Just how many is 400 million?
If you stack one million pennies on top of each other, you would get a stack 5,000 feet high. That means 400 million pennies would stack into outer space. Still hard to visualize? How about this: 400 million is roughly the combined population of every man, woman and child in the U.S. and Mexico.
It's also the number of Internet users in China alone. China has by far the most Internet users of any country in the world, and the number continues to skyrocket. Since I arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing to work on Internet outreach less than three years ago, the number of China's Internet users has doubled.
These "netizens" are a dynamic population of educated and engaged youth. Like Internet users the world over, they log-on for entertainment, shopping, blogging, to share videos and pictures, and to stay connected with their live and virtual social networks. They also use the Internet as an indispensable source of news and as a platform for discussing everything from the China's one-child policy to who will win the NBA championships. Visit any of China's top web sites -- www.sina.com.cn; www.qq.com; www.netease.com -- and you will see (even if you don't read Chinese) how lively they are.
To connect with this important audience, the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing have focused our efforts in three important ways. First, we have worked to partner with local Chinese websites to host large web events when important U.S. government officials visit China. Secretary Clinton's webchat with China Daily during her February 2009 visit attracted 10 million page views. Second, we reach out to bloggers and "grassroots" websites to arrange special blogger roundtables to discuss topics that mainstream media in China cannot cover. Third, we have launched our own Chinese-language social media sites, which include our Twitter feed at http://twitter.com/gzpas and our blog at QQ.com.
In preparation for the Secretary's current Asia trip, we opened a new microblog at sina.com (you'll need to register to see it). We will be using this popular site to share translated, Chinese-language versions of the great things you will see on the state.gov sites. We will also be creating some of our own videos, pictures, and postings.