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How to deal with the Great Firewall of China

server located in Asia, serving USA customers.



7:54 am on Apr 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hello Webmasters.

We deal in B2B, and work as a bridge between china's manufacturers, and worldwide customers. Because a lot of backend stuff have to be done daily, we initially set up our servers in Hong Kong at a datacenter, as a USA server were prone to shutoffs from the Great FW(Fire Wall of China), and during protestaional period, or summits, access outside of China slows down to a crawl with it's filtering security running at full blast!

So anyway. Even with the server being in Hong Kong, and our office at northern China, it's still very taxing for our corporation to do daily tasks like updates, emails and whatnots. Productivity is running at 50% of it's possible capacity.

But then in my own experience, we could not afford to place our server in china itself, as access worldwide into China's network would also be unbearable!

We are using China Telecom(the big monopoly of ISP), with 2mb pipe access plan quite close to a cbd district in Beijing. We also need to cater to our agents across all provinces, of their access as well.

On certain days, of certain hour, access from our office to server could be pleasantly fast, but majority of the time, it's unbearable for me, in a business sens..

I've tried so many times talking to the management of the Hong Kong datacenter, but they have shown me proof that the problem is not from their center's end, and insists on us talking to our ISP(China telecom), which is a hopeless cause, as China Telecom services to 6 billion populations at least, and we have no influence, connections whatsoever to ask them to place us on their filtering white-list, which they deny exists anyway!

I'm not certain about this ofcourse, which I'm hoping to ask the community, if it is possible to place our server inside China itself, while not affecting worldwide access towards our server. Or is there any way that I can gain more stable, high-speed access for our office at least?



8:30 am on Apr 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator phranque is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

it probably doesn't really answer your precise question, but this thread and the threads referenced within may give you some things to consider:


8:46 am on Apr 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks for your quick reply phranque.

The threads from Bill are a handful, so I'm going to read through all of them asap. bill's linked thread looks similar to what I have in this situation..



9:47 am on Apr 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I guess from the postings, that a VPN is the way to go of business towards this. We will retain the server from hong kong in this case, and test out VPN for a month or 2.

Thanks to all,


11:13 am on Apr 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator phranque is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

there may be a few more gems for you in Golden Threads in the Asia-Pacific forum [webmasterworld.com].


2:28 pm on Apr 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Okay I've had a few indepthed meetings with my associates, and browsed through as much google and webmasterworld threads as I can, and I still can't be certain of a few items.

Hosting our backend in USA, will definitely hinder our staff and supplier's productivity due to the filtration system.

Hosting in China, we have not, and do not have the resource to test, of impacts from OVerseas clients towards the chinese server (USA aside, we also have to cater towards African, European, South American crowd), and customers are where the money's at.

In our company's situation, hosting it in China would be the best choice ofcourse. However, I'm not sure how big corporates does it (Alibaba, Globalsources etc).

I'd like to re-point out that our company's architecture is no where as large as the companies I mentioned above..

So...can I please have more reader's advice and input in this situation?

Thanks everyone.


4:55 am on Apr 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator bill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Why not place the Chinese portion of the system on a host in China and host the rest of the system in your preferred location(s) outside China? The big corporates you referenced are most likely doing some sort of geographic load balancing with their servers in a similar manner.


3:05 am on Apr 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Guys can you give me some help on the general concept of things, before I look for servers in US and China?

What our company need is:

Email delivery - (this plagues us the worst)

We wanted to use a CMS system for our emails, but couldn't due to unstability of speed. The CMS is fully databased, so in this instance, how should I set up the system to grab and retrieve information with regards to the CMS system? On top of that, each staff have 1 to 3 dedicated POP3 company accounts to them as well.

In our office location in china, sending any emails larger than 2MB kills us.

Having china, USA servers and load balancing them is quite a daunting task, and I'm not certain that I'm ready for it (only 1 networking guy in company, won't be able to hire another)

My boss is set on the idea of having 1 server in China, as producitivity matters. However on this point, can anyone confirm my suspicion that having a china IP address, our SEO efforts will have a severe impact on the search engines? Is there anyway around it?

My apologies, my general computing knowledge stops at php and mysql queries. The company's depending on me to set up this system, and I know very little about Linux and networking. I really need more help and guidance on our situations..


3:23 am on Apr 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member vincevincevince is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

This is my recommendation:
  • Move to a US server
  • Use a China server and have it connect to the US server via a persistent SSH tunnel so that the web serving is effectively proxied from the US
  • Have a fixed line modem fall back which will dial directly to a foreign ISP (e.g. singapore) automatically if the China server loses connection to the US server - that will keep the connection going even if it is slow or preferably but possibly not legally have a satellite internet fall back provided by a foreign satellite internet provider.
  • bill

    4:59 am on Apr 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Administrator bill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

    Email delivery

    It sounds like you're a bit short on resources for this area. There is a certain amount of expense required to set yourself up as a trusted e-mail provider [google.com]. It's very possible you could set some of this up yourself (SPF records, DomainKeys, work with various whitelist/certification agencies). However, it might be easier to outsource your e-mail to established vendor. Sending e-mail outside of China with a Chinese IP address will probably not be a productive option for you.


    5:45 am on May 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

    5+ Year Member

    Hi Urban,

    My name is Yang,It is my first wath your thread here, some buddies not live in beijing or china,so they may not good at china's network problems. Our company do many similar jobs here for foreign enterpries with their IT and WWW problems.

    You did very wrong job what place a server to H.K, so you certainlly think that H.K is out of GFW and have good connectivity within china, It is 100% WRONG.

    China Telecom Beijing Branch(your beijing office ISP) is very small business and market coverage. here in beijing,china, most of place,you have to use china telecom or china netcom, not more ISPs available! so you have to use china telecom in your office building.

    Regarding the seo effects, there is a little,but ip address is not only 1 reason cause ranking changed in S.E.

    [edited by: bill at 7:05 am (utc) on May 9, 2008]
    [edit reason] no e-mail addresses please [/edit]


    9:08 am on May 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

    5+ Year Member

    From what I know even the main server of alibaba is in the US, if most of your site audience is overseas I don't see the point for hosting in China. If connectivity to your current HK host is not optimal you can try another one or move to Singapore.

    Even if you move your hosting in China you will need to make sure that your email server is kept overseas.


    8:23 am on Jun 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

    5+ Year Member

    Have some clients that previously hosted their sites within China but there was huge problems with spam, email getting blocked, actually whole website couldn't be viewed in the US or Europe because most ISP had blocked their (reputable) host in China.

    I suggest to clients to host in the US and save yourself the headaches unless your business is 100% based in China, or you are willing o invest in dual geo hosting options.


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