LinkedIn became accessible again inside China early Friday evening after the business networking site had been blocked Thursday ? was this a technical glitch, or is this part of an ongoing adjustment to the Great Firewall? Chinese authorities never explicitly verify intentional maneuvers individually, but they have been intensely vigilant of Web 2.0 services since their inception, and every other foreign social media site that leads its market is already blocked, including Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Foursquare.
What would be the reason to block LinkedIn? The Great Firewall has never issued a press release, but the answer is usually obvious. What may do in LinkedIn (if the block rematerializes) is the ?Jasmine Revolution,? which so far has been not a protest movement but an occasion to display the reach of China?s security apparatus and the limits placed on China?s Internet. Self-described organizers say the attempts to protest will continue with weekly Sunday strolls in cities around China.
If LinkedIn has committed a Web 2.0 crime in China?s eyes, there are a couple possibilities: the most likely issue, given Beijing?s desire to quash organizing of any form, is that there have been attempts by Jasmine organizers to reach out to others over LinkedIn, thus spreading the word via LinkedIn invitations; another issue, raised by Techrice, is the built-in ability to post to Twitter via LinkedIn, getting around the Great Firewall without the need for circumvention tools. As Techrice notes, ?being the easiest way to tweet is a lousy government relations strategy in China.?
Sensitive events are almost always the catalyst for these blocks, and though initial blocks are often temporary (as was the case with Facebook and Twitter in the past), once you are on China?s ?do not connect? list, it is hard to get off. Youtube has been blocked since the Tibet riots of March 2008; Facebook and Twitter were each blocked permanently after the Xinjiang riots of July 2009; and location-based service Foursquare has been blocked since users tried to ?check in? en masse to Tiananmen Square last year on the June 4 anniversary of the 1989 massacre of protestors.
Chinese clones of these services naturally benefit from each of these Great Firewall ?upgrades.? Youku.com, the leading online video site, IPO?d in December and is valued on the New York Stock Exchange at $3.8 billion. Renren, the leading Facebook of China with 160 million users, is expected soon to raise $500 million in a U.S. IPO. Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg is clearly trying to get Facebook back into China, perhaps through a joint venture with a trusted Chinese company like Baidu.
Sina Corp.?s Weibo, the dominant Chinese Twitter-like service, launched in August 2009, a month after Twitter was blocked, and is likely approaching 100 million users. Analysts disagree widely on Weibo?s value, in part due to worries about whether Beijing would shut down or severely curtail the service, but guesses range from as low as $1.5 billion to as high as $3 billion. And there is no shortage of Chinese versions of Foursquare ? including Dianping, Jiepang and a check-in service on Renren ? but you can bet none of them will be allowing users to ?check in? to the Jasmine Revolution, much less Tiananmen Square on June 4 every year.
Who will gain if LinkedIn does get blocked? (LinkedIn, as Techrice noted, did not have a Chinese-language interface, was not a huge player in the China market to begin with, and should not feel ill effects if it ends up being blocked as it looks toward an IPO). No company has yet to become ?the LinkedIn of China,? but one widely cited contender is ushi.cn. One more candidate to watch for, reports Techrice, is Jingwei, a sister company of Renren that is in beta-testing.
SEEK Limited (ASX:SEK) grew its 1H profit 31% to $36.6 million, as a result of strong domestic growth and its Chinese venture Zhaopin swinging to profitability.
The company, which operates the employment website SEEK.com.au, reported a 22% year-on-year increase in revenue to $130.3 million. Ebitda grew 12% to $55.8 million.
The company's employment business in Australia and New Zealand recorded revenue of $106.8 million and ebitda of $62.8 million, up 36% and 55% respectively.
SEEK's outgoing joint CEO, Paul Bassat said the results reflect the ongoing migration of employment advertising from print to online. ?As employment markets have improved, growth in online job ads has significantly outpaced growth in print job ads,? he said.
He pointed to ANZ research which shows that online currently captures some 82% of all job ads.
SEEK's Zhaopin joint venture, in which it owns a 56.1% stake, moved to profitability during the period, achieving a positive ebitda in each month.
But its SEEK Education businesses ? SEEK Learning, THINK and IDP ? had a challenging six months, Bassat said.
SEK shares fell 11.74% during Tuesday's trading to $6.240.
SEEK on Tuesday also announced that Paul Bassat's brother, Andrew Bassat has signed a contract to become the company's sole CEO until at least 2013.
About three quarters of companies operating in China expect to increase wages by over 5% in 2011, a survey by British recruitment firm showed on Wednesday.
The finding comes amid a boom in China's middle class, a result of the country's economic success, and highlights the high inflationary pressures in the pipeline as well as rising costs faced by many companies.
Most companies in China to hike wages in '11: Survey
Chinese employees "are now in a stronger position than they were previously. They have a much better understanding of their worth in the market place and are aware of their bargaining power," said Nigel Heap, managing director of Hays Asia Pacific.
The annual salary survey of more than 5,000 employers based in Shanghai and Beijing showed more than half expect to increase salaries between 6-10% over the next 12 months while a third intend to hike them by more than 10%.
Wage inflation is being propelled by fast economic growth in smaller or so-called tier-two cities, which has given hundreds of millions of migrant workers the option to return home where the cost of living is cheaper, Heap said.
Labour demand has risen significantly in tier-two cities following massive investments by the government in the past two years to develop inland areas, he said.
Rising wages put pressure on inflation although that is being compensated for by even faster gains in productivity for now. Data showed on Tuesday core inflation, stripped of volatile food prices, jumped to its highest in at least a decade in January.
Still, the Chinese government is encouraging wage hikes as it wants to boost consumer spending and reduce the economy's reliance on exports.
In January, the city of Beijing raised the minimum wage by 21% while Shanghai's mayor has said he plans to raise it by more than 10% this year given the fast pace of development and soaring food prices.
Guangdong province, the mainland's manufacturing hub, will reportedly raise its minimum wage by an average 18.6% from March.
Multinationals operating in China such as Yum Brands Inc have already seen commodity-induced cost inflation eat into their profit margins.
The owner of the KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell fast-food chains forecast this month rising 2011 labour and food costs in China and said that modestly raising prices in its top growth market would help mitigate that pressure.
To check companies reported violation of rules to require hepatitis B tests for job applicants, the Chinese Government has reiterated a strict ban on the tests during pre-employment physical examinations.
China's Ministry of Health said that no health institutions are allowed to provide hepatitis B checks as part of pre-employment physical tests regardless of whether the examinees provide consent or not.
On Feb. 10, 2010, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security jointly issued a circular demanding the cancellation of the hepatitis B tests during the health checks for school enrollment and employment nationwide, Xinhua reports.
However, according to a survey released this week, which was conducted by the non-profit Beijing Yirenping Center, some 61.1 percent of the 180 state-run companies surveyed included hepatitis B checks in their pre-employment physical examinations.
More surprisingly, 63 companies said that they would never consider hepatitis B carriers for a job or were reluctant to hire such people.
Yu Fangqiang, the principal of the Yirenping Center, said that such violations mainly resulted from light punishment for violations and some health institutions' desire for profits.
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