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How widespread is social media in China?

2 Mins

I recently retired as UK senior partner of BDO after 23 years as a partner with the firm. Last year, I took up a position as visiting professor at Xiamen University, China. My wife is Chinese and I decided to spend three months exploring business opportunities in the region and trying to learn some Mandarin.

I’m blogging about my experiences in China for Real Business – catch up on my journey so far (see “related articles” on the right-hand side). 

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I am coming to admire the flexibility and adaptability of Chinese people. Whilst I have discerned that what the West sees as creativity and innovation is not so evident here –and I sometimes sense that pragmatism overrides principle – the ability to cope and adapt is itself a form of creativity, even if it is born of survival instincts. 

I have experienced many examples: today in Hong Kong, I snapped a picture of one that made me smile: a big street poster declaring “Hong Kong business community celebrates the 62nd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China” – few would have predicted that 20 years ago. 

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No one in China seriously doubts that all forms of media are managed, manipulated and monitored. Indigenous copies of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are tolerated – and do well – probably because they accept a degree of intervention and cooperate with authorities if “abuses” are identified. 

TV and newspapers sometimes seem surprisingly open with their comments – but one can equally see that there are limits and when these are reached, correction occurs! Even more troubling to the West is the suggestion that China is behind a series of RAT-attacks (Remote Access Terrorism – a form of cyber-espionage) on other countries’ businesses and government agencies. 

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