This week, we discuss WeChat making travel smoother for its users, a new video-based messenger rolled out by Douyin, government censoring “effeminate male idols”, and more.
Also, do you know which WeChat generation you belong to based on your emoji usage? Dig in!
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Six readers asked us if they can make money podcasting in China and how they might go about it. So, we wrote up a long post on the massive audio platform Ximalaya, how Chinese people are using it, the monetization methods available, and how to promote a podcast. - Get it here.
Douyin launches a video-based instant messaging app that may challenge WeChat. “Duoshan” is somewhat similar to Snapchat - the video messages disappear after 72 hours in order to provide “stress-free” sharing. Short-lasting videos similar to Snapchat or Instagram Moments have not peaked in China yet. Duoshan is based on an idea of convenient messaging, similar to extremely popular WeChat’s voice messages - just upgraded to the 5G era. Some say there’s no space for another messaging app (see what happened to Bullet Messenger…), but Duoshan relies on Douyin’s 500 million monthly active users. - Read more (English/Chinese)
Show WeChat your commonly used emojis and WeChat will tell you how old you are… According to “The WeChat Annual Data Report 2018”, the app’s vast user base can be grouped into five generations, each can be described based on their most commonly used emoji. Even I have to say its accuracy is disturbing!
What creepy data has the platform also collected? People born in the 00s have a sweet tooth, Millennials like sleeping in and use public transport a lot, older generations love browsing through their WeChat Moments. - Read more (English)
Weibo will not display an actual number of likes and reposts when they exceed 1 million - it will just show “1 million+”. It is a step on the way to fight fake comments and reposts coming from both bots and the “water army”. The same step was taken before by video-streaming platform iQiyi last year. - Read more (English)
Male earrings censored on iQiyi, video-streaming platform. As ridiculous as it is, there’s been a new regulation that has not yet been announced officially that bans men from displaying such an affront to “national masculinity.” Apparently, it was unknown when the content was being shot, so the platform had no choice but to blur the earrings out.
Just as the trend for “androgynous and effeminate male idols” is growing in China, the government and state media are trying harder to fight it. - Read more (English)
Alipay launches its annual Lunar New Year promotion which has become a holiday tradition. Every year, two weeks before the holiday, Alipay users start collecting “lucky cards” - when you scan a 福 character anywhere you can get one of five cards. The more sets of five different cards you collect, the better the chances that on Lunar New Year’s Eve you could win a prize. The annual gala is not a thing anyone would miss! - Read more (Chinese)
Famous martial arts actor, Yen Zidan, roasted for working with the German brand who released “Fuck You China” T-shirts. The actor was one of the catwalk models for Philipp Plein during Milan Fashion Week and was quickly spotted by Chinese netizens. Heated discussion arose, even after the actor released a public apology saying he did not know about the T-shirt campaign. He published quite a few social media posts about loving his country etc. However, the timing couldn’t be worse as the Chinese Internet is still sensitive after the recent Dolce and Gabbana incident. - Read more (Chinese)
Jack Ma opens a music bar to create opportunities for young musicians. HHB Music House has immediately become the most hip place in Hangzhou. But Alibaba’s founder says he doesn’t care about making money. Alibaba’s ecosystem has created millions of work places for delivery men, craftsmen, farmers; and now it’s time for musicians. Ma expressed his hope that HHB Music House will change the industry and create opportunities for both musicians and investors. - Read more (Chinese)
Who can you not imagine life in China without? Delivery guys, of course! They became such an inseparable part of our daily lives as they can deliver basically anything to you within 30 minutes, more or less. If they suddenly disappeared, life would be incomplete. But… who are they?
Based on the latest report, 77% of them come from the countryside (that explains their accents…) and they earn on average 4k to 8k RMB (600 to 1.2k USD), only 10% of them make more than that - but there are some lucky ones who make up to 30k (4,4k USD). 91% of them are males, averaging around 29 years old; one-third owns an apartment, one-fourth - a car.
Meituan enters the “fresh e-commerce” world, offering products such as fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, seafoods, and eggs delivered to customer’s houses from local warehouses. “Anything you need for your daily meals within 30 minutes at your doorstep”. The service is only available in Shanghai, but is soon expected to expand as “fresh e-commerce” is becomes relevant in China, for now, mostly thanks to Alibaba’s Hema supermarkets. - Read more (Chinese)
The two-child policy did not encourage expected growth in the birth rate, quite the contrary happened. In 2018, the number of live births decreased by 14.2% - meaning that 2.5 million fewer children were born. Statistically, this is the lowest number since 1790, and China now faces a serious population crisis. - Read more (Chinese)
The government thought that, after years of the one-child policy, allowing people to have more children would be a game changer and expected a baby boom. However, saying that the reception was luke-warm is an overstatement. Society may be growing richer, but raising one child in China is not a cost everyone can afford- not to mention two of them! It’s calculated that the cost of bringing up a child is at least 2 million CNY (300k USD). Another thing is that, in a society used to generations of only children, raising a child requires the joint effort of six people: parents and both sets of grandparents.
Not to mention the general trend of young successful people that do not want to have many children or any children at all.
It’s often discussed by Western media that China should become a fully democratic nation. So many cases are brought up where human rights are broken; the trending topic of 2018 was the infamous “social credit system.” But, as an expat in China, I know well that the coin has two sides. For those who’ve never been to China and base their opinions just on what they hear from media outlets - I can imagine China seems scary. But what do Chinese people really think about their daily lives? - See the video here.
To sum it up, Chinese people feel rather free. They think China is a safe and stable country, and their government is more efficient at decision-making than multi-party democratic countries - and that’s why China developed so fast. Do they feel restricted? Sometimes, yes, but generally they feel more free than Westerners paint it.
WeChat users can now apply for a visa to 32 countries through a mini-program. The platform announced they want to ensure a smoother one-stop service for the country’s growing number of tourists. The new feature is being rolled out a few weeks after Alipay announced it was possible to apply for a Canadian visa with Alibaba’s Sesame Credit score. - Read more (Chinese)
The list of things that you CAN’T do on your mobile is becoming shorter in China.
WeChat cooperates with Global Blue in Japan to ensure a smooth tax refund process to Chinese tourists. Instead of filling in forms at the airport, Chinese tourists can now go to Hankyu Department Stores and scan a mini-program code at an unmanned counter to receive a full tax payback straight to their WeChat wallet. A similar feature is offered by Alipay in European countries. - Read more (Chinese)
It is an important step as Japan is a popular shopping destination - the Chinese often go there just for a day and buybuybuy! A smoother tax refund process may be a serious driver for them when choosing a destination. Another popular spot is Korea.
China aims at bringing their English exams to an international standard. The first step: linking China's Standard of English Language Ability (CSE) standard to IELTS. The Chinese Ministry of Education wants to unify the exams that are currently available in China to make sure students have clear objectives for their learning process. The issue young Chinese people often face now is that they’re not able to use their language skills in real life. The standardized tests focus on all abilities: reading, writing, listening and speaking, and are supposed to help them change it. - Read more (English/Chinese)