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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 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. Tech Giants Alibaba And ByteDance Lead China’s Return to CES

Chinese companies have returned to Las Vegas for CES in full force this year, with more than double the number of exhibitors compared with last year, including big names like ByteDance and, as companies try to shake off Covid-era blues with overseas growth.

CES lists 1,115 companies registered from China on its website, a 126 percent increase over the 493 listed at the beginning of the 2023 show. That does not include many of the biggest names on the list, which joined using international addresses.

2. Pinduoduo Suspends Local Grocery Shopping Service

E-commerce giant PDD Holdings has halted work on its local life services offering, avoiding head-to-head rivalry with Meituan, Alibaba Group Holding, and ByteDance, whose Douyin short video app has also dipped a toe into the sector.

PDD, whose market cap overtook Alibaba in November after the firm beat revenue estimates, had planned to launch the service – which facilitates in-store orders including hotel reservations and movie tickets – in February 2024 under its community group-buying unit Duoduo Maicai. PDD had leveraged Duoduo Maicai’s business development team of around 3,000 people to sign up bricks-and-mortar outlets, such as restaurants and tourist attractions.

3. Taobao and JD.Com’s New Refund Policies Spark Fears of Abuse Among Sellers

New “refund only” policies introduced by Chinese e-commerce players including Alibaba Group Holding’s Taobao and have sparked concern among some sellers about potential abuse of the terms, according to merchants and analysts.

Taobao and in late December introduced new policies that – in certain circumstances – allow shoppers to receive a refund for a product they are unhappy with even though they keep it. This may occur when a consumer complains about the poor quality of a product, or about an inaccurate and misleading description on the platform.

4. Douyin Makes Instant Refunds Mandatory Amid E-Commerce Rivalry

Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok that is betting big on e-commerce, has made its “express refund” policy mandatory, forcing merchants to immediately return money to consumers upon request to compete with similar offerings on Taobao and Pinduoduo.

The platform operated by Beijing-based ByteDance, which added a shopping channel in 2019, allows users to get a refund as soon as they mail back the returned parcel, rather than when the merchant receives it. A recent policy update regarding the service introduced in 2021 denies merchants the option of turning it off.

5. Alipay Is Testing the Social Feature ‘Interest Community’

Alipay is currently testing a social feature called ‘Interest Community.’ It aims to help users discover interesting things and find playmates. Users can experience trendy and cool lifestyles within the community and meet like-minded individuals with similar interests. Currently, this feature is still in the testing phase.

This is Alipay’s another attempt at community-based social services, following the launch of ‘Circles’ in 2016. However, compared to the previous ‘Circles’ feature, the gameplay of interest communities is more diverse and better suited to the current popular trend of companion-based social interactions. By using interests as a bond, it helps users find common social points with each other.

6. Baidu Terminates $3.6 Billion Acquisition of YY Live

Baidu has terminated the $3.6 billion acquisition of YY Live. An agreement signed between Baidu and JOYY Inc. in November 2020, which laid down the terms of Baidu’s acquisition of JOYY’s domestic video entertainment live-streaming business YY Live, stipulates that the delivery of the intended acquisition must meet certain prerequisites, including obtaining necessary approvals from government regulatory authorities and other conditions. However, as of December 31, 2023, which was the final deadline, not all of the prerequisites specified in the share purchase agreement had been fulfilled.

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 December report, click here.

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