Hong Kong

Hong Kong City


Whether you live in Hong Kong or you’re just planning a visit, it’s completely natural to be concerned about your privacy and wondering whether or not you should use a VPN. The main reason to be concerned is obvious: Hong Kong exists in the shadow of China. However, despite Beijing’s influence, the difference between Internet in Hong Kong and Internet in mainland China is night and day.

China’s Internet usage is heavily monitored. Hong Kong’s is not. China censors websites while Hong Kong doesn’t. However, just because Hong Kong is relatively free, doesn’t mean China holds no influence. Plus, you need to consider that the region is dealing with protests, and it’s difficult to discern how things might play out from a political standpoint.

The State of VPN Usage in Hong Kong

Currently, Hong Kong has over 6 million Internet users – that’s out of a population of just over 7 million. While Hong Kong acts independently, it’s important to recognize the shadow that falls over the region.

Communist China has its own laws and customs, and many of those involve censorship – both of freedom of speech and Internet accessibility. Amid the ongoing protests, the Hong Kong ISP Association worries that China may impose restrictions on Hong Kong. Even slight ones could have far reaching impacts.

The more tensions grow, the more important it will be to use a VPN in Hong Kong. Remember — just because Hong Kong doesn’t experience the same Internet restrictions as mainland China, doesn’t mean that Beijing isn’t trying to gain access to Hong Kong users’ data.

Is it Legal to Use a VPN in Hong Kong?

Yes, it is legal to use a VPN in Hong Kong. However, there is a lot to be said for context, and you can’t have a conversation about Hong Kong’s VPN usage without talking about China. So let’s talk about the impact the Chinese government has on VPN users.

In 2017, the Chinese government decided that telecom and Internet companies were not allowed to set up a VPN without government approval. Immediately after the announcement, VPN services were shut down, and people caught running a VPN service received jail sentences of up to five years.

In 2019, it wasn’t just those who provided VPN services that were targeted. A man was fined 1,000 Yuan for using a VPN to connect overseas. In practice, the use of a VPN in China by Chinese citizens may be illegal.

But how does that affect Hong Kong?

As friction increases, the government has not ruled out the idea of restricting Internet access. The Chinese government believes domestic Internet controls are critical to stability, and it has political sovereignty over Hong Kong, but it does not control the Internet. Yet.

It’s nearly impossible to determine how the situation might play out, and because of that, it’s impossible to determine what Hong Kong’s Internet usage will look like in the future. It could be free of censorship and supportive of individual privacy rights like it is now, or it could be heavily censored and monitored like China’s Internet.

Why Use a VPN in Hong Kong?

If the looming threat of China wasn’t enough to make you consider using a VPN during your time in Hong Kong, there are numerous other reasons. Here’s what you need to consider:


Data Retention Laws


Surprisingly, despite Chinese influence, Hong Kong doesn’t have any data retention laws. This means Internet Service Providers don’t have to retain customer information, metadata, or any logs relating to your browsing history. You’ll find the opposite in China, where data retention is imposed by the government.

That does not mean, however, that ISPs won’t retain your data to sell to advertisers or other companies.


Digital Privacy


While the government of Hong Kong is supportive of freedom of speech and doesn’t censor the Internet, digital privacy is still a major concern. That’s because, unfortunately, it’s not the local government that Hong Kong citizens need to worry about. China is arguably the most powerful surveillance state in the world, and it is likely – if not a foregone conclusion – that they are already attempting to monitor the browsing habits and accounts of Hong Kong citizens. A VPN provides an additional layer of privacy from prying foreign agencies.


Honeypot Hotspots


A honeypot is an illegitimate WiFi access point that’s designed to mimic a regular, often free, access point. Hackers and other malicious actors create honeypots to steal your data – without you being aware that they’re doing it. The process is deceptively simple, and chances are, if you fall victim to a honeypot, you won’t even notice it until it’s too late.

To create a honeypot, a hacker will visit a popular spot and create their own WiFi access point. They’ll change the name to match the legitimate access point, and in some cases, they’ll boost their own signal to overpower the rival access point. Thinking the hacker’s access point is the correct one, people will access it without considering their privacy.

If you access a honeypot, a talented hacker will be able to see everything you’re doing on the Internet. This includes any accounts you access – social media, bank accounts, and the like – and any usernames or passwords you type. While it’s best not to connect to public WiFi networks, using a VPN can help provide an additional layer of security.




No matter where you are, you likely have to deal with geoblocking to a certain degree. In many cases, it’s relatively harmless. For example, your bank might prevent foreign IP addresses from accessing your account, or at the very least flag them as suspicious. Or perhaps you want to watch your favorite show, but it’s not available when streaming from Hong Kong.

A VPN solves both of these issues by letting you choose the location of the server you want to connect from. You regain access to your bank account and open yourself up to new content.


Avoid Throttling


Certain ISPs may throttle your Internet speed depending on the type of data you’re trying to access. This is seen most frequently with streaming and torrenting, though it can happen at any time. By using a VPN, you hide the type of data you’re accessing from your ISP, which means they won’t be able to determine if they should throttle your connection or not. In this case, using a VPN might actually speed up your connection.

Internet Speed and VPN Accessibility

The average speed of an internet connection in Hong Kong is 15.8 Mb/s, with a peak speed of 101.1 Mb/s. A whopping 92% of connections are faster than 4Mbps. Why does this matter? It’s simple – if you use a VPN, no matter how good it is, it will slow your Internet connection down. The speed slows usually by between 20% to 50%, depending on the quality of your VPN and where the servers are located.

If you have a fast connection, this slowdown will only be noticeable when you’re doing something that requires a high-speed connection – gaming, for example. If your connection is weaker, you could be stuck dealing with streams that are constantly buffering or websites that won’t load correctly.

Wrapping Up

Hong Kong is in a situation unlike almost anywhere else in the world. It’s democratic and supports open Internet, arguably more so than some western nations. Digital privacy rights are strong and censorship is almost non-existent.

However, the looming threat of China and its pro-censorship regime cannot be ignored. Hong Kong’s future is next to impossible to predict, and for that reason alone, using a VPN while in the region makes a lot of sense.

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