A glossary of essential terms for doing business online in China

2024/05/09 | 4 mins

Demystifying website testing in China: a glossary for online businesses

As the world’s largest online market, China beckons entrepreneurs with promises of vast consumer bases, rapid growth, and boundless opportunities. While doing online business in China can be tempting with its massive user base, the country's technical challenges can be baffling to outsiders.

This article is a glossary of need-to-know terms for doing business online in China. It’s a unique digital ecosystem where access to foreign tools is limited, so becoming familiar with key terminology can be a big advantage. With a firm grasp of these definitions and an understanding of their implications, you'll see the importance of China-specific testing solutions.

Website testing & monitoring in China

  • Great firewall:
    A system that restricts access to foreign information sources. It has influenced China’s internal internet economy by favoring domestic companies and reducing the effectiveness of foreign internet products. The wall fosters the growth of domestic internet giants such as Alibaba and NetEase with a less competitive realm compared to the global market.
  • Website testing tools:
    Used to assess website performance, functionality, and user experience within the Great Firewall. Wondering if your website is accessible in China? We highly recommend trying our free Great Firewall of China Test.
  • Synthetic monitoring:
    Simulates user interactions with your website to identify potential issues like slow loading times or broken links before real users encounter them. Synthetic tests simulate real-world conditions, and some of the issues that only occur under certain yet significant conditions, like web clogging during peak traffic times, will not go unnoticed.
  • Manual website testing:
    Involves human Chinese testers who interact with your website just like real users would. These testers ensure that the website functions properly, adheres to local cultural norms, and catches nuances that automated tools might overlook.
  • Website localization:
    Involves adapting content, design, and functionality to resonate with the Chinese audience. Key considerations include avoiding unlucky numbers (like “4,” which sounds like “death” in Chinese) and understanding the leading search engine’s (Baidu) unique ranking algorithms.


China's ICP compliance

  • ICP (Internet Content Provider):
    A permit required for any website that hosts content accessible from within China. If a website lacks the necessary ICP license, it may face lower loading speed or even be blocked for Chinese users. See also: What's an ICP License and why do you need it?
  • ICP Bei An (备案):
    The registration/filing process for obtaining an ICP license, involving government approval and content review. It’s worth noting that all new apps must complete the filing process before they can be published on app stores in China.
  • ICP filing types:
    Non-commercial websites require an ICP Bei An (for filing), while commercial websites need both an ICP Bei An and an ICP Jingyíng Xuke Zheng (经营许可证) for licensing to comply with Chinese regulations. The latter one involves a more rigorous application process with ongoing compliance requirements.
  • ICP hosting providers: Companies authorized to provide hosting solutions for websites within mainland China, such as Aliyun (also known as Alibaba Cloud) and Tencent Cloud. Be aware that obtaining an ICP license and local hosting in China is generally restricted to companies registered within the country.
  • Content restrictions: Regulations govern online content, including restrictions on politically sensitive or culturally inappropriate topics. Violations may result in legal penalties and website shutdowns, and internet companies practice self-censorship to avoid infractions by monitoring and filtering content.

CDN and network terms

  • Content delivery network (CDN):
    A geographically distributed network of servers that deliver content to users with minimal latency. If you’ve ever heard of Global Accelerator, you might wonder the difference between them. Our detailed comparison between global accelerator and CDN can help you dig deeper.
  • China CDN:
    A CDN with servers located within mainland China to ensure fast and reliable website performance for Chinese users. It's important to recognize that requirements for non-Chinese and China-specific CDN solutions can differ, even when offered by the same provider.
  • VPN (virtual private network):
    A tool that encrypts internet traffic and allows users to bypass certain network restrictions. For global organizations, unrestricted internet access is vital, and many may wonder if VPNs are legal in China. We advise you to consult legal counsel for compliant VPN usage within the Chinese market.
  • Great Firewall bypass:
    Techniques used to circumvent website blocking within the Great Firewall. However, relying solely on bypassing restrictions can be risky, especially for businesses. Sustainable solutions that comply with local regulations are preferable.


Software performance for the Chinese market

  • Software localization:
    Adapting software functionality, language, and user interface to meet Chinese user expectations and regulatory requirements. This can include designing temporary features for Chinese holidays, demonstrating cultural sensitivity, and catering to specific user needs during those times.
  • Payment gateways:
    Online payment processing systems integrated with your software, such as Alipay and WeChat Pay, which are dominant in China. China's unique e-commerce and mobile payment ecosystem has driven widespread adoption of these platforms, making them the preferred payment method for a vast user base accustomed to mobile transactions.
  • Compatibility testing:
    Verifying your software functions correctly on popular Chinese operating systems and devices. An important part to consider is the extensive customization of Android systems by manufacturers in China, which makes testing for variations in UI (user interface) and app store compatibility essential.
  • Data security:
    Regulations governing data storage and transmission in China, including user data localization requirements. It aims to safeguard user data by storing specific types within China and potentially reducing unauthorized access. Companies suspected of data breaches may lead to regulatory investigations.



This glossary serves as a foundational resource for understanding key terms in China's online business environment, which can equip you with foundational knowledge to enter the market with greater ease.

However, it's important to remember that regulations and legal interpretations can be complex and subject to change. For this reason, this glossary provides a starting point, not a substitute for expert guidance. As you navigate the complexities of regulations and legal interpretations, consulting with qualified legal and compliance professionals is highly recommended.

GoClick China understands the importance of a robust online presence in China. With our website testing and analysis solutions, we can help you ensure compliance and optimize your website performance for the Chinese market.

To help your website get in front of your target market and outperform local competitors, feel free to contact us or follow us on LinkedIn.

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