YouTube Opens New Chinese Language Web Site

Popular video-sharing service YouTube Inc. opened its second Chinese-language Web site on Thursday, localized for people in Taiwan.

Although executives from the Google Inc. subsidiary said during a media gathering that the purpose of the new site was to provide YouTube in more languages globally, it's not clear that Taiwan needs the help. People from the island have already taken to the original English site in droves, to poke fun at government officials, start political movements and much more.

One user uploaded a news clip showing the island's Minister of Education, Tu Cheng-sheng, picking his nose. He was waiting for a chance to respond to criticism over another incident caught on video in which he purportedly fell asleep during a briefing on damages brought on by Typhoon Krosa, which recently hit the island. The minister said he was only resting his eyes.

The island's Government Information Office Minister, Shieh Jhy-wei, called on people across Taiwan to use YouTube as a weapon against China's attempts to thwart the island from gaining membership in the United Nations. He asked people to post videos to YouTube showing off the island's beauty and democratic progress, as part of the UN for Taiwan campaign to join the UN.

Taiwan tries to join the organization every year -- and fails, mainly due to pressure from China. Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, and remain at odds due to political differences. China, still under Communist rule, regards democratic Taiwan as a renegade province and has vowed to use force, if necessary, to take the island. Taiwan, which has held free presidential elections since 1996, has sought its own path, and insists it cannot accept being part of a nation such as China where leaders are not freely elected.

The Taiwan site is the eleventh localized site opened by YouTube. The company has also opened a Chinese-language site aimed at Hong Kong, as well as a Japanese site, and sites for France, Brazil, Spain, the Netherlands and other countries.

YouTube hasn't opened a site focused on China yet. The company's main site is currently being blocked by censors in China.

The company's goal in localizing the sites is to draw more users from around the world. "We don't want English to be a barrier to YouTube," said Sakina Arsiwala, international manager at YouTube, during a press gathering in Taipei.

The opening ceremony in Taipei was a homecoming for YouTube co-founder Steve Chen, who was born in Taiwan.

YouTube faces stiff competition in Taiwan, mainly from Yahoo Taiwan Inc., which bought the popular blog site earlier this year and beefed up the video sharing function on the site.

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