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Date: Wed, 11 Nov 1998 19:34:47 +0000
Sender: H-Net list for Asian History and Culture <H-ASIA@H-NET.MSU.EDU>
From: Marilyn Levine, Lewis-Clark State College <mlevine@lcsc.edu>
Subject: H-Asia: PRC Internet: Cheaper, More Popular and Chinese

PRC Internet: Cheaper, More Popular And More Chinese

An October 1998 report from U.S. Embassy Beijing, by David Cowhig, dcowhig@public3.bta.net.cn

Summary: Chinese efforts to popularize and boost the Chinese language presence on the Internet through a low-cost domestic-only service, a convenient non-registration Internet service added to the telephone bill, and increased Chinese language content will likely push the total number of Chinese users to over 5 million by the year 2000. Internet use and home PC sales in China will about double this year but most Internet Service Providers are losing money. The PRC government strives to assure China=A1_s place it what it sees as the coming global information-based economy by promoting information networks. Some Chinese commentators fear that in this new information economy developing countries like China will fall further and further behind.

Some industry observers believe that a combination of highly preferential pricing and appealing Chinese language content would in itself be sufficient to restrict the vast majority of China's Internet users to domestic websites and so eliminate the need to rely on ineffectual blocking techniques. The Chinese language Internet is bringing an ever richer diet of information to Chinese people. Thousands of high school students now turn to on-line cram schools to prepare for examinations. An appendix lists Chinese search engines and useful starting points for Chinese language Internet exploration.

This report is now available at http://www.usembassy-china.gov/english/sandt/Inetcawb.htm

The U.S. Embassy Beijing Environment, Science and Technology Web Page is at http://www.usembassy-china.gov/english/sandt/index.html

Visitors to China with laptops may want to try the 169 dial-in service to the Chinese domestic branch of the Internet. This service offers inexpensive worldwide e-mail service but browsing limited to Chinese domestic sites. You could set up a free mailbox on the Chinese domestic network to maintain contact with people outside of China. The charges are added to your telephone bill. This no-registration dial-in Internet service is described in the report above.

A list (in Chinese) of free e-mail mail boxes can be found on the Sohoo search engine (www.sohoo.com.cn) at http://www.sohoo.com.cn/Computer/Internet/Personal/Freemail/index.html

David Cowhig