictions, censorship, money, and limits, you can still manage to watch Netflix in China if you know where to look. One way, also the most popular way, to access Netflix in China and any other geo-restricting locations is through a VPN. 

With a VPN you can get through Netflix’s tricky geo-restriction policy and stream your favorite shows. 

Using a VPN to Stream in China

A virtual private network (VPN) is exactly as the name implies. It’s a personal network you can install to disguise your IP address so that you can freely browse the internet and interact with different online applications without a trace. 

Unlike using a public or unsecured wifi network, using a VPN doesn’t expose your browsing history and virtual interactions. It also provides an extra layer of security, preventing personal information access and potential cyber hacks, and allows you to bypass Netflix’s geo-restriction policy. 

To mask your online habits, a VPN connects with an external service to make it seem as though your IP address is somewhere else far away from where you are. This ability makes it a desirable program to use to watch Netflix in China because third parties monitoring your IP address–Netflix included–will think that you’re in a place where watching Netflix is allowed and accessible.  

Without a VPN, your internet provider or hackers can monitor your online activity as well as access your entire browsing history, and a site that geo-restricts access can prevent you from using its service. 

So, if you plan to watch Netflix in China without a VPN, your internet provider can restrict or prevent your access to the site, or the site itself can recognize your location and prevent you from using the platform. With a VPN, you can access the streaming platform without worrying about getting kicked out.  

What VPN Should You Use

Before you download any old VPN out there, you should look into reliable and reputable VPN sources because not all VPNs will service China’s specifically tricky market. China has also recently cracked down on VPN usage, so when you pick out a VPN you want to make sure it can successfully swerve China’s watchful eye over the program. 

Some VPNs you might want to check out include:



ExpressVPN is a desirable choice for watching Netflix in China because of its widespread servers. You can find about 160 ExpressVPN servers spread out through 94 countries making it extremely difficult for China to pin down your IP address.  

ExpressVPN is also compatible with varying technology platforms including Mac, Smart TVs, iOS, and Android to name a few. It is among one of the fastest VPNs on the market and has strict no-log policies alongside an encryption platform to further ensure your protection 



NordVPN, a popular program within the tech industry, is equipped with over 5,000 servers worldwide. No matter where you go, you can easily access NordVPN’s server list and choose the location that best suits you so that you can swerve around geo-restriction policies. 

Since Netflix restricts China’s access, you can easily make your IP address appear as if it’s in a Netflix abiding location, such as the US, to stream freely. While some VPNs and software slow down when streaming, NordVPN keeps up your standard pace to run smoothly and quickly so that you can stream with ease. 



While SurfShark, much like the other VPNs, has thousands of servers worldwide, they have many that reside close to China. Choosing one of the serves in proximity to China without crossing the border will give you significantly faster processing times. 

SurfShark also permits multiple users to one device, which is ideal for groups traveling to China. The service also ensures your information’s safety with intense protection protocols.

How to Download a VPN

Downloading your VPN choice is simple. All you need to do is locate the affiliate page and purchase the product–because you should only use a paid VPN. Once you complete the purchase, you can immediately download the application and install it on your computer just as you would for another online application. 

Once the VPN’s download completes, you can access the system’s server settings to choose the location that best suits your needs. If you’re in China and want to stream Netflix, you’ll want to choose a location where VPNs are legal and that allows Netflix access. 

After getting your server choice set up, you can fire up Netflix and get back to watching your shows without worrying about getting kicked out. For an extra layer of reliability, you might want to consider downloading two VPNs just as a precaution. Through our research, we’ve found that many users tend to download at least two VPNs in case one fails. 

Should You Use a Free or Paid VPN

As tempting as a free VPN may be, resist the urge. Using a free VPN comes with many hidden dangers you probably aren’t aware of. For instance, a free VPN, more the most part, won’t permit access to streaming sites in geo-restricted areas. 

They will not protect your information as securely or effectively as a paid service either, meaning your information is vulnerable to hackers, viruses, and more. Not to mention, free VPNs aren’t reliable. They can seriously slow down your computer and prevent you from completing simple tasks. Ultimately, they aren’t worth the risk.

A paid VPN will give you the reliability you need when streaming Netflix in China. Paid VPNs also come equipped with more capabilities than a free version, including blocking your location to circumvent geo-restriction policies. In paying for the program, you also pay for an extra security layer for your information.  

Are VPNs Legal?

Yes, VPNs are legal throughout many countries. However, if you use a VPN to do something illegal without one, then you should assume the act is illegal when using a VPN. When you use a VPN to stream Netflix in China, you don’t have to worry about legalities concerning VPNs. 

The country may start cracking down on their use, but for now, you can have the service installed in your device to stream content without worry. 

What Is SmartDNS?

SmartDNS means Smart Domain Name Server. This program is comparable to VPN usage in that it also allows users to access geo-restricted websites. SmartDNS goes about the process differently though. SmartDNS connects you to a previously established proxy instead of creating a private network. 

The SmartDNS is different from a VPN because it doesn’t change your IP address, it just connects you to a different proxy for the access you need. Unlike VPNs, SmartDNS is not known for its stellar reliability. When you use this program, you may experience glitches and get kicked out of the website. 

SmartDNS also does not provide security as a VPN does. Without that layer of security, your information is vulnerable to cyber-attacks and other malicious online intent. When choosing between the two, security is something to keep in mind as that’s an aspect you’ll likely need when in a foreign country.

Why Is Watching Netflix in China Difficult?

It’s all about the little things when it comes to watching Netflix in China. Netflix, for instance, doesn’t operate in China for various reasons, including the country’s censorship rules, the cost, and the existing online video platforms. 

However, accessing Netflix in China is also about Netflix’s preference concerning its presence in a place where it does not operate. Netflix has a geo-restriction policy in place, preventing access from foreign locations where it does not have a license agreement to protect itself from costs and legalities.  

Censorship and Restrictions 

Netflix is never one to shy away from some risque content which poses a major complication when dealing with streaming in China. While those sorts of shows may fly in the UK and US, they most certainly do not in China. 

China has incredibly limiting censorship laws concerning streaming content. The country has gone so far as to declare nearly every genre as taboo. They have imposed restrictions on fantasy shows, historical period-pieces for racy costumes, young romantic series, and shows depicting LGBTQIA relationships or characters. 

For Netflix to operate in China in adherence to these censorship laws would be pointless. Practically none of their shows would make the cut.   

The Cost

If China’s censorship rules aren’t restrictive enough for the streaming platform, the cost to operate in the country is. China charges ridiculous amounts for services to stream within the country. The online video industry in China is currently worth a few billion in US dollars and is predicted to skyrocket toward $15 billion by 2022. 

A majority of the streaming services that exist in China have extremely low subscription revenue. Most of them rely on ad-generated revenue instead. Since Netflix funds its content through subscription costs and investments rather than ad revenue, they would need to spend copious amounts to keep producing in China.   

Existing Streaming Platforms

Besides the expense and restrictive censorship laws, China already has an overwhelmingly saturated online video industry. Just as the US has an increased streaming platform population, so does China. They have dozens of large platforms to choose from, all of which are primarily free to use. 

Since Netflix is a paid service, it would have to compete against comparable, free sites. Netflix would probably lose this competition as more people don’t want to spend large amounts of money on a service monthly when they can find similar content for free elsewhere. 

Geo-Restricting Policy

Since Netflix doesn’t have a license agreement with China to stream its content, Netflix implements a geo-restriction policy to protect itself. Ultimately though, Netflix’s geo-restriction policy is about not wanting to pay China for individuals using its service without a licensing agreement. 

A license agreement between a country and a service permits individuals to use the platform. If sites continue to operate without an agreement, the country has the right to charge the service. 

Therefore, Netflix geo-restricts its service to avoid hefty fines from China’s conglomerate online video industry.    

Will You Get in Trouble for Watching Netflix in China?

The short answer? No, you won’t get in trouble for watching Netflix in China. Other than China’s strict censorship laws, watching Netflix over there isn’t illegal. China isn’t the real issue with streaming the service—Netflix is. 

The Netflix company is the one that restricts your access when you’re in China. Otherwise, you’d be able to watch it as you please. Accessing the site isn’t illegal. Instead, Netflix doesn’t want to face any fines or payouts from the country without having a proper licensing agreement in the area.

Why Do You Need to Watch Netflix in China? 

The need to watch Netflix in China boils down to your personal preference. If you plan to visit the country for a quick business trip, you might not see the need to watch Netflix during your time there. 

However, if you want to keep up with your favorite Netflix shows, stream Netflix in fear of having nothing else to watch, or have an extended stay planned, you might want to keep your streaming service handy. Plus, you paid for the service, so why not use it, right?


When it comes down to how to watch Netflix in China, it’s not super complicated. Even though Netflix restricts user access in China because of its geo-restriction policy, you can still access the site using reliable, paid VPN programs, such as ExpressVPN, NordVPN, or SurferShark.