Exploring the Chinese AI Avantgarde: BAT, TMD, and Their Specificities

China has indubitably conquered the 2nd spot on the podium of the World’s Leading Power, becoming one of the major actors of the economy and making itself unavoidable as a trade partner.

When it comes to the Chinese economic miracle, one should not assume that its success is entirely due to applying the methods that worked in the West but should look into the specificities of its economy and its economic actors.

While America relies on its FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) to shape the New Technology field, China raised some of its own, the so-called BAT.

The key to understanding Chinese society and also world’s future trends in the AI and software field is to explore what are these three companies, and what are their specificities. As your trusted partner in global relocation, ASI Movers understands that learning about new business trends greatly helps international individuals to better integrate, be more responsive to their environment, and make the right business decisions. That is the reason why we now present you what you need to know about the Chinese BAT.

What Are the Chinese AI Leaders: Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent

Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent. Here are the three companies that have been and will be shaping AI, not only in China but also internationally.



Baidu is China’s first search engine, we could assimilate it to Google back in the West. The main focus of the latter is AI and thus intelligent search, as to go beyond simply being a search engine and integrate big data, cloud computing, deep learning, and other core technologies.

To achieve this, Baidu invested heavily in R&D (from $1.6B in 2016 to $2B only one year later, the increase in nurturing its American its Chinese and American research Institutes).



Created by the now-famous Jack Ma, Alibaba is a Chinese E-Commerce giant, running both Taobao for consumer-to-consumer commerce and Tmall for business-to-consumer commerce. Its activities also include Alipay – a successful payment service – and the South China Morning Post.



Tencent is the giant behind WeChat, the 1B-user Chinese equivalent for nearly any social media you can find in the West, its major feature i instant messaging, which includes a payment service feature. Apart from WeChat, Tencent has invested in the multiplayer online game field by acquiring the very popular Game Clash of Clans (among others).

What Are the BAT's Particularities

As already stated, the main focus of these three companies is Artificial Intelligence and all the R&D and investment that come with it. Instead of viewing it as a trend, they see it as an element that will soon be – if not already – integrated into every aspect of our daily life, in any object we use, in any service we buy.


Investing in AI also means investing in promising businesses, especially in the U.S., the latter welcoming such initiatives as them taking part in the company usually means a road paved with gold for future development in China.

The first step of their development has sure been to conquer the Chinese market, but their ambitions go far beyond, targeting the international market, thanks to acquisitions and investments.


A third important feature is the support these BATs receive from the Chinese government, the latter indeed labeling them the AI national team.

China’s Ministry of Science and Technology does not hesitate to publicly announce its support for them, and even integrated them in its plan for the first wave of open AI platforms, each one of the BAT having a dedicated field to develop: Baidu autonomous vehicles, Alibaba smart cities, and Tencent medical imaging and diagnostics.

What Lies Ahead: The Example of TMD

Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent have been the pioneers of Chinese AI Development, and if you are a bit interested in the Chinese economy, or simply live in China, you sure know them. Nowadays, a new generation is emerging, inspired by these 3 giants, and this new wave is best embodied by the acronym TMD, which stands for Toutiao, Meituan-Dianping, and Didi Chuxing. 



Toutiao is a News App, its name can be translated as “Today’s Headlines". 120 million daily active users have been consulting 2018 news written by traditional ediam, Government Agencies, Celebrities, and bloggers on their Toutiao timeline. As for its predecessors, Toutiao wants to deepen its understanding of its users' habits and preferences thanks to machine learning; and also wants to develop internationally, having already acquired famous platforms Musical.ly and Flipagram, and running TopBuzz, the English equivalent of the Toutiao App.



Meituan leads the largest platform for lifestyle services and products ordered through smartphones. Similar to Groupon, this App encompasses everything you could need from food delivery, movie tickets, restaurant reviews, group discounts, and so on.


Didi Chuxing

Instead of Uber, Chinese people use Didi. Based on the same principle, it extended its offers to car rental, electric vehicles, on-demand bike services, and food delivery. Again, the company is now looking abroad and recently acquired 99, Latin-America major ride-hailing service.

With a vivid tech industry, a taste for technology, and the eagerness to develop new user experiences centered on Artificial Intelligence, China is the chosen place for companies such as the ones introduced above to grow and test their concept. Given their eagerness to conquer the international market, there is no doubt that what is happening in China right now – i.e. the penetration of AI in every aspect of life and the constant resorting to Apps – will soon be part of our routine in the years to come.

ASI Movers has been accompanying its customers worldwide for more than 10 years in their relocation from, to or within China. We know how crucial it is for global individuals to keep updated about the trends that are emerging worldwide, especially in the AI field. Having had an experience of living in China enables those who did to forecast what companies all around the globe will most likely head to.