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People walk with umbrellas in Lujiazui financial district in Pudong, Shanghai, on the day of the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC), China, 5 March 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Post-Covid-19: Asia will be the beating heart of the world

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.
Motorists travel past a screen displaying stock figures in Shanghai, China, on 18 February 2021. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Innovation and ‘new retail’ driving the Chinese economy

Commentator David Ng explores the changes that are happening in China with developments in technology that allow vast changes in business models, from traditional offline transactions to online business, and “new retail”, which combines the two. How will the Chinese economy grow under these forces?
People walk along a bridge that connects two shopping malls in Jakarta on 14 February 2021. (Adek Berry/AFP)

Chinese academics: How China and ASEAN can deepen digital economy partnership

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.
Data room operators work at the headquarters of online shopping platform JD.com during the Singles' Day shopping festival in Beijing on 11 November 2020. (Greg Baker/AFP)

72-hour workweek in China's tech companies: Driving innovation or destroying workers?

News of young employees dying from overwork at major Chinese tech companies are not unheard of. Last December, a 22-year-old female employee at e-commerce giant Pinduoduo died after working long hours past midnight. China's intense efforts at increasing national competences in new and advanced technologies have seen it moving up the value chain from a low-cost manufacturer to an innovator in science and technology. But is the “996 culture” of working from 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week, feasible and sustainable?
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.
The Alibaba Group signage is seen during the company's 11.11 Singles' Day global shopping festival at their headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, 11 November 2020. (Aly Song/Reuters)

From heroes to pests: What’s happening to China’s internet giants?

With China’s internet giants now moving into the community group-buying market offering groceries at low prices, not everyone’s happy, as livelihoods will be affected and people have learnt a lesson from the huge price they have paid in the growth of these internet giants. Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu examines the dark side of the “online vegetable basket” industry.
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.
China's official app for digital yuan is seen on a mobile phone next to 100-yuan banknotes in this illustration picture taken 16 October 2020. (Florence Lo/REUTERS)

Will China's digital currency accelerate the internationalisation of the RMB?

Some are of the opinion that an e-RMB will encourage the internationalisation of the RMB as a major global currency. NUS academic Duan Jin-Chuan argues that whether the RMB is digitalised or not is not the key issue; internationalisation of the RMB really depends on demand for and attractiveness of the RMB as a trading and value storage tool.