Archive for June, 2007

Nostalgic Trips in China – you really should think twice before deciding to go back to a place, which is connected with some memories and you have not visited for a few years in China – often you will be disappointed. Cities in China change very fast and many buildings are demolished and replaced by big department stores or office buildings.

8 years ago, I studied Chinese for one year in Hangzhou and recently I visited this city for the first time since then. I expected that the city probably changed but when I arrived, I was really surprised about the dimension of the changes.

First, the good news

  • the famous west lake does still exist
  • the old woman opposite xixi-campus of the Zhejiang University (still called Hangzhou University during my stay in Hangzhou) still sold telephone cards at exactly the same place.
  • the old supermarket at xixilu does still exist
  • and the paradise club in Hangzhou still exists (okay, I have not been there so often, but this club was the meeting point of foreigners at weekends – now there are a lot of more western style bars in Hangzhou)

Hangzhou changed a lot during the last few years; the best way to prove this is to count the number of McDonald’s and also the number of new restaurants, clubs and hotels at the west lake.
The students’ dormitory in xixi campus is knocked down (it was very old already, when I lived there). The Hangda Lu, which used to be full of small rundown restaurants, is full of modern department stores and office buildings.
In spite of all those changes and the development of the Westlake area – Hangzhou is still a place you should visit if you plan to travel through China.

Some good news for Wikipedia Fans in China. The popular online encyclopaedia seems to be available at least in Beijing, I don’t know about other parts in China.
Wikipedia has been censored in China since October 2005 (with a short interruption in October 2006).
At the moment, nearly all articles can be accessed from China, only a few China-related articles (the main article about China, of course some articles related to human rights) are still blocked. If you search for Falun Gong, event eh search function does not work.
The popular blog platform is still blocked from China.
I have read nothing about it in newspapers yet – maybe it is no longer worth mentioning it, because the Chinese censorship department somehow can not make up its mind – to keep it blocked or not.
Probably, this is also a sign, that the Chinese government has improved its technology to block websites again, especially the filter to block content (not IP-addresses or IP-ranges) seems to work better now.

Censorship in China

A lot of people still think, that China is just blocking the internet somehow and trying to prevent people from using the internet. Actually, just the opposite is the case:
The internet is a perfect tool for the Chinese government to control the news and spread its propaganda – not only offline, but now also online. And it is a perfect tool to inform people, especially in rural areas about their rights (e.g. to control corruption).

The most popular news websites are controlled and censored by the government. Most Chinese are not interested in non-Chinese websites anyway (chatting, online games, blogging seems to be the only thing, Chinese do in internet cafes), so the Chinese just seem to be content to block foreign websites about human rights, Tibet, Falun Gong and somewhat for fun a few big US-newspapers. For blogs, it still seems to be different.

If Chinese want to have a blog in China, they have two choices: They need to register with a Chinese blog hosting services, which means, their blog will be controlled by the company or they can host a blog on their own website – which means, they need a license for their website.
Therefore, something the Chinese government seem to be quite concerned about, are of course foreign blog- platforms like, because they want to prevent Chinese bloggers from using those platforms instead of Chinese ones

I am curious, how long Wikipedia will stay unblocked in China this time.

Okay, it is not really worth even mentioning it anymore – the blog service is blocked again, at least from Beijing, you can not reach it anymore. Really a pity, I can only watch the blogs of employees via very slow proxy-services. One possibility is

What news in Beijing? Quite funny (but also a little bit sad to watch) was a raid on illegal street sellers at Wudaokou subway station in Beijing. During the last weeks, more and more street sellers occupied the wudaokou area in Beijing, first at the south-west corner. I guess some of the shop owners were not really happy about it, so they moved to the north-corner (the police watching just opposite the street), later they occupied the area directly at the subway station, it was hard using the sidewalk. I guess this was a little bit too much, yesterday the crossroad was cleared by the police and you could watch them taking the goods from crying saleswomen and arguing salesmen.

Here you can find an interesting interview with Matt Cutts about SEO in China. Good to know, that he loves Chinese food.

Interview with Matt Cutts on Search and SEO in China

Businessmen working in China often have to make decisions, which company or service provider they should trust. They need the advice of partners (lawyers, web designers, marketing experts, accountants …) to start and operate their business in China and often (especially if they try to save money and go for the cheapest solution), it is just a matter of coincidence, if they end up with the right partner – even more so, if they have no experience in the business field of their partner or service provider.

  • Meet with your partner companies in person and better visit their office.
  • Always check your partner companies. Do they have references (on their websites for example)? It is worth the effort to get in contact with one of their clients. Well known companies with many references are often more expensive – but if they provide better service and especially, if they have proven experience, it is worth paying more to get a reliable company.
  • Check, how long your future partner company has been doing business in China (if the company is new, check for the experience of the directors of the company – often you can find background information on websites like or
  • Do some research in the internet. Often you find information in online forums, especially if people are not happy with the services, they tend to complain in public forums (but of course, entries in public forums are not really reliable).
  • Listen to recommendations! Ask your friends and business partners for advice and their experience.

Recently, I found an excellent website, which screens and recommends experienced managers in China.

They pay attention to quality instead of quantity. I know two of the recommended managers in person, so the site seems to be a very useful resource. I hope, they will continue developing it.