China internet

Ever fancied a holiday from the internet? Complete peace of mind, a world away from the hyperreality of tweets, email, hashtags, likes, blogs and the other trappings of an ICYMI world?

Welcome to China, where, ensconsed behind the Great Firewall, you can relax, maybe shop on Alibaba, send the odd Wechat message, or fight little bug eyed jumping dragon thingies with a Kung Fu laser sword. But that’s it. No Gmail, no YouTube, no Facebook or Twitter. You’re guaranteed a relaxing disconnect from being a beast of online burden.

But it turns out not everyone appreciates the opportunity. Read more

Clouds hang over Russia and challenges abound in Latin America and South Africa, but emerging market (EM) consumers remain robust in Asia and are voracious almost everywhere when it comes to buying cars, smartphones and holidays, a survey of 16,000 EM consumers conducted by Nielsen, a research firm, shows.

The survey – conducted in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and South Africa for Credit Suisse – shows that differentiation between countries and products is key to understanding EM consumer trends this year, rather than generalising across emerging markets as a whole. Read more

China’s “big four” state banks are losing share in the country’s fast-growing retail banking market as customers embrace a more sophisticated array of products and swell a burgeoning fashion for digital banking, according to a survey of savers conducted by McKinsey, the consultancy.

The main beneficiary from the slide of the “big four” – the Agricultural Bank of China, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Bank of China and the China Construction Bank – have been the joint-stock commercial banks, which include institutions such as China Merchants Bank, China Everbright Bank and CITIC Bank. Read more

China’s traditional banking sector is leading a counter-attack against the runaway success of online funds launched by internet companies such as Alibaba.

The China Banking Association, with 362 member banks, says deposits made in the funds should not be regulated in the same way as deposits by financial institutions, as at present, but as regular deposits, Chinese media have reportedRead more

The FT’s Ben Marino travels to Hebei province to visit a rural community that is opening online shops selling Inner Mongolian cashmere to fashion-conscious internet shoppers across China.

Still depositing your money in the bank? In China, you would be laughed at by your friends, who are either buying wealth management products or rushing into the online currency funds offered by the three internet giants – Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu.

In response, the “big five” national banks – Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China and Bank of Communications – have had to raise savers rates to the upper limit set by the central bank in an attempt to keep their depositors’ money. Read more may be frequently dubbed China’s answer to Craigslist, the pioneering US classified site. But its founder isn’t keen on the comparison. He has a bigger ambition: to be like Alibaba.

Jinbo Yao, founder and chief executive of, tells beyondbrics that he was initially inspired by Craigslist to found the company in 2005: “But we are different in terms of our business model. We hope will become a company like Alibaba, to connect merchants and users in the area of daily life services.” Read more

YY Inc is one of the hottest tech companies you’ve never heard of. The Chinese live broadcasting platform’s stock has quadrupled since listing on the NASDAQ only about a year ago, and third quarter sales have spiked 113 per cent from last year.

What’s working for YY? True, investors have been snapping up Chinese internet stocks left and right. Tencent and Sina, for example, have surged 150 per cent over the past year. But the secret to YY’s success is that it’s been very nimble in adapting to its users. Read more

Baidu, China’s dominant search engine, started its online financial service on Monday in an attempt to compete with rivals such as Alibaba, who have already pushed aggressively into Chinese financial sector. It wasn’t exactly smooth running.

Baidu’s financial services platform made its debut on October 28, introducing a financial product in conjunction with China Asset Management, which was offering an 8 per cent annual return in its original promotional material. However, the ad fell foul of the financial regulator, and the site was overwhelmed with traffic. The missteps show how much of a rush the big internet companies are to get into online finance. Read more

Now that Alibaba, China’s biggest ecommerce company, has abandoned plans for a $60bn IPO in Hong Kong and is turning instead to the US equities market, a scramble for territory among the Chinese IT triumvirate known as the BAT (for Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) can only intensify. Read more

The battle between China’s internet giants ratcheted up another notch this week after Tencent – the sector leader with a market capitalisation of over $100bn – snapped up a minority stake in Sohu’s Sogou search engine unit for $448m.

The deal, which will give Tencent a 36.5 per cent stake in Sogou, is aimed at expanding the former’s presence in China’s fast growing mobile internet market. The transaction is also the latest shot fired in an ongoing rivalry between Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu for online supremacy in China. Read more

Shanghai is having a particularly hot summer this year but that didn’t stop game lovers by the tens of thousands from queuing up to get into ChinaJoy 2013 – The 11th China Digital Entertainment Expo & Conference.

“Everyone was talking about mobile games this year,” says Xue Yongfeng of consulting firm Analysys. He says China’s mobile games industry is booming – creating a bubble that’s likely to burst next year. Read more

The most interesting nugget in Yahoo’s second-quarter earnings presentation is arguably not the web portal company’s own performance; but rather that of Alibaba, the Chinese ecommerce company in which Yahoo holds a 24 per cent stake.

With Alibaba gearing up for its highly anticipated initial public offering, the eye-popping numbers revealed on Tuesday by Yahoo are a must read for any potential investors. Read more

Chinese search engine giant Baidu plans to buy the entire share capital of NetDragon Websoft’s subsidiary 91 Wireless for $1.9bn (HK$14.74bn), making it the biggest acquisition deal in China’s internet industry if it succeeds.

NetDragon, an online game development and mobile internet business based in Fujian Province, said on Tuesday that Baidu had signed a memorandum of understanding to buy its 57.41 per cent stake in 91 Wireless for $1.09bn (HK$8.46bn) on July 15. Baidu has offered to buy out the other shareholders on the same terms. Read more

There are several things you might associate with Bitcoin: freedom from central banks; criminal activity; boom and bust; the Winklevii. How about China?

Although most Bitcoin enthusiasts and pioneers are US based, China has emerged as a big centre of Bitcoin users. The question is: why, and will the authorities allow it to flourish? Read more

With Chinese regulators still scratching their heads on how to handle shadow banking, there’s a whole new world of internet finance to comprehend, spearheaded by Alibaba, China’s biggest ecommerce group.

Jack Ma, the group’s chairman, has publicly voiced his ambition to create a revolution in financial industry through the internet, and is putting it into practice with several new services. Read more

It’s not just Apple that can generate sales buzz in China for new devices. A couple of weeks on from Amazon’s Kindle launch in China, and the new e-reading devices are becoming hot properties. Read more

Jack Ma is back in action. Less than three weeks after giving up management control at Alibaba, the founder of the Chinese internet giant is back in the headlines with a Rmb100bn-plus logistics infrastructure project called Cainiao Network Technology.

Ma will be the chairman of China Smart Logistic Network (CSN), a consortium which will develop a parcel shipping network that can help deliver online shopping in 2000 cities within 24 hours. Good news for Chinese consumers – and for Chinese internet companies. Read more

The news that Guangzhou is to start building a costly cemetery exclusively for revolutionary heroes and government officials this October has stirred up something of an online controversy.

With the cost of cemetery space far higher than housing, it has highlighted the increasing inequality in Chinese society – in death, as well as in life. Read more

Shares in Sina Corp, the Nasdaq-listed Chinese online media group, rose nearly 21 per cent during trading on Monday after the company said it had agreed to sell 18 per cent of Weibo, its Twitter-like micro-blogging service, to Alibaba Group for $586m. The two came close to a similar deal five months ago. Now they have tied the knot. Read more