China, second among the leading economies in the world today, has become more media-savvy and diversified during its rapid development.
The internet has taken China’s media by storm, changing and bringing in new ways through which its inhabitants see, read, listen, and interact with each other. Its media coverage primarily consists of television, radio, newspaper, magazines, journals, and since the year 2000, the internet.
The Internet in China
Since the mid-1990s, China’s internet media have been developing rapidly. In 2009, China’s internet users reached 300 million, about a quarter of the country’s population; now (2020) it's at half (700M), the largest online population worldwide. Wi-Fi/data access is found in every city, and the fees are inexpensive to free. Most hotels with star ratings have access to the internet.
Internet Censorship in China
However, censorship is applied as a measure to control internet freedom for those in Chinese Mainland. In 2000, the People's Republic of China applied a law that many refer to as GFW (Great Firewall of China), formally referred to as the Golden Shield Project. This firewall is the combination of technologies and legislative actions enforced to regulate the use of internet domestically.
China’s internet censorship was introduced to block access to several selected foreign websites and slow down internet traffic across its borders. This means that people are restricted from using social media networks like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
For travellers in China who are staying in touch with people back at home via Gmail and Facebook, it is possible to access these sites using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Read more on the best VPNs for China (Free and Paid).
Another way a traveller can stay in touch is by setting up auto-forward to automatically forward all of your emails to another, China-approved email provider like Sina, Yahoo, or Hotmail.
Internet Access in China
While visiting China, it is good to carry your WiI-Fi enabled laptop, tablet, or smartphone as the internet access is good in bars, cafes, restaurants, and hotels. To improve your internet access, however, procuring a local sim card at local phone stores, supplier shops, or service booths can make it easier to log in to the free Wi-Fi hotspots.
China's Social Media
China is ranked as the world’s largest social media market. With sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter blocked in China due to GFW, Tencent’s Qzone is among the most popular network sites. It is a combination of Tumblr and Facebook, where users can blog, leave messages, and share photos.
WeChat: is another Tencent creation that is similar to Facebook. It is an all in one messaging app, which provides financial services, games, and online shopping. Since its users can get almost everything they need within the app, it is considered a super app and contains millions of third-party apps known as mini-programs. WeChat has today become China’s most popular app.
To sign up on a WeChat account, you can assign a QQ number to WeChat and use it as your WeChat ID and QQ number.
QQ, also referred or known as Tencent QQ, is a web portal and a software service for instant messaging developed by Tencent. QQ offers various services that provide online movies, shopping, music, microblogging, voice chat, and group software, and games. Read more on How to use Wechat and QQ in China.
Baidu Tieba: China’s largest platform for communication and is a discussion forum that is keyword-based provided by the search engine company.
Mafengwo: An app and webpage platform where users get the latest travel information on local tours and destinations, make hotel reservations, look at questions and answers and read or post reviews.
Weibo: Also known as Sina Weibo is a platform for microblogging and considered to be a combination of Chinese Twitter and Facebook. It allows its users to upload gifs, videos, and images. They can also follow and read posts by individuals then like and share them.
Baidu Wenku: Is an online platform for sharing different kinds of materials. Some of the materials require credits to download while others do not.
There are several video sites such as Youku Tudou, Tencent Video, and Iqiyi are online platforms similar to Youtube where the users can download or stream TV shows, videos, and movies directly.
Meituan, Dianpin, Maoyan, and Meituan Waimai are online review platforms where users can order foods, buy promotional offers from restaurants, take part in group purchases, rate and post reviews, book tickets to a movie, buy discounts on hotels, bars, gyms, and beauty salons among others.
China's television industry has grown into a complete system with high-tech program production, transmission, and coverage. Altogether there are about 3,000 television stations across the country. CCTV (China Central Television) is the major state television station in Chinese Mainland, with a network of 20 channels and accessibility to over one billion viewers. China has the most television viewers worldwide as well as the largest market for the same.
Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, is considered more of China’s cultural and media centre considering that most of the TV programs and animations are produced there.
Outside China, it is possible to receive channels such as CCTV-4 International (in Mandarin Chinese, targeting an overseas Chinese audience), CCTV-9 International (in English, targeting at an English-speaking audience), CCTV-E (in Spanish) and CCTV-F (in French). Programs of these channels not only report important news and events that happen in China and around the world but also give introductions to China’s history, culture, landscape, and so on.
The government of China controls the programs aired on television. The General Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (GARFT) handles censorship and the decisions concerning the programs aired, especially those from overseas.
New Names in China's Television
In Television, most of the network names have remained the same with the most popular being CCTV, Hunan Satellite Television, Phoenix Satellite Television, Shanghai Oriental Television, Jiangsu Satellite Television, Zhejiang Television, Shenzhen Satellite TV, The Travel Channel, Anhui Television, and Anhui Television.
Considering China is among the most digitized countries in the world today, there is also Internet TV, which has grown to become very popular. This platform offers users a chance to recording various channels' broadcasts that can be either watched or paused at one’s leisure.
In China, there are more than 3,000 radio stations. Every province, autonomous region, and the city has local broadcasting stations. CRI (China Radio International) is the national station, broadcasting programs in 59 languages to the world. It aims at promoting understanding and friendship between China and the rest of the world. Various programs are broadcast every day from 6:00 till 24:00, providing news coverage and special subjects of culture, entertainment, science, economy, politics, among several others.
New Names in China’s Radio
CNR (China National Radio) runs 13 radio networks in total, with 11 of the 13 that can be over the AM band. These stations include Voice of China, China Business Radio, Music Radio, Voice of Zhonghua, Voice of Shenzhou, Voice of Huaxia, and Voice of the Entertainment. However, there are other popular free online Chinese Radio Stations such as China Radio International, Love Radio, Beijing Waiyu Guangbo also known as Beijing Foreign Broadcast, and Xiaomi Music Radio just to mention a few.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Journals
Newspapers in China have become increasingly diverse. Presently, there are over 2,200 newspapers in China targeted at different groups of readers. By the end of 2008, there were over 1,900 different kinds of newspapers that had been published, with over 40 billion printed copies making it at that time the highest figure in the world for any country.
Xinhua News Agency and China News Service are the major sources of news for central and local newspapers and are run by the State of China. Local morning and evening newspapers reporting news and feature stories about local people and events are very popular. In 1981, China Daily, the national English-language newspaper, began publication. It is targeted towards foreigners who both live in and travel to China, providing the latest segments in different industries such as politics, finance, sports, education, and entertainment.
China is estimated to have more than 7,000 journals and magazines with more than 300 million copies in circulation.
New Names in China’s Newspapers, Magazines, and Journals
China’s newspapers and other news media have diversified rapidly over the recent years. A few new names include Sohu.com, Sina.com.cn, Guangming Daily, China.com, China Daily (English), Qingdao News, Chongqing Morning Post, and SCOL just to name a few.