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Levi Torres
Levi Torres

The Best Chinese Apps for Travel, Shopping, Food, and Entertainment

Chinese Apps: What You Need to Know in 2023

Chinese apps are mobile applications developed by Chinese companies or targeting the Chinese market. They have become increasingly popular in recent years, not only in China but also in other countries around the world. Some of them have even surpassed their global competitors in terms of user base, revenue, and innovation.

But what makes Chinese apps so attractive and successful? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using them? And what are the risks and challenges they face in the global arena? In this article, we will explore some of the most popular Chinese apps and their features, benefits, controversies, and bans.

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The Most Popular Chinese Apps and Their Features

According to Statista, the leading apps in China in December 2022 were WeChat, Alipay, Douyin, QQ, Taobao, Baidu, Kuaishou, iQIYI, Tencent Video, and Xiaohongshu. These apps cover various categories such as social media, e-commerce, entertainment, payment, search engine, and more. Here are some of their main features and functions:

  • WeChat: This is the most widely used app in China, with over 1 billion monthly active users. It is a multi-functional app that allows users to chat, make voice and video calls, send money, pay bills, book tickets, order food, play games, read news, and access mini-programs that offer various services within the app.

  • Alipay: This is the largest mobile payment platform in China, with over 700 million monthly active users. It enables users to pay for goods and services online and offline using QR codes or facial recognition. It also offers other financial services such as loans, insurance, wealth management, and credit scores.

  • Douyin: This is the Chinese version of TikTok, a short-video app that has over 600 million daily active users. It allows users to create and share videos with music, filters, stickers, and effects. It also features live streaming, e-commerce integration, and content recommendation algorithms.

  • QQ: This is one of the oldest social media apps in China, with over 750 million monthly active users. It started as an instant messaging service but has evolved into a platform that offers online games, music streaming, video sharing, news reading, and more.

  • Taobao: This is the largest online shopping platform in China, with over 800 million monthly active users. It connects buyers and sellers of various products ranging from clothing and electronics to furniture and pets. It also features live streaming e-commerce where sellers can showcase their products and interact with customers in real time.

  • Baidu: This is the dominant search engine in China, with over 70% market share. It provides users with information on various topics such as news, images, videos, maps, weather, and more. It also offers other services such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and autonomous driving.

  • Kuaishou: This is another popular short-video app in China, with over 300 million daily active users. It focuses on user-generated content from rural areas and lower-tier cities, where it has a loyal fan base. It also supports live streaming, e-commerce, and social networking.

  • iQIYI: This is one of the leading video streaming platforms in China, with over 100 million daily active users. It offers a variety of content such as movies, TV shows, original series, documentaries, and anime. It also produces its own content and hosts online events and competitions.

  • Tencent Video: This is another major video streaming platform in China, with over 120 million daily active users. It is owned by Tencent, the same company that owns WeChat and QQ. It also offers a wide range of content such as movies, TV shows, original series, documentaries, and sports. It also partners with other platforms such as HBO, Netflix, and Disney+ to provide exclusive content to its users.

  • Xiaohongshu: This is a social e-commerce platform that has over 100 million monthly active users. It allows users to share their shopping experiences, product reviews, lifestyle tips, and travel stories. It also connects users with brands and influencers that offer products and services that match their interests and preferences.

The Benefits and Challenges of Using Chinese Apps

Chinese apps have many benefits for users and businesses, such as:

  • They offer a variety of functions and services that cater to different needs and preferences of users. For example, WeChat is not just a messaging app, but a super app that can do almost anything. Alipay is not just a payment app, but a financial ecosystem that can help users manage their money. Douyin is not just a video app, but a content creation and distribution platform that can help users express themselves and reach a large audience.

  • They leverage the huge and growing market of China, which has over 1.4 billion people and over 900 million internet users. This means that they have access to a large and diverse customer base, as well as abundant data and resources. They also benefit from the support and protection of the Chinese government, which encourages innovation and development in the digital sector.

  • They are constantly innovating and improving their products and services to meet the changing demands and expectations of users. For example, Douyin has introduced new features such as duet videos, live streaming e-commerce, and virtual gifts to enhance user engagement and monetization. Alipay has expanded its services to include health insurance, carbon footprint tracking, and digital yuan testing to provide more value and convenience to users.

However, Chinese apps also face some challenges and drawbacks, such as:

  • They have to deal with the strict censorship and regulation of the Chinese government, which limits their freedom of expression and creativity. For example, WeChat has been accused of censoring sensitive topics and deleting user accounts that violate the rules. Douyin has been fined and suspended for hosting inappropriate content and ads. Baidu has been criticized for manipulating search results and promoting low-quality content.

  • They have to compete with other domestic and international rivals that offer similar or better products and services. For example, WeChat faces competition from ByteDance's Feiliao, a social app that focuses on interest-based groups and communities. Alipay faces competition from Tencent's WeChat Pay, which has a larger user base and more integration with other apps. Douyin faces competition from Kuaishou, which has a stronger presence in lower-tier cities and rural areas.

  • They have to overcome the barriers and challenges of entering foreign markets, such as cultural differences, legal issues, political tensions, and user preferences. For example, WeChat has struggled to gain popularity outside China due to its lack of localization and differentiation from other messaging apps. Alipay has faced regulatory hurdles and security concerns in some countries due to its ties with the Chinese government. Douyin has been banned or restricted in some countries due to its alleged data privacy violations and national security threats.

The Controversies and Bans Surrounding Chinese Apps

Chinese apps have been involved in various controversies and bans in recent years due to data security and political issues. Some of the most notable cases are:

  • In 2020, the Indian government banned 59 Chinese apps including TikTok, WeChat, UC Browser, and Shareit, citing national security and sovereignty concerns. The ban was triggered by a border clash between India and China that resulted in casualties on both sides. The ban was later extended to 118 more Chinese apps including PUBG Mobile, Baidu, and Alipay. The ban affected millions of Indian users and businesses that relied on these apps for communication, entertainment, and income.

  • In 2020, the former US president Donald Trump issued executive orders to ban TikTok and WeChat from operating in the US unless they were sold to American companies. The orders claimed that these apps posed a threat to the national security and foreign policy of the US due to their data collection practices and potential influence by the Chinese government. The orders were challenged by legal actions from TikTok and WeChat, as well as opposition from some US users and businesses that used these apps for communication, entertainment, and commerce. The orders were later revoked by the current US president Joe Biden, who ordered a broader review of the potential risks posed by foreign-owned apps.

  • In 2021, the UK government launched an investigation into TikTok's handling of children's data and privacy, following complaints from consumer groups and lawmakers. The investigation aimed to determine whether TikTok complied with the UK's data protection laws and the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which require consent from parents or guardians for collecting and processing personal data of children under 13. The investigation could result in fines or legal actions against TikTok if it was found to have breached the rules.

Conclusion: Explore More Chinese Apps in 2023

Chinese apps are among the most popular and innovative apps in the world, offering a variety of functions and services that cater to different needs and preferences of users. They also have many benefits for businesses, such as access to a large and growing market, abundant data and resources, and government support and protection.

However, Chinese apps also face some challenges and drawbacks, such as censorship and regulation, competition and differentiation, and barriers and risks of entering foreign markets. They also have been involved in various controversies and bans due to data security and political issues.

Therefore, users and businesses should be aware of the pros and cons of using Chinese apps, and make informed decisions based on their own goals and values. They should also explore more Chinese apps that may offer new and exciting features and opportunities in 2023.

FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions About Chinese Apps


What are some of the best Chinese apps to learn Chinese?Some of the best Chinese apps to learn Chinese are Duolingo, HelloChinese, LingoDeer, Memrise, Pleco, Skritter, etc. These apps can help you learn vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, writing, reading, listening, and speaking skills in a fun and interactive way.

What are some of the best Chinese apps to travel in China?Some of the best Chinese apps to travel in China are Ctrip, Didi, Meituan, Amap, Baidu Translate, VPN Master, etc. These apps can help you book flights, hotels, trains, taxis, food delivery, tickets, etc. They can also help you navigate maps, translate languages, and access blocked websites.

What are some of the best Chinese apps to watch Chinese dramas?Some of the best Chinese apps to watch Chinese dramas are iQIYI, Tencent Video, Youku, Mango TV, WeTV, etc. These apps can provide you with a large collection of Chinese dramas in various genres such as romance, historical, fantasy, comedy, thriller, etc. They can also offer subtitles and dubbing in different languages.

What are some of the best Chinese apps to make money online?Some of the best Chinese apps to make money online are Pinduoduo, Xiaohongshu, Kuaishou, Douyin, etc. These apps can allow you to sell products or services online or offline using live streaming or short videos. They can also allow you to earn commissions or rewards by inviting friends or sharing content.

What are some of the best Chinese apps to play games?Some of the best Chinese apps to play games are PUBG Mobile, Honor of Kings, Genshin Impact, Call of Duty Mobile, CrossFire, etc. These apps can offer you high-quality graphics and gameplay in various genres such as action, adventure, role-playing, shooting, strategy, etc. They can also support multiplayer and social features.

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