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It’s shocking coming to China and realizing that everything you like about the internet is blocked. Think about it! How do you “Google” with no Google?! How do you “like” with no Facebook?! Are there any other options to watch videos with no Youtube?! How do you look up information without Wikipedia or hook up girls without Tinder? There is a solution, and we are about to discover it!
So how to “Google” with no Google? In my opinion, the best alternative in China is Baidu.com. Baidu is the largest search engine in China. Like Google, Baidu provides lots of services to its users - including maps, videos, news, translation, e-mail, cloud services, encyclopedia, etc. Baidu is huge and extremely popular in China. How popular? When established in 2010, until the 4th quarter of that year, it got a market share of 56.6% in China. Ever since it keeps the same market share, even though nowadays there are much more competitors than before. In 2015 it was ranked 4th worldwide in the Alexa Internet ranking. So yeah! It’s crazy popular! However, there is a big problem. Baidu’s information is mostly in Chinese – and if you can’t read the language it might appear as a problem. Nevertheless, when thinking about it, you must realize that a country with such a strict internet and content censorship will keep most of its information within its own borders. That’s why most of the information about china you won’t be able to find in Google but easily in Baidu – and knowing how to use it, can be an asset for you.
Can you imagine your life with no Facebook? In China, it can be more than possible due to the simple fact that Facebook is blocked. And not only Facebook but also twitter and Blogspot (if you guys still use it). One of the coolest things about Facebook is its exposure. Once you promote something on Facebook it can easily become viral. However, in china, it’s restricted, and it’s only possible to access this website if you use a VPN. But fear not! – The fact that it’s blocked makes Facebook just irrelevant for the Chinese people in general and to the Chinese market in particular. So what to do? - Wechat. Wechat is a great tool to promote your business. One of the things you can do on Wechat is to open an official account for your business and update your followers on your activity. Wechat is used in China more or less the same as Facebook is used in your country. It’s extremely popular and using Wechat for getting exposure can be the right choice for you (For more information read my article on Wechat).
As for Wikipedia, well… it’s not really blocked. For example, Chinese Wikipedia is blocked most of the time. Other languages occasionally blocked, depending on the situation. For example, if there is an important meet up of the communist party, the English Wikipedia might be blocked as well. However, of course, there is a Chinese alternative – Baike.com. This Website is basically social media with a Wiki based Encyclopedia - Something like Wikipedia but in Chinese. However, only registered members can write and edit articles there (Because of government restrictions). This is the biggest Encyclopedia in China with almost 15 million articles. By the way, it may be the largest due to a number of articles – However, The biggest in terms of traffic would be another online encyclopedia – Baidu.baike.com – Which is Baidu’s own encyclopedia mentioned in a nutshell above.
There’s a time for business and time for pleasure, so when you’ve finished your day, you’re tired and just want to relax by watching funny cat videos, you enter Youtube… and BAMMMM! No Youtube! Well for that, actually The Chinese internet offers lots of options. You probably won’t be able to watch your local TV shows (especially if you don’t come from the USA) but for many cases, you will be able to find almost everything and even some things Youtube doesn’t offer (yet). So there are lots of websites offering video players but I will talk about the famous ones. One very famous website is YouKu. You can think of it as the “Chinese Youtube”. It offers a large amount of videos in various categories. It also offers lots of Chinese TV series (if you are into Chinese language and culture), sometimes worldwide TV shows (Like Master Chef for instance), and the highlight – Movies! You can watch movies on YouKu – Most of them are for free so you don’t need to download videos if you’re in China. Another website which is heavily recommended is PPTV. The reason I like this website is because it allows you to watch live sporting events like football and basketball. This is a great option for the sports fans among you even if you’re not in China!
For those who survived until this point, I offer a bonus! You’re going to know what the alternatives are for Tinder! (I heard…from a friend…) that there are some interesting alternatives. MoMo and TanTan are the two most famous dating apps that work very similar to Tinder. Actually, TanTan even looks the same! However, the major difference between Tinder and the Chinese alternatives is that the later ones are actually used, in most cases, for actual dating (If you know what I mean). So be careful with that, or else you are going to find yourself under the canopy earlier than you expected.
These are only a few examples of the alternatives you can find in China. There are much more! However, due to differences in culture and interests, you still might miss your beloved websites. Nevertheless, one must understand that living and doing business in China might require you to make some adjustments to the Chinese internet environment. The fact that those website and apps are blocked prevents most Chinese people from sharing information on the platforms we all familiar with. Learning how to use these Chinese websites will be an asset to your business in the Chinese market. So 加油 (jia you = good luck) ！