Company has Internet licence

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 September, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 September, 2000, 12:00am

I refer to the article by Philip Cunningham headlined, 'Poet's arrest a great leap backwards' (South China Morning Post, August 29).

While pleased to be called a 'business savvy producer', and to have our 'talented editor' Kaiser Kuo singled out for mention, I would like to respond to inaccuracies regarding our company,

Mr Cunningham implies that ChinaNow relies on shadowy guanxi (connections) to stay in business and further paints our content as 'salacious', with portraits of 'gangsters, ganja and groupies'.

There are three issues - our business itself, our connections to political figures and our content.

As for our business, we are one of the few foreign-invested Chinese Internet firms to have properly attained an Internet content provider (ICP) licence (and therefore operate in accordance with local law).

This has nothing to do with political connections.

We filled out the forms and were accepted.

As for the comment that 'Jiang Mianheng . . . has a hand in', Jiang Mianheng was formerly on the board of one of the investors of one of our investors, and was not involved in our company.

As to our content, we are a lifestyle guide to major cities in China. The fact that we are irreverent and personality-driven makes our site fun to read.

The fact that we don't write about hard-hitting political news is because it has nothing to do with lifestyle.

This is not an example of self-censorship; rather it is a reflection of our brand positioning.

Otherwise, Mr Cunningham's piece was enjoyable and insightful.


Chief Operations Officer

Philip Cunningham replies: ChinaNow is a smart product in a market crowded with dotcom wannabes and I wish them well. Thanks to Mr Rosenblum for clarifying the Jiang question, a ChinaNow staffer gave me a somewhat grander description of the guanxi situation and if that person is wrong, I stand corrected.

But guanxi and self-censorship are a way of life in the mainland and I don't know of a news organisation, let alone a China-based entertainment guide, that hasn't pulled punches or played the guanxi game at one time or another.

Self-monitoring is so insidious and pervasive in the mainland, it becomes second nature.

Despite an observable relaxation of state censorship regarding trendy lifestyle matters, deviating from the ever-shifting party line is still a risk. Just try to run an article about the Falun Gong lifestyle, the unauthorised Christian lifestyle or the Tibetan lifestyle and you'll quickly see what I mean.