ALEX CHADWICK, host:
And here's one more from Beijing.
China now has more cell phone subscribers than any other country. But China's government recently began new restrictions on cell phones with video cameras. Government officials are worried about users posting their videos online. Human rights groups say these restrictions are meant to discouraged would-be citizen journalists.
NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports.
ANTHONY KUHN: The latest Internet video to go viral here was shot by an anonymous spectator last month. China's Central Television's sports channel was being rebranded as the Olympic Channel. Sports anchor Zhang Bin was about to speak when suddenly his wife - who is also a TV show host - commandeered the microphone.
Ms. HU ZIWEI: (Through translator) Today is a special day for the Olympic Channel. It's also a special day for Mr. Zhang Bin. But it's also a special day for me, because two hours ago I just found out that Mr. Zhang Bin is having an illicit relationship with another woman.
KUHN: The same week as this snafu, the government banned Web sites that they don't own or control from displaying Internet videos. The ban takes effect at the end of this year. The ministries added that Web sites should obey a socialist moral code. Web sites are now scrambling to find out how the government will apply these rules. At the offices of YouKu.com, staffers monitor new videos uploaded by users. In its one year in business, YouKu.com has attracted $40 million in venture capital and over 100 million video views a day. Founder Victor Koo is hopeful that China's government wants to develop the Internet, not strangle it.
Mr. VICTOR KOO (Founder, YouKu.com): There are certainly near-term regulatory as well as investment environment uncertainty, but if you look at the last 10 years, over 10 years of Internet development in China, the Chinese government has always been very pro-active about development and working with Internet companies to create an environment for us to grow.
KUHN: China's government says it's merely trying to protect young people from obscene and violent Internet content. The group Reporters Without Borders said that authorities are restricting online content under the pretext of developing China's media industry.
Chinese blogger and journalist Wang Xiaofeng is also critical of the new rules, but he says that a new breed of Chinese citizen journalists has not yet taken advantage of the Internet. He says this is because Chinese turn to the Web mostly for entertainment.
Chinese people are looking for fun, he says, but not finding any, so they turn to the Internet. Most Web sites just post videos that they think will attract more viewers. Only a very small portion are related to social issues.
Wang and other critics say that most Internet videos are trash. For an example, they point to a woman nicknamed the Accord Girl. In her self-made videos, she claims to be a 26-year-old Beijing resident who likes Honda sedans. In one episode she talks about her search for Mr. Right.
ACCORD GIRL: (Through translator) No way I can even consider someone who makes less than a million a year. That's right. Look at housing prices in Beijing. How's a girl supposed to live with anything less than a million?
KUHN: A million Chinese yuan is about $130,000.
ACCORD GIRL: (Through translator) So I have just one word for those guys who tried to make nice, but don't even have cars and homes - scram! Don't come chasing after me to get your kicks.
KUHN: Some netizens dismiss the Accord Girl as a cyber-vulgarian. Others counter that she's just saying what many people her age really think.
Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Beijing.
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