Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Charles Caleb Colton
Napoléon Bonaparte, the French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars, is reported to have said, China, “That is a sleeping dragon. Let him sleep! If he wakes, he will shake the world.”
Now, nearly two hundred years later, one can safely say China is wide awake and is making great strides to superpower status.
That said, many critics have dubbed China a brilliant imitator but a poor innovator.
China’s talents for replicating anything the Western world throws up is phenomenal.
The fact is China is not open to allowing foreign business firms to play any dominant role in its society — government censorship, regulation, and surveillance is the rule of the day.
For example, over the years some of the most popular companies in the U.S. have failed to make any mark on the Chinese business landscape — these include tech power companies such as Apple, Netflix, Google, Youtube, Amazon, Uber, among many others.
At the same time, China has created many me-toos thus closing out many would be competitors from the outside.
Many of these Chinese me-too companies are found particularly in the tech business.
Some of these include:
1. Baidu — a Google equivalent
Baidu, Inc. incorporated over 17 years ago is a Chinese web services company headquartered at the Baidu Campus in Beijing’s Haidian District. It is one of the largest Internet companies and one of the premiers AI leaders in the world.
2. Huawei — an imitation of Apple
Huawei is the most successful Chinese brand and is dubbed the ‘Apple’ of China.
Huawei sees itself very soon passing Apple globally. “We are going to take [Apple] step by step, innovation by innovation,” Huawei’s consumer head, Richard Yu, is reported to have said.
3. Tencent — a Facebook look alike
This is an all-encompassing Internet company with its hands all over the Chinese internet.
It has subsidiaries in media, entertainment, payment systems, smartphones, Internet mobile phone value-added services and operates online advertising services in China.
4. Alibaba — the Amazon of China
Today, Alibaba product and service offerings expand well beyond e-commerce.
This Chinese company provides consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer, and business-to-business sales services.
It is the world’s largest and most valuable retailer as of April 2016, surpassing Walmart, with operations in over 200 countries, as well as one of the largest Internet companies.
Its online sales and profits surpassed all U.S. retailers (including Walmart, Amazon, and eBay) combined since 2015. Moreover, it has started to expand in many other industries including the media.
5. Didi Chuxing — this is Uber-like
Didi Chuxing, formerly Didi Kuaidi, is a major ride-sharing company, providing transportation services for more than 400 million users across over 400 cities in China. It has become one of the world’s largest ride-hailing companies within just a few years. Its success is one reason that its American rival, Uber Technologies Inc., was forced to withdraw from China’s market.
6. Sina Weibo — a copy of Twitter
Sina Weibo is a Chinese microblogging website. It is one of the most popular social media sites in China, used by well over 30% of Internet users, with a market penetration like that of United States’ Twitter.
7. iQiyi — A Netflix me-too
This online video platform company which is based in Beijing was launched on April 22, 2010.
It operates as an online television and movie portal. The company offers online video services including movies, TV dramas, and a variety of different shows.
8. Tantan — comparable to Tinder
This is China’s biggest dating app and the country’s closest comparison to Tinder.
The company boasts over 60 million ‘validated’ users — i.e., not fake accounts — of which six million are active daily. Of those active users, 75 percent are second-day return active. It claims a 6:4 male/female ratio which is far higher than most dating apps primarily due to a marketing focus on female users.
Certainly, the song titled, Anything you can do I can do better, befits Chinese business ventures as they make forays into their home market and beyond by imitating U.S. brands.
Yvad Billings, Readers Bureau, Fellow
Edited by Jesus Chan
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