Wednesday 28 January 2015

Lee Kai-who? Google’s former Chinese chief set to become one of Twitter’s biggest stars

Published 18/02/2013 | 13:02

The convictions of three Google executives charged over a video on one of the internet giant's sites showing a disabled teen being bullied have been overturned by an Italian appeals court

THE former head of Google’s China division has called for his 30 million Weibo followers to join him on Twitter after he was banned from Chinese microblogging sites.

Lee Kai-fu used two Chinese sites similar to Twitter - Sina Corp’s Weibo and a service run by Tencent Holdings – to complain about China’s strict internet controls and slow speeds.

“I’ve been silenced on Sina and Tencent for three days, so everyone can come here to find me,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

Mr Lee, who so far has nearly a million followers on Twitter, confirmed that the posting was his, according to Bloomberg.

China places strict controls on the internet, allowing access to search engines such as Google but censoring the results.

Twitter is banned but it is relatively easy to circumvent the controls.

If Mr Lee’s 30 million Weibo followers were all to join him on Twitter, it would put him fourth on the list of Twitter’s most-followed, behind Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. He would push Rihanna down into fifth place.

The Taiwan-born, US-educated businessman and computer scientist ran Google China from 2005 to 2009, and prior to that worked for Microsoft.

He is currently based in Beijing where he is an outspoken commentator voice on the internet sector.

He is also believed to have angered Beijing by using Weibo to voice support for an Chinese newspaper that is fighting a battle over censorship.

“You can be outspoken with 1 or 2 million fans, or a few hundred thousand, but 30 million followers is like a provincial radio or TV station,” said Bill Bishop, an independent technology industry consultant in Beijing.

- Richard Holt,

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