The Internet in China Today: 5 Quick Facts

February 26, 2018

Here is a quick, high level look at what is happening online in China.

1. Internet Penetration


While the numbers are already staggering for internet usage in China, the numbers continue to grow. For reference, below is where China was in 2015 compared to 2017.


  • gpi-chinese internet facts-home2015: 564 million residents had internet access. This represented 42% of the population at the time. 420 million of these people had access via mobile device.
  • 2017: 731 million residents access the internet. This represents 53% of the population. 95% of whom access the internet via mobile device.

2. Top Search Engines


The number one search engine by a large margin is still Baidu at 76% of the market share. Almost all sites listed on Baidu are in Chinese. This gives users of this browser a high expectation that they will be able to find sites in their native language. If you want to use Baidu to reach the market in China you should have a Chinese language website.


The other leading search engines are much smaller players in China:


  • Shenma: 9%
  • 360 Search: 8%
  • Sogou: 3%
  • Google: 2%

3. China's Great Firewall Tightening


In 2017, China began tightening the ability of VPNs to evade the Great Firewall. The use of a VPN was always a known way around the Great Firewall. It was not a big secret, but allowed for some outside access. VPN's were often used by companies in support of their business operations. However, now the government has decided to crack down on this solution to reach otherwise blocked sites.

4. Mobile Usage in China


eMarketer estimates that 75% of ecommerce in China happens on a mobile device.

5. Ecommerce in China


Cross-border ecommerce into China surpassed $100 billion by the end of 2017. This is up from $78 billion in 2016. Ecommerce within China is valued at over $1 trillion.


40% of global ecommerce spending happens in China. By 2020, it is expected that Chinese ecommerce will exceed the United States, Japan, Germany, France and the United Kingdom combined.


The leading ecommerce platforms in China are Alibaba/Tmall with approximately 56% market share and at nearly 25%. Alibaba connects buyers and sellers as a true marketplace, while maintains inventory and ships directly. Buyers seem to like the confidence of buying directly from



China continues to grow at impressive rates for online usage and commerce. But, for all of the growth over the past 15+ years, almost half of the population are still not online. That represents a lot of room for growth to continue, especially for mobile.

Further Resources on Global Business


Globalization Partners International (GPI) has extensive experience localizing marketing materials, technical documents, and large, scalable websites. We have previously posted a number of useful guides for best practices in this area. Feel free to review our blogs that are particularly relevant:



Please feel free to contact GPI at with any questions about our language and technology services. Also let us know if you have any interesting blog topics you would like us to cover in our future blogs. You may request a complimentary Translation Quote for your projects.



Country Specific
China's internet users, Chinese ecommerce, Chinese internet use

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  • GabeOn Mar 23, Gabe said:
    According to Statistica, the China ecommerce market was worth 1.2 trillion USD in 2017. 2018 is estimated to be 1.57 trillion. This presents tremendous opportunities for businesses both inside and outside China. Also interesting that Amazon continue to lose market share to Taobao, Tmall and, holding only 1.3% of the market according to World First.
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Peter has over 20 years’ experience in business development within the localization industry supporting clients for documentation, software and website globalization services. He started his career in the translation industry in 1995 and over the years has worked for several leading localization service providers including LMI, Berlitz, Welocalize, GPI and Beyondsoft. Throughout his career Peter has led by example and always put his clients’ needs first to ensure client expectations are understood and successfully met. Over the years Peter has trained extensively in Solution Selling, Action Selling and Localization Sales, Testing and Project Management. Peter handles many of GPI’s global accounts helping educate clients on GPI’s comprehensive suite of globalization services and industry best practices.