Screw China!

An upside down Chinese flag

Because the 20th anniversary of that time it massacred lots of unarmed students is coming up, the Chinese government is suddenly blocking Twitter, Hotmail, Flickr, Bing, Tumblr, Blogspot, Livejournal, and the Huffington Post.

But you know what? Screw China. You’re better off not doing business there, anyway.

Here’s why:

You’re above it. That’s what WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg decided after realising China would unblock his service if he in turn blocked certain words or topics. “That sort of company is not one I would wake up every day and feel passionate about working in,” Matt told the AFP.

Chinese users will drain your bandwidth without paying for it. Video-sharing site Veoh blocks users not just from China, but from across Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe because it doesn’t think it can make any money from the traffic those countries bring. “I believe in free, open communications,” Veoh CEO Dmitry Shapiro told the New York Times.  “But these people are so hungry for this content. They sit and they watch and watch and watch. The problem is they are eating up bandwidth, and it’s very difficult to derive revenue from it.”

Actually try to succeed in China and you’re probably going to embarrass yourself at home. Back in 2004, Yahoo inadvertently helped the Chinese government imprison dissidents Shi Tao and Wang Xiaoning. By 2007, Yahoo’s top lawyer, Michael Callahan, found himself apologizing to Congress for seeming to cover it up.

The locals know how to play the game better than you. How did local search engine Baidu get such a huge lead of Google in China? A local entrepreneur made it plain for the New York Times in 2006:  “Basically, some Baidu people sat down and did hundreds of searches for banned materials on Google. Then they took all the results, printed them up and went to the government and said, ‘Look at all this bad stuff you can find on Google!” The government took Google offline.

Rupert Murdoch doesn’t even see the point. During News Corp’s last earnings call, a reporter asked chairman Rupert Murdoch if the company planned to invest anymore in China. Rupe, who has tried as hard as any Western businessman to crack that market, laughed off the notion. “We don’t see anything to do that will make us a lot of money,” he said. “In media, it’s pretty much a no-no.”

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