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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. Meta Executive Questions TikTok’s ‘Profound Differences in Values’



Meta Platforms’ head of global affairs, Nick Clegg, called into question the values of TikTok by invoking the anti-China rhetoric that has become a trademark of lawmakers that want to expel his company’s rival from the US.



TikTok, owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance, has said it is not a Chinese company and is walling off sensitive US operations to house all data and employees in America. The app is not also available in China. Still, it has not been able to shake concerns about its ownership and whether that opens up the app for influence or data collection by the Chinese government.


2. Tencent CEO Pony Ma Affirms Support for Rust-Belt Province Heilongjiang



Chinese video gaming and social media giant Tencent Holdings has pledged to strengthen support for development initiatives in northeastern Heilongjiang province, one of the country’s less-developed areas, in another sign that Big Tech companies are answering Beijing’s call to help bolster the nation’s economic recovery efforts.



That commitment was made by Pony Ma Huateng, co-founder, chairman and chief executive of Tencent, in his speech before a business forum jointly organised by the provincial governments of Heilongjiang and Guangdong in the southern tech hub of Shenzhen.


3. Australian Government Resists Blanket WeChat Ban Despite Restrictions by Multiple Departments



The Australian government is resisting issuing a ban on WeChat on government devices despite many government departments instituting their own bans after the TikTok edict earlier last month.



TikTok was banned from government devices in early April over data collection and security concerns connected to the Chinese government. The move followed a review by the home affairs department which examined a range of social media platforms, but TikTok was the only app singled out for an immediate ban. At the time TikTok was banned, dozens of federal departments had already banned the app.


4. Xiaohongshu to Launch Group Buying Function



The lifestyle-sharing app Xiaohongshu, also known as China’s Instagram, is reportedly testing a new group buying function. Xiaohongshu has been recruiting retailers and service providers to participate in the beta, which is expected to drive offline footfall and online transactions.



Participants are being offered the incentives of paying no deposit when signing up to the service and paying no commission to Xiaohongshu from earnings made via the service. Influencers on the app can also earn commission by posting about retailers that provide the group buying option.


5. L’Oréal And Alibaba Join Hands in Sustainable Packaging Campaign



French cosmetics giant L’Oréal has teamed up with the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba in an effort to make China’s beauty industry more sustainable.



The two companies have signed a three-year contract to “establish green and low-carbon standards, develop new products and create measurable circular economy solutions for China’s 87 billion USD beauty and personal care industry”. Both entities will work together to make the beauty industry’s supply chain greener, from warehousing, packaging, and distribution to recycling, as well as promote sustainable lifestyles to consumers.


6. Baidu’s Ernie Bot Cuts Reasoning Cost by 90%



Baidu held a technical exchange meeting to discuss Ernie Bot, which has undergone four updates in the past month. Furthermore, the cost of model inference has reduced to one-tenth of the original.



Baidu’s Ernie Bot has been in invitation-only testing for more than a month, and they have created a dedicated app for internal testing which is only available on Android. Users can input questions through voice or typing on the keyboard, and the bot can answer through voice as well. Ernie Bot’s enterprise services are aiming to cover various scenarios such as office work, tourism services, e-commerce services, government affairs services, and financial services.


7. Alipay Transactions by Chinese Tourists in SG Nearly Double in Q1



The total transaction value of Chinese tourists in Singapore using Alipay nearly doubled in Q1 2023 compared to Q4 2022, as China reopened its borders and resumed group tours to the city-state.



High-end brands such as LVMH, Chanel, and Hermes, as well as shopping malls like Marina Bay Sands, ION Orchard, and Takashimaya saw the most transactions, according to a statement. Cherry Huang, general manager of Alipay+ offline merchant services, said local brands and merchants partnered with Alipay to enhance their offerings for Chinese travelers, such as giving out deals, promotions, and membership benefits.


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 April report, click here.

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