We interview Kaiser Kuo, the host of Sinica Podcast to discuss China. With a background in East Asian studies and corporate experience from Oilgvy China, Youku to Baidu, Kaiser discussed the challenges of China and how the country has evolved from 1995 to 2015. Sharing the story of the Sinica podcast which he co-host with Jeremy Goldkorn, we discussed the rise of China, the typical Chinese consumer from cultural norms to digital habits with the smartphone, and the common misconceptions of China from the western viewpoint. We also chatted on Kaiser’s active participation on Quora and why he would be heading back to the US in 2016 but retained his continued passion and interest with bridging China to the rest of the world.
Here are the interesting show notes and links to the discussion (with timestamps included):
- Kaiser Kuo, co-host of the Sinica Podcast and director of international relations, Baidu.
- Kaiser Kuo (@KaiserKuo, LinkedIn, Facebook, Quora)
- How did he get started in technology, media and culture?
- Why did he move to China and subsequently got involved in corporate communications and technology?
- With his several stints with Ogilvy and Youku that eventually lead up to his current role, what has he learned about the media and tech industry in China?
- China: from 1995 to 2015 and the Sinica Podcast
- With Jeremy Goldkorn, Kaiser started the Sinica podcast with Popup Chinese studios, discussing interesting topics on China every week. What is the story and the motivation behind the podcast?
- What are some of your favorites among the hundreds of discussions you published?
- Great Firewall of China:
- How has Xi’s government clamped down on the Internet and how are digital natives operating within the Great Firewall of China?
- The high growth decade of 2000-2010 is largely agreed to have concluded with growth rates somewhere between 3-6% depending on who is predicting. As China slows economically, what do you think will be the areas to watch within the economy?
- Many economists believe China needs to move from a largely manufacturing-based economy to a service-based economy. This takes decades in other economies- would it necessarily also take decades for China or is the central government better positioned to move China towards a service-based economy than a free-market based economy?
- Cultural and Digital:
- What are the cultural changes and have there been significant changes in the culture with the consumerism culture and rise of the middle class?
- How does the Chinese consumer uses the smartphone and social media services? For example, WeChat and Baidu Search and Maps.
- What are the biggest misconceptions about China from the outside world?
- China vs US on trade and the fear of Chinese companies acquiring western companies out there.
- Clay Shirky mentioned in our interview about the ‘strategy tax’ imposed by Chinese Internet services companies (due to having to manage two platforms; one for China, one for markets outside of China), in your opinion, do you think that it will become increasingly difficult for China to adopt two technology systems approach when they expand out of China.
- As Chinese technology companies are developing innovation for the 1.2B population, does that give them the competitive advantage to reach out to the other emerging markets (Brazil, Africa and India) out there? (Ref: Ben Bajarin’s “The future of consumer hardware belongs to the Chinese“)
- Kaiser’s Quora content
- You have spent a significant amount of time on Quora (and is the “Top Writer” for 3 years in a row!) trying to answer questions about China. Can you talk a little more about your efforts there? Why did you chose Quora as the platform for your content? Do you feel that non-Chinese are more understanding about China today? Why or why not?
- Leaving China in 2016
- We have heard of many prominent foreigners who have spent many years in China leaving recently, reporters (Evan Osnos, Mary Kay Magistad), but also business people (Bill Bishop, etc.). Kaiser has recently shared with his podcast audience that he will be moving back to the US sometime in 2016. Bill Bishop was pretty negative about the US-China relationship in his latest appearance on Sinica. Do Kaiser agree with Bishop’s views and is he worried that those who are most knowledgeable about China are leaving?
- What will happen to Sinica Podcast when the hosts are no longer in China?
- What are some of the less obvious news sources that you would recommend to our audience who wants to learn more about China and the Internet in China?
The show is hosted by Bernard Leong (@bleongcw) and are sponsored by Ideal Workspace (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) with their new Aspirus Desk on Indiegogo (Twitter, Facebook, Medium) and Linkcious (and check out their other product, Chiibi). Also check out Ideal Workspace’s new standing desk, Aspirus and sign up for their mailing list.