One of the benefits to China being an emerging market in the world is that there is now the possibility to gain access to 1.6 billion new customers. The New York Times, with its lagging subscriber base, is trying to do just that when they launched a Chinese language version of their site at cn.nytimes.com. They just have to hope that China’s “Great Firewall” doesn’t block them out.
The biggest problem about having a Chinese language website is that you have to worry about the possibility of the Chinese government trying to shut you down. To combat this the New York Times Chinese service will be hosted on servers overseas, meaning that it does not have to abide by Chinese censorship directives. China is famous for heavily censoring what their citizens read. The Guardian tried to do this same thing in 2009 and was shut down after a couple of months.
Before you start to worry about the New York Times starting to write propaganda or bending to the strict censorship, their paper is already available to read in China on their regular English website. Joseph Kahn, the paper’s foreign editor said that Chinese government occasionally blocked certain articles from nytimes.com, but that “We’re not tailoring it to the demands of the Chinese government,” he said. “China operates a very vigorous firewall. We have no control over that. We hope and expect that Chinese officials will welcome what we’re doing.”
The site will feature around 30 articles a day on national, foreign and arts topics, in addition to editorials. Kahn said that two-thirds of the content would be translated from New York Times articles and one-third would be written by Chinese editors and local freelance journalists. I guess we will find out pretty soon if they will be shut down.