Shanghai Securities newspaper came out with an article that claimed that they had a contact that says that tax authorities are investigating Google China for tax evasion. Moreover, they are not just looking at the company’s taxes, but individual income taxes as well — including those of Lee Kai-Fu, Google’s man in China, who is rumored to owe more than 5 million RMB in unpaid taxes. The report says that there is a several month grace period during which you can pay back the whole thing, but so far, we don’t know if Lee or Google are in any serious trouble. Google spokesman say the whole thing is a fabrication and that they have not received any audit notifications from the tax bureau.
As China/science/tech blogger Jocelyn Ford points out, Google is still hard at work wooing Chinese netizens. Chinese “search longer and are more curious than US web surfers”, “Chinese like clicking but not typing,” and “China specific services” are hot. With regard to the latter, the “snowstorm finder” that Google engineers whipped up during the 20% time was supposedly used by 120 million people in 20 days. The thing was so popular that Lee and other head honchos at Google are talking about doing more localized projects like it. Lee Kai-fu supposedly said at a upper management meeting that he was hoping for 50 “snowstorm finder”-esque projects to come from Chinese Googlers in the next six months. Between this and all the Google vs. Baidu eye-tracking tests things are getting exciting (note: sarcasm) in the epic battle of the search engine giants in China.
If you use Firefox on a Mac, you might know that typing ‘g’ into the address bar takes you automatically to Gmail, but if you go a little farther and type ‘g.cn’ you will go straight to Google’s China page, which was recently redesigned. You can see they have little button things on the bottom, taking you to picture, news, and blogsearch — stuff that you know and still appears in link on the top left — but there are also some newish features. One is the 热榜 (rebang) or “hotlist” — which features stuff like the most popular SMS of February 2008, the most searched words, the hottest words, the most popular songs, the search word that grew the most, the most popular online novels, stuff like that. Within that there is a “knowledge list” feature which has all kinds of information on several topics: health, food, lifestyle, and holidays/festivals.
If you ever find yourself asking “is sign language uniform all around the world?” or “what is the most moving English song?” you can check out what answers have been given — they are all from one source, the ‘answers’ page on Tianya. How much milk does a four-month old infant need? There are no more excuses for your ignorance.
Another beta feature directly accessible from the new home page is the Google website maps function (网站导航), which is basically a guide to some of the more popular sites on the web. For example, they’ve got lists of the most popular IT forums, best e-commerce/online shopping sites, picture/image searching sites, best literature/online lit magazine sites, etc. etc.
None of these features are super-new, in the sense of being something new under the sun — the news is just the way they’ve redesigned the layout so that these localized features show up more prominently.