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I'm working on a web app that will have a large-ish chunk of users in China. The bad news is that most of them are university students, and access has been blocked.

Setting up a proxy server inside China seems like the best (potential?) solution, but it's the first time I'll have done anything along those lines. Are there any pitfalls or issues that I should be aware of before I start down this path?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Setting up a proxy server inside China could turn out to be much trickier than you think...

ISP's are required to register all internet connected devices with the government and implement the government sanctioned block list. If you do manage to set up a proxy inside China that can bypass the block list, then it will technically be illegal. Setting up a proxy outside China that isn't blocked is a possibility, however there's no guarantee that it'll remain unblocked in the future. More info at Human Rights Watch...

The most legal / safe route would be to request your webapp be granted an exemption by the government, however I couldn't find an easy link to do this... you might try contacting the Chinese Ministry of Information Industry to see if they can point you in the right direction.
(I wish you luck though - the company I work for recently looked into doing business inside China, and it turned out to be horrendously complicated, even for a basic retail company)

The wikipedia page on PRC internet censorship also has a lot of good info and links.

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Thanks for the pointer to the wikipedia page. Looks like I'll definitely have my hands full... – Eaton May 14 '09 at 20:44

Try Kong Kong instead - it has best connection to mainland China and finding and setting up VPS hosting there is quite easy.

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Chances are Hong Kong -> China connections are equally censored. – ceejayoz Sep 12 '12 at 15:20

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