Technologically speaking, China has seen rapid progress over the last forty years. But despite major strides forward in both innovation and infrastructure, it still lags in at least one important aspect: internet speed.

According to international consulting agency We Are Social’s fourth-quarter report, the mainland’s internet speeds ranks well behind developed areas, including the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

Image credit: We Are Social

In terms of average fixed connection speed, mainland China ranks 20th, with an average speed of 80.44 Mbps (10.1 MB/s), Tencent News reports. That’s well above the global average of 49.26 Mbps, but significantly behind the top six regions (which includes Hong Kong), which all averaged about 100 Mbps.

The mainland performed even worse in average mobile internet speeds, ranking #43 on the list with an average of 30.3Mbps, or 3.79 MB/s.

But as other stats show, slow 4G and network speeds haven’t stopped Chinese consumers from flooding their favorite platforms. Chinese social media and websites made a strong showing in global rankings from July through September. WeChat led the local pack, and Douyin/TikTok outranked Twitter as well as Sina Weibo.

In addition, one ranking of sites’ global traffic volume and page views showed several Chinese competitors in the top 20. Baidu took the fourth spot behind, Youtube, and Facebook, and Alibaba’s Tmall and Taobao each beat out Amazon.

Image credit: We Are Social
Image credit: We Are Social

On a shopping-related note, compared to countries like Argentina or Brazil where a large majority does online research before each major purchase, a much smaller proportion of Chinese internet users (34%) reported the same.

Other trends included a penchant for using voice search and commands. 48% of Chinese users, compared to a global average of 38%, reported using voice-enabled features on any of their devices in the fourth quarter. They ranked only behind Indian users, a majority of whom said they had used voice recognition features.

And in contrast to what some believe, a significant percent of Chinese internet users reported being concerned about privacy. 39% said they believed that their data was being misused online, not far behind the world average of 42%.

Bailey Hu is based in China’s hardware capital, Shenzhen. Her interests include local maker culture, grassroots innovation and how tech shapes society, as well as vice versa.

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