A Guide to the Internet in China: Tencent

Tencent's mascot is a chubby penguin named QQ. (Tencent.com)
Tencent's mascot is a chubby penguin named QQ. (Tencent.com)


• Name: Tencent
• American Counterpart: Amazon, Facebook, WhatsApp
• Launched: 1998
• Users: Over 1 billion
• Value: $150 billion

Launched by “Pony” Ma Huateng and Zhang Zhidong, Tencent offers everything from online and mobile games to search, software development, e-commerce and instant messaging. It’s best known as the operator of QQ, a desktop messaging service which counts over 800 million monthly active users and the company’s mobile messaging app, WeChat.

Tencent’s QQ and WeChat currently dominate the social messaging market in China. Tencent also offers a number of online, multiplayer games through its game portal QQ Games which has four of the top five grossing games in China on iOS.

The firm recently bought a large stake in JD.com, the second-biggest e-commerce site in China behind Alibaba. This is the latest example of how Tencent is competing head-on against rival Alibaba in a battle for internet dominance.

In 2013, Tech blogs Tech in Asia and The Next Web, which both operate outside of China,  reported receiving messages saying their WeChat entries contained restricted words. Tencent denied that it was engaged in global censoring and credited the blocked messages to a technical glitch. Still, such practices could pose challenges to Tencent as it targets international users accustomed to sharing information freely.

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