Women now buy more suits than men — Alibaba

Access Archive

Dear Access member,

We send our condolences to our fellow China-watcher Bill Bishop, who recently lost his father.

A quick announcement: Please join us tomorrow, April 24, for a Slack chat with Oma Lee. Oma was recently selected as Young China Watcher of the Year. She will join us for a Q&A on the theme “China’s changing NGO landscape” at 11 a.m. New York time (11 p.m. Beijing time). Here’s a link to the Slack channel. Please email lucas@supchina.com if you need help getting in.

—Jeremy Goldkorn and team


1. Women now buy more suits than men

In the last two months, China has been binge-watching the broadcast and streaming-TV series All Is Well (都挺好 dōu tǐng hǎo). It’s a family drama that stars Yáo Chén 姚晨. Jing Daily reports:

The series portrays the life of a typical Chinese middle-class family, which traditionally values sons over daughters, with women as “second-class” family members. Its storyline has particularly struck a chord with Chinese women through the protagonist Sū Míngyù 苏明玉 (acted by Yao Chen), who confronts the gender bias in her own family with fierce independence. Armed with a suit in every episode, Su Mingyu has dominated Chinese social media with her handsome suit styles and has led a national shopping trend for “women’s suits.”

But Chinese women’s interest in suits predates All Is Well. Jing Daily notes that in March, Alibaba released its 2019 China Fashion Data Report (in Chinese), which shows:

  • The top-searched keyword by female users of Taobao in 2018 was suit (西装 xīzhuāng). Searches for the term “大哥廓西” (dàgē kuò xī) — roughly meaning “dude’s padded-shoulder suit” — increased 317 percent year-on-year, while sales of such suits grew 39 percent.

  • The sales volume of women’s suits surpassed that of men’s suits for the first time on January 27, 2019. (Obviously, the data is drawn only from Alibaba affiliate websites and does not reflect brick-and-mortar retail sales.)

  • “Chinese men are embracing a more ‘feminine’ style” at the same time that women are buying powersuits. Jing Daily notes that “‘lace,’ ‘transparent,’ ‘earring’ topped the list of growing search keywords from men.”

2. Fears of a Red Army planet

Despite cautious but widespread optimism about a successful conclusion to the U.S.-China trade talks, deep tensions in the relationship persist. Two news stories illuminate — and will add to — worries in Washington about China, and fears in Beijing that America wants to stymie its rise:

  • “How China is replacing America as Asia’s military titan”

In the first of a series of reports on China under Xí Jìnpíng 习近平, David Lague and Benjamin Kang Lim of Reuters write that Xi “has refashioned the People’s Liberation Army into a force that’s rapidly closing the gap on U.S. firepower — and in some vital areas has surpassed it.” Their conclusion: “American victory over China in a regional war is no longer assured.”

  • China exploiting U.S. satellites “to strengthen police and military power”

The Wall Street Journal’s Brian Spegele and Kate O’Keeffe write (paywall) that Beijing is using commercial access to American satellites for a variety of military and security applications, despite U.S. law, and “aided indirectly by private-equity giant Carlyle Group and Boeing Co.”

Other stories on the tense bilateral relationship in the news today include:

The impression [many] commentators are giving is that China’s new Foreign Investment Law (FIL) will raise up foreign companies to become equal to Chinese companies…This is just not correct…The intent and the reality of the FIL is to pull down foreign investors to the status of privately owned Chinese companies. At that level, foreign invested companies will be firmly under CCP control and they will operate at a permanent economic disadvantage to PRC state owned enterprises.

3. An archive of harmonious tweets?

Sixth Tone reports on a new project to preserve postings on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service used by nearly half a billion people:

The National Library of China will archive over 200 billion Weibo posts as part of a project launched Friday that aims to build a comprehensive record of internet data and preserve China’s digital footprint.

“The project is established for the long-term development of national information security and the informatization of society,” Ráo Quán 饶权, director of the NLC, said in a speech Friday. The project’s instigator and first partner, Chinese technology giant Sina, will contribute 210 million news articles and 200 billion Weibo microblog posts to the archive “for further research,” according to Rao.

Rao does not mention what the National Library will do with the many millions of Weibo posts that are censored each year. Will they be preserved for elite scholars to study, or expunged from the record as unbecoming to Xi Jinping’s New Era of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics?  

—–

Our whole team really appreciates your support as Access members. Please chat with us on our Slack channel or contact me anytime at jeremy@supchina.com.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief


BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

  • Online education bubble is deflating
    Bytedance’s tutoring platform Gogokid laying off employees / TechNode
    “Bytedance’s online education platform Gogokid has reportedly laid off hundreds of employees, in the latest example of Chinese edtech firms tightening their belts in order to stay afloat.”

  • The woes of Didi Chuxing
    Didi dominates ride-hailing in China but loses money on many of its trips / WSJ (paywall)
    “In an essay published this week, Didi executive Chen Xi said for every ride it facilitated in China in the three months to December, Didi lost on average 2 percent of the fare paid.”

  • Wikipedia blocked
    Wikipedia currently down in China / That’s Guangzhou
    Although many individual pages on Wikipedia have been blocked for more than a  decade, much of the English language version of the site has been accessible during that time. No longer it seems: “Wikipedia is currently inaccessible in China,” says That’s Guangzhou.

  • Transparency in banking
    This banking fraud shows how shady China’s economy remains / Foreign Policy (porous paywall)
    Matthew Lowenstein writes, “The interstices of a tiny corner of the banking system — in industry parlance, the market for banker’s acceptance drafts — can serve as a proxy for the overall health of Chinese banking. They show that China’s financial system is not yet the transparent engine that its highest-level policymakers would like.”

  • The anti-996 movement
    David Paulk on Twitter: “Workers in China’s cutthroat tech industry who oppose the so-called #996 work schedule — 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days per week — are planning to mail #Alibaba founder Jack Ma a hard copy of China’s labor law.” Click here to read the whole thread.

  • Huawei: Data privacy concerns
    New Huawei P30 Pro found to be querying servers in China / Taiwan News
    “The Huawei P30 Pro appears to have been purchased in Thailand and is running on a cellular network owned by one of the ‘top three mobile operators in Thailand,’ according to a post by the apparent owner on GitHub.”

  • Guide to Chinese smartphone apps
    Top Chinese apps of 2019 / What’s on Weibo

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

  • Pollution in Shandong
    China reprimands officials in Shandong for failing to meet aluminium industry pollution cuts / Reuters via SCMP
    “In a review of the compliance record of eight regions published on Monday, the [Ministry of Environmental Protection] said Shandong officials not only failed to meet guidelines on industrial overcapacity, but also deceived central government inspectors and tried to cover up illegal behavior.”
    “Shandong’s provincial government said on Monday that 163 officials have been held to account for violations uncovered by central government inspectors.”

  • Recycling plastic without China
    China plastic waste ban throws global recycling into chaos / AFP via CNA
    “From grubby packaging engulfing small Southeast Asian communities to waste piling up in plants from the US to Australia, China’s ban on accepting the world’s used plastic has plunged global recycling into turmoil.”

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

A journalist who had lost his idealism but recognized it in Zhiwuzhi; an off-duty policeman curious about morality; a high school teacher upset by her students’ apathy; a successful entrepreneur who felt that society needed different voices in order to thrive.

Naval diplomacy (ND) is centuries old and not some ‘ceremonial luxury.’ At times when state to state communications fail, navies accommodate the gap in dialogue. Moreover, modern ND can be expressed in training, capacity building or HADR [Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief]. It’s only limited by imagination…

China’s top legislative body unanimously approved the resignation of Macau deputy Ho Iat-seng [賀一誠 Hè Yīchéng] on Tuesday, in a move commentators said indicated Beijing’s blessing for him to succeed as the casino hub’s next leader. Ho, 61, who is also president of Macau’s Legislative Assembly, is expected to be the sole candidate in the chief executive [行政長官 xíngzhèng zhǎngguān] election in August.  

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

  • Another singer lip-syncs a “live” show
    Chinese actress Han Xue apologizes after lip-synching during musical / SCMP
    Actress and singer ‎‎Hán Xuě 韩雪, “who used a recording at a live musical performance in eastern China over the weekend has apologized after a public backlash.”

  • A high-profile teen suicide
    Teen’s death spurs parenting debate in China / SCMP
    Video footage showing a 17-year-old boy jumping to his death from a bridge in Shanghai after his mother criticized him “over a conflict with his classmates” has sparked an online debate about parenting.


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