China Press Review – May 28, 2020

Press review

Alibaba pushes China’s social commerce model to the world, with influencer campaign on cross-border platform AliExpress
The cross-border retail platform of Alibaba aims to build an army of influencers numbering more than 1 million in three years   That will help the Chinese e-commerce giant reach its goal of serving 2 billion consumers worldwide by the next decade

Alibaba Health’s net loss narrows by 92 per cent as coronavirus fuels more online drug purchases in mainland China
Net loss for year ended March 31, 2020 narrows to 6.59 million yuan from 81.95 million yuan a year ago   Company’s total revenue rises 88.3 per cent to 9.6 billion yuan from 5.1 billion yuan

Alibaba is recruiting Tiktok and Instagram KOLs for international ‘shoppertainment’
Aliexpress, Alibaba’s e-commerce platform that sells goods made in China to international customers, is on the hunt for over 100,000 content creators and influencers globally as the e-commerce titan tries to build up its influencer network worldwide.: Keen to expand beyond its home market, Alibaba has been using locally-tested innovations, either in business model or technology, to fuel its global expansion. It’s testing the country’s red-hot livestream e-commerce trend in the global market this time. Livestream e-commerce gets really big in China where almost all tech majors jumped on board, from video apps Douyin, Kuaishou to Alibaba’s e-commerce rivals Pinduoduo and JD.   Alibaba’s leading the trend in China with its livestreaming unit Taobao Live.  Social commerce is attracting attention from global players such as Facebook

China’s Baidu finishes building ‘world’s largest’ test ground for autonomous vehicle, smart driving systems
Baidu says it has completed the world’s largest site to test both autonomous driving and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication    The Apollo Park in Beijing is equipped with facilities to support the full autonomous vehicle development process from research to testing

Panama shipper China Joy drags embattled HNA Group to court again, seeks liquidation of conglomerate
A trial will be held in Hong Kong on August 26  HNA has been a de facto ward of the Chinese government since February this year

Wellness Is the New Luxury After COVID-19 for China
The culture of excess has defined China over the last few decades. Raised in a highly competitive society and only knowing linear economic growth, China’s younger generations have always prioritized achievement over wellness. But the pandemic and post-virus recession changed this. High-net-worth consumers have pivoted away from buying luxury fashions and toward enhancing physical and mental health — a shift that shows how post-virus Chinese are pursuing a new model of luxury.Although health and wellbeing are universal concepts, “wellness” is still a tricky concept in China. The country’s beauty and wellness markets were already worth a total of $14.5 billion by 2017, according to the wellness media outlet SpaChina. But there’s no cultural equivalent to “wellness” in China, nor is there a precise translation of the word. In public discussions about healthy lifestyles, the definition of “being well” is usually reduced to ways of caring for one’s body while leaving out the emotional and mental aspects of wellness.  But the year 2020 accelerated everything. Not only has consumer demand for health products and advice soared, but the younger generation has also begun looking for broader and more sophisticated ways to achieve wellness by curbing their anxieties about an uncertain future. For the first time, many of them are actively pivoting their shopping energies toward home-bound skin or diet regimens, daily routine upgrades, or science-driven workouts.

The Battle Between Niche and Accessible Luxury Brands for Young Chinese Consumers Begins
Accessible luxury brands were hit hard by COVID-19, with Coach’s sales dropping 20% during the pandemic.

US will join G7 artificial intelligence pact, citing threat from China
The US is the last of the G7 countries to join an international organisation that will advise companies and governments on the responsible development of AI   The Global Partnership on AI will study and provide recommendations to encourage the creation of AI technologies that respect privacy and civil liberties

View: Can India benefit from the world’s frustration with China?
India lacks the sophisticated infrastructure which gives China an edge in manufacturing.

Vietnam’s COVID-19 political gains
Vietnam is handling the outbreak of COVID-19 relatively well. Vietnam has confirmed a total of 327 cases with 278 recovered and no deaths, which is fairly low given its proximity to China. Vietnam has earned international accolades as one of the most successful countries in Asia to contain the virus. But Vietnam may win more than international praise, especially in political terms. Vietnam will likely bounce back quickly after the pandemic thanks to government efficiency and resilience during the crisis. Indeed, the government is gradually lifting its lockdown and allowing people to return to work. Lockdowns remain in many Southeast Asian countries. This means Vietnam will be a good destination for Western firms to invest during the post-coronavirus period, especially firms from the United States or Europe. These developments may pave the way for Vietnam to become a full-fledged middle power by 2030, which is a vital mission for the regime.Vietnam has achieved not only praise from the international community but also substantial political gains from the COVID-19 outbreak. Emerging from the crisis with little damage will substantially reinforce the CPV’s legitimacy, which will in turn lay a foundation for the future of the one-party regime.

The economy dominates South America’s relationship with China and Japan
The United States and Europe tend to associate South America with Amazon rainforest burning, pink-tide leftist ideology, drug trafficking, corruption and illegal migration. These issues oppose their values of justice, social stability and global order. For China, whose 2016 Policy Paper on Latin America and the Caribbean states a position of ‘non-interference in each other’s internal affairs’, these are not of concern. China seeks South American natural resources like oil, gas, metals and food and access to its capital and consumer goods markets comprising 431 million potential consumers. South America also receives substantial Chinese investment in the resources and infrastructure sectors. For South American countries, the growing presence of China is an opportunity to pursue development agendas which may not be otherwise viable.

WHO launches foundation to broaden donor base to individuals and companies
Health agency faces mounting criticism and financial pressure amid pandemic, with US threatening to permanently cut funding  Launch of new entity was brought forward to tackle the coronavirus and ‘not for any political question’, its founder says

Coronavirus: low risk of second wave in China but stay on guard, Zhong Nanshan says
Strict community controls helped to fend off the first wave but the country must not be complacent, top Chinese respiratory disease adviser says   Large-scale sample tests could give researchers better understanding of the extent of the pathogen in the population, he suggests

As it happened: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on pandemic, ‘new Cold War’ and Hong Kong
National People’s Congress concluded with resolution to proceed with controversial law for Hong Kong   Premier said that China supports independent inquiry into coronavirus origin

Will Hong Kong’s rule of law survive the challenge of Beijing’s national security legislation?
From its process of enactment – apparently bypassing the local legislature and ignoring public opinion – to its future implementation and enforcement, the law is incompatible with the city’s common law traditionong Kong’s courts will be severely tested in trying to uphold the rule of law

US business wants Hong Kong to succeed, but companies need clear details about national security law to allay fears
Nobody wants to see Hong Kong fail, but details of the legislation are crucial for the international business community to make better-informed decisions about whether they can comfortably maintain their presence in the city

China prepared for international backlash over Hong Kong national security law
Government advisers say Beijing expects escalation in tensions with US but is ready for ‘worst case’ scenario  Threats to revoke city’s special trading status ‘futile’ and would ‘hurt American interests’

Hong Kong national security law: US set to go it alone with hard line on China, as other countries back off
As the US prepares to unveil policy action against China over the new Hong Kong national security law, other nations prefer not to rock the boat    Some governments fear ‘touching a raw nerve in Beijing’, while others prefer to protect business interests with world’s second largest economy

Hong Kong national security law: city awaits Trump’s response, casting shadow over long-term economic status
China’s move to further absorb Hong Kong will have small direct economic effect, but will damage city’s status as an international hub in long term, analysts sayChill viewed as a continuation of a tough period for foreign business, setting up a ‘gradual diminution of Hong Kong as an economic centre for south China’

Pompeo’s Hong Kong Threats Won’t Damage China, but They Will Hurt the US. Here’s Why.
Removing the US-Hong Kong Special Policy will only boost Shanghai and reduce US-China trade influence.  While a US withdrawal from the Hong Kong Special Policy will undoubtedly have a serious impact on Hong Kong, the downside for the US is it will also lose significant trade opportunities and shoot itself in the foot concerning influence. That will also hurt China, but really only impact Hong Kong – the very territory the US is supposed to be standing up for. Mainland China will largely remain unaffected, and some areas, especially Shanghai, will receive an immediate boom should the US bring about Hong Kong’s demise.This is because China amended its foreign investment law last year, which contained a series of significant and wide-ranging reforms to its financial services sector. This is especially true of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone and its Lingang New Area, which have policies in place and working now that can take the place of Hong Kong as a trade hub. That region was intended in fact to be a China competitor to Singapore but could be fast tracked to take over from Hong Kong as well. The Shanghai Free Trade Zone has already signed up an impressive early list of clients, covering banking, securities, funds, insurance, and asset management. Among them, a batch of landmark projects have already been launched in Shanghai:

US, UK to sanction Chinese entities over HK security law
Retaliatory move expected to ratchet up tensions The speed of the decline depends on how far the US wants to strangle China, as well as whether Beijing would compromise after a while.” If Hong Kong loses its autonomous status vis-a-vis the US, it will carry significant implications for the city, said Andre Wheeler, chief executive of Asia Pacific Connect, an Australian business consultancy. Thanks to its semi-independent status, Hong Kong has enjoyed special trade arrangements with the US including discounts on imports of US high-technology and electronic goods.

Coronavirus: Inside the pro-China network targeting the US, Hong Kong and an exiled tycoon
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Hundreds of fake or hijacked social media accounts have been pushing pro-Chinese government messages about the coronavirus pandemic on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, a BBC investigation has found.

Meng Wanzhou: Huawei executive suffers US extradition blow
A Canadian court has ruled that the case of senior Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who is fighting extradition to the United States, can go forward.

China Won’t Ease Curbs on International Flights as Fast as Expected
China will gradually ease restrictions on international flights as long as risks of imported Covid-19 cases are under control, but the pace of resumption will be slower than expected, a top civil aviation official said. China will not triple the number of regular international flights to 407 a week starting June 1 as previously planned, Li Jian, deputy chief of China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) told state media Wednesday, citing current conditions. The country currently accommodates 134 international flights a week under restrictions imposed in late March in response to the pandemic.  At the same time, the CAAC encouraged airlines to operate chartered flights linking China with international destinations to meet demand for essential trips. The CAAC pledged to shorten the process for approval of international chartered flights to three working days from as many as seven

China’s Travel Restrictions – Special Visa Applications
China’s borders closed to almost all foreigners starting March 28 with only about 20 international flights being allowed to land in the country each day.    The suspension is a temporary measure that China has been compelled to take given the extent of the outbreak and public health standards in other countries. However, while the situation is fluid, China is in communication with the rest of the world, allowing cross-border movements to handle personnel exchanges under the special circumstances.

China Has a Civil Code Now. What Does That Mean?
After six years of tweaking, the country’s legislature has finally adopted a civil code that expressly protects some civil liberties and will serve as a reference for future legal decisions.The National People’s Congress approved China’s first-ever civil code on Thursday, the final day of the “two sessions” political meetings in Beijing.The document — a collection of laws related to civil affairs, including property, marriage, family, personal rights, and inheritance — is slated to go into effect in January of next year. The code is aimed at better protecting individuals’ personal information and property, making it easier to sue for divorce or sexual harassment, and delineating a clearer boundary between markets and the government.In the run-up to Thursday’s vote, legal analysts suggested that the civil code was the government’s attempt to boost private-sector investment by reaffirming a commitment to protecting and respecting property rights, particularly in the wake of the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. The code will also be a boon to judges, serving as a single, unified body of law on which they may base their verdicts.

Why Chinese can become a global language
Most commentators, including those in academia and the media, maintain that the difficulty of its character-based writing system will prevent Chinese from becoming a global language. However, much of this discussion is founded on flawed assumptions about ‘proficiency’, technological advances in language learning and usage, an excessive focus on the challenging features of Chinese characters and linguistics. Contrary to popular belief, a character-based writing system will not stop Chinese becoming a global language.

Alain Gillard
Information Officer
Service Asie Pacifique
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