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Last Week in China – Chinese New Year, Baidu in Japan and More Google

The Chinese New Year is a week old now and slowly life is getting back to normal in China. Even the firecrackers will stop waking me up at 6 in the morning, at least that’s what I hope. It’s the year of the golden pig, supposedly a lucky year to have a baby and I imagine pigs, babies and related will be much searched words this year.

Despite the family meals and fire works there is some noteworthy news. Baidu is really set on entering the Japanese market, Google.cn keeps on filtering and Microsoft doesn’t want the Chinese to see any video.

Baidu in Japan

Sometime ago Baidu announced they intended to conquer the Japanese market. At the time I felt it a rather surprising move as the Japanese search engine market is already full and I still can’t imagine that Japanese searchers are waiting for a search engine that is backed by the Chinese government and is heavy on the censoring side.

Baidu wants to venture out as growth in the Chinese market, where they have a very strong lead, seems to approaching it’s peak and competition for advertisers is intensifying.

From Business Week

In the fourth quarter, Baidu only added 6,000 new customers on a base of more than 100,000 advertisers. Google and Yahoo! aren’t the only ones going after Baidu’s core business. Local players such as portal Sohu.com and Shenzhen-based instant-messaging provider Tencent are also boosting their Chinese-language search offerings.

The domain for baidu.jp is up and has the message they are in the process of spidering the Japanese pages. At least that’s what I make of the translation

Censorship and Auto-completion

Censorship is the ongoing drag here in China. Philip Lenssen writes on Webpronews that Google.cn is now filtering images.

Google Images China censors hundreds of thousands to millions of photos – from friend to foe. For example, no single photo shows for politician and “friend” Deng Xiaoping in a search for his name. China’s current leader Hu Jintao gets the same massive censorship treatment, as a search for added by G.> reveals. This may well be more than a plain domain blacklist, because it’s of such broad scale.

Indeed, a search for Hu Jin Tao (in Chinese) on Google.cn results in the message “cannot be found”. Even turning off ‘safe search’ doesn’t help. The upside here is that most Chinese users of Google use Google.com instead of Google.cn. A search there gives you plenty of pictures

Philip wrote another article about how Google.cn has enabled auto-completion by default. I typed in (in Chinese) again the name of Hu Jin Tao and expected that after the first character “Hu” I would get a suggestion for the name of China’s President. This didn’t happen and using the name of prime minister Wen Jia Bao also failed to suggest me.

The first image is a search for “New Year”, the second for “Hu Jin Tao”.
google cn1 Last Week in China   Chinese New Year, Baidu in Japan and More Google

google cn2 Last Week in China   Chinese New Year, Baidu in Japan and More Google

Philip is probably right with his guess that this may well be more than a plain blacklist. I can’t see the reason why this is done, there’s hardly anything sensitive about pictures of Chinese leaders or auto complete suggestions for their name. Or could it be that the number of results displayed next to the suggestion is the issue?

Unavailability of Video from Abroad

When Google Video launched I was curious and tried to view some of the uploaded files. I got the message:

Thanks for your interest in Google Video. Currently, the playback feature of Google Video isn’t available in your country.
We hope to make this feature available more widely in the future, and we really appreciate your patience.

My patience is wearing thin by now and I hope they appreciate it.

Last week, Microsoft launched their own video sharing website, named Soapbox. Going there I got the message,

msn soapbox Last Week in China   Chinese New Year, Baidu in Japan and More Google

Why would Soapbox limit itself to certain markets? Isn’t the Internet a worldwide thing? I guess not. Meanwhile Youtube, part of Google, is available. Not that it matters that much as China has already many local video sharing websites that are heavily competing each other.

Internet Addiction Cures

I’m addicted to the Internet, I admit it. I spend many hours during the day looking at a screen, reading, working, uploading, downloading, buying and selling. The only thing I don’t do yet is playing online games.

In China, playing games online is one of the most favorite activities for the young generation. Internet bars are full off kids and teenagers shooting virtual bullets and apparently it’s getting out of hand as a recent survey found that almost 14% of Chinese teenagers are prone to get addicted to the Internet

From the Washington Post

The Chinese government has launched a nationwide campaign to stamp out what the Communist Youth League calls “a grave social problem” that threatens the nation.

In the Internet-addiction campaign, the government is helping to fund eight in-patient rehabilitation clinics across the country.

The clinic in Daxing, a suburb of Beijing, the capital, is the oldest and largest, with 60 patients on a normal day and as many as 280 during peak periods. Few of the patients, who range in age from 12 to 24, are here willingly. Most have been forced to come by their parents, who are paying upward of $1,300 a month — about 10 times the average salary in China — for the treatment.

Led by Tao Ran, a military researcher who built his career by treating heroin addicts, the clinic uses a tough-love approach that includes counseling, military discipline, drugs, hypnosis and mild electric shocks.

Stop reading, turn off your computer and do something useful:)

Wish you all a Happy Year of the Pig


Gemme van Hasselt is an Internet Marketing Consultant, living in Shanghai, and owner of thé China Directory.

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