10 February, 2006

msn blocks blog; ccp blocks newspapers


China Digital News linked to this Chinese journalist’s blog only a couple of days ago. I could log on it yesterday, but today I see this.  Apparently it’s only blocked in China, as MSN has promised.

Things are getting crazier by the day.

I wonder if language is my only layer of protection right now. Maybe I’ll be taken offline soon too.

This is how MSN’s new policy on censoring blogs is being practiced. The company will no longer erase a blog, as it did with Michael Anti’s site. It will only block it in the country where the government has requested a block. This is a step up, as users can still see the site through a proxy and as postings can be retrieved and placed elsewhere. AsiaPundit does hope that MSN will not be collecting the IP address and user details if the author chooses to do so.

Still, it would have been nice if Microsoft displayed the above notice in Chinese. That keeps the company still a few notches below Google, which does display its censorship notice in the local language.
(UPDATE: MSN does display a notice in Chinese.).
As AsiaPundit has mentioned earlier, the cooperation of internet companies in China’s censorship is only marginally upsetting. Users can still access the ‘real’ Google and more importantly the real simplified-Chinese Google, MSN Spaces still provides room for expression - even if the company did delete and now blocks blogs by the request of the state.

The thing that upsets AsiaPundit is that these moves are assisting in a greater evil, that which is the Chinese government’s attempt to muzzle an emerging critical press. With the shutdown of Michael Anti’s site, the block on the above site and the jailing of Shi Tao — something that is completely unforgivable — the targets were the domestic press.

The local press is where positive change will come from in China. A vibrant domestic press is more important than an unfiltered Google, or Microsoft, or Yahoo, although that would be welcome. The domestic press is what is read in China, and change will not come because of news articles by the BBC, NYT or my own agency, although these too are welcome. Change will certainly not come from US bloggers who seem more interested in picking on Google than they are in talking about the actual situation of the press in China. But AsiaPundit imagines that the CCP is less of a threat to Pajamas Media advertising revenue than AdSense is.

That internet portals are censoring themselves is bad, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. This is the true Evil!

Announcement of Beijing Municipal Administration Office of Internet Propaganda


The media listed below are frequently chosen as sources for internet website, but they are currently not legally allowed to be copied. Please do not copy current news and politics from those media. Please especially keep away from copying them in the front page or headline areas.

We understand that the current limits on copying news are not easy to implement, but before we find better solutions, please cooperate with us. We will also keep guard for you, and penalize each of those sites that we find fail to follow the rules.

The Huashang Daily, The Chinese Business Morning View (Hua Shang Chen Bao), The Jiefang Daily Online–Shanghai Morning Post (Xin Wen Chen Bao), The Jin Chu Online-Chu Tian Metropolitan News (Chu Tian Du Shi Bao), The Bei Guo Online—Ban Dao Chen Bao, The Star Daily (Bei Jing Yu Le Xin Bao), The International Herald Leader (Guo Ji Xian Qu Dao Bao), The China Business News (Di Yi Cai Jing Ri Bao), The Hua Xia Jing Wei Online, The China Taiwan Online, Chongqing Morning News (Chongqing Chen Bao), The Oriental Morning Post (Dong Fang Zao Bao), Chongqing Business News (Chong Qing Shang Bao ), The First (Jing Bao), YNET.com (Bei Qing Wang), The Legal Evening News (Fa Zhi Wan Bao), The Today Morning News (Jin Ri Zao Bao), The Southern Metropolitan News (Nan Fang Du Shi Bao), Chengdu Evening News, Lanzhou Morning News, Haixia Dushi Bao.

There was indication that this was imminent in yesterday’s South China Morning Post:

Mainland internet companies are expecting new controls over their content that would prevent them from posting political and current affairs articles published by metropolitan newspapers on their websites, sources said.

But articles from magazines and party newspapers would be exempt from the soon-to-be-announced directives, the sources said, adding that metropolitan newspapers were targeted probably because they ran more negative news.

"Sohu will be the most affected because it focuses on domestic news, while Sina will be affected to a lesser extent because it carries more international news. Netease will also be affected because it needs local content to fill its news packages," one source said, referring to three of the mainland’s most popular news portals.

An outspoken journalism professor, who had been warned not to speak to foreign reporters, said he was not aware of the new policy, but described it as "beyond comprehension" and against the trend of the mainland’s economic openness.

"Portals cannot help but respect the rule, but in the longer term, such controls will not work because they go against the trend of economic opening-up," he said.

"We have to work for greater openness otherwise [the whole system] will break down."

AsiaPundit is thankful that, for the moment, the newspapers have been blocked from reproduction by the portals rather than shut. And Interfax notes an upside, both from the local press and from the internet.:

Most news published on the country’s top portals consists of republished reports from Chinese newspapers, not news written by the portals own staffers. By republishing stories on the Internet a report published in a regional newspaper can receive national attention.

The circular was originally leaked by a popular Chinese journalist blogger. Chinese journalists are increasingly turning to blogs and email to publish news that would otherwise not be published. It is likely that this new rule will only strengthen this trend, and will increase blog traffic to the detriment of China’s top portals, many of which are listed abroad.

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by @ 9:24 pm. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship

to quit the ccp, press one…

The Beijing Loafer experiences a new kind of telemarketing.:

Last night around 7pm the land-line phone rang in my Beijing apartment, as I was getting ready for a dinner party. The caller ID indicated a number from overseas. I picked up the phone and found a pre-recorded Chinese program coming through the line. I was about to hang up on the spam call before I heard the name “Gao Zhisheng” mentioned in the program.

Gao was the dissident human rights lawyer I had interviewed before. So I listened to the whole 5-minute program over the phone. It was a broadcast from Radio Hope. The first part was about the government’s persecution of F.a.lun Go.ng (edit) believers, and quoted extensively an interview with Gao who had represented some persecuted believers in court. The second part of the program told how a banned article in China, Examine CCP Nine Times, was causing massive numbers of communist party members to drop their party memberships. At the end of the program, I was prompted to press different buttons on my phone to withdraw my membership in the party or the Communist Youth League.

This is a fascinating new tactic by the FLG. However, as AsiaPundit assumes Beijing Loafer isn’t a party member, this only further discredits the FLG’s claims that millions have quit the CCP.

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by @ 8:41 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

more on india vs china

Via Far Outliers, Fareed Zakaria hosts a discussion between two economists on the different paths China and India have taken in growing their economies. There’s not much new analysis in this for people who follow such things, but the ideas are presented clearly and are a good starting point.

Yasheng Huang: Yeah; essentially the Chinese economic miracle is a result of Chinese labor being cheap and very productive rather than the result of the capital accumulated by the Chinese capitalists and–and this is one of the principal reasons why even with eight or nine percentage growth rate every year we do not see the emergence of the world-class Chinese companies coming out of that economy.

Fareed Zakaria: Now what–why is that–because most people would say if you go to China you certainly see this. There’s a very strong entrepreneurial spirit in China, that certainly–

Yasheng Huang: That’s right; yeah.

Fareed Zakaria: You know to the extent that genetics or culture matter, they seem to be fine. I mean you look at Southeast Asia it’s all Chinese entrepreneurs.

Yasheng Huang: Yeah, absolutely; the Chinese entrepreneurs do very well outside of China. China–Chinese have this animal spirit, the business acumen capabilities and let me add a substantial engineering and scientific capability. The main issue is not a lack of these capabilities or entrepreneurial drives; the main reason is the lack of a financial system supportive of these entrepreneurial initiatives and growth. So you can get Chinese company up and running to a certain level; after that they stop growing because you need outside financing; you need outside capital; they can’t get bank loans; they can’t get listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange or Shin Jin Stock Exchange and from that perspective Indian firms have done much better because they have access to financing; they have access to legal protection in a way that the Chinese entrepreneurs so far have lacked.

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by @ 8:21 pm. Filed under China, India, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, South Asia

china’s internet hype

AsiaPundit has an itch that he, once again, needs to scratch: Please, please, please stop calling China the world’s second largest internet market!

The above link is to a CBS report, but AsiaPundit could have picked from thousands of blog entries and news items.

Below are the domestic revenue numbers and estimates for the top search engines in each of four markets - the US, Japan, South Korea and China. These numbers are just pulled from quick searches and are not deep analysis. Though they should demonstrate something about the so-called second largest internet market.

USA: Google

, Google reported total revenues of $6.139 billion, an increase of 92.5% over revenues of $3.189 billion in 2004. Revenue growth was attributable to both Google sites and Google network sites…

International Revenues - Revenues from outside of the United States contributed 39% to total revenues for the year compared to 34% in 2004.

Revenues from US were $3.75 billion

JAPAN: Yahoo Japan Corp

For the full-year to March, the company expects to post net profit of 46.40-47.95 bln yen on revenue of 175.24-178.44 bln yen.

(fiscal year ends 31 March)

About $1.48 billion at low end of guidance.


Sure, NHN is still a midget compared with Google. Its revenues leapt 53% last year, to $351 million, while earnings should come in at $86 million, Daewoo Securities estimates (for 2005).

Estimated revenues $351 million

CHINA: Baidu.com

Total Q1 revenue $5.2 million.

Q2 at Rmb65.2 million (Rmb8.3/$1) $7.8 million

Q3 2005 was Rmb83.2 million (Rmb8.1/$1) $10.3 million

Baidu.com, Inc. announced that it expects to generate total revenues in an amount ranging from RMB102 million ($12.6 million) to RMB106 million ($13.1 million) for the fourth quarter of 2005.

That would be a ballpark total of $35.9 million (not adjusting Q1 for revaluation and going with low end of guidance)

There are many differences that could be noted about the above companies - Google is very big in advertising while Yahoo Japan is big at auctions - but these are not the biggest reason for the discrepancies. These are the top brands in their respective markets and the revenues they generate should be a more important indicator about the size of the market than the raw number of users.  Baidu is expecting revenues of about one-tenth of Naver, and a just fraction of those of Yahoo Japan or Google.

AsiaPundit is not downplaying the fact that there is significant growth opportunities for Chinese internet businesses, the quarter-on-quarter rise in Baidu revenues clearly indicate that there are.

However, the amount of cash that can be gained through direct investment here is still small. Picking a few local Chinese stocks - or playing the venture capital angle - is a far more reasonable way to make money through internet investment in China.

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by @ 12:24 pm. Filed under Japan, South Korea, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech

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