Hosting in China: How to choose a data center? (Part 1)



• World’s largest internet market with more than 1.05 billion users
• World’s largest cinema market with over 82,000 cinema screens
• World’s second largest retail market with total retail sales of $6.5 trillion in 2021

How to tap into China’s enormous market is one of the biggest questions facing global enterprises.


Reaching Chinese Consumers


Today, to reach consumers, companies must have an online presence, whether or not it is in the digital industry.  However, reaching Chinese consumers online has proved to be a great challenge.

First of all, the Chinese government filters all content coming into its borders and blocks many popular sites, such as Google (and its related assets), Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Dropbox, New York Times, just to name a few.

Secondly, network congestion occurs frequently when traffic is entering or leaving China.

Most global companies serious about reaching China’s consumers pursue one of two options:

  1. Host servers within China’s borders.
  2. Host servers at a nearby location such as Hong Kong or Singapore.

Which is more appropriate for you?


1. Hosting servers within China


Serving Chinese customers from inside China will undoubtedly be the most reliable and yield the fastest response times, but it does come at a substantial cost:

A. All domains hosted in China must have an ICP (Internet Content Provider) license.  Getting an ICP license is typically not easy for a foreign corporation.  To learn more about the process, please see Hosting in China: what is an ICP license and how do you get one?

B. Power, space and IP transit all cost more in China.  To find out why, please see Expect to pay more for China hosting

C. The logistics of getting hardware into China is more difficult and time consuming than to Hong Kong or Singapore.


2. Hosting servers in Hong Kong or Singapore

hong kong

Hosting in Hong Kong or Singapore is easier, cheaper and faster to deploy than in China.  Their proximity to China also means less latency than serving from the U.S. or Europe.

However, the problem of network congestion at China’s border still remains, thus negatively affecting the user experience.

If you simply need to display a more or less static website to Chinese consumers, serving from Hong Kong or Singapore should be sufficient.  However, if you need to provide applications, games, live streaming or similar online services, then you may want to consider hosting in China.


If you have decided to host your server in China, please stayed tuned for…

Part 2: Telecom carrier landscape and data center overview in China

Part 3: How to choose suitable locations and data centers


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