There are many aspects of the Internet in China that make it unique (see Internet censorship in the People’s Republic of China, a page that is no doubt blocked from view in China.)
- state censorship of non-Chinese content via the Great Firewall
- internal (to China) censorship of content by Chinese Internet companies
- self-censorship that is a hallmark of any regime that does not have free speech laws
These are but 3 of the many differences of the Internet in China vs. elsewhere.
Sadly, there are non-censorship related issues around commercial software vendors and their competitive practices that are terrible for Chinese Internet users. The most recent battle on the Chinese Internet is between Tencent, who’s QQ brand has over 600 million users of their instant messaging service, and 360 an ‘anti-virus’ software company that has 300 million clients installed and is so aggressive as to cross the line (in my opinion) of marking legitimate software as “viruses” if they are competitive with any software that 360 also provides.
If I had to put this in Western terms, it would be as if Norton/Mcafee marked AOL Instant Messenger/Yahoo! IM/etc. as virus software.
360 vs QQ, Internet security company picks fight with China’s NO. 1 software giant (the Japanese manga-style cartoons are a little disturbing)
EastSouthWestNorth has translations of key statements from QQ and a news report from MOP:
360 PK Tencent (10/31/2010) (MOP)
360 Is Hackerware (11/01/2010) (QQ.com)
China Tech News is reporting that China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and Ministry of Public Security is now involved in this corporate dispute without any resolution to date.
Qihoo 360: Chinese Government Interferes In Tencent Internet Dispute
And today, Tencent (QQ) has issued an ultimatum to it’s 600 million users that users of QQ cannot use 360’s anti-virus software.
Tencent threatens its users with an ultimatum
China’s Internet users have so many challenges to deal with, from the state, to the companies that run Chinese Internet services, that corporate in-fighting between Chinese application providers (who are not even directly competing with each other) should be the last straw.
My opinion? If you are an Internet user in China, switch to Linux or Mac OS and get off Windows, because Chinese application providers only build for Windows and thus getting off Windows means getting rid of the need for Chinese applications altogether. You won’t have these problems with open source software.