With the advent of globalization, plenty of mobile applications and websites around the world have gained popular international attention. No person on the Internet isn’t aware of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube. However, as is the case of most of the Chinese populace, being aware of it does not mean one is granted access to it.
Due to censorship and national restrictions, China has banned most of the world’s leading social media websites and other online resources, replacing them with their local equivalents.
Here are 7 Chinese websites and applications to watch out for:
Local Equivalent: Messenger/Viber + Facebook + GCash/PayMaya
Developed by Tencent, WeChat is primarily a multi-purpose messaging, social media, and mobile payment application. It is also partnered with multiple third party operators, providing users with secondary functions such as the ability to purchase train and plane tickets, book hotels, hail rides, and more. As of the first quarter of 2020, the application has over 1.2 billion active users because of its diverse features.
Local Equivalent: Google
Known to many as the Chinese Google, the Baidu search engine is the third largest website in terms of online traffic, as measured by Alexa Internet rankings. Baidu, Inc. also manages several services such as Baidu Maps (a desktop and mobile mapping solution), Baidu Wangpan (a cloud storage drive), Baidu Baike (an online encyclopedia), and Baidu Tieba (an online query-based searchable community) among others. Familiar equivalents to these would respectively be Google Maps, Google Drive, Wikipedia, and Reddit.
3) Sina Weibo
Local Equivalent: Twitter + Instagram
Initially known as the Chinese response to Twitter, Sina Weibo is a microblogging website that combines the features of several social media platforms. Like Twitter, it was previously defined by its utilization of user handles (@name), hashtag trends, and a 140-character limit; however, it has since increased the cap to 2,000 characters in 2016. In addition to this, recent updates of the website have included the ability to post pictures and “stories,” similar to those available on Instagram.
Local Equivalent: YouTube + Netflix
In its early years, Youku was similar enough to YouTube in that it used to be a website focused on user-generated content. However, after merging with Tudou and being acquired by the Alibaba Group, Youku transitioned into licensing and releasing professionally produced videos. Though the website still contains user-generated content, most users now visit Youku to watch TV shows, movies, and variety shows.
Local Equivalent: Netflix
Launched in 2010, iQIYI is one of the largest online video platforms in the world, with almost 6 billion hours spent on its service per month and over 500 million active users. The website is particularly known for its vast selection of original and licensed movies, dramas, variety shows, animation, and other content. Aiming to capture a broader audience both locally and internationally, the Baidu-owned service has partnered with the Malaysian telco, Astro, and has succeeded in obtaining licensing agreements with major Western studios such as Paramount and Lionsgate to provide users with a wider range of entertaining content.
Local Equivalent: IMDb/Rotten Tomatoes + Goodreads + Facebook
Though China has long since lifted its ban on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes itself has never been banned, Douban has become the go-to social networking website for Chinese users who intend to record information about or create content relating to books, films, music, and activities in the country. Similar to other review aggregator websites, Douban allows users to search for and rate creative content (e.g. movies and books).
Local Equivalent: Zomato/Yelp + Instagram + AirBnb/Expedia/Agoda
If you are Chinese, you would be hard-pressed to find good restaurants, hotels, and shops to explore without Dianping. Functioning not only as an application for posting and scrolling through reviews of establishments, but Dianping also allows users both in and out of China to upload Instagram-like posts of their experiences, avail of countless discounts and deals, and book services and accommodations conveniently.
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