Sina.com is the largest Chinese portal on the web. The company was founded by SINA Corporation in 1999 and started in mainland China. Their headquarters are in Shanghai, China. Now the company has decided to take Twitter head-on in China.
Sina launched a new service called Sina Microblogging earlier this month. Sina Microblogging allows Sina users to post 140 Chinese characters or less. Sina allows users to follow “fans.” Fans are the equivalent of users that you follow or follow you on Twitter. Topics are also supported by hashtags (#) on Sina Microblogging too. Sina Microblogging users have the ability to update their status message using MMS or SMS too.
Several other Chinese companies have launched Twitter clones too. Taotao.com launched a Twitter clone and supposedly already has 40 million users. Jiwai launched a Twitter clone but has been knocked offline for a while now. Digu and Zuosa have also been taken offline about one week after the Urumqi riots.
Given that the government heavily regulates Internet services in China, it is rather difficult for a micro-blogging service to really take off in the most populated country in the world. Anyone that is able to by-pass government security usually only publishes angry content thus making the service less appealing to use.
Surely China is ahead of the U.S. in many aspects, but when it comes to innovation on the web they still have a long way to go.