Love China or Love Zhonghua, January 19:
Cigarette ads: patriotic or simply advertising? Shanghai lawmakers would like to ban billboards by Shanghai Tobacco Corporation. The billboards ask people to love China (???? Ai Wo Zhonghua, or “Love my China”), but Zhonghua is also the name of one of Shanghai Tobacco’s brands. The Shanghai People’s Congress says the billboards are tobacco advertising and should be banned, but Shanghai Tobacco says they are public service announcements and should be allowed to stay … One has to question the motives of Shanghai legislators. China has signed the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, committing it to banning all tobacco promotion by 2010. But one has to wonder if that’s the legislators’ true motive. There is another event in 2010 that is probably more important – the Shanghai World Expo. The Expo’s slogan is “Better City – Better Life,” and a city with thinly veiled cigarette ads could be viewed as going against the Expo’s spirit.
Here comes the 3G era (finally), January 8:
Most believe that TD-SCDMA will be a qualified success in China given its strong government backing and the fact that industry leader China Mobile has been tasked with running the network. I’ll leave the opining on the fate of TD-SCDMA to real experts. What I will say is that the 3G rollout may serve as an important case study of China’s hybrid economic model. Over the next few years, we will see first-hand what happens when an authoritarian government saddles one of its flagship companies with an inferior technology and pawns that off on the public with handset subsidies, “experience centers” and kind-of-lame marketing. Will consumers be patient with TD-SCDMA’s growing pains? Will they race en masse to one of China Mobile’s competitors? Or… will they even care? That’s got to be the question keeping people up at night.