Posts tagged China
By JOE McDONALD
AP Business Writer
BEIJING (AP) – A year after a public spat with Beijing over censorship, Google Inc. says its business with Chinese advertisers is growing even as the Internet giant’s share of online searches in China plunges.
A major Chinese portal announced last week it would no longer use Google for search, compounding its rapid loss of market share since March last year when it closed its local search engine. The future of a Google map service that is a key part of its remaining appeal in China is in doubt.
Google’s main presence in China has become its advertising sales offices, an unusual situation for a company that dominates the Internet elsewhere.
Google risked being completely shut out of China after it angered Beijing by announcing last January it no longer wanted to comply with Web censorship. It dodged that fate but without a flagship local online presence, analysts say Google will fall further behind local industry leader Baidu Inc. as a search provider, while the controversy makes it hard to line up Chinese partners for other ventures.
“Chinese companies will think twice before they can have any kind of relationship with Google,” said Edward Yu, president of Analysys International, a research firm in Beijing.
Google, based in Mountain View, California, says it sees its biggest opportunities in China in selling advertising on behalf of local websites or to companies that want to reach customers abroad through its global sites.
Google was allowed to keep advertising sales offices in China. Beijing had an incentive to let those stay, because they benefit local websites and advertisers.
“Google’s revenue in China has grown year-on-year,” said a company spokeswoman, Jessica Powell, in an e-mail. “Our business in China is doing well. We have hundreds of partners – large and small – who we continue to work with.”
Yet its public relationship with Beijing is chilly. After Chinese authorities stepped up Web censorship following pro-democracy protests in the Middle East, Google said last month the government was obstructing access to its Gmail e-mail service and trying to make the blockage look like a technical problem. The government denied the accusation.
This week, the government newspaper Economic Daily said three Google units that deal with research and development, customer support and advertising were under investigation for possible tax offenses. State media played up the report and one newspaper called the company “Brother Trouble,” a play on its Chinese name. Google said in a statement, “We believe we are, and always have been, in full compliance with Chinese tax law.”
Mainland users can reach Google’s Chinese-language site in Hong Kong, a self-governing Chinese territory without Web censorship. That comes with a big drawback: Beijing’s filters can make access sluggish, reducing the site’s appeal in China, which has more than 450 million people online.
Google does not break out sales by country, but Analysys estimated its 2010 China revenue at 2.6 billion yuan ($409 million) – or less than 1.5 percent of Google’s global revenues of $29.3 billion.
Last year’s dispute testified to the complex Internet landscape in China, which promotes Web use for business and education but has strict controls on content and blocks social media sites including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
Google’s China site still offers music downloads, business services and other features that are not subject to censorship. Users can click a link to reach the Hong Kong site.
Google’s share of China’s search traffic fell to 19.6 percent in the final quarter of 2010 from 30.9 percent in the first quarter, according to Analysys. It said Baidu’s share rose to 75 percent.
Citigroup analyst Alicia Yap said data from other researchers show an even sharper plunge in Google’s traffic share to 11 percent in the fourth quarter while Baidu rose to 84 percent.
Google still is China’s second-most-popular search service based on use of the Hong Kong site and others abroad. It leads rivals such as Sogou, Tencent Soso and Zhongsou, which have market shares at or below 1 percent.
But the lack of a local presence will hurt as competition for new users spreads to mobile phones and the countryside, where users speak little English and will want a Chinese search engine, Yu said.
“Baidu is in a very good position to grab more market share,” he said.
In a new blow to its public visibility, a leading a Chinese portal, Sina.com, said this week it would no longer use Google. The search giant has ended a series of such partnerships as it stopped providing censored results.
Baidu has expanded aggressively, rolling out new services in the past year in an effort to differentiate a company long seen as a Google imitator.
New competitors including state media also are jumping into the market with search and social media products. The government’s Xinhua News Agency launched a search engine last year in a partnership with state-owned China Mobile Ltd., the world’s biggest phone carrier by subscribers.
Google faces another challenge from new regulations that tighten control over online map services. On Thursday, the deadline to apply for licenses, Google said it was “in discussions with the government about how we could offer a maps product in China.”
“Google maps is one of the services that people still like a lot,” said Yap. “If they can’t provide the service in the future, people will use Google less and less.”
Yu said Google’s situation might change if a planned handover of power next year from President Hu Jintao and other Chinese leaders to a younger generation leads to a shift in official attitudes.
“New officials will be in place,” he said, “so things could change at that time.”
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Manila – The chubby, short-haired woman nervously laughed and said that her three children thought she travelled so much because she was a travel agent.
But the 45-year-old woman was really a drug courier around Asia, working with a notorious international syndicate until she got caught earlier this year in Manila.
‘My children have no idea that I was arrested and that I’m now helping the authorities track down the syndicate’s activities,’ she said. ‘I told them I’m a travel agent and consultant.’
She said she reluctantly became a drug mule, starting in 2008 after failing to find work in Macau.
She earned 1,000 US dollars for her first trip from Malaysia to China and 4,000 dollars for taking heroin from Tajikistan to China on her second journey.
‘I needed money to pay for the tuition fees of my children,’ she said. ‘At first I was nervous, but when I passed through airport security and nothing happened, everything was okay.’
A growing number of Filipinos are being recruited – some unknowingly – to smuggle narcotics around Asia by a drug syndicate allegedly operated by West Africans.
Authorities said most drug mules were forced to accept the risky job because they needed the money, while some become involved in the illicit trade after getting into relationships with syndicate members.
‘Philippine women are wooed by the syndicate members, who sometimes even promise them marriage,’ said Derrick Carreon, spokesman for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). ‘Before these women know it, they are hooked and trapped already.’
According to PDEA records, nearly 700 Filipinos are currently imprisoned around the world for drug trafficking. Sixty-three per cent of the arrested drug couriers are women.
More than 200 of the convicted Filipino drug couriers are imprisoned in China, which imposes the death penalty on anyone caught bringing in 50 grams or over of drugs.
On Wednesday, China executed three Filipinos convicted of smuggling between 4 kilograms and nearly 7 kilograms of heroin and cocaine in 2008, despite last-minute appeals by the Philippine government.
The three were the first Filipinos to be executed in China.
Another Philippine national convicted in China of drug trafficking is awaiting review of his death sentence by the Supreme People’s Court, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.
The department has repeatedly warned its citizens, especially women, about what appears to be a ‘systematic’ recruitment of Filipinos to become drug mules.
‘The syndicates always target Philippine women,’ said department spokesman Ed Malaya.
Carla said drug syndicates recruit more women as drug couriers because they are less suspicious.
‘The Africans also like working with Filipino women because they say we don’t get easily scared and we’re trustworthy,’ she added.
One of those executed was Sally Ordinario Villanueva, a 33-year-old mother of two, who insisted she was innocent and ‘tricked into carrying a suitcase with concealed illegal drugs.’
In an affidavit issued before her execution, Villanueva said a Philippine female friend recruited her to pick up mobile phones from China and bring them back to be sold in the Philippines.
The friend gave Villanueva a suitcase where she was supposed to put the phones. Unaware that the case also contained 4.11 kilograms of concealed heroin, she agreed and left on Christmas Eve in 2008.
Edith Ordinario, Villanueva’s mother, said her daughter was looking forward to the job because her contract as a domestic helper in Macau had just ended.
‘But this woman who befriended and recruited my daughter destroyed her future, my grandchildren’s future,’ she said.
Villanueva’s friend has been charged with human trafficking and illegal recruitment, but has yet to be arrested.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said the government was taking steps to prevent more Filipinos from falling prey to international drug syndicates, adding that authorities have arrested 23 suspects since June.
The three executed in China were ‘victims of unscrupulous recruiters and drug traffickers,’ he said.
But the president also said that they were ‘victims of a society that could not provide them enough gainful employment in their home country,’ a problem he said he was also tackling.
‘Our ultimate goal is to create a situation where people are not pressured to resort to these things, where they can find enough gainful employment in the Philippines,’ he said.
[March 25, 2011]
China’s mobile phone users top 878.83 mln in February
BEIJING, Mar 25, 2011 (Xinhua via COMTEX) — More and more Chinese are disconnecting fixed-line telephones and turning to mobile phones for communication, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) on Friday.
China’s mobile phone operators added 19.83 million new subscribers in the first two months of this year, bringing the number of the country’s cell phone users to 878.83 million, MIIT said in a statement on its website.
Fixed-line telecommunication companies, however, lost 918,000 fixed-line telephone users in the January-February period, partly because these subscribers pay a fixed monthly fee of around 18 yuan (2.74 U.S. dollars) even if they make no phone calls.
China reported 1.17 billion telephone users at the end of February, compared to its population of 1.34 billion.
China’s third-generation (3G) mobile phone service subscribers expanded to 55.99 million by the end of February, according to MIIT.
The entire telecommunication industry generated 170.33 billion yuan (25.97 billion U.S. dollars) in business revenue in January-February, up 14 percent year on year.
Of every 100 Chinese people, 64.4 were using mobile phones in 2010, compared to 56.3 users in 2009.
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China Telecom Plans to Buy Wireless Network From Parent March 22, 2011, 4:54 AM EDT
By Bloomberg News
(Updates with comment from analyst in fourth paragraph.)
March 22 (Bloomberg) — China Telecom Corp., the country’s biggest fixed-line carrier, said it plans to buy the mobile- phone network it now leases from its parent company after the number of users more than tripled in the past year.
China Telecom will complete the purchase of the third- generation CDMA mobile phone network by the end of next year, Chairman Wang Xiaochu said at a press conference in Hong Kong today. He said the network is valued at about 90 billion yuan ($14 billion) and that the purchase will be funded with debt. He said a price for the acquisition hasn’t been decided.
China Telecom boosted the number of 3G phone users to 12.3 million at the end of last year, from 4.1 million a year earlier, by increasing the variety of handsets on offer. The network purchase will raise earnings, Wang said. The listed- company’s CDMA network capacity lease fee rose 59 percent to 13.3 billion yuan last year, the company said today.
“The reason why they are buying the network is because the leasing fee they are currently paying to the parent company is more than the depreciation of the assets and related finance charges,” Kelvin Ho, a Shanghai-based analyst at Yuanta Securities Co., said in a phone interview today. “If they buy, it will be cheaper and they will save costs. The parent will try to price it attractively so it will be accretive.”
China Telecom rose 2.3 percent to HK$4.49 at the 4 p.m. close of trading in Hong Kong.
The company said today profit excluding gains from connection fees rose 42 percent to 2.67 billion yuan in the three months ended Dec. 31. Sales rose 5.1 percent to 56.2 billion yuan.
–Mark Lee and Ed Lococo. Editors: Chua Kong Ho, Vipin V. Nair
To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Lee in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.org; Edmond Lococo in Beijing at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at firstname.lastname@example.org
Beijing. Chinese authorities have arrested 3,001 people in their latest crackdown on rampant product piracy and seized fake or counterfeit medicines, liquor, mobile phones and other goods, officials said on Sunday.
The campaign launched in October comes as Beijing faces pressure from the United States and other trading partners to stamp out product copying. China is a leading source of fake goods despite repeated crackdowns, but Chinese officials have promised the latest enforcement will produce lasting results.
Communist leaders have given the new crackdown special prominence, publicly linking it to efforts to transform China from a low-cost factory to a creator of profitable technology by nurturing companies in software and other fields. China’s fledgling creative companies have been devastated by unlicensed copying.
“Intellectual property protection is essential for building an innovation-oriented country and achieving a shift from ‘China manufactured’ to ‘China innovated,’ ’’ Li Chenggang, deputy director of the Commerce Ministry’s law department, said at a news conference. He was joined by officials from China’s commerce, intellectual property and other agencies.
Trade groups say illegal Chinese copying of music, designer clothing and other goods costs legitimate producers billions of dollars a year in lost potential sales. The American Chamber of Commerce in China said 70 percent of its member companies considered Beijing’s enforcement of patents, trademarks and copyrights ineffective.
Businesspeople have expressed optimism about the latest effort because a rising Communist Party star, Deputy Premier Wang Qishan, has been put in charge and an enforcement office set up in the Commerce Ministry.
A report that was distributed at Sunday’s news conference said goods seized in the latest crackdown included 26,000 mobile phones, copies of Louis Vuitton bags and Rolex watches, automotive components, DVDs and clothing.
It also said authorities shut down 292 Web sites selling counterfeit and fake goods.
Also on Sunday, the official Xinhua news agency said 23 people accused of producing fake medicine were detained in the central city of Jingzhou, in Hubei province. It said they made more than 100 million capsules filled with sawdust and wheat flour, sold under the brand names of 201 different types of medication.
Xinhua said the medicines were sold by mail and over the Internet but gave no details of the brand names used or whether anyone was injured.
Piracy is especially sensitive at a time when Washington and other Western governments are trying to create jobs by boosting exports. In 2009, the World Trade Organization upheld a US complaint that Beijing was violating trade commitments by failing to root out the problem.
Rampant copying has also hampered Beijing’s efforts to attract technology industries as companies are reluctant to do research in China or bring in advanced designs for fear of theft.
China plans to roll out commercial “fourth generation” mobile phone technology nationwide in 2014, state media said Friday, citing the country’s top telecom regulator.
The remarks by Miao Wei, minister of industry and information technology, marked the first time China has given a timetable for the adoption of 4G, which provides faster broadband wireless services, the China Daily said.
China has been pushing for its home-grown 4G standard, known as TD-LTE, to be accepted as a global standard.
TD-LTE is being tested in seven cities and will go into commercial use “when the technology is mature”, China Mobile chairman Wang Jianzhou was quoted by the newspaper as saying last week.
The UN’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) accepted TD-LTE in October as a candidate to be designated 4G and is watching the tests by China Mobile and its partners to see if it meets 4G transmission standards.
China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile phone operator, said late last year that a number of Chinese and foreign telecom equipment makers would participate in the tests of its 4G candidate, including China’s ZTE Corp, Huawei Technologies, Finnish-German Nokia Siemens and Swedish group Ericsson.
Opera Software has announced a deal to embed its Internet browser on mobile phones sold in China, a move that is meant to help grow the company’s presence in the country’s burgeoning mobile market.
Opera, the Norwegian company behind two popular mobile browsers, has established a joint venture with Chinese handset distributor Telling Telecom Development Co. The two partners will develop a customized mobile browser for China using Opera’s technology. Telling Telecom will then install the mobile browser on handsets sold through its distribution network.
The joint venture could place Opera’s mobile browser onto millions of handsets sold in China. Telling Telecom ships more than 30 million mobile phones annually and has 40,000 retail outlets in China. It also has an 18 percent share of the Chinese mobile phone distribution industry, according to Opera.
“China represents the largest mobile web opportunity on the planet,” said Lars Boilesen, CEO of Opera Software, in a statement. “To reach the vast majority of that market, we are creating an entirely new product that suits the needs of Chinese consumers.”
China currently has the world’s largest Internet population at 457 million: About 303 million of those users access the Web via mobile phones, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.
Opera has already risen to become the leader of mobile Internet browsers, with a 21.26 percent share of the global market, according to StatCounter. The company’s Opera Mini browser support more than 3,000 phone models.
But in China, the company’s market share is at 2.49 percent, lagging far behind the dominant rival, UC Mobile, which has a 64.4 percent share. UC Mobile is a Chinese company that makes the UC Browser, which has been made available on more than 200 phone brands. Most of its users come from China.
UC Mobile has emerged as the leader because the company early on understood the Chinese market and could provide better localization of its browser, said Kevin Tong, an analyst with iResearch. “Other mobile browsers may have had Chinese versions, but their user interface or their lack of localization was not enough to attract Chinese users,” he said.
“Opera will have to localize its product and this joint venture will provide that experience to make those improvements,” Tong added.
In most places in Canada and the United States, cell phone usage while driving is almost entirely outlawed. If you’re spotted with your phone pressed to your ear, you could face a hefty fine.
But in China, cell phones might just clear up some traffic problems.
Last year in Beijing, a 62-mile, 9-day traffic jam caused the Chinese government to reassess the highway system and build a new super-speed railway. They’ve even introduced electric taxis. However, now China Mobile is working with the government to develop a project whereby traffic will be monitored via cell phone to give a better idea of how population flows in different places at different times throughout the day. It’s said that the new project will even give the government a better idea about population management based on the density in certain areas.
The key selling point of the project is that travel information can be sent to a user’s cell phone to help a driver better navigate their way around the city, thus decreasing congestion.
Sounds great in theory, but what about that big report released a few years back by the University of Utah indicating that cell phone usage while driving is just as dangerous as driving while drunk? Regardless of whether you have the cell phone pressed to your ear or are using a headset, conversation is still distracting.
The study proved that drivers on cell phones were more likely to drive and brake more slowly, and were more likely to crash. In fact, they crashed more often than the drunk drivers, and that doesn’t even include text messaging.
The project is still very much in preliminary stages, but people are also questioning how invasive the whole thing is. Do you really want someone to know where you are at all times?
[image: flickr/Keng Susumpow]
6 March 2011 Last updated at 15:06 GMT China security tight after new protest calls Police in Beijing shut the underground and mobile phone networks, and helicopters were deployed
China has mounted a huge security operation in the capital in response to renewed online calls for protests.
Anonymous postings had urged people to stroll silently in areas of major cities, as a way of calling for change.
The BBC’s Damian Grammaticas in Beijing says crowds of shoppers were out but it was not clear if any were protesters.
The massive police deployments are being seen as a sign of the Communist Party’s nervousness at the civil unrest and revolutions across the Arab world.
The security blanket thrown over the parts of Beijing on Sunday afternoon was extraordinary, our correspondent says.
This was the third week of calls for protests and the anonymous posts urged people to take a walk through Xidan, a busy shopping area.
At Xidan and another shopping area, Wangfujing, there were hundreds of uniformed police; men posted every few yards. Reporters were banned from filming or interviewing anyone.
Data signals on mobile phones were blocked and everywhere were huge numbers of plain clothes security men; wearing ear pieces, watching everything, our correspondent reports.
He says uniformed police politely checked his identity documents – in contrast to the previous weekend when the BBC team was taken away violently by plain clothes officers.
In Zhongguancun near Peking University, police also closed down the subway and mobile phone networks, and police helicopters were reported hovering overhead.
Online messages said there may have been a planned gathering of students there.
‘The wrong idea’
Meanwhile, in a more hardline interpretation of current reporting rules, officials said that foreign reporters must seek government permission to conduct interviews in Beijing.
At a news conference, Li Honghai, vice-director of Beijing’s Foreign Affairs Office, said reporters must apply for government permission before carrying out any news gathering in the city centre.
Beijing officials at the briefing denounced the protest calls as an attempt to undermine China’s stability.
“All clear-minded people will know that these people have chosen the wrong place and have the wrong idea.
“The things they want to see take place have not and cannot occur in Beijing,” said city government spokeswoman Wang Hui.
China’s government is aware there are many possible reasons for popular discontent.
In his speech at the opening of the annual National People’s Congress on Saturday, Premier Wen Jiabao said there were still fundamental issues the government must solve, which he said the masses felt strongly about.
Among the issues he listed were inflation, exorbitant house prices, land appropriations and house demolitions by the government and rampant corruption.
“We must make improving the people’s lives a pivot linking reform, development and stability… and make sure people are content with their lives and jobs, society is tranquil and orderly and the country enjoys long-term peace and stability,” Mr Wen said.
He made no mention of the unrest in the Middle East.
Human rights campaigners have expressed concerns over plans to track every mobile phone user in Beijing through global positioning technology.
Chinese media reported this week that pilot schemes were being introduced for an “information platform of real-time citizen movement” to help with traffic management.
Li Guoguang, deputy director of the Beijing municipal science and technology commission, said the project would be used to tackle congestion by allowing officials to monitor the flow of people through the transport system.
“To some degree, [it] can effectively increase citizens’ travelling efficiency and ease traffic jams,” he told the Beijing Daily.
He added that citizens would be able to buy the information, although more sensitive information – such as the location of individuals – would not be available.
But while Beijing’s roads are increasingly congested, experts say there are plenty of ways to assess and manage traffic and suggest the project is bound to be used for security purposes too.
“Certainly the use of the platform will not be limited to gathering traffic information. Officials in other areas, such as anti-terrorism and stability maintenance, will also find it useful,” Chen Derong, professor of wireless communications at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, told the South China Morning Post.
“I think despite the excuse of traffic control this is part of the escalation of the use of technologies to control social discontent,” said Wang Songlian of the Chinese Human Rights Defenders network. She pointed out that last year the government introduced compulsory registration for anyone buying a sim card.
“A lot of activists have said their cell phones are already tracked by security forces. They use it to locate where people are and whether other activists are going there,” she said.
But she added: “For ordinary people, the government is worried about social unrest. Often there’s a spark somewhere and everyone gathers and puts out information. By registering people and tracking them, it enables them to find out about particular protests and punish individuals.”
China National Radio said the municipal government hoped to start the project in two parts of the capital within the first half of this year.