China is a country we hear a lot about. China-United States relations have always been rocky and unpredictable. However, before we look the other way, you should know China is a world power. The U.S. and Chinese markets are the largest in the world with millions, if not billions, of consumers. But why does it matter to you as a GMHS student?
The Chinese built your beloved iPhone and Mac. It is likely they made the clothing you’re currently wearing. They’ve probably even stored some of your user data, too. There is no doubt that China is, and has been, a dominating technological force, and the array of platforms the nation provides proves just this.
Huawei Mobile is a consumer electronics manufacturer. Their hardware is primarily aimed at Asian and European markets. They are well known for manufacturing the Huawei flagship smartphone line: The P series. Their latest flagship is the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus. Huawei has been criticized for their hardware design, with some claiming it looks too similar to Apple’s iPhone.
Tencent is like the Facebook of China. It’s massive in providing services from messaging apps to gaming applications. They’re well known internationally for their mobile application WeChat (formally known as Weixin), which offers a variety of services to its users. You can call a taxi, pay your bills, and of course, message your best friend or grandparent.
Sina Weibo is a “Twitter-Facebook hybrid” that offers users with a social sharing experience similar to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, & VKontakte. Weibo means “micro-blog” in Mandarin. Sina Weibo obides by Chinese law, whereas Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or VKontakte may not.
Chinese law in simple terms allows for data collection of internet users where data may be unencrypted for the purpose of screening for anti-government content. A good example is WeChat’s lack of end-to-end encryption which would allow for illegal activity to happen right under the Chinese Communist Party’s nose. WeChat does have user-to-server encryption, however it is easier for third parties to spy on messages and media sent within the WeChat application. Messages and media sent within WeChat are screened regardless if it’s a simple “Ni hao” or talk about Tiananmen Square. Users have faced scrutiny for sharing “anti-government” blog posts, leading to account deletion, account suspension, and even arrest.
UnionPay is the Visa of China. It has, in recent years, opened up to North American and European markets, with McDonald’s as an official partner of UnionPay. About one third of stores in the U.S. will accept UnionPay cards. I have yet to see an online retailer (excluding AliExpress) that offers the ability to pay with UnionPay. However, I have hopes that UnionPay will become more popular in the coming years.
The companies mentioned above are just scraping the surface of what China has to offer. Facebook was blocked, so the Chinese created Sina Weibo; WhatsApp was blocked, so they created Weixin (Now WeChat). The Chinese have adapted, and will continue to. The Chinese may simply prefer their domestic web services over international ones too. Either way, in simple short terms, the Chinese have almost everything the U.S. has technology wise, and soon it may even surpass the abilities that western technology has to offer.