This week’s news and trends in China:
China’s 5 Year Plan in Detail: Targets in the plan include GDP growth over 6% with 11 million new urban jobs. Major measures to modernize agriculture and rural areas, and major regional strategies will take place. China will accelerate green and low-carbon development and strengthen ecological conservation. Major measures to revitalize and develop the real economy include increasing the core competitiveness, structural adjustments in major industries, promoting development of the digital economy and stimulation of consumer spending.
Ford, Infiniti in Spotlight on China Consumer Rights Show: Ford has been called out for faulty gearboxes and Nissan has been criticised for trying to stop customers from complaining about gearboxes on Monday’s popular “315 Show” covering consumer rights on CCTV. Alibaba’s UC Browser was singled out for allowing fake drugs to advertise and Clenbuterol-tainted mutton was identified in Hebei. Illegal use of facial recognition cameras in commercial property was also highlighted. China’s market regulator received more than 21.3 million consumer complaints and recovered economic losses of ¥4.4 billion ($677 million) for consumers in 2020.
More Than 92 Million Young Adults in China Live Alone and Have No Intention of Changing That. Now the Chinese Government is Stepping In: Around 15 million more Chinese singles have opted to live alone over the last 3 years. According to a poll, 41% cited the main reason as being “actively choosing to be single, and tiring of useless romantic entanglements.” Another 38% said being an “empty nest youth” was also a choice made by those “escaping from the responsibilities of starting a family.”
LinkedIn Suspends New Sign-Ups in China: LinkedIn — one of the few Western social media networks available in Mainland China — has suspended new sign-ups in the country as the platform works to ensure they “remain in compliance with local law.” LinkedIn has 52 million users in China.
Growing Consumer Demand for Wine in China in 2021: The 2021 wine market is expected to be similar to 2019, back to the good old days before Covid-19. Off-premise is expected to become increasingly more important over the coming years in China, and communication with consumers will continue to develop. Apps will continue to be important in serving regular consumers and offering exclusive wines to them.
Is Milk Tea Chinese Millennials’ Avocado Toast?: According to the Nayuki Tea & Bakery, one of China’s most popular milk tea shops known for its fruits and cheese topped tea drinks, about 30% of consumers in China spend over ¥400 ($61) on the beverage every month. It’s not unusual for drinks to cost more than ¥30 ($4.61). China’s tea-based drinks market was valued at more than ¥442 billion ($68 billion) in 2020, approximately two times more than China’s coffee market.
How Buyers Are Changing Beauty Retail in China: The dynamism of China’s beauty retail sector is being driven by a new kind of buyer who is responding to the digital explosion and the unpredictability of a new generation of consumers. Challenges for cosmetics over other fashion categories include more SKUs, shorter update cycles and faster iterations. Exceptional quality control is essential for a product used on the skin.
Expert Committee Sets Sights on China’s Myopia Crisis: China’s childhood myopia rate is among the highest in the world. Over half of the country’s minors are nearsighted, according to a 2018 survey by the National Health Commission. The myopia rate among high schoolers, usually aged 16 to 18, was as high as 81%, representing 5% growth in less than a decade. With kids forced to take virtual classes on screens in Covid, the situation worsened. In August 2020, the Ministry of Education said childhood myopia rates had increased by 11.5% in just six months.
China to Introduce Vaccine Passport, Quarantine Waiver: China plans to unveil a vaccine passport that could exempt travellers from certain travel restrictions. Beijing is willing to explore reciprocal recognition of other governments’ vaccine passports, which act as proof of inoculation. Travellers from Hong Kong and Macau inoculated with a Chinese or foreign-produced vaccine are likely to be among the first to benefit from such a programme. Although inbound international travellers will likely be exempt from China’s 14-day mandatory quarantine with a vaccine passport, they could still be required to present a negative PCR test result prior to departure.
Inside China’s Cult of the Cat: China’s pet cat population rose by a staggering 10.2% last year to almost 49 million. If current trends continue, cats will overtake dogs to become the country’s most popular pet in the next year or two. Cats have long been the top dog of the online pet world, where they bask in the adulation of self-proclaimed “cat slaves” and “cat sniffers.” Even many non-cat owners have embraced the practice of raising cats “in the cloud.”
‘Just Spend’ and ‘Just Borrow,’ Jack Ma Told China’s Youth. Then Came the Bill: The message was clear from Ant’s last-minute suspension of its IPO: Big Tech and Big Finance must be reined in. Capitalists should not be given free license in China. A surprising audience agreed: China’s youth. Many of the “ants” born since the 1990s no longer worship figures such as Ma. Coming of age in a slowing economy under constant pressure to consume, they are suspicious of capitalism and the inequality it spawns. With Jack Ma considered by some to be a fallen idol, many of China’s jaded techies find a hero in Elon Musk. Ant Group’s CEO Simon Hu tendered his resignation on Friday.
The Tactics People Are Using to Get Their Money Out of China: There’s barely a global asset that isn’t influenced by Chinese money, from the latest hot Hong Kong public offering to luxury apartments in Vancouver. Technically though, most of these purchases are the result of loopholes exploited by Chinese citizens — or in some cases outright law-breaking. China’s capital control rules explicitly forbid citizens from using any of their $50,000 annual foreign exchange quota to directly purchase offshore property or securities, although indirect investment via some channels is permitted. Despite the risks, finding a way around the regulations is reportedly commonplace. The main methods are offshore accounts, peer-to-peer exchanges, virtual currencies and overpaying for a foreign asset.
How Douyin is Reshuffling the Chinese Music Industry: The wildly popular short-video app has become one of the main ways Chinese people consume music, but its business model keeps artists anonymous and interchangeable.
Fake Louis Vuitton Luxury Bag Operation in China Worth $15.4 Million Shut Down After Police Arrest Almost 40 People: In some cases, they produced counterfeit bags before the real versions had hit the market. The operation also added chip technology that they claimed allowed customers to verify genuine products — a feature the real bags do not have. The operation also found suppliers to copy dust bags, warrant certificates, labels, envelopes, and letters. The bootleg bags cost ¥100-200 ($15-$30), were sold to dealers for ¥300-500 ($45-$75). The dealers added a 40% mark up and sold the bags on to other dealers across the country who then marked the bags up yet again before selling to retail customers.
More than 2 Years Later, D&G Sues Bloggers Who Criticised 2018 Infamous Chopsticks Ads: Italian fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana is reportedly suing two US bloggers behind the Instagram account @diet_prada, seeking damages amounting to more than $590 million. The company claims to have lost $106 million in Asian sales between November 2018 to March 2019 following the dreadful ads.