Sun Huifeng liked the idea of tapping Airbnb or one of its rising local competitors to rent out his spare Beijing bedroom.
The problem: He didn't like the idea of a stranger in his house.
"I mainly worry about the quality of guests," said Mr. Sun, 31, a marketer for an information technology company. "Or, to speak more plainly, I was even worried that some criminals might come."
Xiaozhu, a Chinese version of Airbnb, swung into action. It ran him through the company's guest-vetting system, helped him install a password-based lock on the door to his Beijing apartment and provided bright pink cushions for his sofa. Twice a week, Mr. Sun carefully waters the plants Xiaozhu gave him.
Airbnb sees big promise in China, where travel spending reached nearly $500 billion in 2015 thanks to a new generation of domestic tourists. On Wednesday in Shanghai, Airbnb unveiled a new Chinese name — Aibiying, which means "welcome each other with love" — as well as efforts to increase local hiring and deals to draw visitors to Shanghai with offers such as behind-the-scenes visits to the Chinese opera.
"Our mission is to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere," Brian Chesky, Airbnb's chief executive, said in Shanghai on Wednesday. "If we are going to achieve our mission of belonging anywhere, anywhere must include China, and anyone must include Chinese travelers."
But like other global tech firms with an eye on China, Airbnb faces challenges. Chief among them are domestic versions of the site, including Xiaozhu and another rival, Tujia, that offer more local listings. To counter Airbnb's advantage with cosmopolitan Chinese who may have used its service in New York, Paris or Tokyo, the competitors are taking big steps to educate other skeptical Chinese about renting out — and crashing in — a spare bedroom.
The cultural barriers are significant. In a country where a home is for family or for investment and tourism is still relatively new for many, the idea of posting homes online for random guests to rent takes some getting used to.
"There is a manager behind every property," said Kelvin Chen, the chief executive of Xiaozhu. "We still need time to educate our users."
Airbnb offers the latest gauge of whether an American technology company can make it in a politically and commercially thorny market. The government blocks Google, Facebook and Twitter. Uber and the online arm of Walmart bowed in the face of intense domestic competition and sold their businesses to local rivals.