Amid the gloom, there’s room for optimism in Asia in the post-Covid-19 landscape, says Benjamin Hung, CEO, Asia, Standard Chartered. The pandemic has speeded up structural changes in this growing region’s business landscape, and created greater opportunities which will pave the way for Asia’s strong rebound in 2021 and beyond.
With the conclusion of the 1st ASEAN Digital Ministers Meeting (ADGMIN) last month and the series of digital policies introduced, ASEAN is ready to move forward on building an integrated digital economy. Even as ASEAN aims to become an important player in the digital global value chain, there are areas where China and ASEAN can work together to achieve a win-win situation. Professor Zhai Kun of Peking University and Yuan Ruichen, member of the research group of the BRI Big Data Innovation Experimental Project, suggest cooperation in areas such as building smart cities, cybersecurity and digital governance.
With the pandemic showing little signs of slowing and as countries around the world shift away from the traditional economy, academic Pei Sai Fan notes that this is an opportune time for Asia to boost its digital economic sector. Namely, there will be the opportunity to consider building a more integrated Asian digital economy and to promote Asian digital trade and a common digital currency.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.