You shall not share:how Internet corporations block competitors in China

It is well known that Chinese Internet companies will block and delete content that violates laws and regulations according to government requirements. But it is not the whole picture. These companies also initiatively block each other for commercial competition.

For example, you receive a link to Taobao on WeChat, it can not be directly opened on WeChat`s built-in browser like other hyperlinks. Insstead, users must copy the URL to another browser to access it.

This page is dynamically updated with blocking behavior on the Chinese Internet for commercial competition reasons, which will help you understand the real Chinese Internet.

JD.com blocks Alipay

Description: You can’t pay with Alipay when you are shopping in JD.com.

Start date: 2007

Cause:

In the first few years of JD, it had not gotten involved in the payment gateway business, hence users could choose to pay with a bank card or Alipay. But as it grew, it stopped supporting Alipay in 2007.

It’s easy to understand, just like you can’t use Apple Pay on Google Play. Just by the time Jingdong made this decision, a significant number of users were already used to paying with Alipay, so it sparked a minor controversy at the time.


Taobao blocks Baidu

Description: You can’t find Taobao products through Baidu.

Start date: September 2009

Cause:

Taobao blocked Baidu’s crawl in robot.txt and banned Baidu from displaying specific content from Taobao in its search results.

The reason is that Taobao believes Baidu is full of imitated Taobao sites, so they only allows Baidu to include Taobao’s home page to ensure the safety of users.

But Baidu argues that this is because Taobao is protecting the advertising business within its website. If a user’s search for goods on Baidu leads to Taobao, then the merchant will be more inclined to pay for Baidu rather than Taobao.


Taobao and WeChat are mutually blocked

Description:

When you receive a product link to Taobao in WeChat, you can’t directly open it by clicking. You need to copy it to a universal browser or open it in the Taobao App.

Start date: November 2013

Cause:

Initially, Taobao blocked WeChat’s built-in browser. Because the browser does not display the URL, some scammers spread imitative Taobao pages, leading users to be defrauded. At this stage, all links to Taobao’s goods jump to the download page of the Taobao app when opened in WeChat’s built-in browser.

In response, WeChat blocked the display of Taobao commodity links, informing users that they needed to move to other browers to access links from Taobao.


“Must pick a side” in the field of e-commerce

Description:

A certain brand, within a same promotional festival, is only allowed to participate in the promotional campaign on one e-commerce platform. For example, on November 11, China’s famous online shopping festival, it is highly likely that a brand that participates in a Taobao promotion will have their goods temporarily blocked in JD.COM, and vice versa.

Start time: might occur in 2015

Cause:

In order to get more customers to shop on their own platforms, Chinese e-commerce platforms promise to provide the lowest prices on the whole Internet during some common promotional campaigns.

If a brand also participates in a promotion on another platform, this may result in those e-commerce platforms which made low-price promise have to pay compensation for the consumer.

While “must pick a side” phenomenon is real, it is so insidious that all e-commerce platforms are denying the very existence of such requirement on their platform.


Weibo stops parsing third-party video platform links

Description:

Previously, when a user posted a link of a video on a video platform that has a partnership with Weibo, it would automatically turn into a player interface where other users can click to play. But after 2017, Weibo only allowed its own videos to be played, while videos from other platforms must access the original pages to play.

Start date: April 2017

Cause:

The reason given by Weibo was that the third-party video platform’s censorship was flawed, resulting in some illegal content being disseminated on Weibo. However, many of its competitors believed that Weibo wanted to retain vloggers from transfering to other platforms.


Tiktok links blocked by Weibo.com

Description:

Any tweet including a Tiktok link will be automatically set to “Only Yourself” and cannot be changed.

Start date: March 2018

Cause:

A large number of Tiktok video bloggers attracting fans through Weibo is considered as the main reason, and Weibo officials have denied this, even denying the blocking act itself. However, all weibo containing the Tiktok links are posted usually under personal pages, but not visible to others.


Wechat blocks Tiktok

Description:

When you receive a Tiktok link in Wechat, you can’t directly click to open it. You need to copy it to a universal browser or open in Tiktok.

Start date: April 2018.

Cause:

Wechat initially announced that it would respond to a government directive to block a series of short video Apps containing pornographic, violent and illegal content. But later, links to other short video Apps resumed accessible, while Tiktok did not.

The new reason given by Wechat was that Tiktok tried to analyze Wechat’s users’ address books without authorization through WeChat’s built-in browser fingerprints. Tiktok denied the accusation, declaring it was Tencent’s strategy to support its own short video app Weishi.


A QR code for any other products

Description:

China’s Internet is a QR code country. However, if you send a QR code from one App to another, your information will likely be restricted to “view only by yourself” or lowered exposure.

Start date: Always

Cause: Prevent users from jumping to a competitor’s product.

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