evelynchou

Posts Tagged ‘China’

Dear Google, stop acting like a spoiled American kid

In Business, Strategy, Tech & Trend on 2010/11/19 at 3:56 PM

Google earlier this week pleaded the United States, the European Union and other governments to take “concrete steps to ensure that rules in the next generation of trade agreements reflect new challenges of Internet trade.” We all know Google has been fighting with Chinese government against censorship for a year and there is no doubt Google’s act is targeted at their market share in China against another search engine company, Baidu. Even censorship and limited access to certain types of content does affect freedom of speech and information flow, Google, in my opinion, is just like a spoiled kid in this matter. (Reuters)

Don’t get me wrong, I am not supporting any governments’ interference of information nor do I want to work in a country where I have no access to Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. I simply believe there’s a better way of resolving the issue without using “free trade” excuses. And if Google can’t put itself in Chinese Internet users’ perspective to adjust its business model, Google should take its own responsibility, not urging other forces to make everything more complicated.

Is censorship the only reason causing Google’s failure in China? No. I think Google ignores the fact that Chinese searcher behavior is very different from Americans’. According to China Internet Watch, the first Internet application Chinese searcher use is online music. Unlike American use Internet to gather information, users in China go online more for music, gaming, and entertaining purposes. And when it comes to information sharing, chat rooms and forum dominate the majority of searches in China while Americans like to go to blogs and individual websites to gather information.

With such a difference in searcher behavior, I still believe Google should look at the whole situation as an opportunity to collaborate than to compete with other Chinese language search engine provider, like Baidu. I don’t appreciate Baidu’s CEO, Robin Li’s comments about Google leaving China in Web 2.0 Summit and I believe web users, whether being Chinese or Americans, should have equal opportunities to use different channels for information. My hope is that big companies like Google and Baidu will consider partnership rather than buy-out, and focus more on understanding and respecting the market difference rather than forcing the other party to change.

What is your thought on this? Do you think Google is being reasonable asking for government interference? Do you think Google still have a change in Chinese search market?

Resource:

 

  1. Fast Company “Google calls on the west to tackle Chinese web censorship”
  2. Baidu’s market share
  3. TechCrunch 420M people in China have Internet access, 99% use Baidu for search”

 

“American Dream”? No, it’s “Chinese Legend” right now

In Marketing on 2010/04/01 at 11:34 AM

I was recently asked to do a preliminary screening about potential Chinese suppliers. And when I mentioned the research be done after work because only my personal laptops have Chinese keyboard, I get this response, “if those Chinese companies want to do business with Americans, they should have an English websites.” As much as I agree on communication and language being the key factor of cross-country business, I, however, disagree with the mindset behind all these “Americanism.” While it might be the attitude to have 20-30 years ago, (American dreams, right?) it will surely sink your boat as you sailing towards Chinese market.

Just earlier I was reading How to Do Business with Chinese Companies by Golden Hints, British Embassy in Beijing, Google, at the meantime, was pulling out of China because of Internet censorship and unsuccessful negotiation with Chinese government. Many research and newspaper then jumping into the analysis game trying to figure out why and how to win the battle over this mysterious wonderland called China. Articles like Washington Post and Forbes “The Panda Has Two Faces” make valid points about how Chinese people think and how their business is like. Needless to say, even with all the tumble & fumble expanding business in China, Western companies still crave for the enormous opportunities (400 M Internet users in China versus 240 M in America, are you kidding me?) But instead of watching kung-fu panda or any Bruce Lee’s film to think you get a taste of Chinese, dear world, listen to what I have to say:

– We like to be “In-control”: If we think Westerns are “macro-managing,” then read this: according to China Digital Times, a publication based in Berkeley, Calif., “the Chinese government maintains a list of hundreds, if not thousands, of banned search terms, with new ones added periodically.” And if a foreigner tries to jump in thinking he/she can run the game? You are outta here.

– We are hospitable, “selectively”: Many foreign countries’ first impression about Chinese companies is they are very, very friendly. They wear smiles, escort all the way, and serve you the most exotic Chinese food they can ever imagine, but it is another story after the contract is signed. Chinese have their own mechanism and their own pace, as much as we complain about the bureaucracy and inefficiency ourselves, Chinese allow no interruption of the way we do things. So fight, work your way around, but make adjustable expectations.

– We are humble, but you’d better kiss our butt too: Companies need to show an almost exaggerated respect for China’s traditions: the Chinese are simultaneously immensely proud of their history. Getting close to Chinese companies, one needs more than standard courtesy as smiles and hand-shakes. It’s all about”guanxi,” a concept very similar to professional relationship for American companies but not exactly the same as professional & personal relationship are frequently mixed when it comes to the final deal in China. Here’s a joke from my college professional who frequently fly to China and do research with locals. “Chinese like to “”research”” (pronounced “yian-jo” in Chinese, very close to cigarette (pronounced “yian”) & alcohol (pronounced “jo”) In short it means unless you give them cigarettes & alcohol, they will not even bother looking at your proposal) You might call it “bribery,” but it’s the way relationship in Chinese culture works for thousands of years.

What I said above may not reflect the whole picture but at least it is an outlook from an Asian working and living almost 4 years in America. China may seem a vibrant community with a lot of unknown issues and short of clear channel or public voice, it is, still, the next superstar that any business can’t afford to miss.

I would love to hear any feedback and thoughts if you have done business in China 🙂