If you open a window for fresh air for longer than 10 hours, you have to expect some flies to blow in.” was a favorite saying by Deng Xiaoping in the early 1980s during the period of the economic reform of China that became known as the “socialist market economy” which could be considered as the beginning of Internet censorship in China.
 
Under this circumstances, if you want to create a WordPress website which will work in mainland China, you need to follow some strict guidelines.
Using WordPress in China for the newcomer can be a daunting prospect. Finding hard facts about how to set up your blog, or whether you can access it in the P.R.C is tough. This isn’t helped by the continual changes employed by the government censors on an almost daily basis- most of which don’t actually affect WordPress, but do not help WP users as the Great Firewall chat is very much a hearsay conversation. However, this guide should give you a reasonable roadmap with which to begin your journey of using WordPress in China, or implement changes to ensure you can continue to blog, or use the world’s favourite website building tool without interruption in the PRC.
 

China: wordpress.com

 
WordPress.com is a blogging platform designed to be really convenient for the first time user- and it is! You don’t need to install anything and you can be publishing to the web within minutes. For more details, check out www.wordpress.com

wordpress.com IS BLOCKED IN CHINA

 

China: wordpress.org 

 

wordpress.org is a slightly different animal. This is where you can get under the bonnet of WordPress. Using this version you can install WordPress on any appropriate server. In addition you can add features, personally backup your site and customise it to your needs.  You can turn this version of WordPress into almost any kind of site you like.

wordpress.org IS NOT BLOCKED IN CHINA

However, there are a few little points that need to be acknowledged when considering using wordpress.org in China.

 

Download and Install Page Specific Menu

 
When developing a Chinese website, you might want to make it dual language offering English and Chinese (so that non-Chinese speakers can also access the site). Creating a dual language menu for a bilingual website in WordPress is a problem because WordPress does not appear to offer a simple way to separate the Chinese menu items (which you will need for the Chinese language site) from the English menu items (which you will need for the English language site). However, there is no need to worry. Page Specific Menu is a free plugin you can add to your WordPress website that will allow you to manually select menu items for each page of your website. 
 

Register Website with Baidu 

 
Registering your website on Baidu is an important step to making your website easily accessible to the Chinese market. Baidu, not Google, is the leading search engine platform used by Chinese internet users. So, why not Google? Several years ago, Google refused to give the Chinese government access to the private data of Chinese people who used their platform. As a result, the Chinese government made Google virtually inaccessible within China, unless you are using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or Google Hong Kong (which loads very slowly in China), making Baidu the main option in the country. Registering your website with Baidu is not a difficult process. Here is a great article by Webnots that outlines the process: http://www.webnots.com/submit-site-to-baidu.html. Hopefully, the three tips will help you take your websites from local to global. What tips do you have about how you make your website more accessible to the Chinese market?
 

Which server I should use?

 
If you are using WordPress in China and you want to use a server inside the PRC, then you will need an ICP license (a website permit) from the Chinese government. This could take up to 2 months and like most pieces of informational administration, can be a real pain.

If you are using WordPress in China, you can also put your server outside China. This way you can set up a basic website pretty quickly and not have to concern yourself with any PRC politics of any nature.

But won’t my site be blocked if it’s outside the great firewall? Maybe. Some hosting companies are blocked by the firewall, and some are not. If you want to read our advice on where to place your server + deal with some of the issues with setting up WordPress in China check out our recent article. We’re not publishing a list of China safe servers as this information can change regularly. If you’re interested in setting up a WordPress site for use inside the PRC then probably the best thing to do is drop us an e-mail when you’re ready and we can give you an up to date guide.

 

Choose a Chinese hosting Service

 

Developing a website for the Chinese market takes more than just building it, it takes hosting your website on a Chinese server. Using a hosting service outside of China can make your website run slowly and get it blocked by the Great Firewall of China. You might be thinking that hosting a website on a Chinese server is difficult if not impossible. Luckily, Bluehost now has a sister site called Bluehost China that offers internet hosting services in China. While the Bluehost China landing page is in Chinese, the control panel is in English (It is basically the same backend you would find on the American version of Bluehost). Also, Bluehost China offers English customer service. With that said, you should still have someone who speaks Chinese to help you set up your Bluehost China account (or you can read my upcoming post on building a website on Bluehost China).

 

How Do I Check What Is Blocked In China?

 

If You Are Currently Oustide China and you want to know if any specific website is blocked, then use www.blockedinchina.net . This won’t be able to tell you if a particular service provider is blocked, but you may be able to use it to give you an indication of which site you can’t access from within the PRC.
If you are interested to know more about the details of China’s internet restrictions, then the most comprehensive source of information greatfire.org