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FEBRUARY 28, 2000 VOL. 155 NO. 8

Joseph Tong
Meetchina.com

    ALSO IN TIME
Cover: China Dot Now
The world's last big communist state is hit by a wave of Web mania, and the bureaucrats are fighting to contain it
B2B: Joseph Tong casts a Web over Chinese exporters
Chortling: Wang Zhidong should have laughed last
Crazy Man: Jack Ma goes for the shrimp, not the whales
Princeling: Antony Yip finds the right sites
Geek Chic: Shao Yibo grows up fast
Regulation: How Beijing plans to control the Net

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ASIAWEEK
Show Me the Stock Options!
Intoxicated by dot-com fever, sane folk are taking pay cuts and defecting to start-ups with trendy names. How long will the gold rush continue?

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Asia's technology stocks are defying gravity. Which companies will survive - and thrive - when the mania ends?

Asiaweek/CNN Asian Internet Index
Track our 20 Asian internet stocks

Joseph Tong, the brains behind one of China's most innovative business-to-business websites, learned everything the hard way. After a childhood in remote Heilongjiang, his father, who was stationed by the airforce in the remote northeastern province, sent him to school in Nanjing. Tong was 16, and the train that took him to Nanjing was the first he had ever seen.


Greg Girard/Contact Press Images for TIME
Joseph Tong of Meetchina.com

He topped his class, got a degree in math and economics and then headed south in 1988 to freewheeling Shenzhen. Tong joined an electronics company but spent the first year carrying gas cylinders for the managers' private homes. He eventually got himself transferred to a software subsidiary and began to learn what technology could do. After four years in Shenzhen he won a place at the Wharton business school in the Philadelphia, and from there joined the consulting firm Booz Allen, working out of Hong Kong on information technology projects in China.

But Tong, 35, is a self-starter by nature, and in 1997 he set up his own company in Shenzhen. At first he helped companies put up websites. "But the more we did it," he says, "the more we realized what they really needed was trade leads." In April 1999 he launched Meetchina.com, a database of Chinese export manufacturers. Now overseas buyers can get specifications and quotes online from producers without having to go through middlemen in Hong Kong. Tong persuaded the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation to provide him with lists of exporters, and he arranged with Motorola to have his service sent out over pagers to factory managers who don't have computers or e-mail. Putting China's formidable export machine on the Internet could be worth a fortune. "It's the best place in the world to make quick money," Tong says. Last month Citicorp, Softbank China Ventures and other partners announced an $11 million investment in Meetchina.com. Sure beats carrying gas tanks.

Write to TIME at mail@web.timeasia.com

This edition's table of contents
TIME Asia home


AsiaNow


China's Hottest Websites

PORTALS
Sina.com The biggest, heavy on news
Netease.com E-mail provider turned portal
Sohu.com Lost early competitive advantage due to management problems

BUSINESS-TO-CONSUMER AND AUCTIONS
8848.net Online shopping with preexisting network of retail stores to deliver goods
Dangdang.com Online bookseller
Eachnet.com Leading auction site
Coolbid.com Auctions
Clubciti.com More auctions

BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS
Alibaba.com Worldwide trading of products
Meetchina.com Online registry of Chinese exporters

ENTERTAINMENT
Zhaodaola.com Lifestyle portal
Globallink.com Fun online: chess, bridge, mahjong, strategy games
Chinanow.com City listings: restaurants, clubs, events
Myrice.com Collection of sites including soccer results, games, jokes, software

FINANCE
Homeway.com.cn financial information
Stockstar.com share price lists; part of shanghai.online

JOB SEARCH
Zhaopin.com Good source for openings at foreign firms
51job.com Listings of jobs at Chinese companies

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