One of the most profound experiences for me in the year past was visiting China. Or, more specifically, visiting Beijing and then Shanghai. And one element of the experience was that I began to learn how pervasive blogging is in China.

My colleague Debbie Weil, who was in China at the same time and on a panel I moderated at ad:tech Beijing, was also amazed at the numbers quoted to us, both of Internet usage overall and of the number of blogs. In an interview in December, Debbie links to the Pew Internet report of July 2007 for a figure of somewhere between 165 and 210 million Internet users. At the time we were in Beijing, Debbie was also given to understand there were some 30 million bloggers.

Up till then I had been relying on Technorati’s regular surveys, the latest of which, in April 2007, indicated a total 70 million blogs worldwide, being tracked by Technorati, of which only 8% were indicated as being in Chinese. Even allowing for the possibility or even likelihood that the China figures Debbie and I were being given were rubbery, there is still a big discrepancy. I can only assume that the systems of measurement are different.

And just last week, on Dec 26, the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) released its Survey Report on Blogs in China 2007. According to the report summary, by the end of Nov 2007 the number of “blog spaces” (which I assume to mean what we in the West call simply “blogs” or “weblogs”) was 78.82 million, with 47 million bloggers (“blog writers”): the report summary helpfully adds that this means that one out of every thirty Chinese or one in every four Internet users (“netizens”) is a blogger. (Thanks to Allesio Jacona for the link to the CNNIC report summary.)

For me, what was more interesting than the aggregate numbers was the growth story. According to the CCNIC report, at the end of 2006 there were 17.5 million bloggers, with 30 million more in the past year to reach the current figure of 47 million (give or take half a million). Incidentally, it’s interesting that there are more women (57%) bloggers than men (43%) – converse of the pattern in the West.

The report indicates that the bloggers cover “almost all of the areas of people’s daily life” but there is not much in the summary of the report to indicate whether, or how much, blog production is related to business.

One of my goals for the New Year is to garner information and case studies on the takeup and practice of business blogging and other business usage of social media in China. I have a number of links already to China blogs with a business focus and once I have them in some semblance of order I will begin to share them on this site, together with other links that come to light.

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Des Walsh is an executive coach. He helps business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide deal effectively with the feeling of being left behind or overwhelmed, or both, about social media – especially LinkedIn - and how to engage safely and effectively with social media to help grow their business. Connect with Des on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get Des’s weekly Social Business Bites (select snippets of his "best of the week" online finds).