News sources to learn what is happening in China

The two main sources I use for my blog posts are Sina Weibo and South China Morning Post.

With over 500 million users on it, Sina Weibo is a good place where you can learn what is going on in China and what Chinese people are talking about. It was launched in 2009, and has been growing fast during the past three years. On Weibo, People are always discussing about breaking news, especially those that mainstream media do not report because of censorship. I found their hot topics page very useful. On this page you can search for news either by content (social, financial, political, sports, fashion, entertainment, etc) or by date. I like using Weibo because information and news are updated very fast on it, and you will get to know what is going on even before you hear from any news media.

South China Morning Post is the first and one of the most famous English-language newspaper in HongKong. The newspaper is published in HongKong and not directly controlled by Chinese government, so that it has less bias when reporting news in China. The home page is clear and the sections are easy to follow. There are very few advertisements since it charges about $2 a week for subscription. There is also a Chinese-language website for the paper, but the contents are not as good as in the English version, which is what I hope they could improve a little bit.

Self-mocking Weibo post goes viral in China

Recently, a Weibo post has gone viral among netizens, joking that Chinese people could do nothing to protect themselves since the bird flu and smog weather occur at the same time:

“How to prevent from H7N9 (bird flu)?”

Expert: “Keep windows open, let fresh air in.”

“How to prevent from PM2.5 (smog)?”

Expert: “Close all the windows, do not go outside.”

“Wait so should I open the windows or not?!”

Expert:”That depends on how you would prefer to die…”

By retweeting the post, netizens are asking the government to take care of the two serious issues as soon as possible.

The growing impact of social media

My final project will focus on how social media, especially Twitter, has been developing during the past five years, and have a discuss about how it will be in the future.

For my paper project I will do a feature story on BostonTweet, who is basically tweeting about life and things to do in Boston. He has been an active Twitter user since 2008, with 20,859 tweets and 78,703 followers. I think he is a good example of using Twitter not only as a social tool, but to aggregate news, bring people together, as well as make a career. This is what we might not have thought about five years before, and it is exciting to see how far it will go and what it will become in the upcoming five years or so. I have scheduled an interview with him on next Wednesday.

For the video and photo project I plan to do a story on a Weibo user who lives in Boston doing the same thing as what BostonTweet does, but on a Chinese platform. I am still waiting to hear from him. If this does not work out, I am thinking to talk to a variety of people, including an expert as media/communication professor, to discuss about how they have been using social media and what they think social media will be like in the future.

HK setting “two-can limit” regulation to restrict mainlanders’ milk powder purchases

A new regulation issued in Hong Kong on the export of infant formula will take effect on March 1. The rule requires that people departing Hong Kong can only carry two cans of milk powder. Violators will face a fine of 500,000 yuan ($80,000) and two years’ imprisonment.

Mainlanders waiting in lines at the border to go back home, after having bought boxes of canned milk powder in Hong Kong. Photo from Tencent News.

This is not the first time that Hong Kong complains about people from mainland China buying up all the infant formula, which results in price hikes and shortage in local milk powder market.

Mainlanders started to cross the border from Shenzhen to Hong Kong for infant formular right after the 2008 Chinese milk scandal came out. In September 2008, Sanlu Group, one of China’s largest milk powder producers, admitted that its infant formula had been contaminated with the toxic chemical melamine.

According to an article in The Guardian, by November 2008, the tainted milk led to at least six children dying from kidney stones, and caused illnesses in nearly 300,000 others.

These years, not only families living in southern cities in China tend to visit Hong Kong to buy infant formula for personal uses, but also smugglers have been taking advantages by smuggling milk powder from Hong Kong to mainland China and selling for a relatively higher price. According to Hong Kong Business, 10 yuan ($1.6) could be added to the price of smuggled milk powder.

Chinese netizens, as a result, are urging the government to take action on food safety inspection to make sure that kids in China have non-toxic milk.

Murongxuecun, famous Chinese author and commentator, discussing about the new regulation of HK milk powder on Weibo.

Murongxuecun, famous Chinese author and commentator, discussing about the new regulation of HK milk powder on Weibo.

Murongxuecun, famous author and commentator in China, said in his Weibo post:

What we should talk about is, as the world’s second-biggest economy, a so-called growing empire, a country spending hundreds of billions of dollars on stability maintenance and misuse of public funds, how come China is not even able to ensure the safety of a can of milk powder? It has been a long time since the 2008 milk scandal. What kind of improvements have been done in the milk industry? What has the government been doing? What has the Food Quality and Safety Department been doing? Have the governors ever concerned about their people?

 

Former Google China head Kai-Fu Lee banned from Weibo

Kai-Fu Lee, former president of Google China, posted on Twitter on Sunday saying that he was temporarily banned from two major Chinese microblogging sites, Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo.

Photo of Kai-Fu Lee (cc) by Hubert Burda Media from Flickr. Some rights reserved.

With 30 million followers on Weibo, Kai-Fu Lee was picked by Sina as the 2012 most influential micro-blogger earlier. His being censored soon became a hot topic discussed on Weibo and other media platforms.

While people are guessing the reason why he got banned, Kai-Fu Lee wrote a post on LinkedIn, listed things he had been talked about on Weibo before the censorship with a sense of humor, saying that regardless of any setbacks and obstacles, he still believes in social media and the influential power of netizens in China.

According to an article in South China Morning Post, some of the Chinese netizens on Sina Weibo, however, linked the censorship with Lee’s critique on Jike.com, a search engine company owned by China’s stated-run newspaper People’s Daily, and its chief executive, former Olympic table tennis champion Deng Yaping.

Caijing News published an article saying that:

CNZZ statistics showed Baidu led the home search engine market in January with a market share of over 70%, followed by 360, Google and SoSo. And less than 0.0001 percent users turned to Jike.

Here is a CNN article about Deng Yaping and the re-launch of Jike.com.

Kai-Fu Lee’s Weibo post about search engine Jike. The post was deleted due to censorship soon later.

In Kai-Fu Lee’s Weibo post, he simply questioned:

1. Why is China using taxpayer money to build a search engine company?

2. Is that possible to build a search engine company successfully without any willings to let the public get free flow of information?

3. Why did the Communist Party appoint the CEO of a search engine company?

4. If the U.S. Democratic Party appointed Michael Phelps to be the CEO of Google, could have Google still beaten Yahoo to become the No.1 in search engine industry?

According to Kai-Fu Lee’s tweet, he will be back to Weibo after the three-day ban.