Discover the Unseen Side of China Apps

A glamorous life in China is seen online, but that is a very small percent compared to the reality. What happens when you take a look at the other side of the coin?

With glittering shopping malls sprouting on every corner, smooth-faced Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) demonstrating the latest makeup trends on Little Red Book and friends bragging about newly discovered restaurants and bars on their WeChat Moments, one can easily believe this is life in China.

Occasionally, the media reveals stories that show the opposite, such as university student Wu Huayan from Guizhou Province. Originally reported by the BBC China, Wu was diagnosed with malnutrition due to her shockingly low daily living budget of 2 RMB. She said she had to save money from a 300 RMB allowance given to her by her foster family to cure her little brother’s illness. Most think this is an extremely rare case of spending in remote areas until they have a peek at Pinduoduo, which reflects the exact opposite of what we are used to seeing.

Pinduoduo is an E-business shopping app like Taobao, boasting over 500 million active users in 2019. One in every three Chinese use this app. The difference being the products on Pinduoduo are guaranteed to be 100 percent fake and cheap beyond any imagination. Most daily items are below 10 RMB.

Despite the notorious reputation, its revenue keeps shooting up earning 7.5 billion RMB in the third quarter of 2019, according to Pinduoduo’s financial reports. Their consumers buy there because they cannot afford anywhere else.

Pinduoduo’s demographics are typically individuals with a low-education and low- income from third and fourth-tier cities. The penetration of the internet and smartphones across the country in recent years makes the silent majority more visible.

Pinduoduo lets people know the Chinese majority’s consumption needs; Kuaishou, a video app, shows us the real Chinese rural life.

Many know about Douyin, and its international twin TikTok, gaining attention in recent years from users posting entertaining videos; however, with Kuaishou it is the real rural life we never lay our eyes on which is finally seen.

In 2018 disposable income per month in major cities was 3,270 RMB and 1,218 RMB in the countryside according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Migrant workers are often seen wandering the streets looking for work, admitting the low pay in the city is still much more than growing crops or other types of work seen on Kuaishou.

The app is nothing brilliant and is often dull and senseless, with day-to-day life, mundane jobs and occasional small-town antics. Viewers can see Kuaishou celebrities such as Jiang Jinchun, a farmer from a village in Jiangxi Province, post about his daily life picking tea leaves or catching fish.

Though it sounds boring, the app was cited several times for posting borderline inappropriate or controversial content by users and is a far cry from the comparably “normal” videos seen on Douyin and Tik Tok.

These apps show a part of the country where if not for the sake of the internet and smartphones, no one would see.