News roundup: New disruption from WeChat: Launch of mini apps

Business & Technology

Top China news for November 21, 2016. Get this daily digest delivered to your inbox by signing up at

This poster, written in traditional Chinese, reads: “A deer will not transform into a horse; a wrong will not transform into a right” (鹿不变成马,错不变成对 lù bù biànchéng mǎ, cuò bù biànchéng duì)

New disruption from WeChat: Launch of mini apps

The chief engineer behind WeChat, the mobile phone app from Tencent that does everything from messaging to payments, has announced the launch of mini apps — apps that work within WeChat, allowing users to forgo downloading apps from Apple or Android providers. The move is expected to disrupt the mobile app ecosystem in China, allowing developers and brands to develop software that will work on any phone that uses WeChat and giving Tencent another powerful reach into mobile phone users’ digital lives.

Various news and opinion pieces published over the weekend and today continue to highlight the potential for China to assume global leadership if president-elect Trump fulfills some of his campaign promises: Bloomberg says that “China has pounced after Donald Trump’s election win to claim the mantle of the world’s champion for free trade and against climate change.” The Financial Times has a similar take in a story titled “China maneuvers to fill U.S. free-trade role,” while the Sydney Morning Herald sees Xi Jinping’s speech at last Friday’s APEC summit meeting in Peru as “the moment the U.S. gave the world to China.” The New York Times weighs in with an opinion piece titled “A retreat from TPP would empower China,” and the South China Morning Post says that “Donald Trump’s pledge to end trade deals has led to countries that signed up to them looking to Beijing to take up the mantle from Washington.”

Quartz notes that Xi Jinping was embracing “a new, powerful role” at the same time that Trump was tweeting about being offended by the TV comedy show Saturday Night Live and the Broadway musical Hamilton. Meanwhile, the Chinese state-run Global Times asks “Can China overtake U.S. to lead the world?” but concludes that such a scenario is still “beyond imagination.”

Finally, on SupChina today we also publish a Q&A with Terry Townshend, the creator of Birding Beijing. His latest project tracks cuckoo birds from their summer home in Beijing on their transcontinental migration south, all the way to Africa.

Other China stories to watch are linked below.