The sharing economy is exploding in China. Worth about 299 billion USD in 2015, the market is expected to surge by 40 percent over the next five years, China’s National Information Center reported earlier this year.

While the sharing economy is relatively a broad term referring to businesses that are based on peer-to-peer sharing of assets and services, the concept is expanding quickly to involve all kinds of business from sharing lodging, transportation, working space, knowledge, skills, and production capabilities.

Here are TechNode’s top sharing-economy stories of 2016.

1. “Uber for Escorts” Services Become Popular in China


For years, Internet users can rent a fake boyfriend or girlfriend on Taobao to ease the intense pressure from overly concerned relatives during large family reunions. The trend is gradually expanding from renting fake dates for special family occasions to general companionship, like going to the movies, eating dinner, and jogging. “Come Rent Me” is a service that wants to monetize the spare time of China’s young people – by renting it to others.

2. This Ex-Uber Exec Is Creating China’s Uber For Bicycles


Bike-sharing boomed almost overnight in the latter half of 2016. As a top player in the bike-sharing industry, Mobike expands quickly and operates in eight cities now. In Shanghai alone, the company runs 100,000 bicycles.

3. This Chinese Q&A Platform Is Selling Celebrity Answers For $750 A Pop


Fenda, which means one-minute answers, is a mix between Quora and Reddit’s AMA operated through a WeChat enterprise account. Answers are delivered via voice messages and are no longer than 60 seconds – hence the name of the service. Three months after its successful launch, regulators suspended the platform for more than one month. The returned version deleted some of the most sensational topics like celebrity gossip and added enhanced audio recognizing censorship abilities.

4. Running A Coworking Space In China: Bob Zheng Founder of People Squared


As one of the earliest co-working pioneers in China, People Squared (P2) was founded in 2010, long before the real boom of this sector in China. In this exclusive interview with TechNode, Mr. Zheng talked about his view on co-working spaces in China, specific challenges, and what P2 has planned for 2016.

5. Didi Grapples With Devastating Draft Laws From China’s Major Cities


Tightening regulations are a definite thorn in the side of Didi. In a draft regulation released in October, Chinese regulators have stipulated that drivers must have a local hukou (户口 or residence permit). This is a heavy blow for Didi, as it eliminates more than half of the drivers in Beijing and Shenzhen, and dispels an overwhelming majority of Shanghai drivers from the platform. Despite complaints from leading ride-hailing companies, the state has made the regulation official with minor changes in details.

6. Bad Air Quality Spawns The ‘Uber Of Gyms’ In India


FITPASS is aiming to bring high-cost gym memberships to the masses through a sharing model, which lets users swipe their card at a number of gyms on a plan that costs up to 70 percent less than competing gym memberships.

Image credit: Shutterstock/TechNode

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.