The end is in sight for Google’s seven wilderness years in China. With none of the theatrics that accompanied its voluntary withdrawal from the country due to web-search censorship in January 2010, Google is now firmly on a path not only to return to China but also to potentially seize a spot alongside Apple as one of the most profitable tech companies there.
This is a likely outcome of Google’s announcement last week that it is entering with full force the global consumer hardware industry. Google Pixel mobile phones, Google Home artificial intelligence-enabled speakers, Google Daydream View virtual reality headsets, these will be the engines of Google’s revival in China. Based on what Google has so far revealed – including pricing – these products may find a large market among Chinese consumers.
The company has made no specific mention of plans to re-enter China. China’s government will not likely strew the ground with rose petals to welcome Google back. Read more
By Chandran Nair, Global Institute for Tomorrow
Last week, Jack Ma called for a new “e-WTO” with the aim of helping small businesses get on the Internet, as the best hope in the fight against poverty. This appeal came after Alibaba’s largest ever “Singles Day” a week earlier, with almost US$14.3bn of merchandise sold in 24 hours. Alibaba’s social media accounts even reported that Premier Li Keqiang called CEO Jack Ma to wish him a successful day. “Singles Day” is now the world’s largest shopping day, dwarfing even the United States’ “Black Friday.”
These are the latest manifestations of a worrying obsession with e-commerce and the Internet in Asia’s largest economies. In March, Beijing announced its new “Internet Plus” plan to expand Internet connectivity. Premier Li, when describing it, brought up the “mobile Internet”, “cloud computing”, “big data”, “intelligent manufacturing” and the “Internet of Things,” in a manner similar to business leaders in America. Nor is this digital obsession restricted to China. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook’s headquarters received as much, if not more, media attention as his address on sustainable development to the United Nations days earlier. Read more
By Ronald Cheng, Bingna Guo, Sean Wu, O’Melveny & Myers
Chinese companies are by no means immune from the cyber attacks plaguing firms all over the world. More and more are suffering data breaches, which can result in the leakage of customer information, the denial of service, and the prospect of litigation. In July 2015, the national cyber-security emergency response unit received reports of some 11,800 “cyber incidents”. Xi Jinping, the president, has made cyber security an issue of national security.
Partly in response to such mounting cyber security issues, the Chinese government adopted the National Security Law on July 1, 2015. The law for the first time addressed the concept of cyber security and advocated the prevention and punishment of online crime, but did not specify particular measures or punishments. In addition, the law mandated the “national security review and oversight” of all “internet information technology products and services,” naming a pretty broad swath of industries that could be facing more government scrutiny. Read more
By Wesley Wu-Yi Koo and Lizhi Liu
Behind China’s impressive economic rise is the biggest human migration in history. By 2013, some 269m rural residents had become migrant workers in cities, offering cheap labour and sustaining urban growth. However, unable to register and settle their family members in the cities, these migrant workers are forced to leave behind children, spouses, and old people in the villages. This has taken a tremendous toll on the rural society.
Today, there are 61m “left-behind children” and 40m “left-behind elderly” in Chinese villages. Some 79 per cent of the left-behind children are under the care of grandparents, who are often uneducated and lack parenting resources and energy. As a result, the academic scores of 88 per cent of these children fall below what would be the passing line in cities. Read more
Over many years, China has gained acclaim as the world’s manufacturing powerhouse. But today, innovation is flourishing in the world’s most populous nation, which is rapidly becoming a trendsetter with the potential to disrupt business models globally.
On a recent research trip to China, we were struck by the huge enthusiasm for locally developed smartphones and the entrepreneurial spirit sweeping the country. Indeed, the number of patents filed by Chinese residents has surged in recent years, both locally and abroad, to exceed the world’s largest developed economies. Read more
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 reported. Read 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
58.com 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 58.com, 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 58.com 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