China is one of the ten most censored countries in the world, banning many Western apps with strict precision. The Great Firewall of China allows the Chinese government to limit access to foreign information, as well as block foreign Internet instruments and mobile apps. Thus, common Internet tools such as Google search, Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp are not accessible for use in mainland China.
A Western company that wishes to collaborate with China, the second greatest economy in the world, should thus consider alternative apps and other sources of communication. To make matters easier, we gathered 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 social media platform, which also works as a mobile payment application. This multi-purpose app was developed by Tencen and is a must-have for every foreigner that has relations within China. Since it is a Chinese app, it does not require VPN and the registration is a simple process. The quality of video calls is first-rate, even between devices that are located in different countries. Consequently, WeChat provides an easy solution for those who wish to avoid China’s censorship system and contact smoothly from overseas.
- WeCom – Previously named ‘WeChat Work’, WeCom is also developed by Tencent. It is mainly a work-related and business-oriented application. It offers productivity tools such as Event, Meeting, WeDoc, and WeDrive, which helps organize important office data. Furthermore, the quality of the video calls is high-caliber and supports screen sharing and PPT presentation. In this retrospect, WeCom can also connect WeChat users, making it very effective for maintaining business connections.
- Tencent QQ – This app dominated the Chinese market prior to WeChat’s popularity, although it still remains quite popular. Tencent QQ’s main audience is those using it as an internal office messenger, namely for desktop-based messaging in the workplace. One of its greatest advantages compared to WeChat is that QQ allows users to transfer files with a size greater than 25 MB. Its main disadvantage is that Tencent no longer offers an English version of their app (QQ International). Hence, this app could be quite difficult to navigate if you are not proficient in Mandarin.
- Huawei Cloud WeLink – This is a professional tool for enterprise internal communication and cooperation. It is ideal for business meetings. The strongest advantage lies in its strong security. Huawei Cloud WeLink has passed the Ministry of Public Security’s third level of network security protection and has received more than 50 domestic and foreign security authority certifications. Another strong suit lies in its real-time translation between Chinese and English, a feature that can immensely help with a language barrier.
- DingTalk – Also called “DingDing”, this application 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, some criticize it for allowing managers to monitor and reach employees 24/7. This issue 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’, which may cater better to users.
While these alternative Chinese platforms can create a satisfying video conferencing experience, those who still prefer to use familiar apps such as Zoom and WhatsApp may wonder if that is even a possibility, considering China’s strict regulations. Not to worry, we also have provided answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding this matter.
- What popular calling apps are blocked in China?
Popular apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Line, KakaoTalk, Viber, Messenger, and Signal are blocked by the Great Firewall of China. In order to overcome this block, you can use a VPN (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. However, the quality of video calls with Skype from China is limited and could disturb the video conference meeting.
- Is FaceTime available in China?
Yes. However, FaceTime only works on Apple devices and therefore 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, as well as Zoom or WhatsApp (with the use of a VPN) is the cheapest way to make international phone calls to China. International call rates are quite expensive otherwise. 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 be changing any time soon. Moreover, as China is such a sought-after business destination for Western companies around the world, there has been an enormous demand for making video calls to China. While the Chinese censorship systems can pose an obstacle in the means of communication, there are still many good, legitimate alternatives that are not restricted by the Great Firewall. For example, using a Chinese app, such as WeChat, is a safe way to ensure a smooth and trouble-free connection with your fellow Chinese businessman. Western apps such as Skype and FaceTime are also a good option to consider if you have access to a VPN.
If you wish to deepen your connection with the Chinese market and expand your company even further, please contact Xinergy Global today for professional team and operations management services.