Alibaba teams up with Marriott, WeWork takes off in China – China’s latest business and technology news

Business & Technology

A summary of the top news in Chinese business and technology for August 8, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

FILE PHOTO: Bitcoin (virtual currency) coins are seen in an illustration picture taken at La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris, France, May 27, 2015. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo - RTX2YBYD

Although Bloomberg reports that further action on the Trump administration’s plans for a trade war with China seem to have been delayed for at least a week, tensions continue. As does the crackdown by Chinese authorities on foreign transactions both large and small. Nonetheless, normal corporate life between the two countries goes on:

What’s new?

  • Ecommerce giant Alibaba has teamed up with American hotel company Marriott to serve the skyrocketing numbers of Chinese traveling abroad, the Wall Street Journal reported (paywall) on August 7. This means that the enormously popular Alipay, which the Financial Times recently characterized as the decisive winner in the fight over Chinese consumers’ digital wallets, will be usable to book rooms at more than 6,200 more hotel properties worldwide.
  • Caixin also notes that the deal will boost business on “Fliggy, Alibaba’s travel portal, which boasts more than 220 million users,” as “Chinese consumers…will make an estimated 700 million trips abroad over the next five years.”
  • U.S. co-working space provider WeWork is having a field day in China. TechNode says that its seventh office space location in mainland China, in the Wangjing district of Beijing, “has seen the fastest take up of rental out of any of the company’s buildings anywhere in the world.”
  • McDonald’s is pushing hard to plant its golden arches in even more remote locations across China, as the company announced plans to nearly double its number of restaurants in the country, from 2,500 to 4,500, in five years, the Financial Times reports (paywall).

Meanwhile, things are not looking up for Apple as it seeks to compete in China, at least not until its next generation of iPhone is released later this year.

  • See this chart in Business Insider showing how dramatically the smartphone market within China has shifted away from foreign makers — Apple and Samsung — and toward domestically based Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi in just a year.
  • As SupChina reported on August 4, dominant Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei is finally coming to Apple’s home turf in the U.S., after years of being barred due to national security concerns and protectionism.
  • Apple continues to receive criticism for its decision to comply with Chinese authorities’ demand to remove 60 VPN apps from its Chinese app store at the end of July. Zero Day reports that a Special Rapporteur to the UN submitted a letter to Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook to “ask among several things if Apple received a formal or informal demand by Beijing to remove the apps, and if the company made any objections.”