Podcast: Social media, AI, business and how people use the internet behind China’s Great Firewall
The China Internet Report, a unique collaboration between Abacus, 500 Startups, and the South China Morning Post, highlights four overarching trends that have emerged in China’s thriving tech industry.
In this podcast the principal authors of the report – Edith Yeung, partner and head of China at 500 Startups; Ravi Hiranand, executive producer of Abacus; and Chua Kong Ho, SCMP's technology editor – discuss the following trends:
1. Giants are doing everything
Whether it’s building, investing, or acquiring, Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent are present across the internet ecosystem. Collectively known as BAT in the industry – with combined revenues of 550 billion yuan (US$87.3 billion) – they dominate nearly every aspect of the Chinese internet, with core businesses ranging from web search and social media to e-commerce and entertainment. Alibaba is the parent company of the South China Morning Post.
2. China Internet Empowers Rural Population
The number of rural internet users in China reached 209 million in 2017 with a penetration rate of 35 per cent. The internet has contributed significantly to the development of e-commerce, education and media in rural China.
3. China’s Internet Companies Embrace New ‘Social+’ Model
Chinese e-commerce companies have adopted a Social+ model where their business is anchored by a social pillar that drives user engagement and growth. E-commerce platforms aren’t the only ones who have adopted the Social+ model though. Other verticals such as media and education have incorporated these social elements into their business model.
4. Government Is The Visible Hand
The role of the Chinese government is cited as one of the most prominent characteristics of China’s internet scene, in which success or failure – especially for media or fintech companies – is contingent upon government approval. While the Chinese government wants to be a front-runner in blockchain technology, it has banned the trading of cryptocurrencies despite the fact that some Chinese-developed cryptocurrencies have reached over US$1 billion in market cap, the report points out.