A Bombshell dropped, at least for the “in” crowd, arrived early this year, when a venerable local media challenged censorship directly on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter.  What happened next has great ramifications, not least for Sina, who is caught in the middle of the crossfire. Now, what the battle means for grand topics such as the freedom of speech in remain uncertain. But the verdict is clear for Sina weibo: it came out both a winner and a loser.

The good news first: Weibo is THE channel for distributing news, one that could even rival mainstream media. When the editors at the aforementioned media wanted the controversy to get out of hand, they chose Weibo as their medium. Ordinary people and intellectuals alike followed the story on Weibo, expressed their opinions and sympathies on Weibo, and created instant martyrs on Weibos.

All of this, of course, is tremendous for Sina. Weibo has been challenged on all fronts. Tencent launched, and as only Tencent could, a competing service, and it has now accumulated more users and active users than Sina. Morever, Tencent’s WeChat threatens to make Weibo irrelevant altogether. Other competitors such as Netease and smaller counterparts such as Momo have also thrown their hats in the ring and are assaulting Sina on all fronts. Since this is China after all, traditional media is alive and well; with their influences and money generating capacities undiminished, they are also very much on Sina’s mind.

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Yang Wang

Yang is currently the brand and media director at Elitime Media & Consulting. He has published and translated seven books, and several of his works have been translated and published in areas such...