How to Bypass WhatsApp Restrictions in China in 2024

Ruheni Mathenge  - Streaming Expert
Last updated: January 1, 2024
Read time: 10 minutes

Discover the Chinese internet censorship and how to bypass and unblock WhatsApp in China with this guide.


The great firewall of China keeps so many popular social media apps away from citizens and residents alike. As a result, the overall privacy of the Chinese population is almost nonexistent, and the government micromanages the information they access. However, using a premium VPN helps both citizens and tourists safely use WhatsApp free of the prying eyes of the government and the local ISPs. Dive into this article to learn about the best VPNs for unblocking WhatsApp in China, including alternatives to WhatsApp and other popular social media apps.

WhatsApp is a widely used social media app in many countries except a select few, including China. The government uses Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) to screen and ban unwanted apps and internet activities while restricting internet traffic. As a result, WhatsApp users who travel to China may find it challenging to communicate. Thankfully, there is a reliable method to bypass this geo-restriction and unblock WhatsApp in China. If you guessed VPNs, you’re correct.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) encrypt your online activities, making it impossible for your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or the Chinese government to monitor or block your online activities.

However, not all VPN services function effectively in China. For this reason, we have detailed the most reliable VPNs to help you use WhatsApp seamlessly in China. This guide answers your questions on how to unblock WhatsApp in China, choosing a VPN for WhatsApp in China, and alternatives to WhatsApp in China, among others.

A quick guide to using WhatsApp in China

  1. Subscribe to a reliable VPN. ExpressVPN is an excellent choice.
  2. Download and then install the VPN app on your device.
  3. Connect to a server from any country, like Japan.
  4. Opt for a server close to you for the best speeds.
  5. Use WhatsApp and enjoy texting your family, friends, and coworkers and making audio and video calls with them.

Best VPNs to use WhatsApp in China – Quick list

  1. ExpressVPN: Provides swift dedicated server networks that give you access to blocked websites and applications like WhatsApp while in China.
  2. Private Internet Access (PIA): This VPN service provides complete online protection with its automatic kill switch.
  3. NordVPN: Large server bank for unblocking WhatsApp in China. It offers stealth protection and strong unblocking features.

Why a VPN is necessary to use WhatsApp in China

China imposes strict internet censorship through its “Great Firewall,” which restricts access to various foreign news channels, free online streaming sites, premium video platforms, and other online services, including WhatsApp. As a result, you would require a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to get around this censorship and access WhatsApp in China.

When you use a good China VPN, you’re guaranteed internet privacy and security when since VPN encryption protects your activities. Consequently, the Chinese government or your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will be unable to see the websites and applications you are using. In this manner, a VPN can bypass the firewall and give you access to WhatsApp.

However, only a small number of VPNs can bypass the Great Firewall. A VPN should have powerful encryption and be able to conceal your activities to escape WhatsApp restrictions. Therefore, a VPN is necessary to unblock WhatsApp in China because the VPN server hides your real location, ensuring your internet traffic appears as if it’s originating from the server’s location.

It is vital to note that the Chinese government continuously monitors VPN usage and occasionally adjusts its censorship policies to target well-known VPN servers. So, use caution when using VPNs in China because the efficiency of VPNs in bypassing the Great Firewall may vary.

In addition, China only permits VPNs authorized by the country and restricts any VPNs run by other governments. Despite China’s prohibition on unofficial VPNs, there haven’t been any reports of foreign visitors being penalized for using them. However, do not use VPNs for any illegal activity.

Best VPNs to use WhatsApp in China – Detailed list

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN new features block logo 120 by 120 now

A top-notch VPN service that unblocks WhatsApp in China. With its advanced encryption, security protocols, and secure servers, you can bypass geo-restrictions without hassle.

servers Has a massive network of servers in 160 location across 94 countries
Trusted servers nord Boasts a reliable TrustedServer technology
encryption Offers top-tier encryption for secure browsing and data safety; AES-256
Zero-logs policy Provides a strict no-logs policy
Split tunneling feature Advanced split tunneling for selective routing of internet traffic
network lock feature Offers Network Lock (kill switch) to maintain privacy and security
tor compatible Enhances its security features by providing Onion over VPN servers
P2P optimized servers Allows P2P connections on most servers
simultaneous connections Allows up to five devices to connect simultaneously
money-back guarantee A tested 30-day money-back guarantee for unsatisfied users
  • Offers high-speed connection speeds
  • Strong encryption and a top-tier security system
  • User-friendly interface and easy setup.
  • Expensive as compared to other VPN providers

ExpressVPN provides servers in the US, UK, Japan, and France tailored for use in China. It confirms through its support that it keeps an eye on the performance of these servers to make sure they operate dependably in China. As a result, this VPN service is most effective to unblock WhatsApp in China since it also offers reliable connections.

This VPN service features a kill switch to secure your connection and disable all internet traffic until your VPN connection has been restored if you lose it for some reason. Your entire private information is kept secure in this manner at all times. You don’t need to explicitly activate Network Lock because it typically has this feature enabled by default.

In addition, it features integrated DNS leak protection, ensuring that the firewall does not stop you from making WhatsApp calls. When ExpressVPN is connected, IPv6 leak protection hides your actual IP address. You can manually enable this extra security measure by checking ExpressVPN’s advanced settings, which is beneficial if you use the service in China.

ExpressVPN costs higher than most VPNs, starting at $6.67 monthly. Despite the price, the speed and usability make it worthwhile. Depending on ExpressVPN’s current promotions, you can save up to 49% with the service’s discount.

Furthermore, short-term and long-term subscriptions are available with ExpressVPN. Longer-term plans result in more savings, like other VPN services. Additionally, this VPN accepts Bitcoin as a payment option for increased anonymity. This VPN also offers a 30-day risk-free money refund policy if you change your mind.

2. Private Internet Access (PIA)

Private internet access pros cons block logo

A leading and secure VPN that provides stealth privacy and anonymity. This top-notch service allows users to bypass Chinese censorship and communicate freely with friends and family on WhatsApp.

servers A vast network of ove­r 35,000 servers across 80+ countries
P2P optimized servers Supports P2P file sharing and torrenting
encryption Secures VPN tunnel with AES-256 encryption
Ad Blocker feature MACE feature to block domains with malicious content
Zero-logs policy No traffic logs and a strict no-logging policy
Trusted servers nord Runs on RAM-only servers
Split tunneling feature Provides split-tunneling for specific apps to bypass VPN connection
Kill switch Offers kill switch feature to prevent data leakage if VPN disconnects
simultaneous connections Ten devices simultaneously with a single subscription
money-back guarantee 30-day refund guarantee
  • Affordable pricing plans
  • Allow torrenting and P2P file sharing
  • Dedicated customer support team.
  • Does not offer free trial

Private Internet Access (PIA) is an excellent choice for bypassing WhatsApp restrictions in China. It features an automatic kill switch with three settings: off, always, and automatic, providing good security. This VPN automatically disconnects when you lose your internet connection to give you privacy and prevent third parties from monitoring your online activities.

This VPN service also boasts military-grade encryption and an extensive server network that allows you to use WhatsApp in China safely and quickly.

Additionally, you can use other apps simultaneously with the split tunneling feature. Private Internet Access (PIA) is budget-friendly, fully functional, and features optimized applications for various devices, including iOS and Android.

3. NordVPN

NordVPN for Streaming

Dedicated and reliable VPN network with excellent unblocking capabilities. It allows you to bypass China’s Great Firewall and use WhatsApp without restrictions.

servers Boasts a server network of over 5,000 VPN servers across 60 countries
Ad Blocker feature Block intrusive ads and protect against malware and phishing attempts
encryption Uses top-notch encryption to secure online data: AES-256
Kill switch Offers kill switch to block internet connection
MultiHop mode Multi-hop for extra encryption and security layer
P2P optimized servers Allow peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing on particular servers
tor compatible Provides seamless Onion over VPN functionality
Zero-logs policy Doesn’t store any user activity or connection logs
Split tunneling feature Split-tunneling for selective VPN usage on apps and IP addresses
money-back guarantee Offers 30-day money-back guarantee and flexible pricing options
  • Strict no-logs policy for privacy
  • Robust security measures and encryption
  • User-friendly and intuitive interface
  • Limited support for some devices

NordVPN allows you to access WhatsApp and other services from any location in the world, including China, with its extensive server network. You can secure your online activities with NordVPN using 256-bit AES military-grade encryption. It also provides access to additional security features by allowing you to connect to Tor over VPN or a double VPN.

In addition, this VPN service allows you to automatically route your DNS requests through its secure servers, preventing any potential location-revealing DNS breaches. NordVPN works well with iOS, Android, and macOS, among other devices. You can also use this VPN on up to 6 devices at once.

Furthermore, NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and ensures fast connection speeds.

How to choose a VPN for WhatsApp in China

Choosing a reliable VPN that suits your preferences is essential to accessing WhatsApp in China. VPNs often get shut down in China, and as a result, recommendations are constantly changing.

However, the following general guidelines and recommendations can facilitate your search for the best VPN to help you bypass government restrictions and unblock WhatsApp in China.

  • Search for recent recommendations for VPN services. A service that was effective in China a year ago might not be effective now.
  • Research on Westerners’ preferred VPN services. Westerners make up the majority of WhatsApp users, so someone else may have already found a solution.
  • Be ready to invest financially. Although reliable VPNs are inexpensive, they aren’t overly pricey either.

Additional tools and methods to bypass restrictions on the Great Firewall

You may need tools other than a VPN service to use the internet effectively in China without any restrictions. These tools make your internet traffic appear from locations outside China. Over time, several techniques have been created by those attempting to get over the Great Firewall, and they include:

  • Tor: Tor is a sophisticated anonymity tool. Even though governmental censors have shut down all Tor network entrance points, alternative access strategies have been devised. Some strategies use the Tor network and covert proxies to bypass the firewall secretly.
  • Open Proxies: This straightforward workaround was successful many years ago, but the GFW’s sophisticated deep packet filtering quickly rendered it useless.

Is it risky to use a VPN in China?

Whether or not people in China should use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is somewhat debatable. The Great Firewall, a system of strict internet censorship rules in China, prevents access to foreign websites and services. Therefore, people in China often use VPNs to get around these limitations and access restricted content.

Although using a VPN isn’t directly against the law, it is quite risky. Anything you say could be used against you, even with a VPN. As a result, any speech that the Chinese authorities determine illegal will surely be subject to legal action.

The Chinese government has taken action to crack down on illegal VPN use, and occasionally VPN services have been interrupted or even temporarily shut down. You may discover that you must surrender your smartphone when moving between Chinese cities or crossing borders. Authorities may destroy VPN programs used to get around the GFW and scan your phone for any potentially unlawful content or activity.

Using a VPN in China is not specifically harmful or prohibited, but you can encounter several other issues. So, be cautious with your internet communications within China at all times.

How to configure a VPN for complete anonymity

VPNs are the ultimate tools for bypassing censorship and ensuring you stay completely anonymous online. However, they are not 100% perfect. In truth, complete anonymity is not attainable, but you can get a semblance of it.

Here’s our expert suggestion on the ways you can increase your online anonymity with a VPN:

  • Create a separate account: If you want to stay anonymous, you would be better off avoiding using your actual name to open the WhatsApp account.
  • Refrain from being predictable: Avoid cultivating a pattern when using the internet. Therefore, avoid revisiting similar websites in repeated order.

Steps to take before taking a trip to China

Before you plan a trip to China and begin to use WhatsApp during your stay, there are a few things you need to do. First, purchasing a VPN once you get to China will be tricky since the software is blocked in the country. The Google Play Store will not work in the country. So here’s what to do:

  • Download the dedicated VPN app: Depending on the VPN you are most comfortable using and the device of choice, head to the Apple or Google Play Store.
  • Purchase the VPN before going to China: It is advisable to download and install the VPN app before you get to China because you may be unable to download one since the VPN sites are all blocked in the country. There are mirror websites for VPNs that are easily accessible in China but also quickly flagged and blocked. So, endeavor to download and install your VPN before you take the trip.

Alternatives to WhatsApp in China

WhatsApp is just one of the many other apps blocked in China, but the good news is they also have usable, passable alternatives. These alternatives are often made in and for the Chinese community and can function within censorship. The alternative to WhatsApp in China is WeChat or 微信 (Weixin) in Chinese.

WeChat is similar to WhatsApp but is more than a messaging app. It is a versatile and widely popular app used by citizens. Its functions aside from messages include a payment system, microblogging platform, social network, cab-hailing service, and much more.

What are the social media platforms banned in China?

As stated earlier, there are other social media apps banned in China. These apps do not meet the country’s privacy laws and, as such, are not allowed to function. Below are the social media apps banned in China:

However, we must add that while these apps are banned, the Chinese government provides local alternatives to them. Take YouTube, for example, the alternative is Youku Tudou, and Weibo replaces Twitter. Xiaohongshu replaces Instagram, while QQ replaces Facebook.


WhatsApp is among the most popular social media apps in the world, and in a country like China, with a population of over a billion, you would expect it to have a lot of users there. However, with the strict anti-privacy laws imposed by the government of China to monitor the privacy of residents, it is challenging.

However, you can bypass the censorship and unblock WhatsApp in China using a VPN, but not all VPNs can guarantee complete anonymity. The listed VPNs in this article have gone through extensive testing, and all performed great within the censorship of the great firewall of China.


The Chinese government does not punish any tourists for the use of VPNs. VPNs are not illegal as far as we can tell; there are, in fact, government-owned VPNs which are allowed to work. So to stay safe in China, you can use premium VPNs, which are not among the ones the government permits. Using government-owned VPNs is risky, as they would erase any privacy.

The Chinese government banned WhatsApp and other social media apps because it is convinced they are used to spread “undesirable” information. The issue here is that only the government gets to decide what is desirable or what isn’t. By order of China’s Computer Information Network and Information Security, Protection, and Management Regulation, apps like WhatsApp are banned in China. The regulatory body has been in existence since the advent of the Internet. However, with a VPN, you can effectively circumvent the ban and use WhatsApp, as we have established in this piece. VPNs can block the government and ISPs from monitoring your activities and, as such, will be unable to block you.

Countries like Cuba, North Korea, China, Iran, and Syria have banned WhatsApp. The app is also banned in the UAE, albeit to a partial extent — you can only use it to text. You can subscribe to a premium VPN such as ExpressVPN to stay when visiting these areas.

The equivalent of WhatsApp in China is WeChat, which the government approves for use in the country. WeChat, however, is not private; the government has full access to the users’ WeChat data and private activities. Whatsapp encrypts its conversation, keeping them perfectly private. And you can unblock and use WhatsApp once you get a premium VPN to bypass the censorship.

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About the Author

Ruheni Mathenge

Ruheni Mathenge

Streaming Expert
201 Posts

Tech researcher and writer with a passion for cybersecurity. Ruheni Mathenge specializes in writing long-form content dedicated to helping individuals and businesses navigate and understand the constantly evolving online security and web freedom worlds. He specializes in VPNs, online anonymity, and encryption. His articles have appeared in many respected technology publications. Ruheni explains complicated technical concepts clearly and simply. He advocates digital freedom and online privacy at every level.

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