2024 Complete guide for improving web & app performance in China

Latest Update: 12/04/2024

2024 Complete guide for improving web & app performance in China

A recent study revealed that 90% of websites in China take more than a second to load, while users expect websites to load within two seconds. This gap presents a significant challenge that businesses need to narrow if they want to succeed in the Chinese market. Let's explore with VNETWORK why page loading speed in a technological powerhouse like China is slow and how to address this issue to enhance competitive advantage in this market.

Researching the Chinese Market

China has become the country with the highest number of internet users in the world, with over 1.079 billion people as of June 2023. This figure is equivalent to the total population of the United States, the European Union, Japan, and Mexico combined. This rapid growth indicates that online connectivity among Chinese citizens is thriving, presenting an opportunity for businesses looking to tap into China's highly promising online market.

Internet user statistics in China 2023 Internet user statistics in China 2023

However, accessing this vast market also poses numerous challenges. Among them, website loading speed is a crucial factor directly impacting user experience and brand perception.

Page loading speed is a critical factor for user experience globally, especially in populous and tech-savvy markets like China. Competition among businesses in this massive market is fierce, and even a millisecond slower website can mean losing out on success in a deal. As such, a slow-loading website can lead to impatience and disinterest among users, resulting in a poor evaluation of the browsing experience and dissatisfaction with customer service quality. Moreover, it can drive users away, opting for competitors with optimized experiences, thereby lowering the website's ranking on search engines like Baidu.

Why are business websites slow in China?

The internet ecosystem in China is complex and unique, operating significantly differently from other systems worldwide. This poses challenges for businesses aiming to enter this market, particularly regarding the loading speed of foreign websites.

First reason: Poor connectivity between ISPs

Despite being one of the largest countries in terms of area and population, China has only four major ISPs: China Telecom, China Unicom, China Mobile, and the China Education and Research Network (CERNET). These four providers account for 95% of internet traffic in China but engage minimally in peering activities, the process of connecting networks with each other.

Location of Chinese network providers Location of Chinese network providers

Connections between ISPs must pass through Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) when moving from one provider to another. However, in the Chinese market, this process faces numerous limitations due to the tight control exercised by the aforementioned providers, reducing the number of operational IXPs allowed.

With limited numbers and a sudden surge in internet users over the years, IXPs in China often experience heavy overload, resulting in inefficient connections between local ISPs and data transmission issues nationwide, leading to delays for end-users.

There are various types of ISPs offering diverse internet connections with unique benefits such as broadband, fiber optics, cable, dial-up, satellite, DSL, copper-based, and wireless. Therefore, selecting the appropriate ISP aligned with business needs and directions is crucial, significantly impacting operational efficiency and operating costs.

Summing up these factors, we see that China's internet system has:

  • Limited connectivity: Only four major providers, with minimal network connections to other providers.
  • Low internet coverage: Internet coverage mainly concentrated in major cities, with rural areas being limited.
  • Few exchange points: Few Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) resulting in data transmission difficulties.

These factors significantly contribute to the considerably slower loading speeds of foreign websites in China.

Second reason: The "Great Firewall" of China

The "Great Firewall" (GFW), also known as the Golden Shield Project, is an internet censorship and surveillance system built and maintained by the Chinese government. The GFW is designed to control and restrict Chinese users' access to foreign websites and applications. Consequently, international businesses operating in China may encounter difficulties in accessing customers and partners, as their websites and applications are blocked.

Here are some examples of websites and applications blocked by the GFW:

  • Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr
  • News websites: The New York Times, The Washington Post, BBC, CNN
  • Service websites: Google, Gmail, Google Maps, Amazon
  • Gaming applications: Pokémon Go, Candy Crush Saga, Angry Birds

The main reasons why the "Great Firewall" slows down page loading times include:

  • Internet traffic entering and leaving China must pass through a limited number of international gateways, adding multiple layers of delay to user requests.

  • The system employs Deep Packet Inspection to monitor internet traffic, which can result in significant data loss, meaning that requested data may not reach users due to being lost in transmission.

The high latency when loading pages and increasing data loss become more severe as the connection between ISPs in China becomes less stable. When data packets are lost, they must be retransmitted through an overloaded transmission path, resulting in slow page loading times and deteriorating user experiences.

Other reasons contributing to slow page loading speeds in China

In addition to the impact of the application of censorship policies and access restrictions on websites/applications from abroad, the following factors also contribute to certain obstacles for international businesses to access the Chinese market.

Third reason: High network latency

If you've experienced slow website loading in China, you're not alone. Several factors contribute to this issue, including network latency and distance.

  • Network latency: This is the time required for data packets to travel from a user's device to your web server. High latency results in slower website loading.
  • Distance: If your web server is far from Chinese users, data packets need to travel a greater distance, leading to higher latency.

High network latency in China High network latency in China

So how can you improve your website's speed in China?

An effective solution is to use a Content Delivery Network (CDN). A CDN system stores a business's website content on multiple servers located worldwide, including servers close to the business's users. Thus, when Chinese users access the business's website, they receive content from the nearest server, reducing transmission distance, decreasing latency, and enhancing maximum page loading speed.

Some CDN systems provide Points of Presence (PoPs) at strategic locations in the Asia-Pacific region, such as Hong Kong or Singapore, improving website loading speeds for users in China compared to using a CDN system in nearby regions.

Fourth reason: Heavier websites lead to slower speeds

In today's digital landscape, the size of a website plays a crucial role in transmission. If a business's website contains excessive data, especially high-resolution images or videos, the loading speed of the website will be significantly reduced, resulting in slow content access or occurrences of stuttering and lag. This can lead to disappointment in the business's service quality, causing serious impatience and disinterest among users, prompting them to quickly seek better alternatives from competitors.

Take the example of the e-commerce market in China, where product images play a crucial role in attracting customers and driving sales. If images are not compressed or optimized, they can slow down website loading, leading to poor user experiences and reducing sales opportunities.

To enhance website performance for users in the Chinese market, implementing measures to optimize website speed is crucial. Some ways to improve a business's website loading speed include:

  • File compression to reduce their size without compromising quality, significantly improving page loading speed.
  • Removing unnecessary plugins/scripts/resources that slow down the website, ensuring only essential plugins and scripts are installed.
  • Using appropriately sized images for mobile device screens and compressing them to reduce size.
  • Utilizing caching techniques to store frequently accessed files in the web browser's memory, reducing page loading time for subsequent visits.

By applying the optimization strategies mentioned above, businesses can ensure website loading speed and performance for Chinese users.

How does slow page loading speed in China affect businesses?

According to the latest statistics from Google regarding the impact of page loading speed on user behavior, 53% of mobile device users will leave a website if the loading time exceeds 3 seconds. Moreover, even a delay of 100 milliseconds can cause a further 7% decrease in conversion rates.

Statistics on page loading speed affecting user behavior Statistics on page loading speed affecting user behavior

These figures are not exaggerated when businesses consider themselves in the shoes of users accessing a poorly performing website. If a website loads slowly or experiences stuttering and lag during loading, users will feel frustrated and lose interest, unwilling to continue waiting and likely to close the tab immediately.

This is why optimizing website loading speed for the Chinese market is crucial. By ensuring fast-loading and efficient website operation, businesses can improve and enhance user experience, increasing the chances of converting visitors into customers.

How to increase website loading speed in China?

In today's market, brand reputation depends not only on the quality of products but also largely on customer experience, including website performance and loading speed. To meet this demand, businesses need to research and apply comprehensive and specialized transmission strategies specifically for the Chinese market, helping to enhance website loading speed and provide optimal experience for users in this country.

5 simple ways to improve the loading speed of a business website:

1. Monitor website performance

"You can't manage what you can't measure." Therefore, checking performance is the starting point to ensure that a business's website operates well and meets user needs. Website performance monitoring includes many aspects, with loading speed being the most important factor. To check the loading speed of a website in China, businesses can use online tools such as Pingdom Tools, GTmetrix, WebPageTest, which provide detailed information about page loading times, as well as resources such as images, videos, etc. A note when testing website performance is that businesses should do it during peak hours when there is high traffic to accurately determine the website's capacity.

In addition to loading speed, other factors such as usability, security, etc., should also be checked. Regular website performance checks will help businesses detect and promptly address any issues, ensuring that the website operates stably and effectively.

2. Minimize website size

Performance and loading speed are inversely proportional to the size of the website. In recent years, the average page size has increased significantly due to the integration of large-sized content such as videos, images, JavaScript, and fonts. Although these factors help enhance user experience, they also contribute to increasing the overall size and decreasing the operational performance of the website.

Two simple and effective measures to reduce the size of the website:

  • Minify resources (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and related media files): This process removes unnecessary characters such as whitespace, comments in code, and unused code. This helps browsers process resources faster, resulting in faster access for users and less data transmission and usage for businesses.

  • Optimize images and videos: Users in general, and Chinese users in particular, prefer websites with rich content, sharp images, and lively videos. However, loading speed is also the top concern for users and a determining factor for a business's success in reaching users. Therefore, optimizing images and videos is the key to balancing attractive user experiences and strong loading speed. To do this, a business's website needs to reduce the maximum file size while maintaining superior image and video quality. Advanced compression technology and selecting appropriate file formats (e.g., WebP for images, MPEG-4 for videos) will simplify this process for a business's website.

3. Harnessing the power of browser cache

Website speed directly depends on how many resources the browser needs to load. Each HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and image file on the page must be downloaded, impacting overall performance and slowing down user experience. However, this issue can be addressed by leveraging the browser's cache.

Browser cache downloads and locally stores some files including images, CSS, JavaScript, and frequently changing components in the user's browser at their first access. The next time customers revisit or refresh the page, instead of requesting the entire content from the server, the browser will utilize the pre-stored files, significantly reducing the amount of data to download and the number of requests sent to the server. As a result, the page loading speed is greatly improved, providing a smoother and more efficient experience for users while reducing the burden on the original server.

4. Minimizing DNS lookup in China

China's system has to search for a business's DNS records on the international internet, which may reduce processing time and may not be resolved in the first click. Therefore, businesses can minimize DNS lookup by:

  • Actively storing necessary resources for DNS processing in China: Shortening processing time and providing flexibility in resource management.
  • Considering adjusting the cache time (TTL) based on the type of DNS record: Limiting the need for continuous DNS searches.
  • Preloading necessary DNS records into the cache memory: Reducing waiting time.
  • Switching to another reputable and better-performing DNS provider in the Chinese market: In case the business is experiencing issues with the current DNS provider.

Minimizing DNS lookup can improve website performance and user experience in the Chinese market to the maximum extent for businesses.

5. Removing blocked content

The "Great Firewall" of China is an internet censorship system used by the Chinese government to restrict access to foreign websites and applications. This can affect the performance of businesses' websites, especially those with content related to social media platforms, gambling, adult content, or politics.

These contents may be blocked by the "Great Firewall," causing slow page loading times or only partial loading of website content. Therefore, businesses should consider minimizing this type of content to improve website performance for users in China. Here are some specific suggestions:

  • Use analytics tools to identify content that may be blocked by the Great Firewall.
  • Edit or remove blocked content.
  • Use alternative solutions for blocked social media platforms.

Minimizing blocked content can help businesses improve website performance, provide a better experience for users, and enhance competitiveness in the Chinese market.

China-specific tactics to boost performance

1. Host your website in China

Why hosting your website in China will boost site speed

Restrictions on accessing foreign websites and applications by the strict internet censorship system known as the "Great Firewall" significantly impact the performance of businesses' websites, especially those targeting users in China. This leads to slower page loading times and, in some cases, users being unable to access international websites while in China.

Therefore, an effective way to address this challenge and enhance website performance is to host the website in China. By doing so, the business's website will be closer to users in China, reducing page loading times and improving user experience.

There are two main benefits to hosting your website in China:

  • Faster page loading speed: The website will be accessed directly from servers located in China, rather than having to pass through the "Great Firewall," which can help reduce page loading times by up to 50%.
  • Reduced risk of being blocked: If the website complies with local regulations in China, the likelihood of being blocked by the "Great Firewall" will be lower.

Fast loading speed and reduced risk of access blocking are two significant benefits of hosting a business's website within China's jurisdiction. If a business is seeking to improve its website performance in China, hosting the website there is a worthwhile consideration.

How to host your website in China

When hosting a website in China, businesses can choose between dedicated or shared hosting. Although both have their pros and cons, opting for dedicated hosting will yield better long-term results by ensuring the website always has the necessary resources to operate smoothly and support SEO rankings on platforms like Baidu, Tencent Cloud, and AWS China.

Internet Content Provider (ICP) License

If a business wants to host its website in China, it needs to obtain an Internet Content Provider (ICP) license issued by the Chinese government, allowing the hosting of the website on a server within the country.

While the ICP license does not directly affect website performance, it is a mandatory requirement for hosting content locally, improving loading times and overall performance. Hosting providers must adhere to this regulation, as failure to obtain the license may result in the website being unable to operate. Businesses should familiarize themselves with the ICP requirements before applying, as the approval process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the registering authority.

2. Implement a China CDN solution

Why implementing a China CDN solution will boost site speed

While hosting a website in China can improve performance, it's not the only solution. To fully optimize website speed in China, businesses should consider deploying a CDN solution specifically tailored for the Chinese market.

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a network of servers distributed geographically to deliver web content to users worldwide quickly. With a CDN system in China, a business's website content is stored on servers located within the country, reducing page loading times and enhancing the user experience for users in this region.

Here are some benefits of deploying a CDN solution in China:

  • Faster page loading speed: CDN reduces page loading times for users in China, improving the overall user experience.
  • Increased accessibility: CDN ensures that the business website is accessed quickly and reliably, even during high traffic periods.
  • Enhanced security: CDN can help protect the website from Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

If a business is looking to improve website speed in China, deploying a CDN solution in China is a sensible choice.

Location of CDN providers in China Location of CDN providers in China

Choosing the right CDN Solution in China

During the evaluation and selection process of a suitable CDN provider in China for collaboration, businesses should pay attention to the following factors:

  • Number and location of PoPs (Point of Presence): The quantity and location of PoPs will impact the page loading speed for users in those locations. Choose a provider with PoPs located in major cities in China to ensure the fastest page loading speed for users in China.
  • Relationships with Internet Service Providers (ISPs): Strong relationships with ISPs greatly influence website accessibility. Select a provider with good relationships with major ISPs in China to ensure the business website can be accessed quickly and reliably.
  • Pricing: CDN costs may vary depending on the provider and service package. Compare the prices of different providers to find an option that fits within your budget.

About ICP licenses

To use CDN services in China, a business's website needs to be hosted locally and must have an ICP (Internet Content Provider) License, issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) of China, allowing the storage of the website on a server here.

The requirements for applying for an ICP license include:

  • Chinese Business License: This is a mandatory requirement for all foreign businesses wishing to operate in China.
  • Chinese Passport: Business owners can use their passport as identification if they come to China and stay long enough to meet registration requirements.
  • Joint Venture Agreement: If engaging in a joint venture with a Chinese partner, you may apply for an ICP license as a representative of the joint venture company.

If you do not meet these requirements, you may not be eligible to apply for an ICP license.

The process of applying for an ICP license involves the following steps:

  • Purchase hosting from a Chinese CDN service provider.
  • Submit the ICP application and supporting documents to the hosting company.
  • The hosting company will review the application and business documents to ensure accuracy and completeness.
  • Upon verification, the hosting company will submit the business's ICP application to the MIIT.
  • If approved, the MIIT will notify the hosting company to unlock the business's account.

Note that as the owner of a foreign website, the business will not have any direct interaction with the MIIT during this process. Additionally, there is no recourse for appeal if the business's application is rejected.

In essence, obtaining an ICP license is a time-consuming, resource-intensive, and costly process for businesses, with a low success rate. So, are there any other options available to businesses?

3. Content delivery solution without ICP license: China Rim CDN

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the complexity of the China internet market, especially the barrier of the ICP license? The China Rim CDN solution emerges as a game-changer to address this issue, helping foreign website owners optimize performance in China without the need for local hosting or going through the costly ICP licensing process.

The key to China Rim is leveraging a CDN network positioned at strategic intersection nodes such as South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and neighboring countries - just outside the borders of China. As a result, your website will enjoy superior performance, even surpassing many other global CDN networks. Additionally, with the ICP licensing process being complex and expensive, this is the crucial factor that makes China Rim an attractive choice.

Compared to direct CDN solutions within China, China Rim may not be entirely superior. However, if your main goal is to enhance website visibility in China without getting involved in the cumbersome ICP-related procedures, then China rim is a worthy consideration.

The strength of this solution lies not only in minimizing latency but also in providing real-time data analytics. With the China Rim CDN solution, you are stepping into the future of website performance in China - the shortcut to prominence, speed, and success in the vast China internet market.


As the digital landscape in China continues to evolve, foreign enterprises are faced with numerous challenges in delivering seamless user experiences to Chinese audiences. As we enter 2024, enhancing website performance in China remains a top priority for international businesses seeking to tap into this lucrative market, particularly in terms of accelerating page load times.

This article has outlined various strategies and specific approaches for businesses venturing into the Chinese market. However, it's crucial for businesses to conduct thorough research and analysis to identify the solutions that best align with their business objectives, resources, and requirements.

Let VNETWORK be your partner on the journey to optimizing your website and achieving substantial traffic growth in the Chinese market today. For more information and a price quote, please contact us via Hotline: +84 (028) 7306 8789 or email:

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