| By: Rachel Shaw

How to host virtual events with Chinese attendees

If you’ve ever been to China or know someone who has, you probably know that using the internet there is a different experience. The Great Firewall of China (GFW) restricts, slows down or blocks certain foreign websites such as Facebook and YouTube (and pretty much anything else Google).

The reason? The People’s Republic of China censorship does this to regulate the use of the internet and protect their citizens. However, this puts forward a plethora of issues for companies residing outside of mainland China who want to deliver content to (or arrange virtual events for) their Chinese audience.

Why is China’s Firewall a Problem for Companies Outside China?

China’s firewall is a serious dilemma for foreign companies looking to establish themselves in China. Not only does it prevent them from keeping their Chinese customer base entertained, it also makes it difficult to conduct virtual events in China. It’s estimated that the average Chinese viewing experience is 7-11 times slower if the server is located outside mainland China.

So, how can we overcome this issue? Here we’ll discuss where the problem lies, and how we can solve it. Let’s dig in, starting with the basics…

What Does a Firewall Do?

A firewall is a security system designed to restrict unauthorized access to and from a computer network. It’s an important piece of software that helps organizations or countries restrict unwanted access from a network (private networks, intranets etc).

While the primary purpose is to protect internet users against security threats such as viruses or hackers. It can also control the network of a specific organization or even a country.

The Solution?

It’s evident that the Chinese firewall causes the laggy delivery of internet content to China. But how do you overcome it? Is there any workaround to trick the firewall and ensure speedy content delivery?

Fortunately, there are some ways you can explore if you’re interested in streaming to audiences within China. There are three key options that we’ll discuss:

  • Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  • Grey Zone Approach
  • Enforce VPN Use

Let’s take a detailed look at the options.

China CDN

A Content Delivery Network (CDN), comprises of a group of geographically distributed servers focused on providing a fast, reliable, and secure digital experience to Chinese traffic. The CDN plays a crucial role in quickly transferring the assets required for efficient loading of content e.g. images, videos and streams.

As you can probably guess from the definition above, using a good quality Virtual Event Platform that has a China CDN is a great approach to overcome the issues posed. If the CDN has enough servers distributed throughout mainland China and the rest of the world, you can enjoy the usual speed and latency you would in any other part of the world.

This approach is highly recommended to legally circumvent the problems faced by China’s great firewall. Not only can you provide services to your Chinese audience at the same speed, but you can also use it to conduct virtual events in China. And, it’s legal!

The Grey Zone Approach

Several companies take the grey zone approach and host servers near mainland China. Typically in Taiwan, Hong Kong or Vietnam. We don’t recommend this approach as it’s not guaranteed to work from all regions and can stop working any time. Not something you want to risk when live streaming an event!

So, unless native access by Chinese attendees is secondary, you are better off not using any vendor that claims to have points-of-presence (PoP) near China.

Enforce VPN Use

A VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. This creates a private network for you to bounce through, while being inside a public network. Not only does it hide your activity from the public network, but you can also fake your location, often referred to as “spoofing”.

Using a VPN is a widespread measure to avoid the Chinese Firewall since you can set your location to another part of the world and use the internet as usual. However, if you’re considering this option, your attendees will have to download/install a VPN service on every device they want to access your event from. This can put an unnecessary inconvenience on your attendees and we do not recommend this.

Onlive’s China CDN

At Onlive, we have a lot of customers with relationships to China. We therefore, built our own CDN hosted in mainland China. This allows us to deliver content at full speed to end-users anywhere in China. In addition, we of course have points of presence around the rest of the world. So, we can provide an enjoyable low latency streaming experience globally.

Onlive’s China CDN is trusted by hundreds of companies based in different parts of the world with trade relationships or a customer base in China. Onlive helps them seamlessly conduct virtual events in China to their users with minimal latency at affordable rates.

So, let’s summarize…

China has a great firewall that makes the internet speeds a lot slower if the servers are outside China. For companies outside mainland China with Chinese trade relationships, it becomes troublesome to host live-streamed or virtual events for China since the latency is high.

Throughout the article, we have discussed some approaches to combat this issue; China CDN, The Grey Zone Approach, or finally, VPN use. While all these methods are used by companies, using a China CDN is usually the most recommended. The only thing you need to do is find a suitable vendor, and you’re good to go!

Looking to plan your next event? Get in touch!

Keen to read more helpful articles? You can find our other blog posts here 🙂

Please note that you need to adhere to the regulations placed by Advertisement Law of the People’s Republic of China. For more detailed information, you can visit the National People’s Congress website (please note that the updated legislation is only available in Simplified Chinese).