Google Play in China – Unblock Google Play in China 2018

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Updated: January 1st, 2018

  1. Start by setting up a VPN account
  2. Then install the VPN app onto your Google Play device
  3. Once installed, open the app and connect to a US located server
  4. Then access your Google Play Store account or sign up for one if you don't have one yet
  5. Enjoy Google Play in China

Time to Complete: 5 Minutes

The VPN I recommend using is ExpressVPN. Check it out here.

How to Access Google Play in China

in more detail:

Moving to China was a difficult decision for me to make. I’ve never been a big traveler and always enjoyed my home comforts. Whilst I know that Shanghai, where I was to be based, is a very modern city, the change in culture and lifestyle was not something that I thought I would adapt easily to.

But my boss was adamant that I was the only person he had who could complete the project, so with much cajoling, I found myself on the plane heading east.

What finally swung my decision was discovering that there was a way I could still use Google Play while I was there. It has long been my go-to site for downloading movies, book, and especially apps (which I am addicted to) yet I know that the Chinese Government routinely blocks Google as well as various other sites like Gmail. Fortunately, the Great Firewall, as China’s program of Internet censorship is known, can be go around fairly easily using a VPN.

You just need to get the right VPN and know how to set it up. This guide has all the information you need to get started.

Why is Google Play not Available in China?

There are two reasons you cannot access Google Play through the usual means in China. The first, as I already mentioned, is the Chinese Government’s extensive program of online censorship which stops internet users in China from accessing any Google service, alongside Facebook, Twitter, and many others.

The Chinese government has taken a heavy-handed approach to censorship since the Burning of Books and Burial of Scholars in the early Third Century. The Central People's Government and the Communist Party of China have been even stricter about censorship than any of the previous regimes.

They have taken a lot of measures to prevent people from having access to the Internet. They are particularly harsh about blocking content from Western countries, which tends to conflict with their communist philosophies. The government has passed several dozen Internet regulations, which are implemented by government run Internet Service Providers and other state-owned companies.  

Google Play is one of the companies that is barred from operating in China. They skirted the law until 2010, when the Chinese government began launching a series of cyberattacks against Google and other Western companies. Ever since, Google has tried to get back in the market.

Recent reports indicate that Google may have reached a resolution with the Chinese government, so they may begin offering Google Play in the near future. Does this mean that accessing Google Play will be smooth sailing after Google is allowed to enter the Chinese market? Probably not. You will need to contend with a level of censorship unlike anything that you have ever seen before and be prepared for the possibility that you may not be able to access your Google Play account in the future if the Chinese government decides to change their mind (they can be infamous for that).

The company will likely have to abide by very strict censorship laws. Google Play hosts over 40 million songs, so Google would need to evaluate all of them to make sure they don’t violate the state’s laws. Songs by Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and countless other artists have been banned from China. The government is often vague on details and doesn’t even censor songs based on their content, but rather the behavior of the artists themselves, such as Bieber skateboarding through the streets of Beijing.

They may be unable to comply, so even if an agreement is reached, Google may not stay in the market forever. It will be nearly impossible to go through every song on Google Play.

Google Play’s only option would be to whitelist songs that are approved by the Chinese government. Even the songs that met their criteria could take a long time to get whitelisted, which would leave Google Play users without many options.

Therefore, if the Chinese government does begin allowing Google Play, users may need a backup plan if Alphabet is forced to withdraw again. They would also want to find a way to circumvent the country’s blacklists of Google Play songs.

They may also need to be prepared for the possibility that Google will have to restrict certain content, unless they can trick it and the Chinese government into believing they are located elsewhere. Rob Enderle, a renowned technology analyst, told Reuters that Google probably won’t be able to offer its best search technology and apps in China, because the Chinese government has negotiated rules that will give preferential treatment to state-run organizations and black-market providers.

This has already happened with several companies. China has barred the New York Times from distributing content in China, because its content violated local laws.

“But critics say Google has lost basically all ground in most of its major services, especially search and video streaming, to Chinese players. The biggest competition might come from products on the wrong side of the law, said technology analyst Rob Enderle. ‘There are a substantial number of free ways people get music in China that makes it difficult for any service, especially from the West, to get into the market,’ he said,” writes Reuters Paul Carsten and Yimou Lee.

The other is to do with content rights. The full content of Google Play’s stores are only available in the USA, the UK, and Australia, and this is because of content rights. Google agrees rights deals with the publishers of content in order for it to be made available in the Google Play store. If they do not hold these rights, they are not able to make the product available.

Many companies are reluctant to negotiate with the Chinese government to sell their content, because China has a long history of violating copyright laws. They may fear that companies owned by the Chinese government will copy and sell their intellectual property inside and outside of China.

Therefore, even if China does reach an agreement with Google Play, many Google partners will be reluctant to sell their content there.

For these reasons, outside of those three countries, there is less content available in the Google Play stores, and even within those countries, the price of content can vary.

To restrict content in certain regions, Google employs a technology known as geo-blocking.

How is Google Play Blocking Access in China?

Geo-blocking works by reading internet users IP Addresses. These contain various bits of information about them, including a fairly precise indication of where in the world they are.

If they are not within the USA, Google Play can therefore use geo-blocking to stop them using the US Google Play Store. China uses a variety of tricks to keep people from gaining access to restricted websites. These include using DNS poisoning (corrupting the caches of blocked sites so you won’t see the right website), URL and packet filtering and blocking the IP addresses of prohibited websites. It can be very frustrating if you are trying to access your favorite content in China, only to be directed to another site or receive a 404 error. The only way to get around geo-blocking is to change your IP Address and fool Google Play into thinking you are in the USA, even if you are not. And the best way to do this is by using a VPN.

A VPN will send all your internet traffic via an external server and it tis the IP Address of this server which the site you are visiting reads. Therefore, if this server is in the USA, you will be able to use Google Play.

It really is as simple as that, and if you read on I will explain how to do this using ExpressVPN.

How to Use a VPN to Access Google Play China

Step 1: Sign up for VPN

Geo-blocking works by reading internet users IP Addresses. These contain various bits of information about them, including a fairly precise indication of where in the world they are.

If they are not within the USA, Google Play can therefore use geo-blocking to stop them using the US Google Play Store China based. The only way to get around geo-blocking is to change your IP Address and fool Google Play into thinking you are in the USA, even if you are not. And the best way to do this is by using a VPN.

A VPN will send all your internet traffic via an external server and it tis the IP Address of this server which the site you are visiting reads. Therefore, if this server is in the USA, you will be able to use Google Play.

It really is as simple as that, and if you read on I will explain how to do this using ExpressVPN.

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Step 2: Download & Install VPN

Once you have paid, you will be asked to confirm your account by clicking the link in an email. Then you will be invited to download and install the ExpressVPN software.

ExpressVPN can be used on almost all types of devices, so be sure to pick the right one from the menu below and then follow the simple instruction to download and install it.

Once the software has downloaded, and installed, all you need to do is open it up.

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Step 3: Connect to US-based Server on VPN

When ExpressVPN opens you will be invited to choose which server to connect to. You can choose any US-based server to access the Google Play US store, but I would recommend the LA one if you are in China as this offers the fastest service.

how to access google play in china 5

Click on the connection and wait a few moments while ExpressVPN hooks you up. Then you are ready to go.

Step 4: Setup Google Play Account

If you have a Google Play account, you will be able to log in and use it as normal from now on.

If you need to set one up, you will need to start a regular Google account as usual, and then use this to set up your Google Play Store China account. This is relatively easy to do and Google gives you very easy instructions to follow.

And with that, you can use Google Play to access Movies, TV Shows, Books, Apps, and much much more.

Get a VPN Sooner, Rather than Later

The legality of VPNs in China has been in limbo for the past few years. However, the Chinese government recently announced that it may take the steps to ban VPNs from being used within its borders. According to The Guardian, VPNs may be banned in February 2018.

Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to use a VPN after that. The Chinese government will probably be unable to keep people from using them. The trick is to make sure you aren’t caught downloading them before that.

Your options are to either download a VPN before the proposed ban goes into effect or to download your VPN before you visit China. The Chinese government knows that millions of citizens are using VPNs to access content already, so the new law is likely little more than a scare tactic. Nevertheless, you probably don’t want to draw attention to yourself by downloading a VPN in China after the ban goes into effect. It is best to purchase one now or before your trip (depending on when you have read this guide and whether the proposed ban is implemented).


And that’s it really. As things turned out, I adapted pretty well to Chinese culture, and after meeting a girl in Shanghai, have actually been back more than a few times since.

One final point to note is that the Chinese Government does not approve of VPN use and does sometimes take steps to block or scramble VPN data. I never had this problem with ExpressVPN, which seems to have passed under their radar thus far, but even if you do encounter it, be patient, as normal service is more often than not resumed within minutes, or worst case scenario, a few hours.

Do feel free to post any comments or questions on this guide below. I am always interested to hear about other users’ experiences, or if you have encountered any problems or changes to this process.

Also, if you are not keen on ExpressVPN for any reason, there are of courses others out there to choose from. You will above my pick of the top 5 VPNs for accessing Google Play China.

Article Name
Google Play in China - Unblock Google Play in China 2018
Guide showing you how to unblock Google Play in China effectively and Simply.
Chris Beattie

25 Answers

    1. Chris Beattie
      November 13, 2017 at 9:13 am

      Hey Teddy, glad it worked for you. Yes, China do appear to be planning to “ban” personal VPN usage within the country in early 2018. However, this may be the same as in the UAE, where you can technically still use a VPN for personal privacy use, which you can always justify. So it will be interesting to see how hard the Chinese government will actually clamp down on users getting Google Play in China when this happens.

  1. James
    November 13, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Man china’s vendetta against google is so WEIRD. i didn’t even know that getting google play in china wasn’t possible until i arrived. thankfully i already use a VPN so this was an easy fix 😉

  2. Orlando
    November 13, 2017 at 9:11 am

    i had to clear my phone’s app cache/cookies before the VPN worked to change my google play store to outside China. but it worked after that.

  3. Melissa B.
    January 16, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    It is a shame that google​ ​play​ ​China is being somewhat restricted here. From the looks of it China has no alternative to it either, at least not that I know of. Wrong move Chinese Government.

  4. Caden Kilgore
    January 16, 2018 at 9:16 pm

    If I remember it correctly, a few months back there was also a discussion with regards to this. I guess you can call this a continuation of that previous article. The question remains however, Why does China blocked google? to the point where google​ ​play​ ​in​ ​China is restricted as well.

  5. Diego
    January 16, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    If you need a third party software to even remotely get your hands on google​ ​play​ ​store​ ​China you can pretty much see that the country is trying to boot outsiders out. It reminds me of when Japan was bombed before to some degree.

  6. Nikki G.
    January 16, 2018 at 10:19 pm

    It is a good thing that VPN regardless of brand can solve this issue. I know it is no biggie to some but imagine if this issue came before VPN was invented? All people will be screwed big time.

  7. Eddie Blancas
    January 16, 2018 at 11:23 pm

    I do not get this real talk I mean, Google is not an illegal entity in any shape or form but why is it blocked? China what are you doing?

  8. Ramona
    January 17, 2018 at 12:25 am

    I suggest an in depth article about this. I am not in China nor I speak for the country but it would be nice if China and its side can be taken too. Although I find this ridiculous to be honest since this service is used globally.

  9. Annette Scott
    January 17, 2018 at 12:55 am

    Google is taking over the world even more so when it comes to apps. With that said China sure is missing out!!!Fortunately, I am not in that area.

  10. Vivian K.
    January 17, 2018 at 1:25 am

    This is really odd since the service in controversy is used by the world as we know it. Anyway this alternative exist to fill that gap. Let us just hope that this info is not blocked in China.

  11. Teresa Thatcher
    January 17, 2018 at 2:05 am

    If this is featured here I take that this is confirmed. Quick question though, where do Chinese users get their apps then? I mean there is no google​ ​play​ ​China so how? I feel sorry for the people.

  12. Belinda Picket
    January 17, 2018 at 2:40 am

    I wish the government will issue a statement why they restrict google​ ​play​ ​in​ ​China? I mean today is digital so why block a service that can be beneficial? I find it weird.

  13. Richard S.
    January 17, 2018 at 3:14 am

    It is very unfortunate to see something like the google​ ​play​ ​store​ ​China is being banned in these parts. I am sure the country has its reasons but still. How does the Chinese people take it? Man they sure are missing out.

  14. Lewis
    January 17, 2018 at 3:40 am

    I am happy that in here Google is in perfect working order. I may need to use Express or any VPN for that matter but not for the moment.

  15. John W.
    January 17, 2018 at 4:32 am

    It seems that this country is trying to detach itself from civilization. I know a third party software solves this but come on if China is not so stubborn then google​ ​play​ ​China should be on operation ages ago.

  16. Cassandra Enriquez
    January 17, 2018 at 5:23 am

    If you ask me the ban for google​ ​play​ ​in​ ​China should be lifted. Since I am sure people there would like the opportunity for apps, mail and more.

  17. Roberta W.
    January 17, 2018 at 5:48 am

    I guess google​ ​play​ ​store​ ​China will just have to settle that they cannot penetrate the China Market due to constraints. Not an empire would consider it a loss though.

  18. Jose Nunez
    January 17, 2018 at 7:14 am

    Needless to say China is the odd ball here. I mean, the amount of influence that Google has is huge so why restrict it? Either way it either has balls or just stupidity.

  19. Sabina
    January 17, 2018 at 7:36 am

    If google is blocked how about Apple? I mean sure the play store is a thing now but there are also an Apple app store. Is that ban too?

  20. Donna
    January 17, 2018 at 7:48 am

    Does China have their own net service? That is the only explanation I see in this move by the government. In any case its no biggie Yahoo can take over but the apps can still be an issue.

  21. Shawn R.
    January 17, 2018 at 9:21 am

    Do other services like Yahoo suffered the same fate? If it is then this is just sad for that would mean that China is choosing to miss out on something.

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