Blogging has never been bigger. Estimates now put the number of online scribes in China at 107 million (that is the number of blogging accounts that have been set up, at least).
For some political theorists, this all portends an era of freer speech and democratic activism.
But the most popular bloggers turn out to be concerned more with other things.
In particular, they are full of views on how to invest. Some claim too that their influence is now even moving the stock market.
Two years ago, Wang Xiujie tapped out a profanity-laden blog dispensing stock tips to China’s swelling ranks of investors. He quickly became one of China’s most popular bloggers, logging 3.4 million hits (page views) in less than six months.
Capitalising on his popularity, Wang started charging subscription fees for his investment recommendations. In a blog photo, Wang (the self-titled Big Brother Leader 777) also posed as a James Bond wannabe, complete with tuxedo and pistol. Not the traditional garb of the financial advisor, it must be said.
Unfortunately for Wang, he didn’t bother to apply for the appropriate licenses for his work, and he was later arrested by the Chinese authorities for illegally raising funds of Rmb13 million.
These days, however, bloggers similar to Big Brother Leader 777 are again attracting interest from those looking for guidance on investing.
As we mentioned in the previous issue, the top five most trafficked Chinese bloggers are all stock pickers and technical analysts (see WiC27). Together they attracted 2.1 billion page views.
So apart from stock advice, what other blogs are the Chinese reading?
Meet Han Han, one of China’s most popular and controversial bloggers. Since his blog’s inception in 2006, he has received more than 268.5 million page views, according to a ranking published by Sina.com. Often hailed as the “voice of his generation,” the 27-year-old writer shares his views on current news and retells personal stories.
It’s not so hard to understand Han’s success, says the Beijing News. Many of his articles attack the establishment.
Asked whether he had taken his penchant for controversy too far, Han was unconcerned: “The only group that might be affected is children, but I believe that with the protection of ‘Green Dam’ [a government filtering software blocking violent and pornographic web content], they will be safe.”
Celebrity blogger Xu Jinglei is much less controversial. Xu, who is a well-known actress and independent film director, began blogging in 2005. Within a few months, her blog had garnered 11.5 million visits and spurred thousands of other Chinese to blog too.
Xu writes about her daily life, posts photos of meals, lists her favourite flowers, and muses about philosophy and film-making.
Each posting, usually ending with “I have to be up early” (or a promise to report tomorrow on a DVD she is watching), is then swamped with thousands of reader comments. Since 2005, the celebrity blogger has received 250 million page views.
Another well-known blog is authored under the pen name ‘Acosta’.
Acosta claims to be just an “ordinary guy” but has received 217 million hits. His blog seems to be appealing to an aspirational audience. Sure, he blathers on about life, fashion and film. But a main attraction seems to be the high quality photography of his higher-end activities, including dinner dates with starlets and expensive foreign holidays. Perhaps being mysterious is a source of popularity in the Chinese cyberspace too.
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