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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. Apple To Launch Second Store in Shenzhen as Part of China Retail Expansion



Apple will open its second retail store in Shenzhen this week, more than a decade since its first shop was launched in the southern tech hub, as the US tech giant continues to expand its presence on the mainland amid concerns about a manufacturing supply chain shift out of China.



The new Apple Store, located at the upscale shopping center The MixC in Shenzhen’s Luohu district, will open at 10 am on April 28, according to the company’s official website. The first Apple retail store in the city was opened in November 2012 in the Nanshan district, home of the Shenzhen Hi-Tech Industrial Park.


2. Chinese Military Study Says TikTok Can Be Used to Wage ‘Cognitive War’ on Russia



A new study by Chinese military scientists named TikTok as one of several hi-tech companies involved in propaganda campaigns against Russia. TikTok stands out as the only Chinese-owned business on the list, which contains nearly 40 private entities from the internet, space, finance, and AI sectors.



According to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) investigation, TikTok has joined Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other Western tech giants in offering a platform for cognitive war on Russia that has “greatly undermined Russian military morale” and eroded its international image.


3. Chinese Budget Shopping App Temu Opens In Europe Amid Rapid Expansion



PDD Holdings’ budget shopping app Temu, Pinduoduo’s international sibling, has entered the European market, another step in its rapid global expansion. The platform is now operating in France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK, bringing the total number of countries where it operates to 10, according to Temu’s website.



PDD Holdings’ budget shopping app Temu, Pinduoduo’s international sibling, has entered the European market, another step in its rapid global expansion.

The platform is now operating in France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK, bringing the total number of countries where it operates to 10, according to Temu’s website.


4. JD.Com Stock Underperforms Amid Competition From Pinduoduo, ByteDance



After dropping 37 percent since the start of the year, JD.com trails all its peers in the benchmark Hang Seng Tech Index, as well as a gauge of Chinese shares traded in Hong Kong. A slow and uneven recovery from the Covid slump, in addition to growing competition from rivals PDD Holdings and ByteDance has led the likes of Goldman Sachs and UBS to cut their estimates.



JD.com’s struggles are emblematic of the challenges faced by China’s online retailers. Demand for big-ticket items is still weak – bad news for a company that counts on electronics and home appliances for half its sales. The stock’s 77 percent gain from an October low to a January peak has all but vanished.


5. Shein Plows US$150 Million Into Brazil as a Bridgehead for Latin America



China-founded fast-fashion giant Shein plans to invest nearly US$150 million in Brazil, making the country its manufacturing and export hub for Latin America as the e-commerce platform continues global expansion.



The investment will “provide tools and training for factories to upgrade their traditional production models” and “enable local producers to better manage orders, reduce waste at the source, and lower excess inventory”, the company said in a statement. Shein also anticipates that its investment will help 2,000 local manufacturers create as many as 100,000 jobs within the next three years,


6. China’s Top Live Streamers Called Out for False Advertising



Chinese researchers have named live streamers Crazy Xiao Yang, Li Jiaqi, Liu Genghong, Luo Yonghao, and Xinba as reflective of fault lines within the live stream industry.



The report, produced by Beijing Sunshine Consumption Big Data Research Institute on April 24, analyzed public opinion on top live streamers including the famed “Lipstick King” Li Jiaqi. From January to December 2022, the researchers scoured news sources for keywords relating to live streamers and livestreaming platforms and then categorized the results as positive, neutral, or negative.


They found that 31.41% of public opinion data points were positive, 55.96% were neutral, and 12.63% were negative. Delving deeper into the data, the researchers found that 90% of the negative opinion data collected was about just five live streamers: Crazy Xiao Yang, Li Jiaqi, Liu Genghong, Luo Yonghao, and Xinba.


7. Dior Accused of Racism on Chinese Social Media Over ‘Pulled Eye’ Makeup Ad



French luxury fashion house Dior has found itself embroiled in yet another marketing controversy in China. Their latest promotional photo featuring an Asian model has sparked accusations of racial discrimination, as the model is seen pulling the corners of her eyes upward in a manner that many are calling out as slanting her eyes.



The photo, which was intended to showcase Dior’s new leopard-themed makeup collection, has caused an uproar on social media, with netizens slamming the brand for perpetuating harmful stereotypes.


8. ByteDance Tests Out Fast Fashion Business On The Douyin App



Chinese tech giant Bytedance has reportedly formed a self-operated clothing team and launched an online fast fashion boutique called “Feiyun Zhishang” on the Douyin app.



The store mainly sells fashionable women’s clothing, including but not limited to down jackets, knitted sweaters, hooded jackets, and more with prices ranging from tens to hundreds of dollars. At present, delivery is limited to Zhejiang Province, with supported compensation for late delivery and seven-day no-reason return.


9. ByteDance Refutes Offering $1.4M Annual Salary to Poach OpenAI Talent



It was reported that ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, offered an annual salary of $1.4 million to poach talent of the ChatGPT R&D team from OpenAI. However, on April 24, a spokesperson for ByteDance responded to the report and stated that it was not true.



ByteDance has not yet announced its AI product. According to a report by 36Kr, ByteDance has already laid out plans for large-scale models and is focusing on language and image modalities. A spokesperson for ByteDance later responded that the firm has been exploring these fields but it’s still immature.


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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