In recent few months our infrastructure team has received many RFI ( Request for Information ) around hosting in China. We did some research and this article more or less conclude what we know about the state of the Internet in China.
At a very early stage we realized that hosting a website in China is not as placid as one can expect. While we contacted one cloud vendor, a leading China based hosting provider, we were told that they don’t do any international business, and to start a conversation with them we should have an office in China so we put forth a great deal of efforts reaching out to one of our colleague at Sapient China office and we were able to collect all ( almost all ) the information we require from the cloud vendor.
It has given me quite a few learning points on how these things work in China
Hosting a website on a server in China:
By definition, all websites hosted on a Chinese server are required to register for an internet content provider (ICP) license. It is basically a permit issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology that is needed to operate a website in mainland China. The license can be obtained through a simple registration at www.miibeian.gov.cn , where relevant information about the website owner, its content, the hosting provider etc. needs to be provided.
Other useful facts about the ICP license:
-If your website is hosted overseas, you do not need to have an ICP license.
-ICP licenses are not a guarantee that your site won’t be blocked.
-Without an ICP license, your site can be taken down anytime. If hosted in China, your site can be tracked down to its host who can be instructed to take the site down if its registration doesn’t appear in the ICP database.
-Applications done entirely using overseas addresses and contact persons have, to our knowledge, always been denied.
-It is illegal to operate a website in China without an ICP license. Hosting companies are required to shut down websites which do not obtain an ICP license within a certain period of going live, although this is loosely enforced.
The way internet traffic is handled in China there are other major major constraints you need to take of :
Community has reported serious data inaccuracy in Google Analytics
Even Google says this at http://support.google.com/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=57053
How do i Check Whether My Website Can Be Accessed in China?
List of websites blocked in the People’s Republic of China
CDN in China
Chinacache claims to be the Akamai of the east http://www.chinacache.com/index.php/news/101-the-akamai-of-the-east.html
Top Cloud/CDN players presence in China:
No Direct presence in China
Nearest Region Presence
Rackspace : Hong Kong
AWS : Singapore region does have an Edge location in Hong Kong for CDN and S3
For further reading:
Gartner’s : How to Improve Application Performance on China’s Internet
What’s not resolved yet?
What’s not resolved yet is what is that effect on internet latency because of the well-known great firewall of China. While media and most of US and EU based organizations blame “Great Firewall” for long internet latency, Gartner does not believe that this is correct. According to community the government does not appear to be consistently examining Internet content, as this appears to be technically impractical. A lot of technical methods are used to block content including IP blocking, DNS filtering, URL filtering, packet filtering etc.