Going Mandarin: A Chinese news portal

Would you consider a Chinese news portal for your website?

According to the latest Pew stats, Chinese Internet users are now an estimated 137 million and set to ovetake the U.S. (current pop: range from 165 m to 210 m)

Users are young, male, urban, and are disproportionately composed of students. Just over 70% of the user population is under age 30 and almost 60% are men.

According to the China Network Information Center (CNNIC), the country’s internet population grew at double-digit rates over the past three years: by 18% in 2004 and 2005, and 23% in 2006.

China is currently somewhere between the “early adopter” and “early majority” phases, and a huge majority is set to get online in the medium term.

The report adds:

The Chinese diaspora, with about two-thirds of its population living in mainland China and about one third spread around the rest of the world, includes speakers of Mandarin, Cantonese, and many, many other Chinese dialects.

The languages are mutually unintelligible in their oral forms, but are virtually identical in their written form. That is, speakers of Cantonese and Mandarin cannot understand each others’ spoken language, but they can read each others’ written language.

The internet, by offering a shared use of the common written system, makes it possible for all the far-flung speakers of a multitude of Chinese dialects to communicate with each other through their written language.

The internet would offer an unprecedented vehicle for people with different native languages to communicate with each other thus creating a new, coherent, virtual community among the now disparate Chinese diaspora.

If you are news site in, any language, now would be a good time to consider a Mandarin portal.

Questions worth asking:

1. TARGET AUDIENCE: Who would be my target audience – diaspora or the nouveau rich who now would consider travelling to your country, investing in businesses, buying property, sending their kids to your universities, colleges and language schools?

2. CONTENT: What content would be immediately useful to them about my town, city, country?

3. BRIDGING: How could the Mandarin portal be a bridge to connect the current diaspora with Hong Kong and mainland China?

4. ADVERTISERS: What advertisers locally/internationally would be interested in making the portal a vehicle to market their products, goods and services?

5. RESOURCES: What current content do we have that is useable and only requires translation, and do we have the resources to make that happen. How many people do we need to add more content to make the portal happen?

6. COMPETITION: What competition do we have in the local market now and why are they successful or not successful online?

7. LONG TERM TARGETS: Where will the portal be in five years?

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