How to Securely Web Host Your Digital Properties in China
By Pankaj Gaur
With so many global organizations rendering their services in China through digital platforms, it’s no surprise that China has become one of the largest economies in the world, second only to the US.
Nonetheless, accessing various digital resources across the world from China remains a challenging task for two reasons:
- Digital resource services (like website, videos, images, etc.) hosted outside of China experience a negative impact in quality due to added latency, which can last anywhere from 2 seconds to 60 seconds.
- The information that can be accessed is heavily regulated and often blocks most of the content. The major issue here is that there are no set guidelines when it comes to blocking information. Content will be automatically blocked if it does not align with government regulations and conditions surrounding foreign content in China.
In this blog, we will discuss these content performance issues and some possible mitigations.
Performance issues with foreign content in China
There are a few main reasons for slow performance when a website is hosted outside of China (i.e. typically in the US or EU):
- Poor connection
The internet connection and the data transfer rates in western countries are quite poor, adding up to 1 entire minute in latency.
- Congested internet traffic
The limited number of internet service providers (ISP) and expensive direct peering in China – 3 ISPs in China vs. 7000 ISPs in the US – causes serious traffic congestion, adding to an already slow performance rate.
- The Great Firewall of China (GFW)
The internet in China has been under strict regulations since the late 1990s. This regulated internet traffic is achieved through a legislative and technical system called “The Great Firewall of China”, which essentially does a deep-packet inspection to monitor all requests and responses in order to properly accept or reject a request flow.
Even when the incoming “content” isn’t rejected, the above process significantly slows down delivery.
Furthermore, this deep-packet inspection can sometimes cause a data packet loss. This happens when a triggering re-transmission of packets occurs and slows the delivery of the content even more.
How to resolve a performance issue
To resolve the performance issues of a website for customers in China, the following two are popular options:
Re-locate to a nearby content delivery network (CDN)
One of the options to deal with this performance issue is to migrate the website/content delivery to a CDN location near China, like Hong Kong. This allows you to access content with fewer restrictions and ensures faster performance without the added complexities of hosting in China.
In general, CDNs are good practice because they provide your website with faster performance rates. By storing your content on high-speed devices and serving content from a location within close proximity of your website visitor, you can improve load times and lessen restrictions.
These CDNs in areas like Hong Kong will ensure your data transfer rates are higher, especially when compared to servers located in Western countries.
Please note: This may greatly improve the performance of your website, however, keep in mind that it will not completely bypass “The Great Firewall of China” restrictions.
How to get your website working in mainland China
If you have a large number of visitors/traffic to your website and China is on a top priority market for you, here are some additional benefits you’ll gain when shifting hosting services to China:
- Counter “The Great Firewall of China” resulting in an overall improvement to website access.
- Access the local social network like WeChat. The residents of China are more inclined to use WeChat, a social media tool popular in APAC.
Hosting within China bridges the gap with these organizations and allows you to market using social media tools, which would otherwise be limited or completely blocked.
- Access to local indexing and SEO governed by Baidu.
Instead of Google, China uses Baidu as a search engine. So, your SEO optimization for Google may not be helpful. Hosting in China can index and optimize SEO in accordance with Baidu’s algorithm, boosting your website ranking on a global level.
- Allows you to use a local CDN in China.
By hosting in China, you can use local CDNs to provide a greater experience to your local users.
- Mitigates the risk of data packets getting lost.
Our top 4 requirements for hosting a website in China
The following is an essential list of items needed to host your website in Mainland China:
- An Internet Content Provider (ICP) License.
- Your website must have a .cn domain.
- Understanding of Chinese Data Protection Regulations (CDPR). This means verifying whether you need to appoint a Data Protection Officer in China – This typically happens if you are a large enterprise collecting a large amount of PII on your website.
- The right partner.
As a global digital partner, Content Bloom is well-appointed to handle the entire process of hosting your digital estate in China, as well as provide 24/7 managed IT services and support. Reach out for more information.
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