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Top 10 Most Popular Smartphones in China 2017 (According to Weibo)

Just before the biggest online shopping events of the year, these are the most popular smartphone brands in China 2017 – a top 10 list compiled by What’s on Weibo.

Manya Koetse

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The sales of smartphones are going through the roof during China’s annual e-commerce shopping festival Single’s Day (11/11). What smartphone brands and models are the most popular on Chinese social media this year?

 
UPDATE! Now read our Top 10 of Most Popular Chinese Smartphones in 2018 and check out our Top 10 China’s Most Popular Smartphone Brands & Models (May/June 2019)
 

The countdown to Single’s Day, China’s annual largest online shopping event on November 11, is about to start. Smartphones are always amongst the top-selling items during the yearly big sale, and the various newly-launched models are hitting the social media top trending topic lists on a daily basis weeks before. Time to take a look into what phones are currently most popular amongst Chinese netizens.

Sina News recently reported that an increasing number of young Chinese consumers are willing to spend their entire monthly income or even more on a new mobile phone. Since more than 95% of Internet users in China use mobile devices rather than desktop computers to go online, chosing the right mobile is all the more important for Chinese consumers.

And for this season, the ‘right mobile’ (1) has a futuristic ‘bezel-less’ screen without edges: the bigger, the brighter, the better. With the growing importance of selfies in this social media era, the perfect phone of the moment (2) also has a high-performing front facing camera. It is also noteworthy that (3) many of the hottest phones of this moment come in various sizes and especially in various trendy colors to offer buyers more choice, tailored to their personal taste.

To create more insight into the most popular smartphone brands in China, we have compiled a list of ten Weibo smartphone brands with the most followers here.* Note that we did not include the iPhone, because despite the various channels related to iPhone on Weibo, there is no official iPhone channel.

To give you an indication, however, the Sina Weibo iPhone User Channel (@微博iPhone客户端) has a staggering 53.3 million followers – which would still make it one of China’s most popular mobile phones on social media, despite its declining popularity due to competition from domestic brands. The launch of the iPhone X on Friday is also a much-anticipated one in China.

The following smartphones currently have the largest following on Sina Weibo. With Single’s Day coming up, all brands are promoting their latest models, giving a hint to consumers on what to buy for the big November 11 online sales:

 

1. OPPO @OPPO企业官方微博

27.222.000+ followers

The number one smartphone brand in China – according to Weibo – is Oppo, a Guangdong-based brand officially launched in 2004. Oppo is mainly known for targeting China’s young consumers with its trendy designs and smart marketing. In 2016, the brand was ranked as the number 4 smartphone brand globally.

Right before Single’s Day, Oppo is now pushing forward its newest Oppo R11s model phone on social media. The phone will be released on November 2, and together with the much-anticipated R11s Plus model, could become one of the top-sellers on November 11.

Oppo is launching the Oppo R11s as a smartphone that is not just beautiful (with an all-screen ‘bezel-less’ display), but also smart. The phone can be unlocked within 0.08 seconds through the latest facial recognition technology.

Oppo’s smartphones are known as excellent selfie-making-tools, and its latest model is also promoted for having a 20-megapixel front and back camera. Oppo uses the Weibo hashtag ‘Oppo’s All-New 20MP Front&Back R11s’ (#OPPO全新前后2000万R11s#) to discuss the new model. On Tuesday, two days before the official launch, the hashtag was already viewed over 640 million times. There’s no pricing announced yet (will update). Update: prices start at CNY 2999 (±450$).


 

2. Vivo @Vivo智能手机

23.337.000+ followers

Vivo is another Chinese domestic brand that has gained worldwide success, first entering the market in 2009. Its headquarters are based in Dongguan, Guangdong.

On September 30, Vivo launched its Vivo X20 Plus and VivoX20, the successor of best-seller Vivo X9. With a price of CNY 2,998 (±$450) on JD.com, it is a popular phone that offers some advanced features, 6.01 inch (18:9) full view display, and dual camera setup, for a very reasonable price.

The popularity of the Vivo X20 is evident on Weibo. Hashtag (#vivo全面屏手机X20#) has been viewed over a billion times.

(NB: there is something noteworthy about the Weibo account of Vivo, which had 23+ million followers on October 26, and a staggering 29+ million followers only five days later. Although most reputable brands do not want to associate their brand with fake accounts, it is possible that some fans were bought – or perhaps the brand has just hugely gained popularity over the past week. In that case, it is actually Vivo that is the number one on this list. For now, we’ll stick to the follower numbers as counted between October 24-27.)


 

3. Xiaomi @小米

16.872.000+ followers

Since the launch of its first smartphone in 2011, Beijing-brand Xiaomi has become one of the world’s largest smartphone makers.

The Xiaomi (Mi) brand was initially often called an ‘iPhone copycat,’ but it is now a trendsetting brand in the smartphone business. With its 2016 Mi Mix model, the brand was among the first to ditch thick bezels and go beyond the 16:9 aspect ratio to introduce the ‘all screen’ or ‘bezel-less’ screens, which are all the buzz now. The Mi Mix became one of the year’s hottest smartphones.

The Mi Mix 2, Xiaomi 6, and Xiaomi Note 3 are the devices currently being promoted through the Xiaomi official Weibo channel.

With a Phillipe Starck design and premium IPS LCD screen, the Mi Mix 2 has already been getting ravenous reviews on tech sites. Some reviews, however, do note its ‘underperforming camera.’

The ‘Xiaomi Note 3’ topic #小米Note3# is also very popular on Weibo, where it has received 560 million views thus far.

It is sold for CNY 2199 (±330$) on JD.com; much cheaper than the Mix 2 which is sold for approximately CNY 3299 (±496$). With a price of CNY 2999 (±450$), the Xiaomi 6 is in between.


 

4. Honor (荣耀) @荣耀手机

16.638.000+ followers

Honor, established in 2013, is the budget-friendly sister of the Huawei brand. The company’s sub-brand has been doing very well over the past year. Rather than focusing on hyping up its brand name through celebrity campaigns, Honor focuses on great value for money.

On the brand’s Weibo account, it promotes its Honor V9 and Honor V9 Play as the to-buy models for November 11. The latter is currently sold for as low as CNY 999 (±150$). The Honor V9 starts at CNY 2599 (±390$).

Both the Honor V9 (#荣耀V9#) and Honor V9 Play (#荣耀V9play#) have received a lot of attention on social media this year, with millions of views and comments.

The Honor V9 has a 5.7-inch curved glass screen. It has dual SIM and an internal storage of either 64GB or 128GN expandable to 256GB by microSD.

The latest Honor models are available in multiple trendy colors. But above all of this, it is the affordability that makes this phone popular.

 

5. Huawei @华为

14.631.000+ followers.

Huawei remains to be one of China’s top smartphone brands. Its new model Huawei Mate 10, the follow-up to last year’s Mate 9, became a trending topic on Weibo earlier this week, with the hashtag #华为Mate10# receiving over 480 million views in some days time.

In China, the Mate 10 (128GB) is available at approximately CNY 4499.00 (±675$). With its thin bezels, 5.9-inch display, fingerprint sensor, fast-charging battery, and trendy colors (Midnight Blue, Titanium Gray, Mocha Brown, Pink Gold), this model forms a serious competition to the iPhone X.


 

6. Meizu @魅族科技

13.509.000+ followers.

Meizu is another Chinese homegrown brand, established by high school dropout Jack Wong (Huáng Zhāng 黄章) in 2003. Since then, it has grown out to be the 11th best-selling smartphone maker in the world.

Its newest model is the Pro 7, starting from CNY 2499 (±375$), follows all the latest trends: it has thin bezels, a strong battery and dual camera, and a slick design. The model is also available in various colors, which is one of the major trends of the season – of course, a pink edition is crucial nowadays.

 

7. Samsung @三星

8.690.000+ followers.

Samsung has three official accounts on Weibo; Samsung Electronics, Samsung China, and Samsung Galaxy. The latter, by far, has the most followers of the three. This account, with well over 8,5 million followers, is fully dedicated to Samsung’s high-end mobile phones.

The brand is now especially highlighting its Samsung Galaxy Note 8 model. Starting from CNY 6980 (±1050$) this is amongst the most expensive popular smartphones around.

Despite the fact that it is high-tech, the phone has not seen a very warm welcome in China. There could be various reasons for this; political tensions between Korea and China over THAAD, Samsung’s harmed reputation over its battery catastrophe, or simply the fact that Chinese consumers are value-oriented.

The Note 8 is barely any bigger than the cheaper Galaxy S8+. Although Samsung’s Note series became all the rage when they set the ‘phablet’ trend, the newest flagship models of other brands all have comparably large, bezel-less screens. With phones such as the Huawei Mate 10, the Xiaomi Mix 2, Oppo R11s, iPhone X, and Vivo X20, Samsung Note 8 is facing some serious competition within its range.


 

8. Sony Xperia 索尼Xperia

4.471.900+ followers.

Sony Xperia is the only Japanese brand amongst China’s most popular smartphone brands.

The brand is currently promoting its Xperia XZ Premium, which was first spotted in red back in May when it appeared on Weibo.

The Xperia XZ Premium has a 5.2-inch LCD display and specific rectangular design. With 1,3 million views for the ‘Xperia XZ Premium Launch’ (#索尼xperia xz1发布#) topic on Weibo, the phone is currently not amongst the top hottest models in China.

The brand is promoting its smartphone’s “3D Creator” on Weibo. This feature allows users to scan their face, food, or other objects and makes a 3D avatar of it that can be shared on social media or 3D print. “Can I take a picture of an Xperia XZ Premium and then make a 3D print of an Xperia XZ Premium?”, some netizens jokingly comment.

The model was officially launched in China on October 27, its price (64GB/red) is approximately CNY 6399 (±962$) – a lot more expensive than the budget-friendly red Honor V9.

 

9. Gionee @金立

3.134.000+ followers.

Gionee is a Chinese smartphone manufacturer based in Shenzhen, Guangdong. Founded in 2002, it is one of China’s largest mobile phone manufacturers.

Gionee is now actively promoting the successor of last year’s M6: the M7 model, which was launched in September 2017.

Its campaign for this phone actively focuses on China’s 30-something generation who are worried about their career and (young) children. Perhaps because Gionee is one of the older brands amongst its new smartphone competitors, it tells the 30-somethings “we’re growing (and advancing) together.”

The M7 has a 6.01-inch full HD display, fingerprint sensor, DUAL-sim, and goes with the trend with its full view 18:9 display. It is priced around CNY 2799 (±420$).

 

10. Nubia @努比亚

2.518.000+ followers.

As with Meizu and Gionee, Nubia is a Chinese brand that is generally less well-known in Europe or America than other Chinese brands such as Xiaomi or Huawei. Nevertheless, Nubia, owned by parent company ZTE, has been doing very well in China’s top-scoring smartphone lists since it was officially launched in 2015.

Before Single’s Day, the brand is now promoting its newly-launched Z17S and Z17 Mini S model. The first is priced around CNY 2999 (±450$) and the latter is more budget-friendly with CNY 1999 (±300$).

The Z17S (#努比亚Z17S#) competes with all the more expensive flagship models in offering users a 5.73 inch full HD+ screen of 18:9 ratio, and two cameras on the front. It comes in colors black and blue.

An addition to the list

With 2.2+ million followers on Sina Weibo, OnePlus (@一加手机) should also be mentioned here.

Founded in 2013, OnePlus (一加科技) is a relatively new Chinese smartphone brand. Its headquarters are based in Guangdong. The brand’s One Plus 5 model is currently also popular on Sina Weibo, despite being the most expensive phone (CNY 4288/645$) the brand has ever made.

Recent top-selling lists

A recent top 30 list (in Chinese, September 27) of best-sold smartphones on e-commerce platform Tmall shows the following top 10:

 

1. Honor8 32 GB (¥1099/±165$)
2. iPhone7 Plus 32GB (¥5198/±785$)
3. Vivo X9 64GB (¥2598/±392$)
4. Huawei Mate9 32 GB (¥2899/±437$)
5. Oppo RII 64GB (¥2999/±452$)
6. Samsung Galaxy S8 64GB (¥5688/±858$)
7. Honor V9 64GB (¥2699/±407$)
8. Oppo R9S Plus 64 GB (¥3199/±482$)
9. Gionee M2017 128 GB (¥6999/)
10. Moto Z 65 GB (¥3699/±558$)

 

According to this week’s (last week of October) best-selling smartphones (热卖排行), Suning and JD.com – some of China’s top mobile phone retailers – both show a different top 3:

Suning:

1. Apple iPhone 8 64GB
2. Apple iPhone 8 Plus
3. Xiaomi Redmi 4x 64GB

 

JD.com:

1. Xiaomi Mix2 64GB
2. Xiaomi 6 128 GB
3. Vivo X20 64 GB

 

The many different top smartphone lists on Chinese tech and e-commerce sites show that smartphone trends are changing fast, and also suggests that best-phone-lists on Chinese media sites often differ from each other for various reasons.

According to some predictions by experts on Weibo, the hottest phones of this year’s online e-commerce festival on November 11 will be the iPhone X, Xiaomi MIX2, Meizu Pro 7, Oppo R11, Vivo X20 and the OnePlus 5.

By Manya Koetse

* This list does not take the possible use of manipulated followers into account here.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Ed Sander

    November 6, 2017 at 3:25 am

    OnePlus is basically owned by Oppo.

    I personally wouldn’t look at Weibo followers or online sales to determine the popularity of smartphones. As you mentioned, zombie-followers can be bought and ‘old followers’ do not necessarily have to use that phone anymore.

    Online sales on specific platforms are influenced by promotions and do not take into account the offline sales, which are pretty important for brands like Oppo, Vivo and Huawei.

    I would advise to look at figures by the IDC instead. Earlier this year, based on market share, the top 5 was: Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, iPhone and Xiaomi.
    Another source, Gfk, showed the same ranking in May, while market research firm Counterpoint had Apple and Xiaomi switching places.

    Ed

    • Avatar

      admin

      November 6, 2017 at 3:37 am

      It is true that popularity on Weibo does not necessarily represent sales figures. This is just a list we wanted to provide of the brands with most following on Weibo, of which the hashtags of new model announcements are topping the trending topics lists daily. If readers are looking for a different type of list they should certainly follow the lists you advice.

  2. Avatar

    Compare phones side by side

    January 9, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    This is really one of the best post and great information about smartphones, I liked it and enjoyed reading it. Keep sharing such an important posts

  3. Avatar

    mobile makr

    January 30, 2018 at 11:48 am

    oppo and vivo are no.1 stupid phones xxxxxxxxx 🙁

  4. Avatar

    Srinivas

    February 8, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    Well, the article very much useful about top china mobiles. Also read about top 5 Indian Smart phones (Non-China) with price and specification
    CLICK ON LINK
    http://gstrendsnow.blogspot.in/2018/02/top-5-indian-brand-smart-phones-non.html

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China Digital

Must-Read: SCMP’s China Internet Report 2020

The China Internet Report brings order to the chaos of China’s ever-changing digital environment. There’s a special What’s on Weibo discount for the Pro-edition.

Manya Koetse

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First published

SCMP Research’s China Internet Report 2020 is here, covering the country’s biggest tech trends, breaking down the major players and key markets, and bringing some order to the chaos of China’s rapidly changing digital environment.

Today, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) has launched its third edition of the China Internet Report – a super-comprehensive resource on China’s technology landscape offering insights into the most important trends and players shaping the world’s biggest internet community.

This year, China’s online population has reached the staggering number of 904 million users, with the average daily time spent on the internet rising to 7.2 hours in March.

COVID-19 has significantly increased online media consumption across China.

China’s rapid digitization has not just radically altered Chinese society – it is also increasingly impacting the global internet ecosystem at large.

With yesterday’s local startups becoming tomorrow’s international tech leaders, and today’s trends soon becoming worldwide shifts, understanding China’s latest digital developments has never been more important.

The new coronavirus outbreak in China has not just temporarily affected people’s online behavior, the report finds, suggesting that COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on China’s tech sectors.

Besides social media platforms and other apps becoming a crucial tool of mass communication and information for Chinese netizens in times of COVID-19, the pandemic also changed how people in China started using technology in their everyday lives, from online learning to digital healthcare seeking. These trends have brought about permanent changes.

The accelerated digitization and the innovative tech use in times of the coronavirus crisis are listed as one of the major trends of 2020, among other vital digital shifts changing China’s online landscape, from the mass adoption of 5G to live streaming in China reaching its third phase.

To check out the main trends for 2020, China’s latest internet statistics, its top tech competitors, internet companies, and more, here’s a link to the report.

This year, in addition to the free report, SCMP Research also introduces its Pro Edition (US$400) that features more than a hundred pages of deep-dive per sector – from e-commerce to healthtech, 5G and more – providing additional analysis, data, as well as access to six closed-door webinars with leading C-level executives of internet and technology companies in China.

The folks at SCMP have been kind enough to reach out and offer a special 30% discount on the Pro Edition report for What’s on Weibo readers.

You’ll get the discount by using the discount code: “WHATSONWEIBO“, or by clicking this link that will automatically include your discount code.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Digital

From Tea Farmer to Online Influencer: Uncle Huang and China’s Rural Live Streamers

‘Cunbo’ aka ‘rural livestreaming’ is all the rage. A win-win situation for farmers, viewers, and Alibaba.

Manya Koetse

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This is the “WE…WEI…WHAT?” column by Manya Koetse, originally published in German by Goethe Institut China on Goethe.de: “VOM TEEBAUERN ZUM INFLUENCER: ONKEL HUANG UND CHINAS LÄNDLICHE LIVESTREAMER.” 

The past year has been super tumultuous when it comes to the topics that have been dominating Chinese social media. The Coronavirus crisis was preceded by other big issues that were all the talk online, from the US-China trade war to the protests in Hong-Kong, the swine flu, and heightened censorship and surveillance.

Despite the darker side to China’s online environment, however, there were also positive developments. One of the online trends that became popular this year comes with a term of its own, namely cūnbō (村播): rural livestreaming.  Chinese farmers using livestreaming as a way to sell their products and promote their business have become a more common occurrence on China’s e-commerce and social media platforms. 

mage via Phoenix News (iFeng Finance).

The social media + e-commerce mix, also called ‘social shopping,’ is booming in the PRC. Online platforms where the lines between social media and e-commerce have disappeared are now more popular than ever. There’s the thriving Xiaohongshu (小红书Little Red Book) platform, for example, but apps such as TikTok (known as Douyin in China) also integrate shopping in the social media experience.

Over recent years, China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba has contributed to the rising popularity of ‘social shopping.’ Its Taobao Live unit (also a separate app), which falls under the umbrella of China’s biggest online marketplace Taobao, is solely dedicated to shopping + social media, mainly mobile-centered. It’s a recipe for success: Chinese mobile users spend over six hours online per day, approximately 72% of them shop online, and nearly 65% of mobile internet users watch livestreaming.

Every minute of every day, thousands of online shoppers tune in to dozens of different channels where sellers promote anything from food products to makeup or pet accessories. The sellers, also called ‘hosts’ or ‘presenters,’ make their channels attractive by incorporating makeup tutorials, cooking classes, giving tips and tricks, chatting away and joking, and promising their buyers the best deal or extra presents when purchasing their products.                

Livestreaming on Taobao goes on 24/7 (screenshots from Taobao app by author).

Sometimes thousands of viewers tune in to one channel at the same. They can ‘follow’ their favorite hosts and can interact with them directly by leaving comments on the livestreams. They can compliment the hosts (“You’re so funny!”), ask questions about products (“Does this also come in red?”), or leave practical advice (“You should zoom in when demonstrating this product!”). The product promoted in the livestreams can be directly purchased through the Taobao system.

Over the past year, Alibaba has increased its focus on rural sellers within the livestreaming e-commerce business. Countryside sellers even have their own category highlighted on the Taobao Live app. Chinese tech giant Alibaba launched its ‘cūnbō project’ in the spring of 2019 to promote the use of its Taobao Live app amongst farmers. The most influential livestreaming farmers get signed by Alibaba to elevate Taobao Live’s rural business to a higher level.

One of these influential Chinese farmers who has made a name for himself through livestreaming is Huang Wensheng, a tea farmer from the mountainous Lichuan area in Hunan Province.

Uncle Huang livestreaming from the tea fields (image via Sohu.com)

Huang, who is nicknamed ‘Uncle Farmer,’ sells tea through his channel, where he shows viewers his work and shares stories and songs from his village. He is also known to talk about what he learned throughout his life and will say things such as: “It is important to work hard; not necessarily so much to change the world , but to make sure the world does not change you.”

With just three to five livestreaming sessions per week, ‘Uncle’ Huang reaches up to twenty million viewers per month, and, according to Chinese media reports, has seen a significant increase in his income, earning some 10,000 yuan (€1300) per week.

Huang is not the only farmer from his hometown using Taobao Live to increase their income; there are some hundred rural livestreamers in Lichuan doing the same.

Some random screenshots by author from rural livestreaming channels, where online shoppers get a glimpse of countryside life

The rural livestreaming category is significantly different from the urban fashionistas selling brand makeup and the latest must-haves: these hosts do not have the polished look, glamorous clothes, or stylish backgrounds. They usually film outside while doing their work or offer a glimpse into their often humble rooms or kitchens.

Viewers get to see the source of the products sold by these rural sellers; they often literally go to the fields to show where their agricultural products grow, or film themselves getting the eggs from their chickens or the oranges from the trees. From fruits to potatoes and flowers, and from fresh tea to home-made chili sauce – a wide range of products is promoted and sold through Taobao Live these days.

Some rural livestreamers are trying to stay ahead of their competition by coming up with novel concepts. A young farmer from Sichuan, for example, recently offered viewers the opportunity to “adopt” a rooster from his farm, allowing them to interact with ‘their’ rooster through social media and even throwing the occasional birthday party for some lucky roosters.

Image via sina.com.

Examples such as these show that although the countryside livestreamers usually lack glitter and glam, they can be just as entertaining – or perhaps even more so – than their urban counterparts.

Who benefits from the recent ‘cūnbōboom? One could argue that the rising popularity of livestreaming farmers is a win-win situation from which all participants can profit in some way. The commercial interests are big for Alibaba. The company has been targeting China’s countryside for years, as it’s where China’s biggest consumption growth will happen while mobile internet penetration is still on the rise. Alibaba earns profits from an increasing number of rural e-commerce buyers, as well as e-commerce sellers.

Alibaba’s early focus on the countryside as a new home for e-commerce has previously also led to the phenomenon of so-called ‘Taobao Villages,’ where a certain percentage of rural residents are selling local specialties, farm products or other things via the Taobao platform with relatively little transaction costs.

Many Chinese villages and farmers are profiting from the further spread of Taobao in the countryside. Not only does Alibaba invest in logistics and e-commerce trainings in rural areas, these e-commerce channels are also a way to directly boost sales and income for struggling farmers.

Chinese media predict that the rural livestreaming trend will only become more popular in the years to come, bringing forth many more influential farmers like Huang.

But besides the commercial and financial gains that come from the rising popularity of rural livestreamers, there is also a significant and noteworthy social impact.  At  a time in which China’s rapidly changing society sees a widening gap between urban and rural areas, these rural channels serve as a digital bridge between countryside sellers and urban consumers, offering netizens a real and unpolished look into the lives of farmers in others parts of the country, and gives online buyers more insight and understanding of where their online products came from.

Taobao Live is actually like a traditional “farmers’ market,” but now it is digital, open 24/7, and accessible to anyone with a mobile phone. It’s the Chinese farmers’ market of the 21st century.

By Manya Koetse
Follow @whatsonweibo

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

This text was first published by Goethe-Institut China under a CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0-DE license (Creative Commons) as part of a monthly column in collaboration with What’s On Weibo.

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