Deng Shuang, a 34-year-old mother of one, wants to share baby shoes she found on Taobao to a mom friend via WeChat. Instead of sharing it directly from Taobao to Wechat, Deng has to go through a very clumsy process: she has to copy an auto-generated Taobao link for the item and then paste it in WeChat before she can send it.

A small sharing barrier between two of China’s giant apps is no small deal, especially when millions of users go through this every day. But this is more than a technical loophole that can be fixed easily with updates: This is just one part of the walls China’s internet giants construct to guard their self-sustained gardens.

Most people believe the Chinese internet is one world unto itself, but few realize there are multiple separate, loosely connected ecosystems in China’s cyberspace. Competition in China’s internet world is not about individual tech companies anymore, it’s increasingly a contest among ecosystems.  

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Emma Lee

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.