One story that didn’t receive adequate coverage this year in the blogosphere (in my opinion) was that China overtook the US as the biggest online market in the world. It won’t be long until the Chinese digital market is double the size of the US. Indeed, the Chinese government is really going to have to work overtime to keep blocking all of the new (and increasingly young) Chinese surfers that are going to come online over the next few years…how much longer can internet restrictions realistically stay in place? Maybe the next time China hosts the Olympics, we will all visit museums in Beijing where exhibitions show us how crafty “Chinese Firewall” spies once controlled the thoughts and opinions of 250 million internet users (sort of like the Stasi museum in Leipzig).

Here are a few more interesting digital Asia notes that you have all probably read through at some point, but just as a reminder…

Baidu is much bigger than Google in China: According to Comscore and this blog, Baidu has over 60% of the search market in China. Anyone ever done any searching on Baidu? The look and feel of the site is remarkably “Google-like”. The search engine also displays search results in English, so go over and give it a whirl. And, here are a few more nuggets:

Cyworld is bigger than Facebook in Korea
Mobile phone usage in AP puts Europe & N. America to shame
Asia Pacific is the world’s biggest broadband market

So back to the state of internet freedom in China
m-cause may already be banned from China…I just did a quick check of Google Analytics and I have not received any visits from China in several months, though I used to receive visits from the world’s biggest internet market. So either m-cause isn’t interesting anymore to the few readers I had, or the firewall filters picked up a few “bad” words from this site…if I am not already banned, I guess I will be banned after writing this post (so don’t look for m-cause on Baidu). Oh well, it won’t be the first time I’ve had to deal with Chinese surveillance. Back in 1995, I was part of the first delegation of West Point cadets to officially visit mainland China post WWII. Prior to 95, Cadets had always visited Taiwan. So, in honor of this momentous occasion, we were given a Chinese PLA (People’s Liberation Army) “guide”. He was a nice enough guy, but I don’t think his main job was just to be our tourist guide…

So, how long will the Chinese regime try and block the web? Seriously, how much longer can this really go on as the world becomes more and more connected? In this interesting article from the Atlantic, James Fallows asks some of the same questions I’m asking like:
How long can the regime control what people are allowed to know, without the people caring enough to object? On current evidence, for quite a while.

Indeed, it seems that the West is pretty much willing to accept China’s need to control the thoughts of people (e.g. Google’s acceptance of the Golden Shield). A lot of Chinese are probably OK with it too…though to be fair, some Chinese are standing up (there are over 50 internet dissidents currently in prison in China).

Below are a few links that help get you familiar with the Asian digital landscape, check out the Asian Digital Marketing Association website.
Ogilvy China Digital Watch
CommunicateAsia

and here is a blog on the state of internet freedom.