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FEBRUARY 28, 2000 VOL. 155 NO. 8

Wang Zhidong

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

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?

After the Bubble
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

Wang Zhidong seems unable to stop working. He takes his laptop everywhere and, even during press interviews, keeps one eye on his incoming e-mail. Wang, 32, has no time to waste, for his ambitions are big--he would like to be China's Bill Gates, with one qualification: "I don't want to be hated like Bill Gates."

Greg Girard/Contact Press Images for TIME

As CEO of Sina, the biggest "chortal" (Chinese portal), Wang is already on his way. At Peking University, he did so well in radio electronics that his supervisor wouldn't let him switch to his real interest, computers. So Wang taught himself. Even before graduating he worked for a host of computer firms in Beijing's Haidian district. "Most of them went bust," he recalls. Then in 1991 he shut himself away in a tiny apartment to write the first Chinese-language software for PCs, earning him enough money to set up his own firm.

Wang then began writing software for the Internet, and at the end of 1998 merged his own firm with a Silicon Valley-based Chinese portal set up by three Taiwanese students from Stanford University. Wang renamed the site Sina, shifted its main operations to Beijing and concentrated on Web-based news. Sina exploded onto the larger Chinese scene last May when NATO planes bombed China's embassy in Belgrade. Wang's site was the quickest, most reliable source of news for an enraged nation.

Sina's coverage of the bombing and its mix of mainland Chinese talent with U.S. technology boosted the portal past its biggest rival, Sohu. Investment banks began knocking on Wang's door with offers to take Sina public on NASDAQ. But for the time being Wang has Bill Gates-like problems with the Chinese government, which feels he has gotten too big for his boots and is making him wait for his IPO. Chastened, he now says, "The most important thing is to communicate with the government and know what it is doing." But also like Gates, he's having difficulty working out precisely what that might be.

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This edition's table of contents
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China's Hottest Websites

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

BUSINESS-TO-CONSUMER AND AUCTIONS Online shopping with preexisting network of retail stores to deliver goods Online bookseller Leading auction site Auctions More auctions

BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS Worldwide trading of products Online registry of Chinese exporters

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

FINANCE financial information share price lists; part of

JOB SEARCH Good source for openings at foreign firms Listings of jobs at Chinese companies

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