So, it seems that the open source software market has also not been spared with the Chinese invasion of alternatives. China has reportedly been building its own version of Github and it is called “Gitee”. From smartphone chipmakers to electric vehicle manufacturers to softwares, all of which are the backbones of millions of businesses have experienced a boon because of the firm technological decoupling between the U.S and China. There’s no doubt that Chinese companies have fairly established a firm control on the internet services for consumers, but there’s no denial to the fact that major hardware and enterprise software still remain in the hands of the companies in the West. The users are now feeling the heat due to the growing geopolitical disputes. One example of this is Huawei unshackling the import of chips which show the dependency of Chinese on foreign tech.
Code Hosting is one such domain which the technology community heavily relies on and Chinese developers specifically rely heavily on Microsoft owned Github. When China banned Github in 2013, Microsoft responded by cutting of major services in these regions which caused global panic in the developer community.
What is Open Source Code actually?
Open source is a term which refers to something that people can modify and share freely since it is designed in a way that it is publicly accessible
Open source software comes with the source code that anybody can inspect, modify and as well as enhance it for their own use. Contrary to this, there is proprietary or closed source software that the person or organization who created it can have control over it and can modify it.
The open source market in China has been experiencing a steady decline in the yearly growth rate. If Gitee works, no longer would we find as many Chinese developers contributing to or creating open source software on Github. This will surely boom the Chinese software industry marlet.
What exactly is Gitee?
Gitee already has been existing for the past 7 years, infact it is at the center of China’s efforts to localize source codes for businesses. Gitee has been picked by the Ministry of Industrial and Information Technology of China to construct what the quote as “an independent, open-source code hosting platform for China”. This is how Gitee’s user interface looks like:
It seems Gitee not only hosts open source codes but has a suite of functionalities embedded within. The project is been carried out by Open Source China which is a Shenzhen based firm. The hosting service is a government-led effort with support pouring in from universities and private sector including Huawei. Gitee is said to have hosted 10 million open source repositories with service provided to over 5 million developers while Github has 100 million repositories with 31 million developers as far as November 2019 is concerned.
One reason for the quick 10 million open source repositories and 5 million developers getting serviced by Gitee is China’s ever increasing SaaS (Software as a Service) Cloud Market share.
This surely creates an incentive for the Chinese developers to migrate to Gitee from Github. Also, the future is bright for China in terms of its user base because more and more citizens are getting access to internet that is not severely censored. This can clearly be justified from the below chart showing China’s cellular data usage and growth till the year 2017 and the trend in the later years has seen a sharp increase.
No doubt that the increasing distance and tension between the Western Nations and China is disrupting various sectors – technology being one of them, but what will lead to the major change in trends will be decided by the general public, and in our case, it is the developers, Github has had its share of loyal developers all over the world, while other options like Tencent-backed Coding.net have not been that popular. Time shall prove the success of Gitee whereby the Chinese developers feel comfortable to migrate their code base from Github to an all new Platform of the Chinese Gitee.