First of all, I am giving some figures which the Chinese government wants the world to know:
1. China has the most internet users (253 million) (hey, there are 1.3 billion people in China)
2. China has the most broadband users (214 million)
3. China has the most cc-TLD domain names (.cn) (12.18 million)
4. China’s internet penetration rate continues to grow (19% now)
8. Not only Beijing and Shanghai, but China has Tier II & Tier III cities (93 cities have more than 1 million population)
They are convincing, aren’t they? These facts make the Chinese IT market really attractive to everyone. But before entering the market, there are something more you need to understand, and probably you won’t.
1. Chinese loves QQ and forums
77.2% of the Chinese people uses instant messengers(40% in the States), and QQ is leading the market with 77% market share. QQ has 342 million active user accounts, 42 million peak concurrent users, 26.1 million paying internet subscribers and 13.4 million paying mobile subscribers.
63% of the Chinese uses emails and 69% uses search engines(92% and 89% in the States)
People love forums and forum like websites. The idea of wiki and twitter are too new. The internet is a toy for Chinese people instead of a tool. The big IT companies makes entertainment contents and online games, which in my opinion, should be changed!
2. The Great Firewall and CERNET
The great firewall is a censorship and surveillance project. Not only some political contents are banned, but websites like sourceforge, wikipedia, flickr, github, feedburner and etc. are all banned from time to time. Flickr and wikipedia(non political content) are free to visit now, sourceforge was removed from the blacklist during the Olympics(was blocked again the day before yesterday), but github is recently blocked. The firewall’s behavier is very hard to predict. It blocked several of my friend’s blog on livespace(just technical blogs), and as I mentioned before, it blocks sites without any reason. YouTube, part of google.com can be in the blacklist at any time! Don’t ask me why, who knows!
Every public site needs to get an approval. You need to provide your personal info to the government in order to run the web(and even if you just want to buy a virtual space for wordpress). And if you want to run a forum, a 24 hour emergency phone call number is needed, thus they can ask you to delete any post at anytime…
OK, we would like to have a Chinese KDE forum since Chinese regards forums and instant messengers as the most important things. Why wouldn’t we run it outside China?
There are only two backbones in China, one in Shanghai and one in Beijing. The infrastructure quality inside China is good. I can get 250KB/s downstream rate in Shanghai, but the speed can be terrible if I want to connect to the servers outside China(1KB/s-10KB/s). The high school and university students use CERNET. The speed within CERNET is around 1M/s-10M/s but the speed is unacceptable to outside China(<1KB/s?). Some university have only the local network connection in default, and you need to pay for the connection outside China. It is not special, and this is the case in Peking University, the best one in China. You can find any free movies, free musics and software copies within CERNET. Copyright? ah…
Things can be changed, and it is changing. We have many students using and developing free software. The situation in China is not hopeless. Many people use proxies to avoid censorship. That is why we’d like to have a forum and website of KDE for the Chinese people, and the server must be within China.
The government is not fighting with the free software communities. They just have no idea what free software is. We are making efforts here to spread the idea and motivate the people. And we need support.