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How Internet, Social Media Can Change China
Social media sites are giving China’s millions of Internet users a channel to express themselves and could open the door to “unstoppable” transformation in the country, the founder of video site Tudou.com says.
“Younger generations are getting a taste for being able to express themselves,” said Tudou’s Gary Wang during The Wall Street Journal’s Unleashing Innovation conference. “It will be very difficult to put that into a cage. I’m optimistic that this will be unstoppable.”
Smartphones have hastened the adoption of social media tools, such as Sina Corp.'s SINTwitter-like weibo service, among China’s 500-million-plus Internet users.
For the first time, millions of people can use cellphones to express their views, said Zhao Jing, a Chinese blogger and journalist known as Michael Anti. “This may not be equal to democracy, but at least it’s a training for democracy,” he said.
“Sometimes freedom of speech doesn’t exist in China, but you should practice freedom of speech as if it existed,” said Mr. Zhao.
Mr. Wang, who launched Tudou.com in 2005, retired last year as its chief executive, after the company, Tudou Holdings Ltd., merged with rival Youku Inc. with the latter being the dominant partner.
The Chinese government employs software and thousands of officials to police the Internet, while leaving much of the censoring to the operators of social media sites.
Companies have to make sure that they will prosper within China, and it is crucial for a Chinese company to be viewed as a good citizen, said Mr. Wang.
Beijing’s continued censorship has created obstacles for overseas Internet businesses in their attempts to expand in China. In 2010 Google Inc. rerouted its search engine from mainland China to Hong Kong due to censorship concerns. The U.S. company has lost market share in search and other online services to Chinese rivals.
When Google decided to pull out of China, “I couldn’t sleep that night,” said Mr. Wang. “We all believe in keeping things open,” he said. Still, Mr. Wang also admitted that Google’s exit “did create an opening” for other local Internet players like Tudou.
王微(Gary Wang)在《华尔街日报》“释放创新”大会(Unleashing Innovation)上说，年轻人正尝到能够表达自我的那种感觉，这将很难关进笼子，我乐观地认为这个趋势不可阻挡。
王微在2005年创办土豆网(Tudou Holdings Ltd.)。去年这家公司同竞争对手优酷网(Youku Inc.)合并，后者占主导地位，王微卸任土豆网首席执行长一职。