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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. Tencent Eyes Its Own ChatGPT-Style Service for Super app WeChat



Tencent Holdings is in no hurry to launch its own ChatGPT-style products that could include a chatbot embedded into its flagship super app WeChat, as the Chinese video gaming and social media giant outlined its plans in this field for the first time amid a global artificial intelligence (AI) arms race.



Shenzhen-based Tencent expected generative AI technology to be a “growth multiplier” that will enhance the company’s video gaming and social media operations, instead of a threat to these businesses, Tencent president Martin Lau Chi-ping told reporters and analysts after the firm released its fourth-quarter financial results.


2. Tencent Beats Quarterly Profit Forecasts, Helped By Cost-Saving Efforts



Tencent Holdings reported a better-than-expected net income of 106.3 billion yuan (US$15.4 billion) in the fourth quarter of 2022, helped by months of rigorous cost-saving measures, as company president Martin Lau Chi-ping is set to rotate off the board.



The Hong Kong-listed company’s profit for the three months to the end of December was up 12 percent from 94.9 billion yuan in the same period the previous year, boosted by a one-off gain of 106.6 billion yuan from its disposal of stakes in Meituan. It beat the average estimates of 27.6 billion yuan.


3. ByteDance and Tencent Vie For Growth With New Apps After Tech Crackdown



ByteDance and Tencent Holdings both released new apps recently, as China’s Big Tech firms gun for new growth after nearly two years of business retreat and consolidation under Beijing’s tightened regulatory scrutiny.



Social media and video gaming giant Tencent earlier this month launched Xiaoe Yuyin, a social media app that includes a voice chat function for users to play video games as teams. TikTok owner ByteDance meanwhile has unveiled a medium- and long-form video app named Qing Tao, launched by the same team that operates Douyin, China’s most popular short video app.


4. BBC Urges Staff to Delete TikTok From Company Mobile Phones



The BBC has urged its staff to delete the Chinese-own social media app TikTok from corporate mobile phones.



The move comes after the UK government banned the app on government-issued phones amid fears of sensitive data being accessed by the Chinese government, owing to its ownership by the Chinese internet company ByteDance. The corporation said the use of TikTok on BBC corporate devices – which have been bought and paid for by the organization – was still permitted for editorial and marketing purposes. But the spokesperson said the BBC would continue to monitor and assess the situation.


5. Google Suspends Chinese Shopping App Pinduoduo Over Alleged Malware



Google’s Play store has suspended Pinduoduo, a popular shopping app in China, citing the discovery of malware, just as its sibling app Temu has been climbing download charts in the US market.



The Google Play page for Pinduoduo, the main app operated by PDD Holdings known for its cut-to-the-bone deals, was inaccessible as of Tuesday, while Temu remains available. Google said in a statement that it found malware in some versions of Pinduoduo available for download outside the Play store.


6. Alibaba’s AliExpress Steps Up Investment In Spain



AliExpress, a retail service launched in 2010 that offers products to international buyers, is targeting growth in Europe and South Korea. The unit held an AliExpress Choice service launch event in Spain, where it has been providing a nine-day delivery time for users since the beginning of March.



AliExpress will run as many as nine charter flights per week to Spain, the most among its EU markets aside from Belgium, which is the logistics hub for AliExpress in Europe. It also plans to increase the number of its pick-up points in Spain from the current 5,000 to 7,500 by the end of March.


7. Tmall Launches Limited-Edition Flower NFTs in Spring Campaign



Chinese e-commerce giant Tmall has kicked off its spring campaign “My New Spring Flowers in Bloom” by joining hands with five renowned brands including Huggies, Decorté, Vans, iQOO, and L’Oréal. In celebration of its annual membership day, the campaign offers exclusive gifts for members from big-name brands as the spring flowers come into bloom.



In honor of the event, Tmall rolled out limited-edition digital collectible series of virtual flowers for each of the five brands. The design concept of the eternal flowers stems from the brand’s new products of the month and creatively ties each brand to the spring theme.


8. McDonald’s China Partners With Hong Kong Streetwear Label CLOT



The Hong Kong streetwear label CLOT, famed for its ‘East meets West’ design ethos, is marking its 20th anniversary with the launch of an exclusive merchandise range in collaboration with McDonald’s China.



The launch doubles up as a promotion for McSpicy Chicken burger. The exclusive hoodie released as part of the campaign is emblazoned with a split McSpicy graphic, in which the burger patty is the CLOT logo. Other merchandise on offer includes a collared button-down tee with CLOT’s signature ‘Silk Royale’ pattern and yellow McDonald’s ‘M’. Shoppers can purchase the limited edition items from March 16 via the McDonald’s store on the e-commerce site Tmall.


9. Estée Lauder Kicks Off Marketing Campaign With 100 Coffee Shops In Shanghai



Multinational cosmetics company Estée Lauder has joined hands with over 100 coffee shops in Shanghai in a spring campaign for the company’s Perfectionist Pro “multi-defense” sunscreen.



As part of the collaboration, a wide range of coffee shops located throughout the city will serve as ‘daka’ spots or check-in locations on social media for consumers to freely enjoy the arrival of spring with a cup of joe. Notable coffee shops include Shanghai’s literal hole-in-the-wall café “Bear Claw Coffee”, listed as one of the three giants of coffee on Yongkang Road. In honor of the campaign, the coffee shop has painted its walls purple and has even changed its originally brown furry paw to purple in order to match the beauty brand’s aesthetic.


10. ByteDance’s Douyin Launches Video App Qingtao



Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok owned by ByteDance, quietly launched an application called “Qingtao,” according to a report by Tech Planet on March 20.



The introduction shows that Qingtao is a video platform for young people with a focus on interest and knowledge sharing. The app has recently been updated to version 1.0.4. At present, this app has a simple interface without ads and can link directly with Douyin. Its main contents include technology, science, trendy sports, culture, and art, among others.


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 February report, click here.


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