China Watching

A cura di Fabrizio Perretti

iStock-1011141042
2021-11-03 Cecilia Attanasio Ghezzi

The New Chinese Web Celebrities, between Growth of the Digital Economy and a Government Squeeze

What ever happened to the "lipstick king?" Is Li Jiaqi, also known as Austin Li, still able to sell 15,000 lip glosses in five hours of streaming, or does his work have to adapt to the new China of shared prosperity and the ban on effeminate looks? With his 45 million followers on Douyin, the original Chinese version of the social network that in Europe we know as TikTok, Li may be the best-known of Chinese influencers and the digital economy that has developed around them, known as the "Wanghong economy." There is no doubt that Livestreamers, KOL (key opinion leaders), and new social platforms ...

iStock-1341883238
2021-09-27 Cecilia Attanasio Ghezzi

Evergrande: The Chinese Version of Lehman Brothers?

Does Evergrande risk becoming the Chinese version of Lehman Brothers? It's a legitimate question, that for weeks has been the focus of attention of financial analysts and the pages of the largest newspapers. There is certainly the fear that the collapse of a company this size could have repercussions on the entire Chinese financial system, but for the authorities in Beijing, it seems more important not to betray the promise to teach a lesson to the debt-laden behemoths in the country. So those who expected a state rescue have been disappointed, but that doesn't mean that "Chinese characteristics" ...

iStock-458292919
2021-08-23 Cecilia Attanasio Ghezzi

The Revolution Comes Lying Down

“If you can’t get up and you refuse to kneel, all you can do is lie flat.” It sounds like the slogan of a non-violent revolution, and it may be just that; at least in China. It all began with a post online last April: “Lying flat means justice.”[1] The author is Luo Huazhong, a young man who left his alienating factory job at 26 years of age to travel around by bicycle, and after returning to his home town, decided to share his new lifestyle: reduce consumption to the minimum and enjoy the little things, work only as much as necessary to earn what he needs to eat and have clothes, and ...

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2021-06-28 Cecilia Attanasio Ghezzi

A 100-Year March

On July 1, the birth of the Chinese Communist Party will be celebrated with great fanfare. It is a date of convenience, because Party cells certain already existed before that July of 1921, while historically the first Congress was held only on July 23. But Mao Zedong did not remember the exact date, so he decided otherwise in 1941. A hundred years later, the skyline of the main cities will be lit with the Party colors, the army will parade, and there will be demonstrations and celebrations everywhere, because as recently stressed by current president Xi Jinping, it will be an occasion to "educate ...

Cina_vecchia
2021-05-24 Cecilia Attanasio Ghezzi

China Is Also Getting Old

The last Chinese census provided a picture of the very new China: 1.412 billion people, of whom over 60 percent live in cities and only 63.4 percent are in working age, versus 70 percent just ten years ago.[1]  To be clear, over-65 people are now 13 percent of the total versus just 9 percent in the 2010 census. “China is growing old without first having grown rich,” wrote the New York Times,[2] paraphrasing the well-known maxim of Deng Xiaoping. And the trend won’t be easy to stop. The birth rate dropped for the fourth year in a row, such that in 2020 only 12 million children were born, ...

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2021-05-03 Cecilia Attanasio Ghezzi

Rural China and the Return to Youth

When Xi Jinping officially declared the defeat of poverty last February, the officials assigned to the project were transferred to “rural revitalization,” with the task of dealing with even more complex problems such as depopulation, the ageing of the population, and the chronic lack of work in the internal areas. “China is still the largest developing country in the world,” the deputy propaganda minister Xu Lin stated at the time. And he added: “To face inequality, the inadequate development of the internal areas of the country, and to reduce the imbalance between urban and rural territories, ...

Cina_futuro
2021-03-29 Cecilia Attanasio Ghezzi

The China of the Future

All spiffed up and vaccinated for the most important political event of the year. At the beginning of March, in Beijing, in the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square, approximately three thousand members of the National People's Congress met, the closest thing China has to our parliament. For one week each year, delegates from every part of the country meet in the capital for discussion and closed-door votes, or better, considering the current political system, to learn about and ratify the national legislative measures. This year they had to approve the 14th Five-Year Plan, the direction ...

Spalti vuoti
2021-02-25 Cecilia Attanasio Ghezzi

Chinese Soccer Falls Flat

It seems that Suning intends to sell Jiangsu, the team that won the Chinese soccer championship last season. And it is certainly seeking funding to deal with the liquidity problems of Inter, it's European crown jewel. The move appears to be part of a plan to divest from "non-relevant" activities implemented by the Nanjing giant Suning.com after the financial problems linked to the pandemic and the invitation from the central government to block investments abroad by Chinese companies. In 2017, there were 20 European clubs in the hands of Chinese investors; today, that number is less than 10, and ...

Alibaba
2021-01-27 Cecilia Attanasio Ghezzi

The Visible Hand of the State

A 50-second video was enough to revive Alibaba stocks on the Hong Kong stock market: plus 8.5 percent in one afternoon, for a total of 5 billion dollars. On January 20, Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba and one of the richest men in the People's Republic of China, reappeared after almost three months of absence, for an online event with the one hundred best teachers from rural China. He said he was sorry that he could not be present due to the pandemic, and made no mention of his recent disappearance. Then he returned to silence and his absence from the political scene. On October 24, Ma had publicly ...

Cina vincitore
2020-12-21 Cecilia Attanasio Ghezzi

The Big Winner

"If 300,000 people had died of Covid in China, how would the West have reacted?" The editorial in the English-language version of the People's Daily[1] leaves no doubt regarding the feeling of superiority in the People's Republic with respect to the management of the pandemic in the rest of the world. Especially today, with five vaccines in phase 3, four of which have already been approved for limited or emergency use,[2] and a plan to vaccinate 50 million people by the start of February. The government in Beijing wants to be ready for the Chinese New Year holidays, that in 2021 fall on February ...