China is one of the ten most censored countries globally, banning many Western apps with strict precision. The Great Firewall of China allows the Chinese government to limit access to foreign information sources and block unfamiliar internet tools and mobile apps. So, when it comes to video conferencing in China, you need to know which apps to use.
Thus, standard internet tools such as Google search, Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp are not accessible for mainland China. A western company that wishes to collaborate with the second most significant economy in the world should consider alternative apps and other sources of communication. To make matters easy, we have gathered in this article the best alternative apps to use when you need to communicate with your Chinese counterpart.
5 Most Recommended Chinese Apps and Tools:
- WeChat– An extremely popular platform for video conferencing in China. which also works as a mobile payment app. This multi-purpose application developed by Tencent is a must-have for every foreign that has relations with China. Because it is a Chinese app, you do not need VPN to use it, and registration is a simple process. The quality of video calls is also good, even between devices located abroad. With that being said, WeChat provides an easy solution for those who wish to avoid China’s censorship system and contact smoothly from overseas.
- Com– Previously named ‘WeChat Work,’ is also developed by Tencent and is mainly used as a work-related and business-oriented app. It offers productivity tools such as Event, Meeting, WeDoc, and WeDrive that help organize your important office data. Furthermore, the quality of the video calls is good as well, supporting screen sharing and PPT presentation. In that retrospect, this app that can connect WeChat users effectively maintains business connections.
- Tencent QQ– This app had dominated the Chinese market before the appearance of WeChat, but it remains trendy to this day. QQ’s primary audience is those using it as an internal office messenger, namely for desktop-based messaging in the workplace. One of its most significant advantages compared to WeChat is that QQ allows users to transfer files with a size greater than 25 MB, which WeChat does not qualify. However, the main fault is that Tencent no longer updates an English version of this app (QQ International). Hence, this app could be pretty challenging to navigate if you are not proficient in Mandarin.
- Huawei Cloud WeLink is a professional tool for enterprise internal communication and cooperation, perfect for business meetings. Its strongest advantage lies in its relatively strong security than the other communicational tools. Huawei Cloud WeLink has passed the Ministry of Public Security’s third level of network security protection and more than 50 domestic and foreign highest security authority certification. Another strong suit lies in its real-time translation between Chinese and English, a feature that could immensely help with the possible language barrier.
- DingTalk– Also called ‘DingDing,’ is another enterprise communication and collaboration platform developed by Alibaba Group in 2014. It has over 200 million users in China and is perceived as an efficient and professional communication and management tool. However, this app is criticized for allowing managers to monitor and reach employees 24/7, which created quite an uproar in China and decreased the app’s popularity and likability. Amidst the criticism, Alibaba launched a new video conferencing platform called ‘Alibaba Cloud Conference’ that might cater to its users.
While these alternative Chinese platforms can create a satisfying video conferencing experience, those who still wish to use familiar apps such as Zoom and WhatsApp may wonder if that’s possible. In the next section of this complete guide, we had provided answers for the most frequently asked questions regarding this matter.
- What are popular calling apps blocked in China?
The Great Firewall of China blocks popular calling apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Line, KakaoTalk, Viber, Messenger, and Signal. To overcome this block, you can use a VPN (a virtual private network). While there are no laws in China against VPN use, it is still considered a risk.
- What about Zoom or Skype?
While Zoom has been blocked in China since September 2020, Skype is not blocked in China. However, video calls with Skype from China are not very good and could disturb the video conference meeting.
- Is FaceTime available in China?
Yes. However, FaceTime only works on Apple devices, and so it may not be ideal if your Chinese counterpart uses a different type of device. In addition, FaceTime requires a fast internet connection to perform well.
- How to make international phone calls to China?
Using FaceTime or Skype and Zoom or WhatsApp (with the use of VPN) is the cheapest way to make international phone calls to China. International call rates are quite expensive otherwise, but using a virtual phone number service is another good option. The international country code for calling China is +86.
Video conferencing has become a vital part of the everyday business world since the start of Covid-19, and it does not appear to change any time soon. Moreover, with China being such a sought-after business destination for western companies worldwide, there was an immediate demand for making video calls to China.
While the Chinese censorship systems could pose an obstacle in communication, there are still many ways and many good alternatives that the Great Firewall does not restrict. Using a Chinese app, such as WeChat, is a safe way to ensure a smooth and trouble-free connection with your fellow Chinese businessman.
Furthermore, western apps such as Skype and FaceTime are also a good option to consider, while you may need a VPN for some blocked apps.
If you wish to deepen your connection with the Chinese market and expand your company even further, Contact Xinergy today for professional team and operations management services