Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chinese Language Flooding the Web

These days, PEOPLE'S NETWORK 人民网, the online edition of PEOPLE'S DAILY 人民日报 in Beijing, is celebrating its 15th anniversary. I still remember their website from the very beginning as it was just about the same time BLUEPRINT magazine went online. At that time, the presentation of Chinese characters on webpages was still an unsolved problem to most webmasters, and even commercial Chinese webdesigners offered Chinese text rather on picture files than Chinese encoded text in the frame of an HTML-program.

Lucky me, being able to produce Chinese text on pictures by using a combination of rare software, already presented some BLUEPRINT articles containing Chinese scripture as early as 1997. Even though, Chinese websites using GB- and BIG-encoding could already be found on rare occasions, neither of both standard browsers at that time, the Microsoft Internet Explorer and its competitor from Netscape, was able to show simplified or traditional Chinese characters. Only later versions of the Internet Explorer were able to do so. I even remember one experimental version of the Microsoft product that required a distinct installation of the language support download for each single Chinese webpage to view. It was about the same time when "Chinese language viewers" were offered for free.

Nowadays, there are more than two Chinese encodings available and that are usually recognized by all modern browsers. Now, it makes sense to write Chinese text directly into the HTML-body of a website. Even more, Chinese is going to become the prevailing language on the internet, letting behind English that, up to then, dominated the worldwide web.

As to PEOPLE'S NETWORK, it has lived through all those changes during the 15 years of its existence. Their first website I found almost by chance as the search engines of that time were as well different from now. The GB-encoded site was characterized by a standard-grey background and contained no single picture. Instead, it summarized some older articles from the archives of PEOPLE'S DAILY. It really looked like a beginner's site. But very soon, the webdesign got a professional look and matched with state-of-the-art design of Western news magazines. Today, PEOPLE'S NETWORK is a highly professional news service with a comprehensive and well-organized structure, combined with an efficient search engine.

Of course, it should not be underestimated that Chinese media are subject to a strict administrative control. From there, restrictions to the credibility of news reports and related comments might arise when it comes to difficult subjects concerning China's internal problems. Nevertheless, PEOPLE'S NETWORK remains an important source for news and official opinion from the People's Republic of China.

As a proof for the accuracy of my evaluation, here some photos taken from a recent Chinese language article on unmanned airplanes (drones) as used by Western military [People's Network, Dec. 18, 2011]:

X-47B (U.S. drone)

RQ-4 (U.S. drone)

RQ-7 (U.S. drone)

Sentry 哨兵 RQ-170 (U.S. drone)


U.S. drone really brought down by Iran in a "tricky" landing ?
[According to] a comprehensive report from foreign media on December 16, an Iranian engineer and whose name was deliberately held back recently leaked [information] that Iran brought down an RQ-170 "Sentry" drone using electronic warfare measures. [People's Network, Dec.18, 2011]

Predator 捕食者 (U.S. drone)

Falcon 猎鹰 HTV-2 (U.S. drone)

Spirit of Lightning and Thunder 雷电神 (British drone)

Heron 苍鹭 (Israeli drone)

Habi 哈比 (Israeli drone; romanization of the Chinese name probably fitting with a Hebrew name)

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