The rapidly developing online Chinese market is a double-edged sword for online businesses looking to expand there. On one hand, there's the lure of China's 989 million active internet users. On the other hand, there's a laundry list of challenges when hosting a website within the country.
Some business owners decide to bypass acquiring an ICP license by hosting their website with an international hosting company, perhaps with a geographically close server such as Hong Kong or Singapore. This route can, however, be fraught with issues,.
The first problem these businesses will come across is technological in nature; due to the infamous Golden Shield Project (earlier version of the Great Firewall of China, operational inside of mainland China since 2003), it is technically possible though rarely practical, to have your website hosted outside of the Great Firewall. Provided your content is sanitised and deemed acceptable for Chinese audiences. Consumers will indeed be able to access the website, technically. In reality though the barrage of tests applied to the content by the aforementioned Project Golden Shield will slow your packets to a crawl. Resulting in lost revenue as would-be customers click away from your page before it has had the opportunity to load.
Your web content will be scanned by the firewall for sensitive keywords before it is allowed-to be sent on to the end-user. In real terms this can mean that even simple pages of text and images can take close to a minute to load for the consumers you are trying to meet. If you were hoping to host video the wait times can be even more abhorrent.
This leads us on to the next issue you are likely to encounter when trying to access the Chinese market but hosting your website outside of China. This problem is even more insipid than the first. Just as we, outside of China, are used to using and trusting Google to search for and find anything we need to consumers in China Google is almost non-existent. The preferred search engine by an overwhelming majority is Baidu and Baidu grants a heavy preference to websites hosted inside of China which have a valid ICP license.
It is estimated that over 90% of Chinese internet users, amounting to some 700 million users, prefer to search using the Baidu. If your site is hosted outside of China those are 700 million customers that it may be difficult to reach.
Though hosting a website outside of China is entirely possible when trying to reach the Chinese market it is an impractical method. Instead it is better to go through the steps required to obtain a valid ICP license and establish hosting inside of the Great Firewall. For a hassle-free method to complete those steps look no further than GoClickChina who offer a myriad of methods to assist your business in establishing its online presence in China. They will be able to get you up and running with unfettered access to the Chinese market as quickly as possible.