Setting up a website for China’s audience? Here are
2 considerations that you may not be aware of.
In most countries, we tend to take for granted that setting
up a website is a relatively straightforward endeavour. Need
a new domain name? Easy. Just go to any domain name
registrar and buy one online in a few minutes. Need hosting?
No problem. There are lots of companies offering virtual
hosting, cloud hosting or dedicated hosting, which can be
set up in a matter of minutes.
However, if your website is intended for China’s
audience, there are a few considerations that are unique to
Consideration #1: If the website is hosted outside of
China, access to it will be slow in China.
Internet traffic coming in and out of China is routed
through the “Great Firewall of China”. As a
result, websites hosted outside of China will be slower to
access in China. Likewise, websites hosted in China will
suffer slower access in places outside of China.
Moreover, for a website hosted outside of China, access
could be blocked if the Chinese authority decides to stop
the traffic from certain IP blocks. Having said that, such
occurrences are not so common unless the website contains
banned content or the website IP falls within the IP block
of other websites with banned content.
A slow-loading website will have negative impact on user
experience. Chinese Internet users, like most Internet users
globally, are impatient and may leave the website if it does
not load in seconds.
Another implication of a slow website (and in general,
websites hosted outside of China) is the adverse impact on
the website search ranking on Chinese search engines. The
subject of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in China will be
covered in a separate article.
How do we overcome the website performance issue? The best
solution will be to host the website in China, which brings
us to consideration #2.
Consideration #2: To host a website in China, you will
require an ICP
As the Internet is tightly controlled by the Chinese
authorities, you will require a license, known as ICP
(Internet Content Provider) in order to host a website in
To apply for an ICP license, you will need:
- China business license
Domain name registered with a Chinese domain name
If you already have a China business license but your
website is currently hosted outside of China, it will be
relatively straightforward to apply for an ICP. You can
Transfer your domain name to a Chinese domain name
registrar and migrate your website to a hosting provider
Purchase a new China domain name and migrate your website
to a hosting provider in China.
If for some reason, you are unable to host the website in
China, an alternative to improving the access speed is to
employ a Content Delivery Network (CDN) in China. However,
you will require an ICP to subscribe to a China-based CDN.
If you do not plan to register a business in China and hence
are unable to obtain an ICP, there is another way to
overcome the website performance issue. You can host your
website with an international hosting provider in Hong Kong
that also has data centres in China (such as Alibaba Cloud).
Do note that this approach is a compromise as the access
speed, although faster than if the website is hosted
elsewhere, will not be as fast as compared to a the site
being hosted in China.
In the next article, we will talk about the considerations
for SEO in China. Stay tuned!