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English to Chinese: Weibo user growth slows to record low (FT text-Sample Translation) General field: Bus/Financial Detailed field: Business/Commerce (general)
Source text - English Weibo user growth slows to record low
Text from: http://www.ftchinese.com/story/001054966
As China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblog prepares for a New York listing, its management is racing to figure out how the service can maintain its relevance amid a government crackdown on dissent and stiff competition from rivals.
The numbers of users on the microblog run by internet group Sina grew last quarter at the slowest pace in the history of the service, said Charles Chao, Sina chief executive.
The company’s future depends on turning that round, said Mr Chao, although the microblog overcame slow user grow to record its first quarterly profit – of $3m – from improved advertising revenue and income from others sources including the sale of data on user behaviour.
“The competition in mobile and the social space intensified,” said Mr Chao. “It is imperative that we increase our market space in mobile in order to stay competitive.”
The number of daily average users grew 4.2 per cent from about 59m in September to 61.4m in December, said Mr Chao. A recent nationwide survey by a government-affiliated research group of microblogging in China found a decrease in the number of people on the sites, which Sina said reflected a decline in users of other microblogs.
In an hour-long call with analysts, the company failed to mention that it was seeking to spin off the microblog service from its other online portal site, although multiple people familiar with the situation have confirmed that Sina plans to list the platform in New York, with a valuation target of up to $8bn.
But industry analysts suggested the company might have a tough time pitching itself to investors.
The biggest threat: Tencent. The company, China’s largest internet group by market capitalisation, makes the popular app WeChat, which started as a Whatsapp-like chat app but is now branching out into ecommerce, payments and gaming. Its popularity is a factor in Sina Weibo’s struggling user numbers.
Another threat comes from Beijing, which has long been wary of netizens’ use of Weibo to vent about government malfeasance or organise protests against corruption or environmental pollution. Sina employs staff to erase sensitive posts.
Late last year, the government stepped up its crackdown on dissent when it arrested a prominent internet commentator and issued legal rulings that individuals could be prosecuted for spreading rumours or defamation if their posts went viral.
“The timing does seem a little odd,” said Duncan Clark, chairman of Beijing advisory group BDA China.
One possible attraction for investors, said Mark Natkin of technology advisers Marbridge Consultancy, would be that a spun-out Weibo could be an attractive acquisition target.
Ecommerce group Alibaba already holds 18 per cent of Sina Weibo and has an option to increase that to 30 per cent. Alibaba, preparing for its own IPO, has been splashing out on deals in the past year as it shores up its position against Tencent, and Sina’s user data could be attractive.
“This is partially a play that they’re going to get acquired,” said Mr Natkin.
Spinning out Weibo could also give management a freer hand to be “more aggressive” in trying to change the platform as mobile user behaviour changes, said C Ming Zhao, lead analyst with 86Research.
Sina on Tuesday warned that margins would to come under pressure this year as the group invested in mobile internet.
For full-year 2013 net revenue was up 26 per cent to $665m, with net income at $45.1m, up from $31.7m in 2012.
Translation - English The Heavenly Loner—Zhenxi Liu
‘Heavenly loners’ is a Chinese concept coined by the great Chuang-Tzu. He believed that this kind of persons was doomed to be the irregularities in the secular world, but they shared perfect consistency with the heaven.
Whenever I see this word, I think about Zhenxi Liu, my sworn friend back in hometown. I have the honor to meet numerous miraculous people in this world but there is no one but Zhenxi that deserves the title ‘heavenly loner’.
I got to know Zhenxi in 1997 when I was still a high school student in Lichuan. However, he did not know me at that time. He was put to the public on the open-air stage with his hands tied behind his back and I was one of the students required to be present to the occasion who watched in panic and witnessed him being convicted as ‘counter-revolutionist’ with eight-year imprisonment and sent to the provincial prison by a dreadful whistling police car.
I went back to Lichuan in 1981 after college graduation and became a little-known poet blunderingly. One day I was strolling with Xiangsong Liu, the then Director of Culture in a bookstore and browsing the newly-published An Anthology of Ten Chinese Classical Tragedies when a middle-aged man suddenly rushing in and took the book from us almost rudely. He suffered from severe myopia, murmured ‘how come Peony Pavilion a tragedy’ while reading the content.
Mr Xiangsong Liu, well learned and cultured, then replied, ‘There are still disputes over it in academia. Call it a tragicomedy for now.’ Once heard our nearly professional discussion, the man immediately turned back and asked, ‘May I have the honor to have your names?’ We found the man very bizarre and therefore self-introduced in a casual manner. However, the man then abruptly clutched us with both hands and laugh loudly, ‘Your fame is long known to me but destiny hasn’t favoured us a chance to meet. Now the chance comes I beseech you for a visit to my humble place.’
We hurriedly replied in accordance with his old-fashioned style and asked how to address his excellency. He gave us his name in a cheerful voice---Zhenxi Liu---the name of the political prisoner that we soon recalled---a well-known name in this small city. We politely expressed our mind of paying the visit at another time since we found it inappropriate to call at first meet, but he was unexpectedly insistent and without further explanation, dragged us into a shabby wooden building.
However, after we climbed up the stairs, he found that the door was locked. Xiangsong and I hastily took it as an excuse for rescheduling the visit but Zhenxi listened to no one. He seated us in neighbour’s chairs and asked us to wait for a while. After several shouts for his wife in the yard without reply, he borrowed an axe from the neighbor. The scene panicked us like a robbery. We tried to stopped him and promised our visit at another time while Zhenxi, with the axe in hand, enunciating, “Luck honors me with distinguished guests; what matters if a door is thus broken.’ The axe was lifted then let down, and the lock was in halves. It was over teacups in that dim room with a space less than ten square meters that we established our friendship of a lifetime sharing weal and woe.
Master's degree - Newcastle University, UK
Years of translation experience: 9. Registered at ProZ.com: Apr 2015.
My native language is Mandarin Chinses. I hold a MA degree in Translating & Interpreting and BA degree in English Language and Literature (C languages: French & Japanese). My main areas are automobile, medicine, international relations and politics, cultural exchanges, food industry and social science.