Another year is coming to an end. Considering the Covid situation in China, we knew from the start that it would be unlikely to be very different from the previous two years and we wouldn’t be able to offer any study tours yet (fingers crossed for 2023).
As such, 2022 has once again been a year in which we focussed on content creation and our educational and keynote services.
Culture & Language Teaching
In the first half of the year, Jessica worked as an interim teacher for Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, while she joined Summa College and Fontys University of Applied Sciences as a Chinese Language & Culture teacher in the second half of the year. The enthusiasm at Summa has been remarkable, 22 of International Business students have chosen Chinese as an optional course. We also created a short promotional video for Chinese lessons at Summa.
On top of the lessons for students, Jessica is also teaching an evening course for Summa & Bedrijf. Enthusiastic colleagues immediately registered for the first course. Some of them want to learn more about Chinese culture to understand their students with Chinese background better and some want to learn the Chinese language. There will be more courses for others in the Eindhoven area. If you are also interested, keep an eye on the courses in Summa & Bedrijf.
Jessica saw her second group of students graduating from Zwijsen College and took the opportunity to wish them well in a heart-warming farewell speech. In the meantime, Stijn, one of Jessica’s private lesson students got caught in the Shanghai lockdowns. ChinaTalk published a blog and video of his experiences, helping Stijn to counter the way some local newspapers had spun his story.
Two of the highlights of Ed’s keynotes and presentations in 2022 were appearing in Robeco’s online Outlook 2022 event to explain ‘common prosperity’ and giving his perspective on JD.com and their new Ochama concept in The Netherlands at Distrifood’s Industributie Dinner 2022. The latter took place in the amazing Grand Church of The Hague.
But probably the best-looking stage of the year was the one for Tweaker’s Meetup Privacy & Security where Ed presented about internet censorship in China. Ed started against the backdrop of Prague’s Lennon Wall, which was the subject of a deletion of one of Jessica’s posts on WeChat. You can watch a short video giving you an idea of the presentation’s opening here, as well as another video discussing censorship of the ‘Sitong bridge protest’.
Among the other keynotes Ed gave in 2022 were talks about retail innovations in China for a sports retailer and a marketing communication agency, a briefing about Chinese e-commerce platform Pinduoduo for a wealth management company (watch a fragment here), an explanation of China’s fintech revolutions for Belgian CFO’s and a deep-dive in live commerce for e-commerce managers.
Ed once again teamed up with Focusplaza for a series of lectures explaining Chinese e-commerce player JD.com, his doubts about JD’s new Ochama concept and various business models of grocery delivery in China and how they compare to on-demand delivery in The Netherlands.
Internationally, Ed cooperated with Rui Ma of Techbuzz China to develop and deliver a half-day online training on Chinese digital innovations for manager of a Hong Kong- and London-based British conglomerate.
A fragment of a keynote Ed gave for the international staff of a wholesale company in supplies for the agricultural sector, giving Shein as an example of new forms of Chinese platforms can be watched here.
June saw Ed and Fred Sengers collaborating again to produce the annual ‘China Knowledge Quiz’ for Leiden Asia Centre and China Café, this time hosted by the facility of Leiden University. You can watch a video impression here. Registration for the 8th edition of the quiz in February has now opened.
2022 was a year in which Ed was interviewed in various media. Interviews appeared in Data & Privacy Web (on regulation of algorithms), Executive Finance, Distrifood (giving his critical opinion about JD.com’s Ochama concept that was launched in The Netherlands), BNR’s Daily Move (about regulation of algorithms in China), Promz (about Alibaba), VEB’s Effect Magazine and Tweakers (about internet censorship). Ed also helped various students with papers and presentations on the social credit system, digital innovation and Taiwan.
Articles on digital innovation in China
As every year, Ed took a few deep dives into trends among Chinese internet companies. One of these is something that will have an enormous impact on e-commerce outside China: the success of Chinese cross-border webshops like Shein and the arrival of even more Chinese initiatives (TikTok Shops, Temu and more). Ed wrote a series of seven articles about this trend, before having a closer look at how Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, has been incorporating e-commerce in its app, resulting in another five articles. In case you ask yourself why all this is relevant to you, remember that these initiatives might be rolled out to TikTok and we might be buying products and ordering food in that app before long…
But not all cross-border initiatives are successful. This year China’s second largest e-commerce company, JD.com, launched Ochama in The Netherlands. Ed followed the launch and developments of this concepts closely, it being the first Chinese new retail concept to arrive in his home country. He’s been far from enthusiastic and has shared his doubts about the concept in a series of articles, presentations and interviews. Considering the changes Ochama has been going through in the past months, including the departure of their COO and CMO and closure of 3 out of 4 pick-up stores, his doubts seem to have been justified.
While there are many questionable developments in China, some regulation of digital technology has been highly commendable. This year Ed wrote about what we should expect regarding developments in the digital economy and explained the $1,19 billion fine that ride-haling company Didi received after a year-long investigation into the company. He also elaborated on new laws that regulate algorithms and deep-fakes, giving China a lead compared to western regulators.
Articles on cultural differences
In the summer of 2021 we changed ChinaTalk’s primarily language to English. This year we once again translated some of our most popular Dutch articles into English: Getting married in China, 18 gates: a walk around Xi’an’s historical city wall, A Chinese’s first impressions of The Netherlands, Film review: China Love, How the Netherlands changed my habits, The Netherlands through Chinese Eyes: Ten Surprises, Wanted: White Foreigner! The face job industry in China. Many of these articles deal with the way Jessica experienced her migration to The Netherlands. She also wrote a new and highy popular article about an aspect not yet discussed: How Dutch behaviour nearly ruined my marriage.
Last but not least, Ed joined the trend of eating less meat and started experimenting with cooking plant-based Chinese dished, experiences which he shared in an article.
Our most read articles published this year were:
- How Dutch behaviour nearly ruined my marriage
- JD.com’s Ochama stores – Part 1: the introduction campaign
- Locked down in Shanghai
- Wanted: White Foreigner! The face job industry in China
- JD.com’s Ochama stores – Part 4: proposition vs reality
Older articles that were still often read in 2022 were:
- China’s Sociaal Kredietsysteem is niet wat je denkt / Five misconceptions about China’s Social Credit System
- Leven met een Chinese: de ervaringen van een ‘lao gong’ / Married to a Chinese: experiences of a ‘laogong’
- Is Cantonese a language?
- Corona QR-codes: Made in China
- Timeline: Didi’s many clashes with China’s regulators
A final thing worth mentioning in the category of writing is that, since March 2021, Ed has been reminiscing about his two years as a volunteer in China by posting almost daily tweets of what happened on that day exactly 10 years earlier. Not only has it been a way to mentally be in China while borders remained closed, he also hoped it would show some of his followers that there’s another, more human side to China than the constant geopolitical tension and worsening sentiment to the country in the past three years.
ChinaTalk published several long form videos in 2022. Jessica made two videos about diversity in China and the cultural use of colours and homophones. In the meantime, Ed created a crash-course in China’s economic transformation, a video discussing nine need-to-know things about China’s internet and a slidecast of an webinar on internet censorship (Dutch).
Our most watched new videos published this year were:
- Who is behind the Temu webshop?
- JD.com’s Ochama Pick-up store in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
- Interview Stijn Kamphuis Radio Veronica – Lockdown in Shanghai
- Nine need-to-know things about China’s internet – A parallel universe
- De 7e Grote China Kennisquiz 2022
On LinkedIn, Ed started a series of ‘ChinaTalk dumpling’ videos; short bite-sized fragments of longer recordings that explain an aspect of China or Chinese digital technology in 2-5 minutes. These have been well-received and seem to work better than YouTube nowadays, so we will continue to share these as long as time permits.
Free online course
An Dutch e-learning course that Ed has developed during the 2020 Covid lockdowns has been made available for free on our website. The training contains a wealth of information about e-commerce in China. The sector has however evolved very fast and the content is therefore no longer 100% up-to-date as far as we are concerned. Certain new trends are not discussed in this training but it does paint a good picture of the first two decades of e-commerce in China.
We therefore believe that there is a lot of useful information in the course, so we are happy to now make it available for free. If you are interested in other lectures or up-to-date training courses on these or other topics, please do not hesitate to contact us.
That’s it. It’s been a busy 2022 for us and it looks like 2023 will be even busier and might see the return of some of our services that have been on hold. Fingers crossed!
Ed Sander & Jessica Sun