That’s China!

Google, Rupert Murdoch, and other media giants have been vexed
of late by the China problem. China is a vast, some would say
untapped, market, but it has proved largely elusive to even the
biggest multinational media bidders due to the state’s labyrinthine
‘legal’ system. Yet possibly no one knows the dangers of the media
business in China quite as well as Mark Kitto, a British citizen
who started and ran what some have called a mini-media empire in
China.

In an article for Britain’s
Prospect Magazine, Kitto provides a sketch of his
tumultuous career in Chinese media. For the seven years he worked
to produce various English-language expat magazines in China, Kitto
existed on the fringes of legality. The tight control the state
exercises over media pushed him into subterfuge, as the large
public demand for his publications pulled him into the spotlight.
And for a while, his work was condoned by the powers that be.

The brand image that Kitto says he started — that’s
Shanghai!
and that’s Beijing were a couple of his
publications — was wildly successful, constantly spawning new
iterations. Yet, the entire operation ran on a hodge-podge of
partnerships and allegiances that constantly forced Kitto to pack
up and get going elsewhere. He was a constant source of
investigation — he claims to have been investigated by nine
bureaus altogether — and his computers were even confiscated
once.

Suddenly, however, his dream of owning the line of magazines he
created crumbled. Kitto’s longtime associate and advisor, the
mysterious Mr. Yuan, tried to force Kitto into a deal that Kitto
found unacceptable. After he tried to block the deal, he found his
operations taken over, leaving him with nothing. In one swift move
Mr. Yuan had forced Kitto’s employees to choose between the two of
them. The employees, Kitto explains, knew he was powerless and
sided with Mr. Yuan.

Now, Kitto is attempting to secure the ‘that’s’ name, the only
legal recourse he has left. Intellectual property, Kitto notes, is
the only aspect of media that can be privately owned in China. His
troubles don’t end there, however. He wrote a book about the ordeal
and, according to an article endnote, after the manuscript had been
edited, ‘the publisher dropped it for fear of harming its Chinese
interests.’
Nick Rose

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That’s China!

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