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The Internet

China's Internet Boom 74

morn writes "BBC News is reporting that China's 'online population' is booming, with 20 million people expected to be 'connected' by the end of the year, each spending an average of 17 hours [per week] online. This is despite surveys showing that Beijing residents account for more than 20% of users, with just 14% of mainland Chinese knowing what the Internet is. Read the full story here. "
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China's Internet Boom

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  • I'm getting the feeling that the internet/OSS will be one of those historical watershed technologies: Those that embrace it will flourish, and those with much to gain by resisting (MPIAA, RIAA, USA) will be left behind.

    I realise that the PRC has a way to go in liberalising itself, but they seem to be moving forward while we're moving... sideways at best.

  • Win2K is banned there for government use, Red Flag Linux is in development, and I'm one year from completing my Chinese degree. What a confluence of events! What a great time to be alive! I shall be a Chinese Linux Warrior Prince!
  • AOL says to Beijing leaders, "You let us build the infrastructure and be the ISP, and we'll let you censor our users however you see fit."

    That seems it would be a win-win. AOL gets another 20 million users, Chinese get more pipelines without losing control of the information flowing through those pipes...

  • xie xie ni de xin4
  • Their filtering (at least at the moment) doesn't really get noticed.... They filter a lot of US newspapers, but I have no problem getting to the BBC site. Xoom, Geocities, and other free homepage providers get blocked, but there's not really too much else that gets filtered.

    And if you really want to go to the site, there's always www.proxymate.com or www.anonymizer.com or plenty of others.

    Basically, it's pretty much no challenge to get whatever the heck you want in and out (I believe). Couldn't hurt to be a little careful, though.
  • 17 hours in what time? A week? A month? A year?

    I mean, that's my consumption for an average day.

    (Yes I have no life, yes I work in the industry.)
  • I already receive spam in Chinese on a regular basis, mostly from Hong Kong.
  • Actually, "so hu" == "search fox" in Chinese.
  • Exactly, quality is more important than quantity. Unfortunately, the only thing I see from the chinese part of the internet as of now is spam. I get around a dozen spams per day which I can't even read.

    It seems some education regarding the netiquette is definitely required over there.
  • I wonder what percentage of that 20 million is going to be military and/or industrial espionage users. After that worm that was running out of Russia, I'd expect more and more international attacks of that nature. Especially in a country where the government can simply arrest some civilian and claim "He did it!".
  • Umm, no. It's China, remember the article....?
  • Think about it, if the same percentage of Chinese got on line as Americans, all of a sudden the Americans would be in the
    minority, and then the focus of e-commerce would quickly shift, of course, assuming they had the same buying power.

    Thank you Captian Obvious. Of course, the Chinese don't have the same buying power, so I don't think this is going to be an issue real soon.

  • does not the government of china have a firewall blocking sites from mainland china? i also believe that each internet user has to register with the government. doesn't that make using the internet rather hazardous unless you conform to the regime's wishes?
  • Wow I think they should have counted all of the Chinese people abroad too. I have so many of those Chinese people in my school (they are all CSci majors or doctors) it's like they're a majority.
  • I'm not Racist
  • What in the world are you whining about?
  • A couple of things:

    1) Illiteracy in China is MUCH lower than most developing countries --- A great feat, especially if you considering the huge population and the large size of China. Also, it is almost nonexistent in the cities.

    2) Your grammar is horrible. It takes more than just looking up translations in the dictionary to write Chinese.

    3) How can you say you like Chinese food if you are so prejudiced against the people who make them?

  • I get around a dozen spams per day which I can't even read.
    It shouldn't be hard for someone to write a filter which looks for non-ISO-8859-1 characters and bounces a mail if it has more than, say, 20%.
  • In the section of Beijing near Peking University and Tsinghua University (the two most respected universities in China) there are tons of internet cafes and shops selling computer parts.

    There's even a lot of people who call the area (haidian) Beijing Silicon Valley -- and Beijing is even known across the nation for it's technology...

    I'd post more, but I've got class...
  • Things like 163 actually do have meaning -- they are plays off of the pronunciation of numbers...

    163 == yao liu san == I want to wander(bad translation)

    another one is 51go, which if read in the right sense is =wu yao GO == I want to GO (half English/half Chinese).

  • While they're at this, how many Chinese will...
    • be using (ahem) Red Flag Linux?
    • have broadband access?
    • have 100% access, with uncensored speech?
    • understand a lick of the largely non-Chinese Internet?

    How long is it before there are jokes about Chinese Quake servers that have slow Deng Xiaoping times?


  • Maybe you should stop being brainwashed by American media and paranoid isolationist congressman (and Pat Buchanan). Contrary to popular belief, the Chinese have many freedoms and live their lives in an amazing way compared to the the past 150 years of western exploitation, totalitarianism and starvation. The corruption of the last emperors/empress of the final (Qing) dynasty (1600s-1909), the despotic warlords of the 10s and 20s, the Japanese slaughter and mass rapes of the 30s and 40s, the civil war at mid century, the starvations of the 50s "Great Leap Forward", and worst of all, the ugliness and destruction of the 1960s Cultural Revolution have all been weathered by this hearty people. Thanks to the late reformist communist Deng Xiaoping's original reforms and a gradual evolution to "western-style commerce", China is becoming a veritable force and much more civil than westerners believe. I love your comment: "socialism and communism are utter failures." Just remember, there is no country like the great capitalist America with so many rich people controlling so much of the wealth and still so much crime and poverty per capita. Instead of revering our billionaires, we should be ashamed at this warped distribution of wealth among yuppies and priveleged Americans, many of which have never had a hard day of work in their lives. Additionally, capitalism and greed in America has produced a prison system with many times MORE jailed citizens per capita than communist China. Your claim that: "we should be encouraging a democratic/capitalist counter-revolution to restore the chinese nationalist government based in taiwan to power." is foolish too. The whole Taiwanese government is illegitimate and born out of half a century of DICTATORSHIP/FASCISM by the family of Chiang Kaishek and other privileged Chinese. The theft of the riches of mainland China by the Taiwanese was outrageous. When it really mattered at midcentury, the old Nationalist government was busy embezzling and fighting rural communists instead of feeding her own people. Regarding your comment how: "as long as a socialist/commmunist nation exists, the internet can never be 100% free", maybe you should realize that socialism/communism have NOTHING to do with censorship. Last I heard, these were basically monetary policies and intent on distributing wealth, not censoring. Look at all the piece of shit fundamentalist right wing religious fanatic Republicans trying to censor everything in our "glorious" capitalist mecca of America. There is no reason why a socialized country or even a mildly communist country can not ALSO be a democracy since in their purist forms, these are democratic systems. Canada and France are largely socialist and have much fairer distribution of wealth and are generally far more civil than America. I'm proud of China's recent andvances, and most importantly it is obvious that the information exchange facilitated by the internet will only become a vehicle for greater freedom in China. The PRC can not censor everything, and I don't doubt that sometime in the future China may even have a larger economy and fairer government than the USA has.
  • Cisco has a deal with the Chinese government to provide one of the highest capacity firewalls ever built.

    Internally, we call it the great firewall of China.

    I thought you guys might get a kick out of that.
  • The internet is rapidly expanding (as always) so isn`t it expected that more and more people will connect to it?

    Technology is getting cheaper - and more accessible, if you cant afford your own computer then net cafe's are so popular now a days - in the UK theyve started putting them in service stations on the motorway

    Also more and more people are becoming net savvy! theres so many government initiatives to "teach" you more about computers and theres so many resources out there , be it books to buy or websites that tell you all you need to know and more

    Think off all the movies from the 80s that predicted the year 2000 being very "technologically advanced" okies we havent got flying cars or holographic maids etc but we are becoming more advanced by the day !!

    And I think the part about communists leaking out information is possibly a little too much just now but with the advances of technology and the ease to which information can be passed (or snooped) via email.. its an unfortunate possibility!!

  • Thank you Captian Obvious. Of course, the Chinese don't have the same buying power, so I don't think this is going to be an issue real soon.

    Okay, I can see what it looks like, but I meant along the lines of what the government in Beijing would let them buy via the web, as I had the blocking of web sites in mind. There will still be a percentage of chinese that do have the same amount of buying power as you meant it otherwise they wouldn't be able to afford the computer in the first place. The great majority of Chinese don't even know what the internet is, let alone can afford a computer, but I wasn't talking about these.
  • assuming they had the same buying power.

    Yeah, that's the problem isn't it?

    When the overwealming majority of your population is living in abject poverty it's like a ball and chain around the leg of your economy.

  • The picture they show in the article halfway down the page is the same picture they had for the article about IBM's new head-mounted computer a couple months ago! What does that have to do with the Chinese getting online? Yes new technology will make the Internet more accessible but I don't think they will be getting those head-mounted displays out to the Chinese populace any time soon.
  • I wouldn't be surprised if the military is heavy into the internet in China. Recall the article about the US government looking for hackers [slashdot.org]. I bet the Chinese government is looking into the same type of warfare.
  • Worldwide that is. And that includes public phones.
    Ok,I can't back up those figures, it was something I read in Wired I think.
    There's a long way to go before t'net is universal.
  • nt - Not much Text
  • The Chinese government letting people have a certain degree of freedom of information? What is the world coming to. Next people will be saying that they trust the western governments to always act in the best interest of the people rather than polititions and big businesses!
  • I wonder if China fears the internet community as much as they do the Falun Gong. Perhaps soon they'll be policing it in the same way. Or do they already?
  • Sure, reading the article before posting is a good idea...

    OTOH, once the figure is mentioned in the post, you shouldn't need to do it just to have this bit of information.


  • the internet as a whole will benefit from large influx of non-US users making it less american-centric and more international

  • As we all know though, its quantity, not quality!
  • There's a link from the BBC story to another about how the BBC's site, and many others, are blocked in China.
  • That's per week, of course (doh!) [So proof-reading does have a purpose after all...]
  • Per week.
  • Albright says, basically, that the Internet is a tool for democracy.
    Is that when it's not corrupting minors, introducing them to pedophiles, and teaching them how to blow up their schools?

    Just asking.

    BTW, How successful can the Chinese Government be in blocking content they find offensive?

    Still working on the coffee.

  • Now, I understand that the numbers may seem deceiving, but you also must remember that this is a communist nation which has a very low income per capita. 20 million people is an extreme change from 0(I know, some people were connected, but I am trying to stress the changes).
  • I love corporations when they do things like this.

    Cisco don't care why...as long as theres a check with it. Lets build a vast firewall so the same idiots that crushed hundreds in Tianiman (I spelled that wrong I know it) Square can keep proping Maoism/Communism up through isolation and censorship.

    Wonderful. Whats next...Microsoft or Oracle going to bid on the software for tracking political prisoners and suppling the spreadsheets so the can bill the families of executed prisoners in a timly manner?
  • the need for adopting IPv6/ng

    The Scarlet Pimpernel
  • 20 million people expected to be 'connected' by the end of the year, each spending an average of 17 hours online.

    17 hours...per what? Year? Month? Day? (God save 'em!)

    Well, I guess I'll go read the article now, and find out. :)
  • So pretty soon I'll be seeing email like this:

    I was a decadent capitalist and then I got this email. It changed my life. Now I work with my comrades in the rice fields....
    This comment powered by Mozilla!
  • Apparently they are pretty successful. AFAIK, proxy scans from china are common, since open proxies are the only way people can get access to uncensored documents. Of course, once Big Brother finds the proxy being used, they block it too.
  • It's going to hurt AOL badly

    AOL's not allowed into China, nor is any other ISP. China tightly controls Internet access in there and there are only two main competing ISPs, both run by government ministries. All the other sub-ISPs have to link to the two main boys.

    It'll be a few years before a giant ISP rises in China to challenge AOL. That's assuming AOL doesn't eventually find a way to get into the country before then.

    Of course, after the WTO, there's the chance that AOL could get into China as an ICP instead, providing content instead of access. That'd be a a smart way to go.

  • Addresses really aren't too much of a problem for the average Chinese surfer at the moment. Most surfers know some smattering of English to remember the URLs. Who said that a URL has to mean something for people to remember it? Two of the more popular search engines/destinations are sohu.com [sohu.com] and 163.net [163.net]. No meaning in either English or Chinese.

    However, if you really, really, wanted to put Chinese into the URL, you can either:

    • Use the pinyin script, which translates characters to words like zhaopin [zhaopin.com] (job vacancies). This can be a bit ambigious though (throws out all the tonal inflections) and from surveys done last year, not all consumers think in pinyin.
    • Use Unicode. Chinese characters are part of Unicode. This is more likely if and when Unicode becomes much more common. However, the Chinese market mindshare may already be saturated by then.

    In short, I doubt it matters. URLs aren't a problem. Displaying Chinese script is very well established. The issues are no longer technical. They have everything to do with infrastructure now.

  • by Rabbins ( 70965 )
    How much is this going to help AOL?

    I know they have been trying to increase their Asian representation, but what are the other ISP's being used?

  • On my two visits to China, I was plesantly suprised by the general interest in the West and Western Ideas. Many of the Chinese I meet were intellegent and had interesting views about life in China and around the world.

    My God, Man! You really are generous, aren't you. To think that there were actually intellignet and free thinking people in China... What a revelation!

    Seriously, though, the Chinese will have a hard time getting connected for a while. Telephone wires are still few and far between in many parts of the country, so they may all go wireless. In the cities on the coast right now it's still hard to get your own connection, and many people spend a good deal of money to sit in an internet cafe for a bit.

  • Yeah, but stop thinking in terms of percentages: that is twice the population of Belgium, four times the poulation of Ireland, Norway, and about a third of the population of the UK.

    Think about it, if the same percentage of Chinese got on line as Americans, all of a sudden the Americans would be in the minority, and then the focus of e-commerce would quickly shift, of course, assuming they had the same buying power.

    And if it continued at the same rate, that wouldn't take too long too happen... Although I suppose this unlikely to happen unless the system for the non-English speaking is workable. Does anyone know how this would translate website address's cause IIRC chinese script is by word rather than letter?

    I wonder if that "Hi, I kiss you web site" would translate in to Chinese....?
  • The article fails to mention if the statistics include Hong Kong and Macau. The comment "Beijing residents accounted for more than 20% of users" seems to indicate that the SARs don't factor in.

    I was interested to note that the CIA World Factbook has no stats on Internet usage at all.
  • by deno ( 814 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @07:17AM (#1358944) Homepage

    I do not understand why should "20 M chinese on net" be a "big news", unless it is meant as: Look, there are still ONLY 20 M chinese with internet access!

    This is less than 2 percent of the chinese population, and my first thought was "this estimate is much too low". However, after taking a look at the CIA-factbook [odci.gov], I am ready to believe it. Their 1998 estimate for China is: 105 milions of telephones [odci.gov] (compare this with US, with 180M telephones [odci.gov] and 1/4-th of the chinese population)! Adding the Hong-Kong does not change the situation much: 1998 estimate for HK is 4.5M telephones. [odci.gov]

  • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @05:44AM (#1358945)
    Lets see...20 million of 1.3 billion is...

    About 1.5 percent of the population.

    Thats a boom alright.
  • by helarno ( 34086 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @06:52AM (#1358946) Homepage
    Not really. Last time I was there (last year) I could pretty much get any content I wanted. There are tons of proxies and resourceful people always find new ways to get whatever information they want. For that matter, I once walked into one of the cyber cafes there and by default, they were already configured to go through proxies.

    I used the same proxy for the 2 years I was there without it ever being blocked. I don't think they're quite that vigilant.

    The gov't blocks using IP numbers I believe, since I could always resolve URLs but not connect to them. That makes it really difficult to block things if you constantly move your site around. It was only really useful for blocking the big, well-known sites like cnn.com or WSJ. Course, things might have changed since the Falungong stuff.

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin