Yes, you can re-use images from the Internet and Chinese-language journals if you have obtained the necessary copyright permissions and you cite the original source (in the figure legend).
Journals will not accept re-used images for which you have not obtained the necessary permissions.
Check the copyright of the image
If you want to re-use an image from the online version of a paper, look for the appropriate link (‘Reprints and Permission’ for Springer Nature papers, ‘Get rights and content’ for Elsevier papers, ‘Request permissions’ (under ‘Tools’) for Wiley papers, and other such terms).
This link will tell you who holds the copyright on the image. In the example below, the paper is open access and published under the CC BY licence, which permits ‘unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.’ In such cases, you are free to use the image however you want, as long as you cite the original source in the figure legend.
Obtaining permission from a publisher
For paywalled journals, typically the publisher retains full copyright of the paper, and all the images therein. In such cases, you will need to obtain permission from the publisher to re-use an image.
Many large publishers, for example, Elsevier, Springer Nature, American Chemical Society (ACS), use RightsLink® for this purpose. Follow the instructions online to obtain the necessary permissions. You will need to set up a CCC (Copyright Clearance Center) account to complete the transaction and you may or may not be charged to obtain the necessary permissions. After completing these steps, you will be issued the licence to re-use the image. The journal editor will need to see this licence before they can publish the re-used image.
In most cases, if you are planning on publishing with the same publisher, you do not need to obtain permission (as that publisher already holds the copyright for its published articles).
Repositories, for example, FigShare, will also specify the copyright licence of its published content. In many cases, you’ll be able to freely use the image, so long as you properly cite the original work; however, there are some exceptions. For example, the CC BY-NC 4.0 licence has a ‘non-commercial’ clause, which means you can freely re-use the image as long as it is for non-commercial purposes.
For Chinese-language journals, a system such as RightsLink® may not be available. In such cases, you should contact the publisher directly to obtain permission to re-use an image. Be warned that it may take months to obtain the necessary copyright permissions this way, depending on the publisher and the image you require.
How to cite the original source of the image
Publishers will usually specify the way in which they would like the re-used image to be cited in the figure legend. Check your target journal for specific instructions. Typically, the formatting will be as follows:
Reprinted (adapted) with permission from Ref. , Copyright 2020 Elsevier.