Top 5 emerging technology companies in China | China Unlocked

By Wang Hai

In recent years China has become the land of the tech start-ups. Who are the major players?




Xiaomi, the world’s fourth largest smartphone maker, designs, develops and sells smartphones, mobile apps, laptops, and related consumer electronics. Since the release of its first smartphone in August 2011, Xiaomi has gained market share in mainland China and expanded into developing a wide range of consumer electronics, including a smart home device ecosystem.

Chinese people call Xiami “China’s Apple”, and Xiaomi has developed its business in India, Singapore, Malaysia and the US over the past few years. In 2017, the company made more progress by expanding into into the UAE as well as Vietnam.

The most popular Xiaomi products in China include the company’s smart phone, air purifier and internet devices.



OFO is a fully mobile bicycle-sharing app currently deployed in major cities in China. Like its biggest competitor, Mobike, it provides one of the busiest online platforms for bike-sharing.

Slightly different from other similar platforms, OFO grew out of university campuses in China by offering a service exclusive to college students. Soon afterwards, it kicked off its general public platform in Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities.



In 2012, ByteDance launched the first version of its main product Jinri Toutiao (Today’s Headlines) app. By analyzing news content, user information and user interaction with content, the Toutiao algorithm generates a tailored news feed for users.

By fully utilizing the technology of data mining, it has now become China’s most famous news and information mobile application with more than 63 million daily users.

Together with Sina’s Weibo and Tencent’s Wechat, Toutiao is the top 3 news APP for most mobile internet users in China.



What is China’s favorite image editing app or software? Instagram? Oh no. Chinese people choose Meitu. The company is famous for providing tools for editing photos: Filters, retouching, collages, scenic shots, frames, and photo decorations.

The company, which developed its smartphone and smart camera business two years ago, has 52 million active daily users and 270 million monthly active users on its apps. Almost 30% of the pictures you see on social media in China are edited using Meitu’s software.



Zhihu is a Chinese question and answer website where questions are asked, answered, edited and organized by the community of its users. Its website,, was launched in 2011. The number of registered users of Zhihu exceeded 10 million by the end of 2013, and reached 17 million as of May 2015.

In classical Chinese, “Zhi Hu” (知乎) means “Do you know?”. Chinese-language internet users nowadays increasingly resort to Zhihu for expert knowledge and insights into various topics. Zhihu takes the question and answer platform to the next level. Most answers are in-depth responses full of real-life expertise and some of the answers are supprted by scientific evidence or statistics to back them up. That is why people say that Zhihu is sometimes better than a college lecture.

The company’s new app, Zhihu Daily, showcases one of the most interesting and complete answers from the app each day. It could be anything, from how to fit a suit, to the complexities of quantum field theory. If Chinese people have a question, they ask Zhihu.

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