Sunday, August 21, 2005

Internet as a Competitive Tool: China vs. Europe

From The China Herald: Internet as a competitive tool
(Weblog of Shanghai-based journalist Fons Tuinstra)

"When China started to enter the internet age, now a decade ago, reactions were skeptical. The leading forces in the central government saw the internet as an indispensable tool in opening up the country economically. But observers saw many financial, political and ideological bears on that way to connectivity. Now, ten years and over 100 million subscribers to the internet later many of those early doubts have disappeared."

"A decade ago the US served as an example for China, not Europe. Now, ten years later China has not only delivered much of its promises, traveling in Europe I’m shocked to see how poorly developed the internet is in Europe, compared to China."

"In my Hamburg hotel the staff is already getting used when I rush from one place to the other to use the expensive internet connection I had to purchase. Parking lots and toilets are for free and always available, but getting a internet connection is a challenge in this five-star hotel. So, I move from my room, to the lounge, the toilets and the bar, desperately trying to find a working wifi-signal. Staff reacts with compassion when they note my addiction: next week they will get somebody to look into the problem."

"There are rather obvious reasons why the online activities and connectivity is lagging behind in Europe, compared to China and also the US. The continent is divided in smaller language groups and people tend to concentrate themselves to their own culture even when they use a global instrument like the internet. But even then, a coherent push by the government to get the cities online very fast has put China is a much better position to compete that lagging Europe."

Internet as a competitive tool – the WTO-column
(later also at


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