Digital Threads Between the U.S. and China

As the world’s two superpowers grow, the U.S. And the Internet environment in China is increasingly isolating the digital world. U.S. Internet companies have largely flop in China, and with significant exceptions, Chinese applications have not grown outside of their country.

Digital life in each country is largely far from the other, but the two online fields are not completely different. There are threads of cross-fertilization of digital ideas as well as interdependence between the US and China, showing that tight borders and political divisions are not perfect barriers to the Internet that bring fragmented worlds closer together.

The fragmentation of the relationship that still exists between the parallel digital realms of China and the US shows the failure of both ideas that the Internet can break down nationalist walls, and that online innovations can slip past borders and censorship.

For sure, the sections are real. It’s hard to overstate how different online experiences are for people in China and the US

The most popular websites and apps in the West – including Google, Facebook, Amazon, Spotify, LinkedIn and Uber – are inevitably banned by the Chinese government or have fallen on their face in the country.

RBNB, the last major U.S. Internet company in China, said this week that it would discontinue its six-year-old home rental service there. The company, however, will continue to operate a business serving Chinese tourists traveling outside the country, my colleague Erin Griffith reported.

The RBNB’s decision was an effective acknowledgment that companies such as Google, Amazon and Uber have been overtaken by Chinese competitors. That U.S. Companies have probably never shot much in a country where the government has tight control over the Internet and has made it difficult for many foreign (and more recently, even Chinese) tech companies to do business.

You can count the western tech companies that have developed in China on the one hand. Is there Apple and 5 buses? You might also include companies like Microsoft that have had some success selling software or tech equipment to corporations.

It is almost uncommon for Chinese digital stars to move to the US or many other large countries. TikTok, owned by the Chinese Internet group ByteDance, is a notable exception. Didi is also China’s on-demand ride Titan, which has expanded to Latin America and other regions, although the Chinese government’s tech crackdown has hurt the company.

But the digital realms of the two global superpowers are not entirely different.

People in China may not officially access Facebook or Google, but companies sell billions of dollars worth of ads to businesses based in China that want to reach Chinese citizens or Chinese-speaking people elsewhere in the world.

Brian Weiser, global head of business intelligence at advertising company GroupM, says China-based companies are responsible for about $ 10 billion in Facebook’s 2021 ad sales. That’s a lot of money for companies with zero official users in China.

There will be no Amazon because we know it without a boom in Chinese merchants who have expanded the product selection of digital malls, as I wrote in On Tech yesterday.

Trends and business ideas also circulate between different internet sites in China and the US. You may remember when each new smartphone was smaller than the last? Since then big screen smartphones have become popular among Chinese consumers, which now contributes to the ubiquitous dominance of supersized phones. If you love your giant iPhone, you can partially thank the 2010 smartphone buyers in Beijing and Shanghai.

There are other Chinese trends that have shaped Americans’ online experiences. U.S. Internet companies have so far made unsuccessful but relentless attempts to mimic China’s live Internet shopping-a-entertainment programs. And the expectations of executives and investors for food delivery services in the US and Europe, in part, stem from the ubiquity of food delivery services in China.

Copy goes in another direction as well. Didi started out as a dispatch application for traditional car services. But when Uber opened its doors in China in 2014, connecting people with non-commercial drivers, it also influenced Didi’s performance. Uber left China in 2016, but the company left its mark on Chinese transportation.

Don’t get me wrong: segments are more than just vague links between Internet systems in China and the US and it’s hard to imagine a change. China and the US are splitting both politically and online.

But I hope that China’s dictatorial Internet controls and U.S. And the animosity between China cannot completely shut down the two countries’ digital world.


  • More signs of fear and cutbacks in tech: Lift said it would slow recruitment and cut the budgets of some departments. Uber is stopping hiring. Snape warned this week that its advertising sales were weaker than the company expected. A leading start-up investor recently advised young businesses to save cash. Amazon is shrinking warehouse space. All of this is evidence that falling stock prices, volatile sales and uncertain economic conditions are frightening many tech companies.

  • His DIY phone repair went very badly. My colleague Brian X. Chen smashed his iPhone in an attempt to use Apple’s new instructions and tools to help people and independent repair shops fix his gadgets. Brian concludes that Apple’s repair program has some advantages, but it “sets the customer up to fail,” as one technician told him.

  • It’s an anacronism but a beautiful one: Bloomberg CityLab has written about vending machines at two area transit stations that distribute printed short stories for people to read and pass. Why not show QR code or any other digital doodle? “It won’t be the same!” Wrote the publication.

View of a person’s remote workplace at a coffee shop: A duck (apparently wearing shoes) was wandering on the sidewalk.Someone watered the duck.


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