China_expat_logoDATELINE: Shanghai (Oct. 22, 2007): I’ve been here in China, my first visit, for exactly one week. The roller coaster phenomenon goes something like this…

Two weeks in China and you think you can write a book… two years in China and you realize you have nothing to say.

– expat’s refrain


1. Scarcely 48 hours after arriving in Beijing I shared what I considered to be my GREAT revelation with an audience at Amcham Beijing: with 137 million Internet users [make that 172 million] and an estimated 30 million bloggers, China’s use of social media is MUCH BIGGER than in the U.S. Wow.

The corollary… this is an amazing opportunity for companies – Chinese or multinational. Tap into this online crowd with a corporate or CEO blog and your company can reap the benefits. OK, hmmm… maybe.

2. Two days later, I was back to square one; not sure I understood anything about China and China’s use of the Internet as a marketing channel. Censorship is a gray area and quite nuanced. It’s confusing.

Note: I had a great lunch with Jeremy Goldkorn, founder and publisher of, who explained some of the nuances. Did a video interview with him which I’ll post to YouTube when I get back to the U.S. (YouTube continues to be blocked here in China.)

3. It’s now eight days since I’ve arrived and I’m where I should be… I understand much more than when I left the U.S. on Oct. 13, 2007. But I realize it would take years (perhaps a lifetime) to really understand Chinese consumer and business culture.

Having said that, I’m looking forward enormously to sharing a panel tomorrow on CEO blogging (21st Century PR: Executives and Their Blogs) at Amcham Shanghai with China’s word of mouth marketing expert Sam Flemming and China PR / tech guru Will Moss (aka Imagethief).

Useful Links

China’s Online Internet Explosion (What It May Mean for the Internet Globally… and for U.S. Users) by Deborah Fallows, Pew Internet – July 2007 (download PDF report)

Social Media Flourishes in China (Jennifer Jones’ interview with Sam Flemming on Podtech)

Chinese Bloggers: “Everybody Is Somebody” by Rebecca MacKinnon (Nov. 7, 2005)