What is Airtable?

Airtable is an easy-to-use online platform for creating and sharing relational databases.



Does Airtable work in China?

The short answer depends on your use cases.

If Airtable is served as a Content Management System (CMS) that provides read-only information for a website host in China, Airtable should be ok.

Before we dive in, let’s first take a look at the Airtable tech stack to see if Airtable is accessible in China or not.


From https://stackshare.io/airtable/airtable
From https://stackshare.io/airtable/airtable


So Airtable’s servers are hosted on AWS (noted that it is not hosted on AWS China region) and their CDN is vendor is using MaxCDN.


Airtable staff's reply for data security and hosting: https://community.airtable.com/t/question-about-data-security-hosting/34123
Airtable staff's reply for data security and hosting: https://community.airtable.com/t/question-about-data-security-hosting/34123


Just for the readers to be aware, AWS EC2 global is not blocked in China, but it’s relatively slow when compares to AWS China.

So based on their stack, we can tell it should work in theory for China, but it will be a bit slow.

Even Airtable loads a bit slow in China, but it’s not ok, not more specifically, it’s not allowed if you use Airtable to collect Chinese users’ information. Because it violates Article 37 of the Cybersecurity Law of the People’s Republic of China.

If you are curious, let’s take a quick look at what Article 37 states, here is the original version in Chinese:

关键信息基础设施的运营者在中华人民共和国境内运营中收集和产生的个人信息和重要数据应当在境内存储。因业务需要,确需向境外提供的,应当按照国家网信部门会同国务院有关部门制定的办法进行安全评估;法律、行政法规另有规定的,依照其规定。

http://www.npc.gov.cn/wxzl/gongbao/2017-02/20/content_2007531.htm

Google translated english version:

The personal information and important data collected and generated by the operators of critical information infrastructures within the territory of the People’s Republic of China shall be stored in the territory. If it is necessary to provide it overseas due to business needs, the security assessment shall be conducted following the measures formulated by the national cyberspace administration department in conjunction with the relevant departments of the State Council; if there are other provisions in laws and administrative regulations, the provisions shall be followed.”

Simply put, any user information collected in China should stay in servers or databases in China. And since Airtable has no database or servers in China, then if you send users’ data out to overseas servers, it is not allowed, or in fact, it violates the laws already.

If you need to transfer the data to servers or databases outside of China, you need to apply it with the relevant departments in China. As far as I know, I haven’t heard of any overseas companies that have got apply for this “exception”. Thus, we recommend you simply host the users in China.


Fact checks

When a website completely appears in your browser, most of the time is spent loading media assets like images and videos. This leads us to think: how fast would the assets be loaded in China with websites published with Airtable.


Media assets speed test with Airtable and Netlify CDN, https://gatsby-airtable-listing.netlify.app
Media assets speed test with Airtable and Netlify CDN, https://gatsby-airtable-listing.netlify.app


From the figure above, we can tell some major cities such as Shanghai and Guangzhou took about 800 - 1,200 ms seconds to load just one image (Noted the image is hosted on Netlify CDN, so we are not testing MaxCDN, we are testing Netlify CDN in China instead). If you have lots of assets on your website, you can imagine how slow it would be to completely load. In other words, your reader will be waiting forever to see images show up on their screen.

In short, websites published with Airtable on Netlify CDNs will be slow in major cities in China.


Getting Airtable to work in China

Before we tell you how to get your Airtable-backed website to work in China, Let’s look at the outcome first:


Airtable with 21YunBox Edge, https://gatsby-airtable-listing.21cloudbox.com/
Airtable with 21YunBox Edge, https://gatsby-airtable-listing.21cloudbox.com/


So basically, it’s all GREEN.

What does this mean? If you speed test your website (published with Airtable) outside of China, your website likely to load in a second or two. This means if you publish your website with the tip (I’m going to tell you below), then your website is the same or equivalent load time as you have outside of China.

This is how 21YunBox comes in to help to get your website up to speed in China with the tech you are using.

If you are interested in getting Airtable to work in China with business-level support and availability. Reach out to us and we will give your site a speed boost.