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YouTube China Censorship Update

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on October 29, 2007

If you’re in China and you want to watch something on YouTube, good luck. Google’s video service has been on the blink in China, possibly another victim of Beijing’s Internet police.

In mid-October, Chinese Internet users found they couldn’t get access to Google and some other U.S. websites. When this happens in other countries, you probably blame bad luck or some sort of telecom connection snafu. In China, where censorship of the Net is an everyday thing, when you can’t get to Google, you know that it’s probably because somebody has made a policy decision: Today, no one in China Googles anything.

The giveaway in this case was that people who tried to get to Google found themselves diverted instead to Baidu, the company’s Beijing-based rival, which has a track record of being far more loyal to the Chinese government’s Internet control policies than the Americans.

Last week, I blogged about this and mentioned that Google’s Hong Kong-based spokesman John Pinette reported that Google was indeed up and running again in China after a short blackout that lasted less than a day. This round of Google’s Chinese censorship woes are not over, though. The search engine came back, but people in China who want to use YouTube still reported having trouble.

A week later, the problem hadn’t gone away. Here’s what Google spokesman Pinette told me via email late in the day on Friday: “We understand there are reports of some users being unable to access YouTube within the People’s Republic of China. We are looking into the matter, and hope that the issue will be resolved soon.”

Not sure whether there was any progress over the weekend. Will let you know what I hear. But this certainly is good news for the many YouTube wannabes that are based inside China. Companies like Shanghai-based Tudou (tudou is the Chinese word for potato) have been attracting millions of dollars in venture capital money from investors in the U.S. as well as inside China who figure that, just as Baidu has been kicking Google around in the Chinese market, a company with strong local roots can command the No. 1 slot in the video business and relegate YouTube to also-ran status.

Certainly Baidu has not suffered for being seen as too close to China’s regulators. According to the latest market-share numbers from Beijing-based Analysys International, Baidu has strengthened its No. 1 position in the Chinese search market, with 60.5% of the market compared to Google’s 23.7%. And on Friday, the company reported that Q3 earnings were up 113% to $24.2 million on revenue of $66.3 million. (See the AP story on BusinessWeek for more.) Baidu’s stock price is up 213% so far this year.

Numbers like that are bound to instill confidence in investors looking for the next big Web 2.0 play in China. And with Chinese censors playing games to prevent YouTube access in China, the chances that a home-grown alternative can, Baidu-like, dominate the market at bet are looking better and better.

Reader Comments


October 29, 2007 12:37 PM

The author is just like a old lady who repeats the same thing day by day.

Let me tell you, Baidu wins Chinese by its content not gov's censor. Language is definitely a big problem for Google to enter Chinese market. For example, google use its Chinese name "guge", few like and remember it.

From the content view, Baidu provides much more than google even baidu blocks come links from its searching data. For example: if you search "毛泽东" (Mao Zedong) using both search engine, baidu can find 23,000,000 pages, google can only find 12,600,000 links.

Baidu beats Google mainly because of its language advantages. Google needs a lot of work to do.


October 29, 2007 1:15 PM

The US government blocked Chinese companies from aquiring many American businesses. If I were an invester, I would bet on American oil companies over Chinese considering the help they get from the US government. I supposed this is called fair trade, wouldn't you agree?

who cares

October 30, 2007 2:14 AM

who cares. this is china and if google is unwanted here then so be it. why don't you write about the u.s. not letting china buy unocal instead.

here's a tip for you. if you don't like china's policies then leave.

the middle eastern people don't like american policies so why don't the americans change them.

america is not the world's police


October 30, 2007 2:53 AM

undoubtedly,Chinese prefer and support domestic


October 30, 2007 3:08 AM

Why are you so arrogant? Chinese people do not have to visit all these foreign sites as they have their own local websites.


October 30, 2007 1:27 PM

Fully agree, this is what is happening in China. People has no right to learn the truth!


October 30, 2007 4:10 PM

This is ridiculous. Banning illegal sites is one thing..but banning GOOGLE and YouTube so that local websites can flourish is way off the mark. A day will come when the people will be seeing only local content and totally cutoff from the world. Gimme a break! and they deserve one too!

Boyd R. Jones

November 2, 2007 2:31 AM

It appears Youtube is now officially unblocked. However, why aren't Google and others lobbying against these barriers to entry? Web censorship = unfair trade practices.

Disagree? Come to my blog to comment. Oh, wait, you can't -- Google's is blocked from China too!


November 4, 2007 12:16 PM

I feel very disappointed to see that so many Americans still believe that because the United States is the strongest power in the world, that she ought to enjoy moral superiroity over all other nations. Bruce, you are no different. Like others in American media, even when you talk about trade, you attempt to tag on a moral lesson for China. You want to say that Chinese censorship creates unfair trade. It is exactly because Americans bought into the moral superiority BS that their politicians and media fed them everyday that they voted George Bush and Dick Cheney into office. It's amusing to see that Americans now blame these guys for all their problems when it was their own arrogance, as a people, that twice got these Neo-cons into power in the first place. Bruce, you are part of that that effort to make the American public believe their country, their values, their religion, and their morality are superior to the rest of the world. This belief of superiority is what brought down all great civilizations. You can go on telling America that China will never be free, fair, and able to come up with great ideas of their own. Eventually, American arrogance will not hurt China, but will kill the US.


November 12, 2007 10:29 AM

In China, you guys should check out, not Youtube - it is the fastest growing online video website in China. The video download speed of Youku in China is much better than Youtube.


November 24, 2007 7:24 AM

I'm from Singapore. And let me say that I decided to use Baidu one day and have been using it almost exclusively since then for anything in Chinese. It is really good! Well done Baidu!


August 8, 2008 11:39 PM

I agree with Peter and some others here, the Chinese have their own sites and own views. They do not need youtube as much as youtube wants them. Besides, they have their own sites, which they view and enjoy. Bummer for youtube for not being able to reach a target audience.


July 12, 2009 11:11 PM

First of all, if chinese people do not want to use sear engines such as Youtube or Google, they can always just use Baidu or other chinese websites. Secondly, why would the government/people care about these websites if only a small populations uses them anyway. I am from California/LA and recently moved to China/Guangzhou; yes, i am chinese. Hell, the reason I am pissed because Google and Youtube has the language that i can understand. This is ridiculous, there are much more important things people and the government should be caring than just the 2 websites. Wow, i don't know what is stored in their brains.

Inconvenient, rather pointless, and utterly impractical. Ridunkulus.

July 13, 2009 8:35 AM

Frankly, those who are most affected by internet censorship in China are tourists and citizens visiting relatives.

We need to contact and keep in touch with friends, colleagues/clients/employers and other relatives overseas, and Google/YouTube/Facebook/etc. are the methods both sides of the sea use. Plus, there's the issue of The Language Barrier.

It may be a "minor inconvenience", but it is rather inconvenient nonetheless.

Furthermore, what's the point? Going to the extent of completely controlling what one's people see and hear seems a little too much to me. Those who don't know likely wouldn't care to find out unless one drew attention to it by blocking off major sites. And those who knew or would find out would likely use other methods to find out more information anyway.

Wouldn't it make more sense and seem more reasonable to provide all sides of the story and let the people decide for themselves?

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