Kaiser Kuo

Not only the government, but also the internet users are the masters China’s internet companies have to listen to, explains Baidu’s director for international communication Kaiser Kuo in Yale Global. On how the country’s public sphere is developing.

The Wenzhou train crash and concern about food safety are two subjects that have been driving concern of internet users.

Yale Global:

“This is unprecedented in Chinese history,” says Kaiser Kuo, the director of Corporate Communications at Baidu.com, the leading Chinese search engine. “There’s never been a time when there’s been a comparably large and impactful public sphere. It’s now driving, in many ways, the entire national dialogue.”…

Not surprising, then, that news of Hong Kong’s mass demonstrations in recent weeks, against increasing Mainland Chinese government control, made only the most fleeting of appearances on Weibo.

Still, Chinese Weibo users are using what Baidu’s Kaiser Kuo calls “delightful creativity” in using homonyms, puns and wordplay to get messages across.  Those who want to post longer, edgier messages often post them as photos, to get around both censors and the word limit.  Kuo says social media companies are left to balance between following the law and letting the virtual public square that’s their customer base thrive.

“Internet companies in China serve two masters,” he says. “They need to keep users happy, and none of them labor under the illusion that people prefer censored search results…. We are obliged to obey the law in China. And we are also compelled to explore the elasticity of our boundaries.”

More in Yale Global.

Kaiser Kuo is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

More on Kaiser Kuo, speaking on China’s internet, at Storify.

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