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Asia and Pacific Region Forum

The importance of hosting Top Sites in China Part 2

 7:36 am on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm going to publish a large scale website with target audience in Mainland China. But before launching that website I should clarify a lot of questions. Some thread here such as "The importance of hosting Top Sites in China; Myth or Reality?" are very helpful. But there are still uncertains. The following questions from this thread aren't replied as yet.

1) Can a foreign company host their servers in a Chinese data center?

2) Does a foreign company need an internet content license (ICP) in order to host their site in China.

3) Can a wholly owned foreign company apply for an ICP? My understanding was that you need a 51% stake held by a Chinese partner?

Our company will be in HK. But I guess we need to host our website in Mainland China or do you have any other suggestions?

Thank YOU



 1:40 pm on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Welcome to WebmasterWorld GeeStar.

1) Can a foreign company host their servers in a Chinese data center?

Yes. I do this from Japan.

2) Does a foreign company need an internet content license (ICP) in order to host their site in China.

I don't. I was told it was the responsibility of the host if necessary.

3) Can a wholly owned foreign company apply for an ICP? My understanding was that you need a 51% stake held by a Chinese partner?

Not sure about the particulars there.


 2:02 pm on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

thank u bill!

a hosting service company in shanghai just told me that it's possible to get a ICP license as a foreign company if they will apply it for us. but i don't know if it's really true. i'm waiting for other replies and opinion.

an alternative is to host in HK or Singapore. what do you think about that? would it be fast enough?


 4:25 pm on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)


I'm in the UK, and I have a mirror of my site in Beijing, and it's been there for a while.

My hosting company applied for an ICP licence on my behalf (after I'd shown them a thread in this forum!).




 5:07 pm on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

hi damon... so you have a company from the uk with an ICP license. you don't have any other branch in china? so i can be sure that it's possible to get an ICP licence as a HK company? which thread did you show your hosting company?


 6:31 pm on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Strictly speaking I think that I was granted a *personal* licence.

But as I've never actually seen any licence cert passed on by my host, I have to take it on trust.

If what you're doing isn't news or politics or medicine or one of a number of other 'sensitive' topics, I believe you should be OK. But IANAL, especially Chinese Internet law!




 5:20 am on Dec 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

we're going to publish a social network website with some similar features like facebook. could be more sensitive for the chinese gov.

does anybody know a chinese internet law expert in guangzhou or shanghai?


 6:21 am on Dec 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

@damon: you said you applied a ICP license. did you need a Chinese ID for that? a hosting service in shanghai told me they need a chinese citizen's ID and a chinese to apply for the ICP.


 9:18 am on Dec 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't have a Chinese ID of any sort.




 12:19 pm on Dec 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Social networking is a big NO NO. You can't.

There are ICP's and there are ICP's. A few companies holds the commercial ICP's that allows for social networking. These are companies like Tencent (QQ etc), Netease and Sina.

Without a commercial ICP license you can't host blogs etc.

The official requirements for hosting a blog involves personal responsibility for anything posted on your site (Even in comments..!), taking a course and obtaining a internet "drivers license" of sorts.

Getting the ICP needed for social networking is a huge and very expensive process.


 2:20 pm on Dec 24, 2007 (gmt 0)


A couple of threads you might find interesting:
  • China to close local websites if unregistered [webmasterworld.com]
  • icp / ip license needed for Chinese site? [webmasterworld.com]
  • GeeStar

     2:47 am on Dec 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

    Thanx for reply!

    You seem to be an expert on this issue. You said an ICP commercial license is very expensive. Do you know how much approximately and what is required for that?

    [edited by: bill at 6:06 am (utc) on Dec. 31, 2007]
    [edit reason] see sticky mail [/edit]


     12:39 pm on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Relax, it's not that hard.
    I living in china, and have lots website.
    ICP is not hard to get.
    If you want to offer service like facebook , you need to get ICP first. Otherwish , policeman will shut down your sever.
    If you want to offer service like 3G, SMS, you need to have a company which registered capital> 10 million RMB.
    If you want to offer service like bbs, sns, you need to have a company which registered capital > 1 milllin RMB.
    In fact , china is not like usa, some company is very powerful . Because it's have goverment background. so , if you hosting in company like that, it's easy to get ICP, and will never be bother.
    If you hosting in small company , goverment will shut down you server even you have ICP.
    And FYI, hosting in HK is not a good idea. I don't access HK website, too slow.Even slower than American website.


     1:20 pm on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

    welcome to WebmasterWorld [webmasterworld.com], youdeweb!

    thank you for that practical information.


     11:50 am on Jan 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

    It's important to keep in mind that the requirements are different depending on if it's a Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise (Commonly known as WFOE) or a Chinese company. A general difference between Chinese and Western society is that Rule of Man applies instead of Rule of Law, that does not exactly work out in favor for foreigners...

    The legal system also treats foreigners different then Chinese. For a foreign company, all rules apply in exact and explicit detail. No exceptions. Whilst regulations are more loosely applied to Chinese companies.

    Many hosting companies will apply for a basic non-commercial ICP license for you, very true. Larger hosting companies are better for that, yes indeed. But you won't get the type of ICP you need from your host.

    There are no specific numbers. Each case is different.

    When it comes to social networking there are many other things to consider, for instance, you'll need to work with the govs massive censorship department to make sure your users only say "nice things" and doesn't "lie". (See Reporters Without Borders website for more info).

    Registered capital is money you must transfer into China/your company. You can't get it out of China. You can use it to run your business.

    But then there's fees to the license itself, plus company setup of course... (You'll need a company in China). Setting up a WFOE in China should run you for a minimum of 20 000 USD in consultancy fees, but this really, really, depends on the case.

    On ICP's being "easy" in any way

    That's for a personal blog mind you... it's just a tad more complicated for a "facebook-style social network".

    In September 2007 thousands of major forums/BBS were shut down because of not having the proper ICP. "Relax" all you want :) They don't like foreigners having control of media channels here (Ask Rupert Murdoch how he's doing :D), there isn't a single foreign newspaper/magazine with publishing license for instance. They'll find plenty of reasons to flip the switch on you.

    If you host outside of China however, no licensing etc is needed. Singapore is the best option for that generally speaking, but it's slow and outside the firewall. You'll have a much harder time ranking on Baidu. Consider this; Only 6% of the links on Chinese websites link to outside of China (Not sure on the exact number here, but it's a very low number and it came from a fairly reliable study. That i'll link to once i come across it again).

    [edited by: TheChinaMan01 at 12:06 pm (utc) on Jan. 17, 2008]

    [edited by: engine at 2:19 pm (utc) on Jan. 17, 2008]
    [edit reason] No urls, thanks. See TOS [webmasterworld.com] [/edit]


     1:11 pm on Jan 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Hi, first post here.
    I have to pick up on one of the previous comments about hosting in Hong Kong. It was described as slower than America. This is not the case in my experience. Of course, some Hong Kong websites are very slow and you have to choose your host carefully but many hong kong hosts are actually sometimes faster than mainland China hosts.

    For example my company's website is hosted in Hong Kong but has good ping and traceroutes from inside China, infact better than a lot of domestically hosted websites.

    The problem is that if you are on China Telecom and trying to access a site hosted with China Netcom it'll be very slow and vice versa. These two large telecoms companies do not cooperate with each other at all and all connections between the 2 go through a handful of locations in Beijing and Shanghai. In a country the size of China that can sometimes be a very long route. Eg, Kunming or Chengdu to Beijing and then back to Kunming or Chengdu again (because CNC and CTC meet in Beijing) is thousands of physical miles so the latency is very high.

    On the contrary all the Hong Kong ISPs and international pipes going through Hong Kong are very well connected, do cooperate and as such things are a lot faster. China Telecom and China Netcom both have pipes directly into Hong Kong hooking up with a lot of other ISPs.

    Therefore in many cases its quicker to get from China to Hong Kong than it is from CNC to CTC and vice versa. Infact as our office uses CNC and my home uses CTC it is actually quicker for me to access our Exchange server from Hong Kong than it is from my home in the same city as the Exchange server!

    So don't rule out Hong Kong. just do some research first and check pings, traceroutes etc from different locations.


     2:15 pm on Jan 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Don't hosting in hongkong.
    In fact, not only Telecom and Netcom.Eight of them. And lots people like Educom(lots of students) , hard to visit your hongkong hosting.
    And sometimes , in china, no reason, just can't visit any site but websites hosting in mainland.
    Our exchange server locating in hongkong, it really KILL me, too slow, and sometimes, hard to connecting.
    Now lots of chinese company offer "Eight line hosting" services, I give them a try, pretty well.
    And if you find some company with goverment backgroud, you'll get no trouble. They will get ICP for you.
    It worked for me :)


     4:13 pm on Jan 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

    For example:

    I'm currently working on a Kunming China Telecom ADSL connection which is usually very slow to the outside world.

    However these are the ping results:

    www.chinaren.com (China) 168ms
    www.sohu.com.cn (china) 169ms
    www.51job.com (china) 105ms
    www.zentek-international.com (Hong Kong) 54ms
    www.hkhosting.com (Hong Kong) 52ms
    www.hknet.com (Hong Kong) 48ms
    www.bbc.co.uk (UK)348ms
    www.myspace.com (USA) 274ms

    As you can see the Hong Kong sites seem faster. I realise this is not a large sample and of course there are many hong kong sites that are slow but if you do your research you should be fine. I guess it depends where in China you are but I seem to get good results to Hong Kong from Kunming, Chongqing, Beijing, Qingdao and Shanghai on CNC and CTC. Haven't tried other ISPs.

    Also please note that the ping from China Telecom Kunming to China Netcom Kunming is 350ms (the route goes via Beijing), just a bit larger than the ping to the UK for a route between 2 points in the same city.


     12:55 am on Jan 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Welcome to WebmasterWorld greginchina and youdeweb. Good to have you with us.

    You may like to refer back to the original thread that inspired this one: The importance of hosting Top Sites in China; Myth or Reality? [webmasterworld.com]. It's a few years old now, but still has some interesting viewpoints.

    When I was researching whether to host in China or Hong Kong there was a very strong bias toward hosting within China. I met with dozens of IT firms and consultants and not one recommended hosting in Hong Kong. It was more of an issue of whether to host in Shanghai or Beijing (or both). Perhaps things are changing in terms of connectivity for certain hosts. I'd be wary of putting mission critical data in a location that had any uncertainty, particularly when you're dealing with something as unpredictable as the Great Firewall.


     6:51 am on Feb 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

    You can host, get icp, and set it up through a wofe (not sure of the %).

    If you are planning on doing a social networking site, selling advertising or anything on a large scale I would plan up to a year or more and hefty consulting fees to get everything processed (it took Murdoch and his billions many years to get access into China and myspace, after a big battle has finally entered.

    I assume you have substantial resources to attempt a major site in China so start off by visiting a law firm with solid connections.

    After talking to them fill out the mountain of paperwork and let them go find you all the licenses.

    In the mean time start the near impossible task of finding a reliable hosting company in China... I've been here 3 years and have only heard horror stories. I prefer not to be stuck on spam farms so I host outside the borders in safer places.

    [edited by: bill at 10:11 am (utc) on Feb. 7, 2008]
    [edit reason] see sticky mail [/edit]


     11:40 am on Feb 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

    welcome to WebmasterWorld [webmasterworld.com], newviewit and greginchina!

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