China is already the home to the largest internet community globally with 940 million users and over 80% mobile penetration rate, yet it is still growing fast. Revenue for Internet services increases at a rapid 25.4% in 2020, reaching $803.1 billion. From 2016 to 2021, internet traffic in China will grow 3-fold, at a CAGR of 26%. In March 2020, internet users in China spent about five hours per day online. However, for international companies trying to get into the market, the Chinese internet is notoriously hard to understand.
In this blog post, we will talk about the best practices of content delivery into China.
Best Practice 1: Ensure Content Regulation Compliance
The first thing that makes China’s internet challenging to navigate is its content regulations. Most famously, China is known for its so-called the Great Firewall, which is a nation-wide rulesets-based content censoring mechanism blocks and filters content that do not comply with the Government’s regulation. The most well-known cases would be the blocking of Google and Facebook. To deliver content in China with less risks, you will need to register and license your website.
Apps Blocked by the Great Firewall
Internet Content Provider (ICP) License is a standard license required by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) for companies looking to establish a web presence in China. Companies will only be eligible to host a website in China or use China-based hosting and CDN services if they have a valid ICP license.
An ICP is required if you plan to host a website or use a content delivery network in mainland China. It is also possible to host websites outside China in China-rim areas (like Hong Kong or Japan) if you don’t want to go through applying for an ICP. However, this approach often comes with a higher delivery cost, compromised performance, and the risk of content being blocked permanently by the Chinese government.
There are two types of ICP: ICP Filing, also known as ICP Bei’An in Chinese, is required for non-commercial websites and can’t be used to generate revenue.
ICP Commercial License, or ICP Zheng in Chinese, on the other hand, is for commercial websites to engage in online retail activities legally.
Best Practice 2: Enforce China Localization
It is well known that many major international websites like YouTube, Facebook, and Google are blocked in China. Some other common web services, like Shopify, are slow and unstable. For companies that want to build a reliable local presence in China that works, certain technical localization is required.
First, you need to replace all components that are blocked or don’t work well in China with localized services. This means replacing your video hosting platform from YouTube to YouKu or Tencent Video, or register a Weibo account to replace your Twitter API.
Then, you need to boost your visibility on the Chinese internet, performing search engine optimization on Chinese search engines like Baidu and Sogou.com.
Finally, optimizing the speed of your website in China. This can be done by using a content delivery network that emphasizes building physical presence in China like BaishanCloud.
Best practice 3 – Optimize Delivery Quality Base on Your User Distribution
When considering how to deliver your content to China, it’s critical to understand your users’ geographical distribution to the city and ISP-level. China has very unique network environment where a few ISPs dominate the whole network.
This pie chart shows the ISP market share in China.
A few state-owned ISPs control the market, and the competition among them is quite intense. One unique outcome of their competition is that they have minimal peering with each other. This means data transmission between ISP suffers from significant network latency.
As you can see from this chart, while in Beijing, the network latency is only 1.5ms within the China Unicom network, the latency is almost 10 times when going across to another ISP.
To optimize the delivery performance based on your user distribution, the first thing you need to do if move your origin servers (or content library) closer to the end-users. If your content library lives on public cloud like Google Cloud or AWS, their Tokyo or Hong Kong region would be an excellent option. At the same time, make sure set up the backup origin and error-based failover to minimize the disruption in order to maintain the viewing quality.
Furthermore, it is crucial to work with a local content delivery network, like BaishanCloud, who has resources across Mainland China directly connecting to all major and smaller ISPs to guarantee your website performance.
The China internet landscape is complicated and can be hard to navigate if you don’t know the intricacies. That’s why finding a reliable and experienced local content delivery partner can save you lots of trouble. From increasing delivery performance to helping with local compliance, a trusted China content delivery network can help you avoid pitfalls and save costs while you can focus on building your services and content.
Find out more about this and related topics:
Read our definative ICP guidelines, outlining everything you need to do to get an ICP license.