(Note this list is under revision so feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.)
The short answer is they aren’t. Or, the more nuanced answer is that people in China are “meeting up” in much lower quantities and event numbers compared to many Western countries and major cities around the world. Chinese are definitely not an isolated people. They are gathering, but more around playing games, dancing and other small group and friends and family activities.
Quite simply, Chinese people in mainland China have not yet embraced a “meetup culture,” by which I mean an open, inclusive community of multiple group meeting and gathering around shared interests.
For me personally this means a focus on entrepreneurship, tech and design meetups. Perhaps the largest meetups in China are around speech practice (Toastmasters) and English practice. This are indeed happening regularly.
In spite of the smaller raw numbers and somewhat specialized interests focus, there are some groups scattered about meeting up. People are gathering. It’s just also somewhat harder to find these groups.
This partially has to do with there being a lack of a single events platform in China. Language barrier also is important too.
Specifically, we are working to make great events more accessible with Startup Digest, a weekly newsletter of startup events in over 300 cities around the world. My friend Jordan and I recently launched a version in Western China a couple weeks back. It’s mostly for cities like Chengdu, Xi’an and Chongqing.
If you are interested in knowing about tech and startup events in Western China, you can subscribe here: https://www.startupdigest.com/digests/western-china.
As an aside to that effort to build and develop our Startup Digest, I wanted to share a bit of info about where we find meetups and events data in (Western) China.
The Short List
The short list of key resources for finding events in (Western) China include:
None of these resources are perfect and before looking at each of these in a bit more detail, I’d like to share a longer list:
A Longer List
- 58 同城
- 站长之家 - 中国站长站 - 站长资讯
For Chengdu, I also recommend: http://gochengdu.cn/, http://www.gochengdu.cn/, www.chengdoo-magazine.com
China’s Champions: Douban and Huodongxing
Arguably the best two sites for finding events in China are Douban and Huodongxing.
Douban is a pretty famous groups site in China and you can find lots of interest groups in cities across China. Discoverability and user friendly design are not particularly great but lots of info can be gathered there.
Huodongxing seems to have emerged as the reigning champion of event hosting and listing in China. It’s also not a super friendly or beautiful site, but event organizers seems to have embraced it as the main source of sharing event info and selling event tickets.
Both are great places to find local events around China.
International King: Meetup.com
Meetup.com is the largest and most international platform for posting event listings. In cities around the world, Meetup.com is enough to find multiple events any night of the week.
In China, Meetup.com has a much lower usage. Fortunately it’s not blocked (unlike Facebook), so it remains a strong platform for English-speaking and international events. Major cities like Shanghai and Beijing have lots of groups. Chengdu and Xi’an also have a decently active ecosystem of events on the platform.
My hope is that Meetup.com’s usage and usefulness will grow. (As a side note, Chinese rarely actually “RSVP” for events there.)
Runner Ups: YooPay, Eventdove, Etc.
Compared to Meetup, Huodongxing and Douban, platforms like YooPay and Eventdove focus more on ticket sales side. As such it’s not really a gateway to events discovery. You can find plenty of events on both though.
Eventbrite, while mostly a western tool, still gets used regionally, especially on bigger international forums and conferences.
Beyond these tools and platforms, it gets to be quite a bit hard to know where best to look for events in China. LinkedIn is a decent source where event promos get posted, so it’s a reliable to find things, though it’s quite hit or miss. Being China, WeChat is also a huge source of event promotion, though by its very nature you need to already be in the “circle” to hear about upcoming events.
There are also a number of silo event posts in business and consulate sites.
Conclusions: Startup Digest Western China
So, what have we learned about Meetups in Western China? Well, it’s clear that there is no clear single source for finding events. Western China also not yet fully embraced the lead-by-example form of startup and interest group communities, so there aren’t that many groups and not that many event organizers either.
We are hopeful this will change as we see more places embracing meetup.com and other tools as well as starting their own startup activities like Startup Weekend. We believe there is a rise in meeting up in China!
What do you think? What China event platform did I miss?