The Great Firewall of China (GFW) was put in place by the Chinese government in 1998 to block and regulate different parts of the internet. According to Wikipedia, as of September 2018, around 10,000 websites were blocked in mainland China. This includes many popular sites and services that many of us use on a daily basis, such as, Gmail, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Today we’ll dive into what this means for hosting your sites on Google Cloud Platform.

Great Firewall of China and Google Cloud Platform

If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering how Google Cloud Platform is impacted. Kinsta uses Google Cloud Platform and if you host your sites with us, they should be accessible within China. In fact, we have many many clients currently targeting China just fine.

However, we also can’t guarantee accessibility as we have zero control over what the Chinese government may choose to block. Navi from Google Support has also stated:

Google Cloud Platform does not have a restriction on the traffic coming from China. If you are hosting a website on GCP, traffic coming from the China users will not be blocked.

That being said, Google does not have any control over the GFW blocking methods.

The same goes for our Kinsta CDN, powered by Cloudflare. While we haven’t had any reported issues, we don’t have control over what China could block.

Check Your Website Behind Great Firewall of China

You can use a free tool like WebSitePulse, vpnMentor, Comparitech, or to test a website in real-time and check if it’s accessible from China (behind the Great Firewall of China). Remember that accessibility can differ from location to location. Using these tools, you can test your site from the following locations:

  • Shanghai, China
  • Beijing, China
  • Guangzhou, China
  • Shenzhen, China
  • Inner Mongolia, China
  • Heilongjiang Province, China
  • Yunnan Province, China

Just enter your website and check for the status. It should show an “OK” if your website is accessible. As you can see below, (hosted on Google Cloud Platform) is accessible behind the Great Firewall of China.

Check website behind Great Firewall of China
Check website behind the Great Firewall of China

Recommendations for Sites Targeting China

Kinsta has 37 different data centers you can choose from. While there isn’t a location in China, the Taiwan or Hong Kong data center is a good choice. You can also use a tool like GCP Ping to determine the lowest latency data center based on your current physical location.

If you’re experiencing issues, another solution is to try putting your site behind Cloudflare. Due to the fact that this is a reverse proxy, your site will get assigned a different IP address which may have better luck getting through. They also have additional options in China for Cloudflare Enterprise clients.