The Chinese Internet and the soft: about the sore / SurprizingFacts

The story of how the Internet looks, developing in isolation from the global network

I live in China and avoid Chinese Internet: I visit a minimum of Chinese sites, do not use Chinese e-mail, I try not to install Chinese software on PCs and applications on the smartphone. It is difficult to use foreign services and sites because of ubiquitous multi-level locks, which are more and more difficult to bypass.

Maybe I'm such a racist and I hate China? Or I do not know the language? Or am I just a harmful bore?

In the Chinese Internet and software, I'm concerned about quality which includes design, functionality, performance, and attitude to the user including his personal data.


  1. I do not blame the content of websites. The content is different from the western one, and scolding Chinese video hosting for the absence of Celine Dion and the presence of Jackie Chan would be incorrect, although this is a factor against the "replacement" of YouTube on Youku.
  2. I'm not an expert on IB or UX. But this does not deprive me of the right to criticize holes and bad designs
  3. I love China and I'm okay with the Chinese. Read to the end, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

0. Browsers

First, I'll explain which browsers are used in China. Look at the statistics for the user agent for the PC:

  1. Chrome: 40.89%
  2. IE – 27.27%
  3. QQ – 6.37%
  4. 2345 – 4.96% a miracle browser with two engines simultaneously: Chromium and IE
  5. Sogou – 4.54%
  6. Firefox – 2.09%
  7. Other – 13.88%

It would seem that Chrome still holds the lead, if not for the couple "but":

  1. Google is locked in China completely, most of the population is not that can not block, But also never saw Google;
  2. The popular browser 360 uses the user agent from Chrome and IE.
  3. In the rankings of China's browsers on the first one will stand exactly 360.

The conclusion is quite obvious: in China is used by completely different browsers the usual four Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Opera exist here in much smaller shares.

If I had a virtual machine at hand, I would put there each of these browsers and showed screenshots of them, as well as all the garbage that goes with the kit ("internet mail.ru" in the cube). And I feel sorry for my home / working machines.

Separately enjoy the creative approach to the logos in 365 and 2345

Mobile era ]

In the PRC 731 million users of which 695 including use the mobile Internet. PC-only users vanishingly little, but Mobile-only a whole generation. Many Chinese people never had a computer, and acquaintance with the Internet began with a smartphone, and there it remains.

Here is the six of China's popular mobile browsers. All Chinese: –

  1. UC Browser
  2. QQ Browser
  3. Baidu Browser
  4. 2345 Browser
  5. Cheetah Browser
  6. Sogou Browser

Google Chrome also appears at the end of the rating, but, perhaps, due to the substitution of user-agents.

1. Quality

Chinese sites and software are often objectively bad in terms of design and performance, but are functionally simply overloaded.

1.1 Design

The design of Chinese sites does not fundamentally change for decades: a lot of elements, five or six flash-banners covering all the content, a crazy combination of colors, the density of information placement, etc.

This JD.com – one of the The largest online stores of one and a half billionth country:

You can go to Amazon, eBay and any other sites and compare the information density per square centimeter yourself.

News sites are also good. Here is Sina News, for example. It's a pity that I do not have Flash, according to the idea of ​​designers, there should be two animated banners here.

Yes, I know that mail.ru is just as terrible, but it's not an excuse.

But Ctrip the most popular Chinese site for buying air tickets. He has not only a Chinese, but also a foreign version. Look at how different design is:

Even on Habré there was an article about Chinese web design in 2013, and those covenants are honored to this day.

1.2 Functionality

Chinese applications and sites are overloaded with features. In every popular Chinese application, from the bank client to the messenger, in addition to its main function, you can:

  • order food
  • call a taxi
  • buy movie tickets, airplane and train
  • book a hotel
  • play games
  • collect "points" (several parallel ballroom systems) and exchange them for "gifts"
  • to take a bicycle to hire
  • scan the QR code
  • see the weather forecast
    … and 10 more functions, which I do not even know about appointment.

I do not exaggerate or joke, for example, the main applications I use every day are taken.

Here is an example of the same Taobao giant E-commerce:

On these four application screens there is:

  • section of Tmall
  • section International Tmall
  • section Supermarket Tmall
  • Flash Deals
  • replenishing the balance of the phone
  • travel (hotels, tickets)
  • auction
  • cash contributions
  • movie tickets
  • reservation services
  • virtual client cards
  • travel (others!)
  • AliCloud (server technology)
  • bonus coins
  • a loan from Alipay
  • second-hand goods sale
  • buying a SIM card
  • railway and air tickets (others !!)
  • reviews of restaurants
  • parcel tracking service
  • ordering the cleaning lady
  • custom-made laundry services
  • ordering a repairman at home
  • Food order

  • section for the opening of the store
  • the center of complaints
  • the lottery
  • Purchases for business
  • voice assistant
  • ordering apartment repairs
  • tour tours (again! Others!)
  • search for work
  • medical consultations
  • online education
  • Tmall supermarket (again)
  • goods for trial (as "Freebie" with AliExpress)
  • scanner QR
    … and from a dozen sections, in the functions of which I did not understand at all.

This is not all sections of the application.

But on the main page of the banking application China Merchants Bank the largest banner announces the sale of melons at 29.5 yuan for two kilos.


1.3 Productivity

For the reason described above, Chinese applications weigh from 60 megabytes and work slowly even on top-end devices.
For example, the above Taobao despite the work of hundreds of programmers, uses HTML5 instead of native code. The result is lags of 800-900 ms under ideal conditions (in real life – much more), hundreds of megabytes of cached files for a couple of days of work, battery eating out. This is not a unique Taobao problem, but the norm for most popular Chinese applications.

1.4 Security

"Chinese Twitter" Sina Weibo, a multi-million audience. does not use https :

Still fresh memories of the silly display of personal data of buyers JD The first page with the login section of the account by name and password , When he opened the Russian direction. It's enough to google the Chinese brand + steals data.

Even the Chinese version of Skype (Skype-TOM), which replaced the usual Skype in China, did not just save all user dialogs to its servers: the servers were protected at the minimum level , And they were easily accessed by private researchers. And HTC kept fingerprints open in * .bmp.

I'm not an expert on information security, but with every such case of trust the Chinese Internet is less.

2. Attitude to the user

2.1 Video Hosting

In China, Youku, Sogou, iQiyi and Tudou the largest video hosting sites, are popular . Work only on Flash . Advertising from 50 (!) Seconds up to two minutes (!!) at the beginning of every second clip, you can not skip it, you need to watch the whole. Of course, the content on these sites is much poorer than the large international YouTube, and is tied almost exclusively to China, so that "to replace" the older brother.

By the way, enjoy the original Sogou Video logo:

2.2 Permissions in Android

Chinese applications request a shameless number of permissions, and do not work if you refuse.
Example: the popular cartographic application Amap.

On the first start, in addition to accessing GPS (for location) and Storage (for storing the offline map cache), it asks for permission to Phone calls. Do you know what will happen if you refuse?

And it turns off. Compare the number of permissions, for example, with maps from Yandex:

Similarly, for example, the built-in "Gallery" application in Xiaomi smartphones (MIUI system). Can you imagine why the "Gallery" calls? And if you refuse, it will not start.

I am not a developer for Android, but judging by the forums, this permission is used to identify the user by IMEI . Unfortunately, I'm not ready to believe the promises that the developers will not make calls without my knowledge.

It would seem, why such applications exist in the market?

2.3 Market and updates

The vast majority of Chinese Android applications are updated by simply downloading APK from their site, often even unencrypted http. All because in China there is no generally recognized large application market, like Google Play. There are dozens of small markets like Douban, 360, Tencent, but using them literally is dangerous: their applications require all possible rights, and quietly install new applications, games and other garbage, not to mention advertising.

Moreover, Chinese markets are sinning By stealing .apk files from other sites (the same Google Play), substituting promotional meshes for their own. Another trick is to change the version number in manifest to "newer", so that your existing applications "update" to their editions.

2.4 Censorship and shadowing

These two sisters in China go under the handle. You do not need to be a dissident to face it. They affect a huge number of services and applications.

The famous Evernote in 2012 created a separate Chinese unit called 笔记 笔记 [yinxiang biji] ("elephant pad").

But it's not just a name: all the servers of this new company are located exclusively in China. After the opening, Chinese users were invited to move to a new service, because from China it worked much faster. True, now the notebooks became available for viewing by the Chinese security authorities. International Evernote in China has not been blocked, but it works so fast that it's virtually impossible to use it.

Last week, even Apple pulled up, and is already building a data center for data storage Chinese users in the PRC .

But a fresh example of censorship: last week from the Chinese social networks messages were deleted with emodzi-"candle". Even thus, it was impossible to honor the memory of the dissident who died on the eve, whose name has not appeared in Chinese media and the Internet for more than ten years. And even added neural networks that recognize bad images in private chats and delete them before it reaches the addressee.

Examples of surveillance in China in general (100% of Beijing in the cells) and the Internet in particular a great variety,

A story from life: in 2011 I lived in a student hostel in Shenyang, and I had the intelligence to "play" with censors. I accidentally found that if in any search engine, including Yandex, to search for one sect of Taichi or events on the square in the late eighties, even in Russian, the Internet fell off for 10-15 minutes. Now I understand that I played with fire, and then it was fun.

Is there a ray of light in the dark realm?

What's good in the Chinese Internet

Of course, not on the Internet as such, but in the digital sphere of Chinese life, thanks to which it is very convenient and comfortable to live. You can say that this is the front side of the coin described above.

Finance – Alipay

Alipay (宝 宝) – financial platform from Alibaba. Originally created to handle payments on Taobao, and in the mobile era it was simply an indispensable application.

First, it allows you to quickly transfer money between individuals. The operation takes a few seconds, there is no commission at the transfer (in fact, there is 0.1% when issuing to a bank card).

Secondly, it is accepted in almost all shops and institutions, from a garlic seller in the market to a real estate agency, From taxi to Starbucks, and even in vending machines with soda.

Thirdly, QR and bar codes are used for payment: expensive phones with NFC or terminals are not needed. Either you show the seller a phone and he scans it, or you scan the seller's code and enter the amount for payment. Similarly, you can transfer money to any individual.

And with the help of sound-rattling, you can:

In addition, other useful Alipay services are built into the application: for example, you can take a micro- Loan at a small percentage (3-5% per annum) in a few seconds, as well as use the "overdraft" for any purchases for a month, without interest at all. Of course, all this depends on your "credit rating" 🙂

Finance – WeChat

Mobile messenger WeChat with an active audience of 700+ million Person, i.e. Almost the entire urban population of China. Absolute standard in China, has no significant competitors.

There are many functions, as in any Chinese application, but the financial side is one of the key. The popularity of mobile payments a little bypasses Alipay. It is accepted almost everywhere, if not officially, so on the personal account of the waiter or the seller. It also works on QR codes, therefore it is supported by all devices.

Wild red envelope function – digital incarnation of a cash gift. In China, money is given in a red paper envelope for the new year, a wedding and other similar events.

The digital envelope has gone far ahead. This is not just a "surprise message with money". For example, in an IM group of 50 people, you can send an envelope, divided into 10 equal parts: who first tapnul, he received. And you can make 10 parts with a random amount to each to add excitement. The bosses like to play bosses in companies for the new year, sending gifts to group chat rooms. For them there is a struggle 🙂

E-commerce – Taobao

In China there is Taobao . The application and the site do not shine with performance, but the platform itself is delicious.
I have not been to the stores for the past two years. Clothes, electronics, household goods, food, vegetables – I order everything there.

There is everything on the Tao, left to right: Russian army suhpay, Suzuki motorcycle, watermelons, Crocane sweets, iPhone 7

No fakes if include head, adequate prices, inexpensive delivery. And the choice: there is everything, well, everything is straight from the Blackberry KEYone to the Baltic sprat, from toilet paper to Australian cream.

Food – Ele.me

Food delivery Eleme (了 么 么 – "hungry?"). Aggregator of all diners and restaurants in the district. In the "sleeping area" of a large city, within a delivery radius, hundreds of establishments will be available for every taste, with an hourly delivery. Even a small dumpling at three tables can connect there without any problems. Of course, this is not the only application, but very popular.

The figures in the screenshot on the right are the number of establishments in the delivery radius for each category. There are no problems with the choice of food.


Sorry, broke through.

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