2018 is just 3 months away and China still has a majority of the Internet from the outside world blocked! Most of the apps and software you use today are probably foreign to the Mainland Chinese. If there’s a popular English based app, there’s probably a Chinese version too. Why? Let’s find out!

1. Google vs Baidu (百度)


Many of you are probably familiar with Google. Anything dunno? Just Google lah! But the Chinese (from China) would not be able to do that. The Chinese Government has blocked many western sites because of their Policy of Internet Censorship. China does not want its people to be “badly” influenced by the “outside world”. Today, only Hong Kong is not affected by China’s Internet Policy, where most of the Chinese laws do not apply.


Baidu has been around for 17 solid years. Over this period, many tech experts have lined Baidu up against the almighty Google. Being the dominant search engine in China, Baidu ranks 5th in the Alexa most popular site in the world, thanks to the sheer number of Chinese! But, how powerful is it?

It’s great. And investors love it.

Baidu has been very successful since their founder Robin Li started the company back in 2000, getting sponsors from Silicon Valley, building the most powerful computer cluster, providing ad space (even before Google), having their own encyclopedia, and the list goes on.

Check out BaiDu here.

2. Chrome vs Internet Explorer (prior to Edge)

Before the release of Microsoft Edge on July 15 2016, Internet Explorer (IE) was only used to install other browsers such as Google Chrome (71.9%) and Mozilla Firefox (17.1%). Safari (3.2%) comes pre-installed on Mac OS.

While the majority of us are using Chrome in Singapore, over 45% of the Chinese are still using IE with only 29% using Chrome, while the remaining 25% are using other browsers. Today, many Chinese have shifted from IE to Edge.

One of the biggest reason for this is that Google’s Search Engine and their other services such as Google Maps, Gmail, and Google Docs are blocked in China, which makes it less popular than the traditional IE. Other Chinese browsers include QQ, and Tencent, which has been slammed by tech experts for sending personal information back to the company.

3. Facebook vs RenRen(人人)


Chances are, you have Facebook. Same goes for the Chinese! Just that they’re on RenRen. However, Facebook was only blocked in July 2009 – the Xinjiang independence activists were using Facebook as part of their communications network. Some Chinese users also believed that Facebook would not succeed in China after Google China’s problems. It is possible to access Facebook in Shanghai’s Free Trade Zone. So if you’re in Shanghai, hooray for you!

The RenRen social network (formerly XiaoNei) basically translates to “people people” and it still exists because it complies PRC Government regulations regarding content filtering. RenRen has many features similar to Facebook, such as “What’s on your mind”, shares, likes, pages, groups, jobs, and chat.

Xiao Nei (now RenRen) has a similar story as Facebook. It was founded by a group of students, at Tsinghua University and Tingjing University in December 2005 with the same purpose as Facebook; to connect people. In 2011, XiaoNei went public on the New York Stock Exchange and changed its name to RenRen. Today RenRen has a monthly user of 50 million (mostly Chinese), as compared to 1.57 billion from Facebook.

Check out RenRen here.

4. Twitter vs WeiBo ( 微博)


Who would’ve guessed that China has their own version of Twitter? As you can see from the image above, WeiBo looks very similar to Twitter and functions mostly the same way too. The key difference is that 140 characters in alphanumeric cannot compete with 140 Chinese characters – people would be able to say more with the same limit.

But why block Twitter? I mean it’s harmless, right?

Despite being blocked in China, many Chinese still assess it through other means. The downside is that the Chinese users are highly monitored. In 2010, Cheng Jian Ping was sentenced to 1 year in a labor camp for retweeting a comment that suggested boycotters of Japanese products should instead attack the Japanese pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo. However, punishment for insensitive tweets/comments doesn’t just happen in China. Even Singapore has its share of such cases – Amos Yee for example.

Check out WeiBo here.

5. YouTube vs YouKu ( 优酷)


Yup, you guessed it. YouTube’s clone is YouKu. Same reasons as the above mentioned, YouKu exists because YouTube does not follow the Chinese Policy of Internet Censorship.

In November 2016, Youku had monthly active users of 580 million against YouTube of just over 1 billion. YouKu has pretty much the same features of YouTube such as pre-video ads, side banner ads, shares, comments, and likes. The key difference between these two platforms is that most content found on YouTube would not be available on YouKu. Of course, YouKu has much more Chinese videos and full movies free to watch, whereas YouTube has limited movies available.

Over the past year, YouTube has been shamed by many YouTubers, such as PewDiePie, for changing the layout, algorithms and how subscription works for users. YouKu, on the other hand, follows to what YouTube was five years ago. What you subscribe to is what you will see, whereas YouTube requires you to get notifications from channels you already subscribe to, for new videos.

Don’t be surprised to see famous YouTubers’ video on Youku as many of them post videos on these two platforms to generate more revenue.

Check out Youku here.

6. Microsoft Office vs Kingsoft Office


Ever wondered how the Chinese students and office workers do work? Nope, not with Microsoft Office. They use Kingsoft Office, a clone of MS Office. Microsoft, as you all know, is founded by Bill Gates. Kingsoft is founded by Lei Jun. Sounds familiar? He’s the founder of XiaoMi.
kingsoft ppt

Currently, Kingsoft only has the Microsoft equivalent of Word, Excel, and Powerpoint which is KS Word, Spreadsheets and PowerWord. The good thing about KS is that they have a free version for download! So if your MS Office expires, you can try Kingsoft out!

As you know you can import your work from MS Office to Google Docs/Sheets/Slides, so can you for KS Office to Baidu.

Check out KS Office here.

7. eBay vs TaoBao ( 淘宝)


I believe you have heard of Tao Bao; the place for cheap goods. Though not everyone in Singapore can read mandarin or even dare to purchase goods from a Chinese online vendor, those that can would probably frequent Tao Bao.

Apart from the language barrier, Tao Bao would be a preferred choice for most of the people I know. eBay and Amazon have ridiculous shipping prices, whereas China’s Tao Bao cuts cost by eliminating all the vendors between the manufacturer and buyer.

If you are interested in giving Tao Bao a go, you can try Google Translating the page with Chrome. But do take note that you might get some broken sentences. One plus point about Tao Bao is that a fair share of the vendors to communicate in English, but they obviously use Google Translate too, so just be cautious when purchasing.

Check out Tao Bao here.

8. Apple vs Samsung vs XiaoMi (小米)

apple samsung xiaomi

Gone are the days of Nokia. In Singapore, the majority of the smartphone users own a Samsung or an Apple phone, where the minority uses other brands such as XiaoMi, Oppo, LG, Sony and Windows phones.

China apparently loves their local mega brand XiaoMi, dominating with over 70% of the smartphone market share. XiaoMi does use the Android Play Store in Singapore, but they have their own AppStore in China. Furthermore, most XiaoMi phones have the MiStore preinstalled, where users are able to download and customize themes, unlike the fixed layout of the Apple’s iPhone and Samsung Galaxy and Note series.

Founded by Lei Jun back in 2010, XiaoMi has expanded their product range from smartphones to tablets, watches, drones, and even home furnishing such as fans and refrigerators. Sounds familiar? They might be following Logitech’s footsteps and taking it even further.

But what makes XiaoMi so popular in China? Being the third largest mobile manufacturer in the world, XiaoMi uses marketing techniques such as price penetration to provide “cheap” and quality goods.

Need a cheaper alternative for phones?

Check out XiaoMi here.

 9. Netflix vs iQIYI ( 爱奇艺)


Ever since Netflix was launched globally earlier this year, many of us can “Netflix and chill”. Exclusive Netflix programs such as Narcos and DareDevil became available, but not for China.

The Netflix executive crew gave up trying to establish their network in China due to content and censorship issues, but they managed to film and produce some Chinese-based movies such as Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny featuring Chinese celebrities such as Donnie Yen and Michelle Yeoh. But, that movie was filmed in Australia in English, which was not bad!

What about China? They got their own version of Netflix: iQiYi. This subscription-based service provides numerous Chinese titles and a limited number of English movies. With similar features such as On-Demand, New Series, and All-Time favorites, China is not missing out much.

Check out iQiYi and get a free trial here.

10. WhatsApp vs WeChat 

Apart from the must-have app to communicate in China, WeChat would probably be on par with WhatsApp. They even have a web version similar to WhatsApp Web.


Side note: Did you know that WhatsApp is only popular in certain countries? For example, Canada is dominated by BlackBerry and their BBM messaging system.And lastly, check out their website here.

Any other differences that we missed? Share in the comments below! Like us on Facebook if you’ve learned something new!