Asia's Short Sighted Internet Policies

Walk into a cybercafe in Beijing or sit down with a newly minted Internet entrepreneur in Frankfurt and you're likely to find a tieless, independent-minded 30-year-old with the driving ambition to grab as much market share as he or she can. Not so in Hong Kong. There, despite its avowed free-wheeling culture, the new Internet business is controlled by cyberconglomerates. In other words, old-line real estate, cable, and telephone companies are doing their best to horn in on the Internet craze and control it. That's because the Asian players can still control access to the Net, and in many cases, what goes out on Web sites. Because there are no vibrant small-cap markets for upstarts, the conglomerates are also in the best position to cash in on Net-stock mania.

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