This week’s news and trends in China:
China’s Celebrity Culture Is Raucous. The Authorities Want to Change That: The Communist Party has declared war on idol worship, part of a broader crackdown on what it sees as toxic celebrity culture that is poisoning the minds of the country’s youth. The ranking of celebrities by popularity was banned last Friday. One of China’s biggest film stars, Fendi’s brand ambassador Zhao Wei (Vicki Zhao) has disappeared from the Internet for unknown reasons, among a series of celebrity crackdowns sweeping China’s entertainment industry.
Jackson Yee Repeats Atop 2021 Forbes China Celebrity List: Jackson Yee, the 20-year old Chinese singer and actor again topped the latest Forbes China Celebrity List. Yee ended his brand ambassadorship with Givenchy in 2019 after their T-shirts listed HK, Macau and Taiwan as separate countries. He distanced himself from Adidas in March this year following the Xinjiang cotton incident, but in April signed on with Armani and Tiffany & Co. The Forbes top-10 celebs were: 1. Jackson Yee, Actor and Singer; 2. Yibo Wang, Actor; 3. Jia Ling, Actress and Director; 4. Yang Mi, Actress; 5. Jay Chou, Singer; 6. Lay Zhang; 7. Zhao Liying; 8. Yang Zi; 9. Karry Wang; and 10. Jackson Wang.
China: Politics are Important but it’s the Regulations that Matter for Multinationals: Looking at the new Data Security law, there certainly are aspects that are worrying for business – particularly the possibility of data localisation – but is it all concerning?
Apple Exemplified an Era of Global Capitalism that has Passed: Apple’s annual sales from China have roughly quintupled from a decade ago to $60 billion, more than any other Western firm. Unlike the other tech giants, Apple mainly sells hardware, and has a higher share of sales outside its home market than Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Alibaba or Tencent. In the 10-years since Tim Cook took the helm, he has grown the company’s value more than five-fold to $2.5 trillion, but he now has to adapt to a new age of tech and globalisation.
Alibaba Says Delivery Robots are the Future. Here are Four Charts that Explain Why: Alibaba is deploying 1,000 autonomous delivery robots across China this year. The “Xiaomanlv” or “small donkey” robots can deliver about 50 packages at a time and as many as 500 boxes in one day, covering 100 kilometres on a single charge. Alibaba claims its robots will overcome the “problem” of last-mile shipping – the part where a parcel actually arrives at your door – which it says is plagued by the issue of delivery people getting lost or stuck in traffic. Between 2013 to 2020, the number of parcels delivered in China grew from 9.2 billion 83.4 billion.
Why China’s E-Grocery Giant Is Pouring $1.5B Into Sustainable Ag-Tech: Pinduoduo’s ¥10 billion ($1.5 billion) fund hopes to support the digitalisation of agriculture and advance sustainability in rural Chinese farms.
Yili and Westland ‘Cream Team’ Create New Product for Chinese Consumers: A cross-cultural research and development project has delivered a new whipping cream. Overcoming variabilities of NZ’s grass-fed dairy, the partnership has created something suitable for the demands of Chinese bakers. The cream factors different needs of bakers in China from NZ, with whipping cream suitable for a number of applications such as milk foam, cake decorating and mousse. New product sales accounted for 16% of Yili’s total revenue in 2020 with Yili now ranked the fifth largest dairy producer globally.
US Frozen Beef Exports to China Surge, Adding to Canberra-Beijing Tensions but Boosting Trade Deal: US exported $107 million worth of frozen beef to China in July, compared to just $35 million from traditional export destination Australia. Australia still dominates exports of chilled beef, but the gap is also closing, although chilled beef from the US remains more expensive than imports from Australia and New Zealand. In news that may increase beef imports, African swine fever is spreading rapidly in China, again.
Chinese Staycationers Hunt for New Drinks and Cognacs: 33% of duty free shoppers in Hainan purchased alcohol, most notably Cognac. Despite being second in terms of footfall, alcohol had the strongest sales conversion at 93%, with shoppers spending around ¥3,000 ($465) on average. 68% of Chinese tourists visiting Hainan’s duty free shops said they were open to buying a brand or product they had never before purchased, showing that there is a big opportunity for new or rare drinks otherwise unavailable in mainland China.
Trip.com Sees the Light of Recovery: Compared with January-June volumes, Ctrip searches for European flights grew by over 150% in July and continued to rise in August, peaking on 12 August at over 320% higher than the pre-summer volume. Searches for European hotels rose by 80% in August.
China’s Tightened Limits for Kids’ Gaming Time Raise Questions About Tolerance for Foreign Platforms, VPNs: On Monday, China issued a new rule limiting gaming time for players aged under 18 to between 8pm and 9pm only on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and statutory holidays to tackle video gaming addiction among young people. The new rule, however, is expected to steer young people to find alternative platforms on which to play without such restriction.
China’s Newest Boy Band Called ‘Absurd’ for Being Too Young: The seven-member idol group Panda Boys, whose members are aged between 7 and 11, has courted controversy after debuting in the southwestern city of Chengdu last week. On Monday, CCTV said involving children in showbiz is “absurd,” adding that the country’s idol industry must not profit at the expense of the healthy upbringing of minors. The boy band has since disbanded following the outrage on social media.
Tesla Brakes Became Trending Topic on Weibo 130 Times in First Half of 2021: In the first half of the year, only four topics got more airtime on Weibo than #TeslaBrakes, trending 130 separate times during the period, becoming the only business enterprise in the list of top trending terms.
Dragons Fly as Chinese Millennials Take a Shine to Gold: Sales of gold bracelets, pendants, earrings and necklaces that draw on dragons, phoenixes, peonies and other traditional Chinese patterns and symbols are flying in popularity, especially for consumers in their 20s and 30s. They are helping drive a rebound in gold demand in the country after a pandemic-induced slump. Heritage gold jewellery can command premiums of 20% or more over conventional gold jewellery.
How the Daigou Can Help New Brands: BCG estimates that of the ¥230 billion ($35 billion) spent by Chinese consumers in the overseas luxury market in 2020, as much as 70 to 80% was spent through daigou shoppers. The role of the daigou, or Chinese personal shopper, is expanding to reflect the changing priorities of Gen Z consumers in China, working closer to home, and mixing emerging Chinese designers with foreign brands.