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A Brief Guide to China’s Media Landscape – February 2014

The table below shows mainland China’s most important websites, newspapers, and broadcast news organizations, together with numbers for website traffic, circulation and audience.

The numbers are guesstimates based on media reports, listed companies’ public filings, media advertising rate cards, and Danwei interviews with media insiders. Like all numbers in China, they should be taken with a pinch of salt, for reference only. This list is updated every three months.

The major changes since the last version of this report (published in November 2013) are continued growth of Internet users, and the rise of the mobile device as the most common means of accessing the Internet:

“The number of Internet users in China had hit 604 million as of the end of September [2013], with mobile phones becoming the favored means of accessing the web, the State Internet Information Office announced”according to the China Daily.

2013 also witnessed a significant downturn of activity on Sina Weibo (often glossed as “China’s Twitter”). According to recent reports released by China Internet Network Information Center, 22.8% netizens reduced their usage of Weibo, including visits from mobile devices. In December 2013, there were 196 million mobile phone Weibo users, which is 5.96 million fewer than at the end of 2012. The decline is widely blamed on several factors, including the rise of Tencent’s WeChat messaging and mobile app service; government censorship, especially the”Big V Crackdown”; too much advertising and commercial “noise” on users’ Weibo feeds; and a lack of innovation from Sina (see this article for more on the factors behind the decline).



Sina Weibo Microblog Over 500 million registered users/25 million active users daily News portal website 40 million IP visitors daily
Tencent Weibo Microblog about 540 million registered users/220 million active users monthly
Tencent Qzone Nickname SNS, blogs, home pages 620 million active users monthly
Tencent WeChat Mobile text & voice messaging, friend networks 272 million active users monthly News portal website 51 million IP visitor daily
Baidu Post Bar Forum and Q&A over 10 million registered users and over 200 million monthly active users
Baidu Search Engine Search engine over 80 million IP visitors daily
Taobao and T Mall Online mall and C2C ecommerce over 67 million IP visitors daily (combined); over 1 trillion RMB sales in 2012
Youku & Tudou Companies have merged; video sharing and viewing, including TV shows youku: over 10 million IP visitors daily tudou:over 1.26 million IP visitors daily
Douban Interest based, nickname SNS 79 million registered users and over 200 million active users monthly
Renren Real name SNS 184  million active users
Sohu News portal website 25 million IP visitor daily
Netease News portal website 16 million IP visitor daily23 million unique visitors daily
iFeng News portal website 11 million IP visitor daily
Caixin Financial business & politics news one of the leading websites in finance, 153 thousand IP visitor daily
Yicai Financial & economic news one of the leading websites in finance, 54 thousand IP visitor daily

Print Newspapers

Reference News
Newspaper 3.4 million copies
People’s Daily
Newspaper 2.8 million copies
Global Times
Newspaper 2 million copies
Southern Weekly
Newspaper 1.7 million copies
New Weekly新周刊 Magazine focusing on current events and lifestyle 310,000 copies
Southern People Weekly
Magazine focusing on interviews 200,000 copies

Radio and TV

China National Radio
Radio Over 700 million listeners
State television broadcaster in mainland China with mutiple channels 200 million to around a billion viewers
Top provincial satellite TV station focused on entertainment programs 65 to 800 million viewers

Further reading on China’s Internet and media

Danwei Model Workers
Our list of the best English-language specialist websites about China

The Great Firewall of China (1997)
by Geremie R. Barmé and Sang Ye

The China Story Yearbook series
Behind the Great Firewall (2012); China’s Internet: A Civilising Process (2013)
by Jeremy Goldkorn
Discontent in Digital China (2012)
by Gloria Davies

The Economist
A Giant Cage – A survey of China’s Internet
by Gady Epstein

The Atlantic
“The Connection Has Been Reset”
by James Fallows

Gree interested in investing in Meizu?

Fans of mobile phone brand Meizu were recently allowed a rare glimpse of J. Wong, the reclusive founder of the brand of sleek Android-powered smartphones based in Zhuhai, Guangdong province. In a two-hour speech posted online, Wong announced that he was going to resume his daily work routine at his company office, which he had stopped visiting following his semi-retirement in 2011.

Wong also talked about an incentive program, which aims to transform employees into shareholders as well as bring external strategic shareholders to raise one billion yuan in capital. Gree, China’s leading home appliance brand, was mentioned as one potentially interested investor. Wong also commented positively on Lenovo’s recent deal to buy Motorola, which he believes will help the company gain headway in overseas markets.

Meizu, a pioneer in the Mainland Chinese smartphone market, has been surpassed in terms of sales by its competitors in recent years. Xiaomi, for example, outsold Meizu by a factor of three in 2013. While some industry commentators believe that Wong’s return is an effort to save the company from crisis, others suggest that the prospective cooperation between Gree and Meizu, if it occurs, will help Gree, a traditional industry manufacturer, to establish its Internet pedigree and tap into the smart appliances market.

Companies and brands affected
Gree Electric Appliances Inc. of Zhuhai (SHE:000651)

Police bust PR companies for illegal deletion of news and social media postings

On December 5, the People’s Daily published a report about a police investigation into companies that offer services to delete news items and social media postings from the Internet.

The article does not, of course, mention that the biggest deleter of information from the Internet is the government itself and that because of censorship and self-censorship, deleting news articles and social media posts is entirely natural behavior for editors and other staff of Chinese Internet companies.

Nonetheless, it’s worth a read to get a sense of how filthy the Internet PR business is in China. And to permit ourselves some self-promotion, paid deletion and spam are key reasons that why Danwei’s social media tracking and media monitoring services do not rely only on automated, technical solutions and always have experienced human editors checking all of our findings.

The original Chinese report is here, below is a translation.

China’s biggest case of illegal operations by Internet PR company cracked

Charging fees from clients and bribing website administrators: Recently, Bejing police discovered a website that provides illegal services with unlawful revenues exceeding 10 million yuan, making it the largest Internet PR company on record that has engaged in illegal activities since the Supreme Court released the latest interpretation regarding Internet crimes.

Recently, in the nationwide campaign against organized online rumor mongering and other Internet crimes, Beijing police discovered that six PR companies including Beijing Koubei Interactive Marketing (北京口碑互动营销策划有限公司) have engaged in paid information deletion and other illegal activities. Under the unified directions of the Ministry of Public Security, police authorities of more than ten provinces made scores of arrests, with 10 million yuan of illegal revenues seized. Read more

Hybrid cars: BYD’s new Qin

In a confident move, BYD is offering 1,000 yuan to any driver that can beat the company’s pre-release Model Qin in 400-meter drag races. The Qin, a hybrid sedan, is being marketed mainly for two new features: a 0 to 100 km/h acceleration time of 5.9 seconds, and better fuel economy than most petrol models and hybrid predecessors.

Many video clips of races involving the Qin in various cities have been posted online (see for example here and here), and these show the Qin going head-to-head with the Audi TT, the Porsche 911 and various other models. Based on the great numbers of comments generated by these videos, BYD’s promotion campaign appears to have been quite successful in garnering some buzz. Read more

Internet Poll on changing China’s strange public holiday system

While much of the world looks forward to official holidays that can be predicted years in advance, China’s annual muddle over the coming year’s holiday schedule has long been a reliable source of confusion. But yesterday the Holiday Office published three potential replacement schedules for public input “to make the official holiday schedule planning of our country more scientific and rational.” Sina has put up a poll about it.

Perhaps unique to mainland China is the practice of stealing a day off from a neighboring weekend if necessary to ensure a full three-day vacation. Among the three new options, however, the most popular so far retains the weekend-swapping ways of the current setup, perhaps because it is also the only proposal to grant seven full days off to both the Spring Festival and National Day holidays.

Those dismayed by the current results can take heart in the fact that the only option that would end almost all weekend swaps is currently in second place, only 4,000 or so votes behind. Below is a translation Sina’s poll number of votes for each as of yesterday evening. Read more

A Brief Guide to China’s Media Landscape

The table below shows mainland China’s most important websites, newspapers, and broadcast news organizations, together with numbers for website traffic, circulation and audience.

The numbers are guesstimates based on media reports, listed companies’ public filings, media advertising rate cards, and Danwei interviews with media insiders. Like all numbers in China, they should be taken with a pinch of salt, for reference only. This list will be updated every three months. This version was first published on November 21, 2013.

Update: “The number of Internet users in China had hit 604 million as of the end of September this year, with mobile phones becoming the favored means of accessing the web, the State Internet Information Office announced” on November 29.
Read more

Li Xiaolai, Bitcoin millionaire

Hidden in a pedestrian-only lane in Beijing’s tech district of Zhongguancun, Cheku Café (车库咖啡厅) is not easy to find and appears to be an unassuming eatery like its neighbors. But if you climb up the dark staircase, you’ll blunder into what appears to be a university library: youngsters scattered around scores of desks in a large, cavernous room, gazing, typing on the glowing screens, chattering, laughing and napping. Read more

Low-cost drug list to transform pharmaceutical industry in China

Economic Information Daily (经济参考报), a business newspaper published by Xinhua News Agency, ran a story on November 17 reporting that the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) may soon release a list of drugs that must be sold at low prices in China with the aim of reducing the financial burden of medical care on citizens and hospitals. The list may have a significant impact on the pharmaceutical industry: some out-of-production low-cost drugs will be protected and return to the market, while the makers of high cost drugs on the list will have their profit margins squeezed. The article also predicts that the pharmaceutical industry may soon see another round of mergers and acquisitions.

“Low-cost drugs” refers to the cheaper of the drug options used to treat a particular medical condition. The article quotes an informed source as saying that NDRC is expected to set the standard for low-cost drugs at a daily average cost of three yuan for western drugs and five yuan for processed Traditional Chinese Medicine (中成药, sometimes called “Chinese patent medicine”). The criteria and the list will be reviewed and adjusted every two to four years.

Low margins have been the primary cause that discourages pharmaceutical companies from selling low-cost drugs. As a result, hospitals are sometimes unable to obtain low-cost drugs, leaving patients with no choice but to buy more expensive alternatives.

Read more

China Minsheng Bank to release high-interest debit card as competition heats up

Allied with Taobao and other online marketplaces, Chinese money market funds such as Yu’ebao are making inroads into markets traditionally dominated by banks (see previous Danwei post). Not only are these fund products more accessible for Internet users, their interest rates, usually hovering around 5%, are more than ten times the 0.35% offered to most current account holders.

Feeling the pain, banks are fighting back. The webportal China Finance Information 中国财经信息网 reported on November 12 that China Minsheng Bank has been conducting tests to prepare for a December release of a new type of bank card that promises to offer interest rates on a par with most money market fund products. This move is being hailed by the banking industry as “the first shot of a counterattack” against upstart online financing. Read more

Ping An strengthens online financing arm with launch of Zhong An Insurance

The launch ceremony of China’s first online liability insurer, Zhong An Insurance, on Wednesday was attended by three of China’s most prominent personalities, namely Jack Ma of Alibaba, Pony Ma (Ma Huateng) of Tencent, and Ma Mingzhe, president of Ping An Insurance. Although the only one of the three operative in a traditional industry, Ma Mingzhe was the one who predicted an Internet revolution at the ceremony when he expressesd his vision of the future of the banking industry:

Bank branches will grow smaller and closer to neighborhoods, and become more intelligent and diversified. In ten years, 50% to 60% of credit cards and cash will disappear. In twenty years, the counters in banks will disappear.

Read more