Website executives discuss China's internet growth
Updated: 2006-02-28 17:23
The 3rd plenary meeting of China's Internet News
and Information Service Committee was held over the weekend in China's
southernmost Hainan Province.
During the session hosted by Huang Cheng, general secretary of the China
Internet Association, officials from China's major internet portals such as
Sina, Sohu, Netease and China.com and internet experts held a seminar focusing
on the development and management of the country's Internet industry. The
following are abstracts of participants' speeches:
Wu Yun (COO of Tom.com): China's Internet growth has been
eye-catching in recent years. The Chinese mainland has 111 million netizens, an
increase of 17 million over that of 2004. The number of broadband users in the
mainland grew 21.5 million in 2005 to top 64.3 million, surpassing the number of
Currently, Chinese netizens spend an average of 15.7 hours online every week,
a 20-percent growth over 2004. The data are solid evidence of the continuous
rapid growth of China's Internet industry.
In recent years, Chinese Internet companies have been flocking to seek Nasdaq
IPOs, from the early birds like Sina, Sohu, Netease, and China.com to the recent
Tom Online, CTrip, Shanda, and Baidu, reflecting investors' confidence in the
performances of the country's Internet companies as well as the nation's
Moreover, the online population only makes up 8.5 percent of the country's
1.3 billion people, indicating a large room for further development and a huge
Guo Qinglin (director of government public relations with
Sohu): I joined Sohu in 1997 and have witnessed the company's
decade-long growth from a small company with an asset of US$200,000 and a dozen
employees to a colossus business employing more than 1,000 people and gaining
over US$100 million annually.
So to speak, I am a witness to Sohu's growth as well as that of China's
Internet industry over the decade. I have participated in almost every research
work concerning the Internet and also helped in the promulgation of "Management
and Regulations on Internet News and Information Service," which was jointly
released by the Information Office of the State Council and the Ministry of
Information Industry in 2005.
It should be noted that quite a number of people from Sohu participated in
the research work for the above rule's creation. Some of our suggestions were
adopted. It is proper to say that Chinese Internet companies are involved in the
drafting of all of China's Internet laws and regulations.
Self-discipline is crucial to Internet management as laws and regulations can
only serve as the last resort. Internet companies should, out of a sense of
responsibility, get rid of illegal and harmful information. Among China's online
population, a large number are teenagers and children. As a father myself, I
will not let any obscene and pornographic content poison kids and ruin their
Wang Xiaohui (CEO of China.com): Although China is a
developing country, its Internet industry has already been in a leading position
in the rapidly developing world for nearly a decade. This can be attributed not
only to the good international cooperation environment, a group of executives
and experts who understand the business, but also largely to the nation's
overall speedy economic development and the government's support to the
Recently, certain Western media and some US lawmakers have accused China of
controlling the Internet. I think the accusations are completely unfounded. They
know nothing about the development and management of China's Internet industry
and relevant laws. In a word, they are ignorant of China's Internet development
Internet management should be based on each country's own conditions. China's
Internet management facilitates the industry's development because it conforms
to the current condition of Internet development in the nation, as well as the
country's basic situation.
China and the US have many differences, in social system, culture, value, and
so on. Therefore, it is unfair for one country to use its own standard to judge
another country's behavior. The fact that a number of overseas companies invest
in China's Internet industry proves that the market is attractive.
China's Internet development also provides potential business opportunities
for the US. Top Chinese portals, such as China.com, Sina.com, and Sohu.com, have
listed on Nasdaq. American individual shareholders and institutional investors
might be grateful that the Chinese has provided them with valuable investment
Wang Yan (CEO of Sina.com): Recently, some overseas media
have condemned China's web management. In my opinion, they made the remarks on
economic considerations. For example, some US lawmakers proposed to punish some
Chinese Internet companies listed in the US stock market, accusing them of
"assisting" the Chinese Government in limiting Internet freedom.
This is unfair for the listed Chinese companies.
As for "assisting" the government, we also
have provided personal information in the United States when the FBI required
it. In our opinion, it is natural in every country to provide personal
information in accordance with laws and regulations. If China forms regulations
and punishes us for "assisting the FBI," the Internet market is out of order.
Some of my French friends asked me whether China seriously controlled the
Internet. I told them that without support and encouragement from the Chinese
Government, it would be impossible for the Chinese IT and Internet companies to
be listed in the US market at a total value of over US$10 billion.
Li Yong (vice president of Netease.com): China's Internet
media, though flourishing, is still at the ascend stage, and it is true that
there is a tendency of pursuing a great volume of page views. Websites should
not focus only on the evaluation criterion of page views, but also should be
responsible for web visitors. Influential websites must have a sense of social
responsibility, have self-discipline, and impede the spread of illegal
information according to laws and regulations.
He Hongxia (director of corporate communication of
Baidu.com): China regulates the Internet within the framework of law.
This management is not "control," but rather is to help regulate the development
of the Internet through the means of law, government supervision,
self-discipline, and technical support.
This management mode was developed in the process of practice. It borrows
common international practices on Internet management and takes into account the
needs for Internet development, and best suits the stage of Internet development
in China. And this management has been proven a success by the healthy and
orderly development of China's Internet industry.
management mode has also won wide recognition and voluntary cooperation from
China's Internet enterprises.
Baidu has realized in its development in the past few years: Every Internet
enterprise in China is duty-bound and obligated to abide by relevant laws and
regulations, to respect China's national conditions, cultural traditions, and
moral norms, and to understand and respect the needs of the majority of the
Chinese netizen population. This also conforms to the needs of realizing the
enterprise's long-term interest and development.
Min Dahong (director of the Internet and Digital Media Institute, the
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences): The fast development and
popularity of China's Internet industry are due to the favorable environment of
China's reform and opening-up policies. The government and the Internet industry
have always considered the "positive development" as the priority.
Here are some facts: Since the official hooking up to the Internet in 1994,
China has been in step with the world in terms of all new technologies,
applications, functions, and shapes related to the Internet; ASP, ICP or SP
(service function provider as search engine) are all operating in the market
environment, have equal competition opportunities, and bring their innovation
ability to the maximum.
Chinese citizens, through different methods and at different places (office,
home, and cyber caf¨¦), log on to the Internet freely and conveniently. The
netizens, more than 100 million in China, could get information from the
Internet to satisfy their needs in their work, study, daily life, entertainment,
and communication. Under the precondition that it does not break the law or
infringes upon others' rights, all netizens are free to express their views,
through ways such as using BBS and Bokee. These facts manifest China's social
progress, and also show China's confidence in the use and popularity of the
Ma Weigong (chief editor of CIR Online): China's galloping
Internet growth has been eye-catching and generally in good order. After 11
years of market competition, the existing websites are operating in accordance
with the laws and regulations.
We are emphasizing legislation, but as the last resort. As a nation ruled by
law, China must accelerate the legislation process on the Internet to meet the
needs of the industry's continued rapid development.
Fang Xingdong (CEO of Blogcn):We must evaluate China's
Internet development in an objective and logical way. Let's take a look at the
development of blogging in China. Blogcn started to expand its Internet blog
business in 2002, four or five years after their counterparts in the United
However, after three years of development, the number of bloggers in China
has topped 20 million.
It is expected that the number will be doubled or tripled in 2006. Thus,
China already leads the world in terms of the growth rate of blogs. It will be
very likely that the number of bloggers in China would surpass that of the US in
a shorter time than that it will take China to top the US in terms of online
The healthy, orderly and rapid growth of China's blogging is not only an
example of the nation's Internet development, but also a powerful evidence of
China's good environment for Internet development.