Knowledgebase: General

Can I reach users in China at all with a global CDN?

Posted by , Last modified by Matthias Haarmann on 19 January 2023 11:59

As a user of a global CDN, you provide access to your website, your online shop or your web application in general via globally distributed locations. This means that every user, no matter where they are in the world, always has the shortest possible access time to your web application. The assumption that access to your website will also be provided with good performance in China is therefore obvious. However, the reality is usually very different.

The Chinese Internet is subject to various regulations, which all providers of Internet services in China must comply with. At the same time, all data entering the digital Chinese mainland is checked by the "Great Firewall of China" with regard to these regulations and, if necessary, rejected. This review needs one thing above all, and that is time. As a result, all web applications located outside the Chinese mainland are very inefficient in China; load times of 20 to 30 seconds for each individual page view are not uncommon.

Whether your website is made available in China with good performance via the global CDN you use depends primarily on whether the content delivery network also includes locations in China. Our experience has shown that global CDNs in their standard scope include locations near China at most (e.g. Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macao or South Korea). However, since they are located outside the Chinese mainland, all data packets must still pass through the "Great Firewall of China", which means the performance of your website will be correspondingly poor in China. Compared to a traditional hosting solution in Europe or America, this will only save you a few hundred milliseconds when accessing the site from China. With load times of 20 to 30 seconds, this improvement is simply unnoticeable to the user.

Expansion to include a China CDN

Content delivery network providers are of course aware of this problem and many are offering an extension of the CDN for the Chinese market. However, due to the regulations applicable in China, the ongoing operation of CDN sites in China is very time-consuming and labor-intensive, and usually requires cooperation with several local server operators in China. Accordingly, China CDNs are significantly more expensive: The best price,  we have been quoted so far for a CDN with servers within mainland China is over EUR 3,000 per month. If you are aware of a better price, we would of course appreciate a short comment so that we can correct this information accordingly.

Before expanding your global CDN to China, we would therefore recommend that you consider other hosting options for the Chinese market. China hosting solution to provide access to your website in China and the global CDN for the rest of the world. The proxy cache server is very similar to another CDN site in China. The proxy cache server retrieves the website data from your web server in, for example, Europe via direct lines between Europe and China, stores the information temporarily and delivers the result to the user in China. The proxy cache server is up to 90% cheaper than the extension of a global CDN to include China.

Hosting and servers from China

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