Popular Websites and Apps in China

Popular Websites and APPs in China

There are 668 million Internet users in China, and 78% of them are between the ages of 10 and 39. Which websites or apps are most popular among Chinese young people? If you’ve never lived in China the answers might surprise you…

WeChat vs WhatsApp

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In the western world everyone uses WhatsApp, however in China WeChat is more popular. WeChat, known as Weixin(literally micro message) in Chinese, is currently the most popular app in China. Since April of 2015, WeChat has more than 600 million active users. Besides chatting with people, you can share text, picture and video on moments. Now Tencent, owner of WeChat, is trying to get a larger share ofthe mobile payment market including online shopping, ordering taxis, etc. WeChat is changing people’s way of life too. Although, I don’t have official statistics, I find people are arranging more get-together activities than before thanks to the function of group chat where people can exchange information easily. During Spring Festival in 2015, 11 billion people shook their phones to get a chance at winning a red envelope through WeChat. Clearly, WeChat enjoys great popularity.

Baidu vs Google

Baidu is the most popular Chinese internet company. Baidu has 76% of the Chinese internet search market, and has even become a verb, similar to how Google is used in the western world. In China, if you ask someone a question, they might tell you to “Just Baidu it”. 

Their CEO, Robin Li explains: “Many people have asked about the meaning of our name. Baidu' was inspired by a poem written more than 800 years ago during the Song Dynasty. The poem compares the search for a retreating beauty amid chaotic glamour with the search for one's dream while confronted by life's many obstacles. Hundreds and thousands of times, for her I searched in chaos, suddenly, I turned by chance, to where the lights were waning, and there she stood. Baidu, whose literal meaning is hundreds of times, represents persistent search for the ideal.” 

In this case, I think Qiandu, whose meaning is thousands of times, might be better. Haha

Youku vs YouTube

Founded in 2006 (one year after YouTube) Youku has become the most popular video sharing and watching website in China, with more than 500 million active users. It merged with Tudou, the earliest and second most popular video sharing website. Youku’s video library contains lots of full-length films and TV series for free watching. But they are blocked to international IP addresses because of copyright issues.

The Renren Network vs Facebook

Formerly named the Xiaonei Network (literally meaning “on-campus network”) , the Renren Network is apopular social media network amongst on-campus students. Unlike Facebook however, many people stop using Renren after college. The key information you need to find a person is his/her college, high school, middle school or hometown. The Renren Network’s early sensational ads showed how people could get in touch with their old friends from childhood.

Zhihu vs Quora

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Zhihu is a question-and-answer website, very similar to Qoura. People ask stupid or interesting questions, and other people submit serious or humorous answers. It could be a good choice as reading materials for advanced Chinese learners, because usually their writing styles are different but quite casual and close to how people talk in daily life.

Alipay vs PayPal

Launched in 2014 by Alibaba Group, Alipay (whose Chinese name is Zhifubao) is a PayPal clone with a stronger online payment platform. Alipay allows free transactions including paying for online shopping, taxis, utility bills etc. It provides great convenience for Chinese people’s daily life. In big cities, even in a small store you can grab a cup of coffee by scanning an Alipay QR code. Now Alipay accepts foreign credit cards and some domestic bank accounts opened by foreigners, such as Bank of China and ICBC. Another exciting bit of news for Chinese people who love to travel abroad is that we can use the credits in our Alipay accounts to apply for a tourist visa instead of bank statements. Currently, Singapore and Luxembourg are the two countries that accept Alipay credits but Alibaba Group are planning to reach out to UK, South Korea, Japan, Belgium and Sri Lanka in near future.


Maria writes columns for the GoEast Blog on studying Chinese and Chinese language. She completed her MA atBeijing Foreign Studies University and has over 6 years experience teaching Mandarin. She founded GoEast together with Wang Rong in 2010.