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November 9th, 2010
02:59 PM ET

What makes a video go viral in China?

It's a good question: the ingredients for viral video success in the world's largest internet market aren't what you might think.

Admit it, we've all spent hours online checking out videos sent to us by our friends. I'm thinking the cutesy "Charlie Bit My Finger", the classic "Evolution of Dance", or even the video that put some sex appeal into the last U.S. Presidential campaign "Crush on Obama". Most people will have clicked onto YouTube to get their viral video fill.

But just a glimpse of the front page of Tudou.com, one of China's foremost video-sharing sites, and you get a glimpse of a different kind of online community.

The CEO of the company, Gary Wang, doesn't like to compare his site with YouTube too much. He told News Stream "On YouTube it's more often about dancing babies and cats and dogs and that kind of stuff, more cuddly subjects. In China, there's a fair amount of unsatisfied feeling".

That's clear to see when you look at a number of videos on sites like Tudou.

I'll give you an example. There's been huge outcry online against a police official's son in China's northern Hebei Province. He allegedly tried to flee the scene of a fatal car accident last month crying out "Sue me if you can...My father is Li Gang!". That's become a catchphrase for abuse of power among China's estimated 420-million netizens, and there are poems, music videos, raps and cartoons posted online all using that same ironic rallying cry. Chinese artist-activist Ai Weiwei has even uploaded his own contribution.

But it's not all anger. There's a lot of love on China's video-sharing sites too. One grassroots fundraising campaign has so far raised around $3000 for a grandmother forced to deliver heavy water bottles by bicycle in order to care for her disabled son.

As Gary Wang succinctly put it, in China "the Web 2.0 phenomenon is actually becoming a lot more powerful than it probably is in the U.S."

Something to think about next time you're watching Keyboard Cat.

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