A friend asked me a few questions the other day regarding website visibility in China, which I was asked before. So, I think writing a post on this topic could benefit more people who face similar problems.
.CN Chinese Domain Registration
If you want to register a China Country code top level domain (ccTLD), .CN for Chinese market, it requires the following documents:
- A completed .CN domain application form
- A copy of your Business License (registered in China; can be Hong Kong registered commercial entity)
- A copy of your Signatory’s National ID. Signatory must be a Chinese citizen and has a valid PRC personal ID
ICP license number (Internet Content Provider) is a permit issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) to permit China-based websites to operate in China. The ICP license numbers for Chinese websites can often be found on the bottom of the front webpage.
If Registrant is not registered in China’s MIIT ICP Recording system, domain name will be on “serverhold” status till MIIT ICP number is provided.
ICP registration can be done at www.miibeian.gov.cn or via domain registrar.
Exemption from China’s ICP Recording Number
The requirement of submitting ICP number can be exempted under the following circumstances:
- For non website usage purpose. Applicant needs to submit “the letter of commitment of the usage of domain name for non website purpose”.
- For website server not located in Mainland China. Applicant needs to submit “the letter of commitment of the usage of domain name for website whose server is not based in mainland China”.
So, if you want to host your website in China, you should have a registered business with Chinese government. Note that if your domain is not .CN, such as .com or .net, having a Chinese national representative in China can also get you the ICP number.
Hosting Your Website in China
No matter where you registered your domain, you must register with MIIT to get ICP number. So, ICP recording number is the key if you want to host your website in China.
Hosting Your Website Outside China
If you host your website outside China (even in Hong Kong), you may run into one of the two problems:
- Your website is completely not accessible. There is so far no guarantee your site being hosted outside China is accessible in China; this could happen even if your website has no political or pornographic content.
- Your website can be accessed by Internet users in China but very slow.
Check Whether Your Website Can Be Accessed in China
Ask friends from different cities in China to help check whether your website is accessible and how comfortable they are with the loading speed of the website. Or, you could use free tools from websitepulse.com or greatfirewallofchina.org to check:
One thing to be clear though, passing the test does not guarantee all users in China can access your website. Some CIW reported they have to use proxy or VPN to access this blog. Users in different cities may or may not be able to access your site.
How to Prevent Your Website from Being Blocked
If you website is hosted outside China, there is no way you can be 100% sure no matter what content you publish. However, these are the best you can do to prevent that:
- Use a VPS or dedicated server with a unique IP address. On shared hosting, if someone else with the same IP address is blocked, your website is collateral damage
- Avoid publishing political content
- Avoid posting sensitive news. One way to judge whether a piece of news can be published is to go to search Chinese news website and if they published it, it’s safe.
- No pornographic content or gambling related
You can also watch this video below:
If you have other questions regarding this topic, feel free to ask and I’ll try to answer that.