Hosting Strategy for China Websites

Jun 14, 2023

If your website has a market in mainland China, you should host it there. Hong Kong hosting is an alternative, but it comes with compromises.

Why it matters

Distance between user and host server directly impacts load times. Chinese users experience faster load times with China-hosted sites compared to those hosted outside the country.

Additionally, data transmission in and out of mainland China undergoes filtration, resulting in even slower speeds and potential blocks.

As a separate concern, China's main search engine, Baidu, prioritizes mainland-hosted sites.

China hosting requirements

  • An ICP (Internet Content Provider) license.
  • A China-registered company, a prerequisite for the ICP license application.
  • Selection of a government-approved provider for domain name registration and hosting, such as Aliyun.

For international markets inclusive of China

Ideally, maintain one site in China, and one or more international sites outside the country.

Companies unable to obtain an ICP license or manage multiple sites may opt for a dual-language site hosted in Hong Kong.

Compromises with Hong Kong

While faster for mainland users than US/Europe, Hong Kong hosting lags behind mainland-hosted sites, particularly noticeable for mobile users.

Additionally, there is some risk of being blocked due to sensitive content, or sharing a server with such sites.

Finally, Baidu prioritizes mainland-hosted sites, and even those in Hong Kong are at a relative disadvantage.

Concerns with global CDNs

Many CDNs claiming to be "global" lack nodes within mainland China due to legal constraints. For practical purposes, they share the same concerns as Hong Kong hosting.

Additionally, complex traffic routing rules of some CDNs pose challenges in troubleshooting common issues for Chinese users.


  • Websites targeting the Chinese market should prioritize hosting within China, if feasible.
  • For international markets inclusive of China, maintain separate China and international sites.
  • Budget constraints or ICP license limitations may lead to hosting in Hong Kong as a viable alternative.