Digital

In this file photo taken on 20 October 2019, people walk in front of a screen at the World Internet Conference (WIC) in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China. (Aly Song/File Photo/Reuters)

Beijing's tech conundrum in 2021: How to bolster tech sector while reining in the digital giants

Amid greater efforts at achieving greater self-sufficiency in developing core technologies, China will turn to an erstwhile resource it has depended on — the state — to move forward. But will state-controlled venture capital funds be nimble enough to catch the next wave of tech innovations? And judging by the regulatory clampdown on Ant Group and others in recent months, a key preoccupation of 2021 will remain growing the digital economy while trying to rein in digital giants.
Alibaba Group co-founder and executive chairman Jack Ma attends the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai, China, 17 September 2018. (Aly Song/REUTERS)

Alibaba probe: China's challenges in dealing with monopolies start with the state-owned enterprises

With the recent investigation into Alibaba for alleged monopolistic actions, Chinese legal expert Zong Haichao explores the need for balance in the measures taken by the Chinese government to curb monopolies. While many expect 2021 to be “year one” of the anti-monopoly era, Zong cautions that there are many challenges facing China's anti-monopoly moves, including the presence of state-owned enterprises and the lack of a sophisticated Chinese legislative structure.
A logo of Ant Group is pictured at the headquarters of the company, an affiliate of Alibaba, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, 29 October 2020. (Aly Song/File Photo/Reuters)

Regulating new technologies: Singapore and China can work together

Law experts Tan Chong Huat and Amanda Chen observe that the recent halting of Ant Group’s dual listing on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges augur more regulatory changes in the micro-loans industry. While this lowers financial stability risk, will more of such regulations hinder fintech advancements? Where’s the middle ground? In their opinion, there is much that Singapore and China can learn from each other in the regulation of emerging technologies.
A couple wearing face masks share a laugh as they take pictures a bridge at the Hou Hai lake in Beijing on 16 October 2020. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

Love in the cloud: China’s emerging livestream matchmaking industry

It was probably a matter of time before online entrepreneurs found a way to meet the perennial demand for love and marriage in China — through livestream matchmaking. From the looks of it, it is a match made in heaven. Over the past two years, scores of people, particularly in smaller cities and towns, have used “cloud dating” mobile live-streaming apps to chat with prospective matches in real time. Seeing opportunity, various platforms like Alibaba, Tencent, Momo, Huya TV, Inke, and Huajiao have entered the fray. Covid-19 has made it even more common to seek out remote means of having one’s head in the clouds, basking in the novelty of new love. Zaobao journalist Zeng Shi has the details.
This picture taken on 28 October 2020 shows a customer (right) scanning a QR payment code (centre in green) to pay at a restaurant in Beijing, China. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

China will continue to dominate the e-commerce landscape in 2021

China will continue to flex its e-commerce muscles in 2021, predicts Associate Professor Chu Junhong from the NUS Business School. Expect a strong dose of cross-border e-commerce, live-streaming e-commerce, and more eye-catching short videos that promise great returns on “retailtainment”.
This photo taken early on October 23, 2020 shows Silvia Rivera (in background) attending a live-streaming event from a studio in Shanghai to offer products on an Aliexpress channel in Spain. By some estimates, livestream shopping is a near US$70 billion industry inside China. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

How China is leading in the live-streaming e-commerce world

Live-streaming e-commerce is fast gaining currency in China, not least when tapping on short video and “we-media” platforms. Supporting the “internet celebrities” who promote endless products through this avenue are a support network backed by AI and big data. Technology specialist Yin Ruizhi looks at how this new model is changing the face of retail.
Pedestrians walk past a Chinese flag in the Lujiazui financial district in Shanghai, China, on 1 December 2020. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

China to clamp down on monopolies and spur domestic demand

The meeting of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party last week in preparation for the annual Central Economic Work Conference gave a clear indication of China’s economic direction: it is going full steam ahead on shaping a dual circulation economy driven predominantly by domestic demand. In seeking to implement demand-side reforms, deep-seated social issues and monopolistic tendencies will be addressed.
Singapore's Ambassador-at-Large Chan Heng Chee. (SPH)

Ambassador Chan Heng Chee: The future of Singapore-China strategic collaboration

Professor Chan Heng Chee, Ambassador-at-Large and Singapore’s former ambassador to the US, addressed the Lianhe Zaobao Singapore-China Forum on 4 December via Zoom. She said that there is still much that Singapore and China can work together on, such as in tightening the nuts and bolts of the recently signed RCEP, enhancing the ASEAN-China FTA, exchanging views on the CPTPP and WTO reform, and facilitating cooperation in the digital sector.
People walk in the tourist area surrounding Houhai Lake during Chinese National Day holidays in Beijing, China, 2 October 2020. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

What can Singapore learn from China?

Two Singaporean businessmen reflect on their years spent working in China, and consider the Chinese approaches and attitudes that Singapore can do well to learn from. With the right bold strategic moves, more targeted incentives to specific sectors and also to civil servants, as well as an openness to adapt some of the lessons from countries like China, Singapore can remain globally relevant in these very uncertain times.