Alternative App Stores in China Instead of Google Play

To say that Android is popular in China is an understatement. In fact, about 75% of Chinese smartphone owners use Android devices — and that’s really something. 

However, few people know that Google Play, the usual online store for downloading applications, does not work in China. China has its own Chinese app markets, which are controlled by the authorities and are closely linked to China’s policies and goals, both inside and outside the country.

In the article, we will tell you more about this and provide a list of alternative app stores for downloading applications in China.

Read more about China’s surveillance system here.

China vs. Google: a history of the conflict

This story began back in 2010 with Google’s conflict with the Chinese authorities. At the time, the company accused China of a hacker attack on its servers and announced it would no longer comply with the partial censorship of search results Google had agreed to when it entered the PRC market. Instead, it started redirecting visitors to the Chinese site to its Hong Kong counterpart,

Alternative app stores in China

It was a moment when only a few months remained before the end of the company’s current license, and the question was whether it would be extended by the Chinese authorities. Google was able to negotiate an extension of the license, but most of its working tools, such as Google Docs, remained inaccessible to Chinese users.

What’s wrong with Google? Read more here.

The conflict resumed in June 2014, when most of Google’s services in China were blocked again. Many then linked this fact with the approach of the anniversary of the events in Tiananmen Square in 1989, when the authorities severely suppressed the protest action of Chinese students. 

These events resulted in the deaths of 200 people, and about 7,000 more people were injured. The Western media had already started information pressure on the PRC. 

China, in turn, blocked most of Google’s services: search engine, Gmail, Image Viewer, and so on. Over time, the conflict only grew.

Relatively recently, in 2017, WhatsApp and Instagram were banned. Skype was not officially banned, but at first, it disappeared from Chinese app stores, and then those that were already installed on various devices began to work so slowly that video communication became almost impossible. In the same year, Google Play stopped working on all devices in China without using a VPN.

The best VPN tools with a free trial period are here.

Of course, the decisive role in the conflict is played by the policy of the Chinese authorities, who are trying to accomplish several things at once in this way: protectionism, state security and censorship related to it, as well as the storage of Chinese personal data inside the country. 

And with regard to protectionism, the strategy has already provided excellent results. During this time, giant IT companies have appeared in China, whose development has successfully replaced the banned services.

Instead of Google, the Baidu search engine appeared. The well-known YouTube was replaced by the Youku video portal. Instead of the usual Amazon, its Alibaba counterpart works in China. Similarly, Google Play, familiar to most, has been successfully replaced by an army of Chinese app markets and the iOS Apple Store. 

And now the main efforts of the largest Chinese IT companies are no longer directed inside the country, but to conquer international markets. And the first ones here are the Android app stores.

How to install Google services on Huawei and Honor

Such popular models as Honor 9A, Honor 9C, Honor 30i, Huawei P40 and Huawei P40 Lite are delivered without Google services in China due to Google’s refusal to acquiesce to China’s censorship demands.

Chinese alternative app stores

To install Google apps on these and other smartphones, you need to follow these instructions (but it is possible that even this will not help to get Google mobile services due to the policy of the American company regarding Huawei):

  1. 1. Download and install MicroG on your phone.
  2. 2. Through MicroG, log in to your Google account and make sure that it is displayed in the device settings.
  3. 3. Download and install GAM Fixed.
  4. 4. Remove the MicroG (required).
  5. 5. Install Google apps: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. All files uploaded to you and do not contain anything dangerous.

After installing Google services on a P40, P40 Lite or other Huawei smartphone, you do not need to reauthorize. If there are problems in the process, it is recommended to roll back the smartphone firmware to an earlier version.

How to protect your data on the phone? Learn more here.

An easy way to install Google Play on a Chinese Android phone

So let’s get started. 

First, you need to get root rights, and you can’t do without them. All manipulations will be carried out directly in the system directories. Therefore, we click on the link, read and install it, and if there are questions, we ask in the comments.

To begin with, download the archive from Google Play, then unpack it. You will need to copy the opened files to the “System” folder located on the device. But they must correspond to the location in the archive.

Next, check the boxes in the items “owner, group, and other” in the “Reading” column. In the “Record” column, we put a checkmark only opposite “Owner.”

That’s it, you have installed the Google Play app on your Chinese device yourself. Now it can be used in the same way as on any other device with licensed firmware.

The Chinese way of crypto regulation is here.

Alternative app stores in China

Among the great variety of Chinese app stores, it is worth highlighting the largest ones today.

Baidu App Store

Baidu is a popular search engine in China. In addition, it also has an Android app store. There are thousands of different applications available in the store, which are pre-checked. Moreover, the store allows you to download applications without registration or the actual mobile version.

Tencent MyApp

Tencent Media, which owns the country’s largest web portal, has also created the largest Tencent MyApp store, which occupies more than a quarter of the market. Today, it records hundreds of millions of daily downloads, and its users are the first to receive the latest updates of all content.

360 Market

Alternative app store

The 360 Market store belongs to Qihoo, the second largest Chinese search engine after Baidu in terms of coverage, as well as the world-famous 360 Security antivirus. The store has captured 15% of the domestic market. It has more than 115,000 applications, games, and other programs.


The plucky Wandoujia is one of the most promising Android app store startups, with a capital of more than $120 million. Such capital and its growing popularity is helping the startup to lead in the struggle for a top position in the industry. According to the data, there are about 800,000 installations from the application every day.

91 HiAPK

The main app store that is installed on Chinese tablets and phones is 91 HiAPK. According to their own data, the audience of the play market has more than 100 million users.

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