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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. Alibaba, Xiaohongshu Boost Sales In Midyear Shopping Festival

Alibaba Group Holding has said that it is seeing “encouraging” user engagement and merchant growth during the 618 midyear online shopping festival, as rival Xiaohongshu, China’s answer to Instagram, said its online sales have tripled from a year ago.

Taobao and Tmall Group, Alibaba’s domestic e-commerce unit, has switched to a new strategy that focuses on consumers and small merchants during this year’s festival, which runs from May 20 to June 20, as the company seeks to defend its dominant position in China’s online shopping market.

Xiaohongshu, a social media app that lets users share lifestyle and travel content, has seen its e-commerce turnover triple during the festival by encouraging influencers to test out live-streaming e-commerce, the company said. Orders placed through the platform’s live-streaming sessions from May 19 to June 10 jumped more than five times from last year, it said.

2. Tencent’s WeChat Breaks Ranks to Ban Digital Influencers in Live Streaming

Weixin Channel, WeChat’s video platform, has published a draft of new rules covering “low-quality content”, which noted that the use of “plug-ins, AI and other tools to generate avatars for live streaming” was not allowed.

The new draft rules come as authorities have cracked down on the use of AI technologies for creating virtual avatars. Internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), has requested that local providers of generative AI services must take measures to prevent the dissemination of discriminatory content and false information, according to CAC’s proposed regulation published last April. Tencent said online hosts who violate the rules will have their live-streaming exposure reduced by the company’s algorithm, and more serious violators will have their e-commerce function limited.

3. Shenzhen Rides Ecommerce Wave as Globally Popular Apps Fuel Cross-Border Trade

Buoyed by China’s rapidly growing cross-border e-commerce, the southern manufacturing hub and the port city of Shenzhen is showing signs of overtaking Shanghai as the nation’s leader in foreign trade for the first time since 2015.

Customs data shows that the value of Shenzhen’s total imports and exports in the first four months of 2024 hit 1.41 trillion yuan (US$194 billion) – up 31.8 percent from the same period last year and surpassing Shanghai’s 1.39 trillion yuan, which saw little change. On the back of the surging popularity of Chinese online shopping apps around the world, China’s cross-border e-commerce industry has recently been a bright spot in the country’s economic growth. Various levels of government have been rolling out various support policies, ranging from warehousing to customs-clearance facilitation.

4. ByteDance Says AI Smartphone Development Project Is Not True

ByteDance has debunked rumors of a secret AI smartphone project. The company clarified its focus on having developed large-scale software solutions for smartphones, utilizing the expertise of teams acquired in the past.

While the team comprised members from formerly acquired smartphone and VR companies, ByteDance emphasized that they were not entering the phone manufacturing market.

5. TikTok Adds Image Search for Similar Products in TikTok Shop

TikTok has expanded its test of image search functionality, which enables users to search for product listings in the app based on a visual example.

Users can now tap the camera icon in the search bar of the “Shop” tab in the app, which then enables you to take a photo, or use an image in your camera roll, to find similar products. TikTok has been testing the option in selected markets over the past year, with users in some regions sharing examples of the experience.

Image search in itself is not a new concept, with Google, Pinterest and Amazon all offering their own variations of the same. So it’s not a functional shift that’s likely to prompt significant interest as a result, but it is another element in TikTok’s broader push, which has seen various surges and retreats, as it continues to search for the optimal means to shift user behaviors around product discovery in the app.

6. TikTok Adds Commercial Music Library Integration for Adobe Express

TikTok has added another element to its integration with Adobe Express, with over a million copyright-free songs and sounds from TikTok’s Commercial Music Library now also available in the app.

The update will make it easier for Abode Express users to create TikTok campaigns, from start to finish, by facilitating access to all of TikTok’s creation and analytics elements in the platform. TikTok also announced the integration of its Creative Assistant into Adobe Express back in February, providing more ways to access its various tools, with the addition of music now making it a more comprehensive TikTok creation option.

7. TikTok Launches New Musician Interview Series To Promote Top Artists

TikTok is looking to further enhance its connection with the record industry, this time via a new series of artist spotlight interviews to help promote music in the app.

TikTok’s new “Off the Record” interview series will feature some of the world’s most popular musicians discussing their latest work, their creative process, and more. The interview series kicks off with Charli XCX, Meghan Trainor, and Bleachers, each discussing their newly released albums. TikTok has quickly become a key medium for music promotion, with many artists getting discovered, and boosting their audience, via their TikTok presence.

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 our latest report, click here.


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