South China Morning Post (SCMP) has carried out a major trends report into Chinese internet habits and trends, showing how the Chinese internet giants are pushing a social-first ecosystem, empowering the rural areas with a little help from the government.
The China Internet Report was released by the Alibaba-owned English language publisher this week at Rise in Hong Kong and hopes to share the deepest look at digital China yet.
The report, first introduced by 500 startups in 2017 and now hosted on Abacus, SCMP’s digital news brand focused on China tech, uncovers four key trends that reach across all 12 industries that the research looked at.
Chinese internet giants are doing everything
The first unifying trend across the research is the omnipresence of Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent in all burgeoning tech. The three are active in terms of investment, building and acquiring across the report’s 12 industries.
China internet empowers rural communities
The key fact from the report around this trend is that the number of rural internet users in china reached 209 million in 2017 with a penetration rate of 35%. In 2007, this figure was at just 7% penetration.
China’s internet companies embrace a ‘social+’ model
Looking at the common pillars within China’s new business models, start-ups and trends, the report found an anchor in social media, with most businesses starting with social and building out.
Government is the visible hand
The final trend in the report highlights how important government is within the ecosystem, with SCMP’s report arguing that businesses can live or die by having the support of the government.
“Abacus is all about unboxing China tech for the rest of the world, and this report fits that mission.” said Ravi Hiranand, executive producer of Abacus. “China’s internet population is huge and its tech sector is vast, but this report helps to break it down by giving you a curated look at key trends and companies that you need to know.”
"The China Internet Report is the most in-depth and visually accessible deep-dive available to the global audience," said Chua Kong Ho, SCMP's technology editor. "What sets it apart is that we are marrying the first-hand industry knowledge of 500 Startups with original, on-the-ground reporting from the South China Morning Post and Abacus."
The report, and the focus on new brands such as Abacus, are part of SCMP’s drive to digital transformation and being a truly tech-enabled news business post-Alibaba acquisition. The first step from Alibaba was to remove the SCMP paywall, but since then the company has discussed how it is investing heavily in new technology, such as AI, to drive innovation and efficiencies.