Yahoo came under fire following revelations that its Hong Kong subsidiary collaborated with the Chinese government last year to jail a reporter by providing authorities with detailed information allowing them to trace a personal Yahoo e-mail sent by journalist Shi Tao that authorities said had contained "state secrets." The information helped the government sentence Shi to 10 years in prison. Shi had posted on the Internet a government order prohibiting Chinese media from commemorating the 15th anniversary of Tiananmen Square, according to The Times of London.
Yahoo's response: "Just like any other global company, Yahoo must ensure that its local country sites must operate within the laws, regulations and customs of the country in which they are based."
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch also had his own run-in with authorities when the government blocked News Corp's plans to reach over 100 million homes in northwest China by leasing the operations of Qinghai Satellite TV Station. The rules issued by China's propaganda ministry in August to "defend cultural security" and impose tighter controls on foreign content through stricter interpretation of the country's media ownership regulations and other means have dampened efforts by foreign media interests trying to find a footing in China. The Murdoch venture pushed regulatory boundaries by leaving the legal responsibilities for the operations in the hands of a Chinese partner.
At the Disneyland opening in Hong Kong mid-September, Robert A. Iger, Disney's president and chief operating officer told The New York Times the company would need assurances that it would be able to broadcast Disney shows on Chinese television before committing to building theme parks in the Mainland. With backing from Beijing, Shanghai has been lobbying for a Disney theme park for years now. Iger cited China's IPR enforcement as another road-block to Disney's forays into the mainland.
The IPR problem has been made worse by a new technology that allows viewers around the world to watch pay-TV for free has taken off in China, The Wall Street Journal reported. Coolstreaming, one version of the peer-to-peer streaming TV software developed by Beijing-based Roxbeam Media Network Corp, has been downloaded 1.5 million times, the paper reported, citing a company engineer. Imaginechina Disney: sticking with Hong Kong for now.
Ericsson to invest US$1bn in China
Ericsson announced plans to invest US$1 billion in China over the next five years in manufacturing and research to meet the rising demand for high-speed wireless services. Ericsson said it has 35% of the GSM market in greater China and is the biggest supplier to China Mobile (Hong Kong), the country's largest mobile phone company.
AT&T moves China HQs to Shanghai
US telecommunications giant AT&T announced plans to move its Greater China headquarters from Hong Kong to Shanghai to break into the growing telecommunications market in the Mainland. The move will not lead to job losses at the Hong Kong office, an AT&T spokesman said.
Google launches local service
Google launched its local search engine in China, only the fifth country to receive the service. Google Local (called Google Bendi in China) plots the locations of individual businesses in particular cities through key-word searches. More than 100 Chinese cities are included and 70 of them have a map search option. Google is China's second most popular search engine after Baidu.com.
Skype, Tom in joint venture
European telephony provider Skype formed a joint venture with Chinese portal Tom online in order to expand its premium services. Tom online will own 51% of the venture. The two companies have offered co-branded services since last year and in that time Skype acquired 3.1 million registered users in China.
CT blocks net phone services
China Telecom began to block Internet telephony service providers operating in China in a bid to shore up its flagging long-distance revenues. CT plans to gradually extend the block nationwide, with European peer-to-peer-voice provider Skype Technologies SA blocked in Shenzhen already. CT also compiled a "blacklist"of service users and threatened fines for those who circumvent the new blocks. Although Skype does not actually offer its PC-to-phone service in China, instead offering only voice calls between PCs, some China-based users have been able to access the PC-to-phone service.
Netcom buys 4 regional networks
China's second-largest fixed-line telephony operator, China Netcom, agreed to purchase four provincial networks from its state-owned parent company for US$4.5 billion. The four northern regions of Jilin, Shanxi and Heilongjiang provinces and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region have 30.5 million fixed-line subscribers, or a penetration rate of 24.9%. Netcom's chief executive Edward Tian said the company would need to focus on broadband, corporate clients and value-added services. Although Netcom's fixed-line growth has been slow this year, the company cited Xiaolingtong, its limited wireless service, as its recent success story – Xiaolingtong's network of customers grew 45.4% to 18.1 million in The first half of 2005.
Zhaopin.com partners with Sohu
China's online headhunting and job website, Zhaopin.com, entered a partnership with portal operator Sohu to create an online job platform, in response to the Sina-ChinaHR partnership. Liu Hao, CEO of Zhaopin.com, told reporters that the company is preparing an initial public offering in the US next-year.