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China Digital Digest Weekly: Exploring the Chinese Digital Landscape

Hi folks, we are back with our weekly edition of China’s Digital Digest, wherein we would bring you weekly updates on China’s digital space. The report takes a quick glance at China’s complex and rapidly evolving social media landscape by providing updates on the latest happenings across the social media industry. Here are the major highlights of the report.

1. TikTok Banned from the University of Texas Campus on Cybersecurity Concerns

The University of Texas at Austin has banned the use of TikTok on the campus’ networks after state and national leaders expressed concerns about the social media app’s ties to China and the large amount of user data it collects.

The school said that it is permanently blocking TikTok’s access on its systems, prohibiting devices to use the app on the university's wired or Wi-fi networks. The announcement follows a directive last month from Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who ordered all state agencies to bar its officers and employees from downloading or using TikTok on government-issued devices.

2. EU Commissioner Warns TikTok Over Complying With Strict Digital Rules

The European Union’s digital policy chief warned TikTok’s boss that the social media app will have to fall in line with tough new rules for online platforms set to take effect later this year. EU Commissioner Thierry Breton held a video call with Shou Zi Chew, the CEO of TikTok, the popular Chinese-owned video sharing app that’s coming under increasing scrutiny from Western authorities over fears about data privacy, cybersecurity and misinformation.

The two discussed the company’s plans to comply with the bloc’s Digital Services Act, which is set to take effect for the biggest online companies in September. The act is a set of sweeping rules that will require platforms to reduce harmful online content and combat online risks.

3. China’s Tutoring Giant Triples Sales by Selling Eggs After Crackdown

Koolearn, China’s most famous online cram school chain, tripled its sales in six months, riding on a pivot to selling food and farm products on live streams after Beijing’s abrupt ban on for-profit after-school teaching in 2021 upended a multibillion-dollar industry.

Koolearn Technology Holding, a subsidiary of Beijing-based private tutoring giant New Oriental Education & Technology Group, on Tuesday posted revenue of 2.08 billion yuan (US$307 million) from June to November, a 260 per cent jump from the same period in 2021. Live-streaming e-commerce-related businesses made up more than 85 percent of total revenue.

4. Playboy Brings On Board Chinese Marketing Experts to Rejig Its Brand Image

The apparel company Playboy is transforming its operations in China in 2023 in the hopes of building a stronger brand image in the eyes of Chinese consumers.

Playboy’s parent company PLBY Group announced its new joint venture with the Chinese brand management company Charactopia Licensing. The new venture’s headquarters will be located in Shanghai and will cover a wide range of operational functions, including brand marketing, online and offline retail strategy, and product design.

5. Former Kuaishou Chief Executive Sells $483 Million in Shares for Charity

The co-founder of short video platform Kuaishou, Su Hua, sold an approximately 1.3% stake in the company worth HK$3.78 billion ($483 million) in an off-market block trade, according to a regulatory filing.

Part of the sale proceeds will go to charity via an irrevocable foundation, a move similar to other founders of Chinese tech companies acting under the “common prosperity” principle introduced by President Xi in mid-2021. The rest of the proceeds will be used to fund cutting-edge technology and infrastructure investment. Su Hua is still the major shareholder of the Hong Kong-listed company, owning 9.87% of the total shares and 38.08% of the voting rights.

6. Kuaishou CTO Chen Dingjia Resigns

Kuaishou Technology has announced the resignation of Chen Dingjia as chief technology officer on account of his wish to devote more time to his family and personal affairs.

Kuaishou also announced that in view of Chen Dingjia's significant contribution, after his resignation, he will be transferred to the company's lifelong honorary consultant to continue to provide guidance and support for the company.

Wrapping Up

The vast and diverse nature of the Chinese Social Media space makes it incredibly challenging to keep a tab on the rapid developments taking place. However, China’s Digital Digest brings you all the latest updates from there to keep you abreast of all the evolving trends.

To delve deeper into the findings of the January report, click here.


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