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Posts from the ‘Internet and media’ Category

Air pollution policy making and social media in Beijing, 2011-2013

This article is by Johan van de Ven, whose undergraduate dissertation at Oxford University examined the effects of factors such as environmental movements, diplomacy and social media on air pollution policy-making in China.

In a study conducted from June to December 2013, I quantitatively and qualitatively examined a variety of social media and mainstream media articles related to air pollution  and compared the results with government statements and policy making events, with the aim of answering the question: Was social media primarily responsible for government action on air pollution in China? Read more

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/65 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

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

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

Mobile banking: Minsheng bank punches above its weight

EnfoDesk, a Chinese market research company, published a report on China’s mobile phone banking sector. According to the report, bank transactions conducted via mobile phones in Q4 of 2013 reached just over 370 billion yuan, 35.90% higher than the previous quarter.

Worth noting is that the study puts China Minsheng Bank in third position in the market share ranking of mobile banking: Minsheng, with 10.68 % market share of mobile banking, is only beaten by China Construction Bank (28.19%) and ICBC (24.38%), both of which are members of China’s “Big Four” mammoth banks while Minsheng remains a much smaller upstart. The article attributes Minsheng’s fast progress in the sector to technological innovation and social media marketing.

Companies and brands affected
China Minsheng Bank (HKG:01988 SH:600016)
Links and sources
New Express: 行业数据:2013年第3季度手机银行市场份额变动明显 民生银行跻身前三甲

If you’d like to hire Danwei to track your company, investment or other topic of interest in China, please write to and tell us what you want to follow.

Big three Chinese telecom operators criticized for profiting from spam

Beijing Times 京华时报 yesterday published an article (based on a report in the CCTV 1 program Focus Interview 焦点访谈) analyzing the profit chain of spam texts sent by China’s three leading telecommunication operators. According to the report, many spam texts are sent from numbers starting with 106, and such numbers can only be used by China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. Such numbers were originally for internal and work units’ use only, but in recent years the big three telecom operators have provided bulk spam sms services to all-comers and profiting accordingly.

According to the report, a small bulk SMS advertising company who sends out ten million texts monthly can make a profit of about 200 thousand yuan, but the big three telecom operators can make about 300 thousand yuan and provide bulk sms advertising services at cheaper rates.

Companies and brands affected
China Mobile (HKG:0941)
China Unicom (HKG:0762)
China Telecom (HKG:0728)

Links and sources
Beijing Times: 三大运营商被指发垃圾短信获利

Paper fights back against journalist arrest, Zoomlion alleged fraud back in spotlight

Guangzhou-based New Express ran a front page story today with a massive headline reading RELEASE HIM (请放人). The article requests the Changsha police authorities to release Chen Yongzhou (陈永洲), a journalist working for the newspaper who was arrested on October 19 at work. Changsha police officers had crossed provincial borders from Hunan to nab Chen in Guangzhou, an alarming development for the city’s feisty journalists.

Chen’s arrest is believed to be linked to a series of articles published in New Express he wrote in which he says that Zoomlion Heavy Industry, a heavy machinery maker based in Changsha, engages in fraudulent practices including faking sales and exaggerating profits.

In July, Gao Hui (高辉), secretary to Chairman of the Board of Zoomlion, stated via his Sina Weibo account that the negative reports had depressed the company stock prices. He accused the writer and the newspaper of being paid off by interest groups who had benefited from the drops in the company’s stock price.


The BBC reports: China reporter Chen Yongzhou ‘confesses’ on TV

An imprisoned Chinese journalist whose newspaper has made front-page appeals for his release has confessed to wrongdoing on state TV.

“I’m willing to admit my guilt and to show repentance,” said reporter Chen Yongzhou. He was arrested over claims he defamed a partly state-owned firm in articles exposing alleged corruption.

State media said he had admitted writing false stories for money.

Several high-profile suspects have made televised confessions recently.

In the footage, detained journalist Chen Yongzhou is paraded for the camera. Handcuffed and flanked by police officers he is marched along a corridor. Then he sits, a lone figure in a green police-issued top, in an interrogation room, making his purported confession. He’s clearly susceptible to pressure.

In many countries Chen Yongzhou’s detention, and the broadcast of the footage of it, would provoke a legal outcry. Corruption is known in Chinese journalism, stories planted to blacken rival firms. But the facts of this case are murky and this “confession” does little to clear them up.

All China’s major construction equipment firms have been under severe financial pressure recently as the economy, so reliant on construction, has slowed. And after Mr Chen’s newspaper printed a brave and highly-unusual front-page call for his release, the police have been under pressure too.

The release of the “confession” may be their attempt to regain the initiative. But it’s likely to fuel the row, with questions about the role of the police and of state television, and the way they have obtained and aired Mr Chen’s admission.

Xinhua News Agency is more convinced of the truth of Chen’s confession: Detained reporter apologizes for releasing untrue stories. However, judging by the chart below, the markets might take more convincing than CCTV and Xinhua News Agency that Zoomlion remains a reputable company.

Zoomlion (HKG: 1157) stock price Monday October 21 to Friday October 25, 2013

zoomlion stock

— October 28 12pm The market appears to like CCTV confessions.

Zoomlion 2

Companies and brands affected
Zoomlion Heavy Industry (HKG: 1157, SZ:000157)

Links and sources
New Express: 请放人
China Media Project: Paper goes public over reporter’s detention

China Media Project: The New Express story in today’s papers, Guilt and shame in China’s media
New York Times: Chinese Newspaper Asks Police to Free Detained Reporter

If you’d like to hire Danwei to track your company, investment or other topic of interest in China, please write to and tell us what you want to follow.

Does Vancl face a cash crunch?

Upstart Chinese clothing brand Vancl, a rising Internet star that aims to be Zara and Amazon rolled into one, has been the subject of a series of negative news reports. Of late, according to New Financial Observer (新金融观察报 ), a financial newspaper published in Tianjin, not only does the company owe suppliers great amounts of money, it has been delaying paying photographers and models. Some of the company’s creditors took to Weibo to voice their discontent, including one who threatened to commit suicide at the company’s office building.

Rumors that Vancl has cash flow problems started in August this year, when founding CEO Chen Nian announced that the company would move its office location from close to Beijing’s CBD area to Yizhuang, a satellite district off the fifth ring road. The company has also cut the number of its staff from 11,000 at its peak time to the current 3,000. Read more