Digital 2014: China

The social, digital and mobile ecosystem in China is unlike anywhere else on Earth. With a wide variety of home-grown platforms, technologies and behaviours, understanding the Chinese digital landscape can be both daunting and difficult. Fortunately, this new report will help to demystify things.

Continuing our series of studies into digital trends and developments around the world, our new China report profiles a variety of critical data points, including the penetration rates of different technologies, the top-ranking social platforms, and a wealth of interesting facts and figures on Chinese netizens' behaviour.

You'll find the full report in the SlideShare embed above, but read on for some of the report's highlights.

Country overview

China Digital Overview April 2014 DataReportal

China’s population exceeds 1.36 billion people, with urban areas accounting for more than half of the country’s residents. 51% of the country's population is male.


China’s 618 million Internet users represent 45% of the country’s population, and account for almost a quarter of the world’s internet users - for reference, here are the latest global stats:

Global Digital Overview February 2014 DataReportal

For the complete global picture in early 2014, click here

The majority of China's internet users live in urban areas, with fewer than 1 in 3 living in rural parts of the country.

Beijing (75%), Shanghai (71%) and Guangdong (66%) have the highest Internet penetration of the country’s administrative regions:

Internet Penetration by Chinese Region April 2014 DataReportal

Instant messaging (IM) is the most popular online activity in China, with CNNIC quoting in excess of 530 million active users across platforms.

However, Tencent's QQ, China’s most widely used IM platform, boasts more than 800 million active accounts, suggesting many Chinese IM users may manage multiple accounts.

Social media

Although QZone claims to have the highest number of active social networking users at 625 million, Weixin (WeChat) and Sina Weibo are the current 'darlings' of Chinese social media, with 355 million and 129 million monthly active users respectively:

Social Media Platform Ranking China April 2014 DataReportal

Brands continue to be highly active on Sina Weibo, contributing to a reported 153% year-on-year growth of Sina Weibo’s advertising revenue in Q4 2013.

In terms of the users themselves, and reflecting a behaviour pattern we see on other social platforms across Asia, China's micro-bloggers can't seem to resist checking Weibo immediately after food:

Weibo Use Timing April 2014 DataReportal

Weixin (WeChat) users are actively using the platform’s various chat features like text and voice voice messaging, as well as its social networking features like ‘Moments’:

Top Activities on WeChat April 2014 DataReportal

It's worth pointing out that WeChat is now the world's second biggest active chat app service, and is still growing at a staggering rate:

Mobile Messenger Users April 2014 DataReportal


Roughly half of China's population now owns a mobile phone, with each user maintaining an average of nearly 2 active SIM subscriptions.

The ubiquity of mobile devices makes them China's internet tools of choice, with 81% of the country's netizens accessing the Internet via mobile handsets:

Internet Access by Device China February 2014 DataReportal

In line with this, mobile shopping and mobile payment services experienced significant growth during 2013:

Mobile Activities China April 2014 DataReportal


Online shopping as a whole is hugely important to China’s economy, contributing almost US$300 million in 2013 alone.

Group buying is particularly popular, and was the fastest growing online activity in China, with a robust growth rate of 69% in 2013.

Fastest-Growing Internet Activities China April 2014 DataReportal

That concludes our behind-the-scenes look at all things digital in Chin, but be sure to check the full 95-page report in the SlideShare embed at the top of the page for for loads more useful stats and interesting insights. You can also find the rest of our China insights by clicking here.

Many thanks to Tianyu Xu and Haiyi Tang for their help researching this report. Click here to download a free PDF of the complete report (you may need to sign in to SlideShare first).

This article first appeared on the We Are Social blog.