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Local CDN Solutions for Overcoming China’s Great Firewall & ICP

The Chinese digital landscape presents a unique set of challenges for website owners hosted outside of China. With its strict regulatory environment and the infamous Great Firewall, international businesses often find themselves unable to serve their content efficiently to the world’s largest internet user base. An Internet Content Provider (ICP) license is mandatory for those who wish to host their website within China. However, obtaining an ICP license is a complex and lengthy process, often impractical for many international entities. This is where the strategic use of a local Content Delivery Network (CDN) provider comes into play.

The Great Firewall and ICP License Constraints:

China’s Great Firewall is a sophisticated blend of legislative actions and technologies that regulate the internet domestically. Websites hosted outside of China can experience slow loading times or may be entirely inaccessible due to these regulations. An ICP license is required for websites to be hosted on servers within China, which involves a stringent application process that requires a local business presence and compliance with local laws, including censorship requirements. There are two main types of licenses:

  • ICP Filing (Bei’an): A basic registration that allows non-commercial content to be hosted in China.
  • ICP Commercial License: Required for e-commerce, online payment platforms, or any site engaging in direct sales.

Acquiring either license involves navigating a complex application process that includes submitting business documents, undergoing a stringent review process, and ensuring full compliance with Chinese censorship laws. The process of obtaining an ICP license is not only intricate but also requires a local presence in China. Businesses must have a physical address and a designated representative within the country. The paperwork is exhaustive and includes:

  • A detailed application form.
  • Business licenses and certificates.
  • Domain name certificates.
  • Identity documents of the Chinese representative.
  • Security deposit and further financial documentation (For ICP Commercial License).

This process can take several months and does not guarantee approval. Moreover, maintaining the license requires adherence to ongoing regulations and inspections, adding to the administrative burden.

The Role of Internet Service Providers (ISPs)

ISPs play a crucial role in content access within China. The country’s internet is served by three major state-owned telecom companies; China Mobile, China Unicorn and China Telecom, each operating its own network with little interconnection. This means that hosting with one may not guarantee optimal access for users on the other networks. For a website to perform well, it must be accessible across all networks, which can be an intricate and bureaucratic process involving additional registrations and compliance checks.

Why a Local CDN Provider is Critical:

A local CDN provider circumvents the need for an ICP license by caching content on servers located within China. This local cache allows users in China to access international content with reduced latency and increased reliability. Here’s why this is essential:

  1. Bypassing ICP License Delays: Using a CDN allows businesses to immediately improve their web presence in China without waiting for ICP license approval.
  2. Optimized Performance Across ISPs: A CDN that has nodes across different ISP networks ensures that content is delivered quickly and reliably, regardless of the end user’s ISP.
  3. Compliance and Accessibility: A local CDN provider ensures that your content is delivered within the boundaries of Chinese regulations. This means your website can be accessed without the need for an ICP license, as you’re not actually hosting your website within the country.
  4. Cost Savings: The administrative and financial burden of obtaining and maintaining an ICP license is significant. A CDN offers a more budget-friendly solution without the need for a local office or representative.
  5. Scalable Distribution: CDNs can manage traffic spikes and distribute content efficiently, reducing the risk of site crashes during high traffic periods.
  6. Enhanced User Experience: CDNs minimize the distance data must travel, reducing load times and improving the browsing experience, which is crucial for user retention.

Choosing the Right Provider Like Mlytics Multi-CDN Solution

Selecting the right CDN provider is crucial. It must have a robust network within China and experience in navigating the Chinese internet landscape. It’s also essential that they have a good track record of compliance with Chinese regulations.

Mlytics offers a Multi-CDN platform that aggregates performance and data from multiple top China CDN providers like Tencent, Alibaba, and BaishanCloud to deliver a tailored, comprehensive content delivery solution for China. Their smart load balancing system optimizes CDN performance at the city level, ensuring highly precise website experience tuning. This approach provides several benefits:

  1. Redundancy: If one CDN faces issues, the platform can switch to another, ensuring consistent availability.
  2. Performance Optimization: Mlytics platform intelligently routes traffic through the fastest CDN paths, enhancing speed and user experience.
  3. Cost-Effectiveness: With a pay-as-you-go model, businesses can scale their usage without committing to a single expensive CDN provider.
  4. Real-Time Analytics: Users can monitor their website’s performance in China in real-time, allowing for quick adjustments and optimizations.
  5. DDoS Mitigation: The system ensures rapid mitigation of DDoS attacks, thanks to its network of multiple CDNs and intelligent load balancing solution.

Mlytics’ proprietary Global Multi-CDN Accelerator network offers a congestion-free, redundant global network with thousands of edge nodes worldwide, ensuring top-notch content delivery for both in-China and global users. Ideal for dynamic, content-heavy websites and applications in sectors like IoT, Fintech, AI, and iGaming.


For international website owners looking to penetrate the Chinese market, using a local CDN provider offers a viable alternative to the arduous process of obtaining an ICP license. While it doesn’t replace the need for compliance with Chinese internet laws, it does provide a relatively easier path for businesses to ensure their websites are accessible and performant for Chinese users. In a digital era where speed and reliability are paramount, a local CDN could be the key to unlocking the vast potential of China’s online space.