start here: Chinese Internet market 101
One of the best pieces I’ve read on the politics and business of Virtual China: Clive Thompson‘s NYT piece on the Chinese Internet, what it means to its users, and how American businesses are navigating the market. The basic conundrum, from an American point of view, is summed up in these excerpts:
…as [Google’s Kai-Fu] Lee and I talked about how the Internet was transforming China, he
offered one opinion that seemed telling: the Chinese students he meets
and employs, Lee said, do not hunger for democracy. “People are
actually quite free to talk about the subject,” he added, meaning
democracy and human rights in China. “I don’t think they care that
much. I think people would say: ‘Hey, U.S. democracy, that’s a good
form of government. Chinese government, good and stable, that’s a good
form of government. Whatever, as long as I get to go to my favorite Web
site, see my friends, live happily.’ “
…When I spoke to Kai-Fu Lee in Google’s Beijing offices, there were
moments that to me felt jarring. One minute he sounded like a
freedom-loving Googler, arguing that the Internet inherently empowers
its users. But the next minute he sounded more like Jack Ma of Alibaba
— insisting that the Chinese have no interest in rocking the boat. It
is a circular logic I encountered again and again while talking to
China’s Internet executives: we don’t feel bad about filtering
political results because our users aren’t looking for that stuff
anyway. They may be right about their users’ behavior.
could just as easily argue that their users are incurious because
they’re cowed. Who would openly search for illegal content in a public
Internet cafe — or even at home, since the government requires that
every person with personal Internet access register his name and phone
number with the government for tracking purposes?
4 comments on “start here: Chinese Internet market 101”
Nice piece indeed for somebody who had no clue when he came to China. But somebody should have told him about proxies and how they work.
Fons — Minxin Pei estimates that only about 100,000 Chinese users are actually using proxies…do you have a sense of how accurate that figure might be?
What I liked about the article was that even with proxies, the dynamic he describes isn’t changed.
Very hard to come up with a good estimation. When Guo Liang’s percentage on the number of Chinese users visiting non-Chinese url’s would be correct that would be a group of about five million people (out of 115 million). My estimation is that the number of people using proxies would be in the millions (one or two), rather than the hundreds of thousand.
It’s not that they are afraid, they are really not interested. In U.S. we have people that don’t do anything their whole lives, instead run around and talk about how government must let them do more. In China they just DO!