China Planning Virtual World For People To Order Directly From Chinese Manufacturers

from the second-life-for-sweatshops dept

Apparently, the Chinese government is trying to build a huge 3D virtual world online that will function as something of a direct-to-consumer portal for Chinese manufacturers. The idea is that rather than buying "Made in China" goods through retailers, you could just log into this virtual world and order your products directly. In fact, the idea includes putting unique identifiers along with the "made in China" stickers so that people know where to go in this virtual world to order more. This raises a ton of questions, so we'll just start with the easy ones, and let you fill in the rest in the comments:
  • How often have we seen big gov't projects online succeed? How often do they fail? Somehow we doubt this is going to get very far.
  • To its credit, China has been somewhat successful with its big "censor the internet" project (aka The Great Firewall of China) -- so perhaps they can do it. However, how will they handle censorship in a virtual world mainly designed to deal with foreigners from countries where such censorship isn't appreciated?
  • Oh wait, this should have been the first question: A 3D virtual world? Say what? Why? What's wrong with standard web pages?
This seems like the type of project gov't officials would think is cool without having any understanding of how people use the web, how they shop online or how they interact within virtual worlds. Otherwise, sounds like a fantastic idea.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    no, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 2:55pm


    Isn't this "virtual world" already out there? I think it's called "the internet".

    Why do people think the complexity of a stupid virtual 3d world to buy stuff or look around is better than a simple text interface? God damn.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    anonymous coward, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 3:05pm

    yayayayayaaa thatd be fricking awesome hehe

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    GeneralEmergency (profile), Oct 15th, 2007 @ 3:13pm

    Well.... least they aren't calling it the "Internets" or "a series of tubes".

    Stupid knows no nationality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Gomer, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 3:43pm

    I'm buying

    As long as I get the 3d goggles free with my order of crap toys, I am all over it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    3D is OK, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 3:46pm

    Virtual World

    What is wrong with 3D Virtual World online? While we continue to edit our stupid html pages, millions of new 3D VW Chinese developers will leapfrog this old and clumsy markup language technology from the 70s.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Arochone, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 3:47pm


    Well, to me this means one of three things:
    a) They plan on absolutely no user-user interaction in this world
    b) Chinese citizens won't be allowed on this
    c) They're giving up on the Great Firewall

    Let's hope for c.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Streaker, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 3:53pm

    Just wait

    Just wait until you go to checkout and the shipping cost is added to your order.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    dorpus, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 4:03pm

    The internet, a huge government project

    How often have we seen big gov't projects online succeed? Well, how about the internet, which was invented in a government research lab, so ignorant blogs like Techdirt can whine about it? When the business world wants to do something big, it requires complex coordination with the government anyway. The private sector cannot afford on its own to build all the infrastructure for big new projects -- it depends on government handouts for that. Businesses depend on government embassies to help them advertise abroad, since ignorant businessmen have no idea how to conduct business abroad. Businesses cannot survive without government support of the rule of law. If gangsters come to the office and decide it is their "turf", it is up to the government to get rid of them. So yes, law enforcement is a big government project that is rather successful, unless you want to argue Blackwater does a better job. Businesses depend on government regulation to build safe buildings that will not collapse and kill their tenants. In an ideal world, we would outlaw businesses and send businessmen to mental hospitals.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Haywood, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 4:12pm

    Cutting out the middle men

    It is already going on on EBay, and the shipping costs aren't that much worse than domestic buys (due to inflated shipping costs no doubt). Since I'll end up buying China goods anyhow, why not cut out the importer, distributer and retailer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Chinese student, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 4:14pm

    Re: The internet, a huge government project

    Don't worry our Chinese government has everything under control ;-) Just think of this as eBay in 3D without html.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Other Matt, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 4:40pm

    Bad idea even without the technology issues.

    Even if somehow they resolve all the technical issues posed by this sort of undertaking, the whole idea seems doomed to fail from the start. If China is intent on cutting out the middle man composed of companies from other countries, won't this in turn cause these companies to look elsewhere for their manufacturing needs? Why in the world would a company attempt to market and sell a product made in China if China is going to turn around at sell the same product directly to the consumer? Additionally, with out these companies acting as a buffer for quality assurance, how long before consumers decide they've had enough of chemical burns and lead poisoning? Maybe this is an extension of the philosophy behind the Great Firewall of China and the Chinese government has decided that dealing with foreign companies is corrupting it's people. I can't think of anything that will drive business away faster.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 4:49pm

    Re: The internet, a huge government project

    Actually, the internet was a *small* gov't project that was then let free, which made it a big success. It was not a big project that succeeded, but the opposite. It later turned into a big success, but that was free from gov't planners.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    sAFETY, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 5:03pm


    Time to brush up on my VRML skillz!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 6:23pm

    Re: Virtual World

    Go ahead, let them try. It's a stupid idea and text is better, but I would love to be wrong.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    friday, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 6:30pm


    I just moved to China, and I can't believe the opportunities. While this does seem like an overly ambitious project, I can't help but think that on a smaller scale this could be a successful idea.
    Any ideas?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Text, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 6:33pm

    Re: Re: Virtual World

    Your html and text will not display and rotate the product and Google's AdSense will work better in 3D. It is the future you cannot stop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    中國, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 7:15pm

    3D Central Kingdom

    Just remember you all that the People's Republic of China is governed under one-party system by the Chinese Communist Party.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Larry, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 7:56pm

    Re: The internet, a huge government project

    *Sorry for the troll feeding everyone*

    Dude, just when I think I've seen the stupidest thing ever said, you just HAVE to comment.

    Speaking for myself, I get it. I get that you don't have even a basic understanding of how the world works outside your minute sphere. I get that you think that the evils of society apply evenly across anyone that isn't as "smart" as you are.

    Do yourself a favor...go bury yourself in your 911 government conspiracy blog and leave the rest of us alone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    fuse5k, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 12:08am

    Who would buy anything from china anyway?

    Great, just the place to go when i need some lead laced toothpaste, or some fake baby milk that will kill my offspring.

    Rather than waste money on making a "3d virtual world" why dont they stop making crap and possibly people would want to buy from them.

    Consumer products from communist countries suck anyway, its all in the build quality... When you are into your 36th straight hour it all goes to pot...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Javarod, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 5:56am

    Interesting, I'm definitely wanting to see how this works out. The quality of Chinese products is often a result of the importer in this country. I've been a moderator on a scooter forum for quite a while, and the biggest quality problem we see in Chinese scooters is that an importer orders it based on price and profit margin, and leave it to the Chinese to find a way to meet those targets. This is why you get toxic toothpaste, lead painted toys, etc, corner cutting to deliver the product at the desired speed, quantity and price. Eliminating the middle man might drive price down low enough that even at raised quality levels, you'll still save money over the distributor you'd previously dealt with. Also, for Chinese industries, this allows them to build brand recognition. Right now they're happy to be sub contractors, it allows them to work out the bugs and learn what they're doing on someone else's dime, but when they're ready, they'll jettison the distributors, and sell it themselves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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