This was ChinaTalk’s 2021

2020 was a difficult year for us. We had to cancel all the planned study tours for our clients and there were few events we could provide presentations for owing to all the COVID-19 restrictions. It won’t surprise you that 2021 was only marginally better. There were more opportunities to present, although those mostly were done in studios as part of webinars. For now, China is keeping its borders tightly closed and it does not seem likely that we will be able to offer new study tours before 2023 … or maybe even later. At the same time, new lockdowns cause cancellations or postponements of events.

Chinese lessons

But this does not mean we’ve been sitting twiddling our thumbs. Jessica finished her study at Leiden University and is now a certified first-degree Chinese teacher (yay!). She wrote three articles (link in Dutch) about her experiences as a student at a Dutch university, having previously studied in a Chinese one. In the first half of the year she was a substitute teacher at Stedelijk College in Eindhoven and in the second half of the year she started teaching Chinese Language and Culture at Summa College in Eindhoven. She has also been expanding on her private online lessons with one of her students even moving to Shanghai and putting in practice what he’d learned in online sessions and several intensive week-long trainings on location.

Besides these activities Jessica continues to teach at Titus Brandsmalyceum (Oss), St. Janslyceum (Den Bosch) and Zwijsen College (Veghel). At the latter school she saw the first two of her students graduating with Chinese on their diploma, which got some attention (link in Dutch) in the local newspaper. Based on experiences with her many students, she also created three videos about common mistakes made when learning the Chinese language.

Focus areas

In the meantime, Ed has was taking a deep dive into grocery delivery in China. After writing a series of articles (link in Dutch) about this topic, he presented his findings at a series of webinars by Focusplaza and T-Mobile (link in Dutch) and a group of investors at a leading wealth management company. Other topics Ed extensively researched in 2021 were the machinations of China’s QR-pass, the Health Code (link in Dutch), Community Group-Buying (link in Dutch), the Consumer-to-Manufacturer business model (link in Dutch), devious gamification inside e-commerce app Pinduoduo, China’s drive towards common prosperity and topics related to China’s moral crisis as described in The Ugly Chinaman (link in Dutch) and Crime and the Chinese Dream (link in Dutch).

A main theme in 2021 was the extensive rectification of China’s tech sector by the government. In January and February, Ed wrote several articles about what was really going on and if Jack Ma had really been ‘disappeared’. Ed and Frans-Paul van der Putten were invited to the BNR China Podcast (link in Dutch) to talk about Ma’s whereabouts. Later in 2021 Ed and Rogier Creemers recorded four BNR China podcasts (link in Dutch) about technology in which the many regulations were also discussed. Ed also returned to Jarno Duursma’s Listening to the Future podcast to talk about the tech regulations.

One of the most prominent crackdowns by the Chinese government concerned ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing. Ed composed a timeline of the many clashes between Didi and the Chinese government and explained the reasons behind a cybersecurity review at Didi. He also wrote a series of articles explaining Beijing’s thinking behind all of the sudden regulations in 2021. Ed was interviewed by Kanaal-Z, Met het Oog op Morgen, RTL-Z (in July and September), BNR in de middag, FunX and BNR Digitaal about various aspects of the regulations (interviews in Dutch).

Printed interviews about what Dutch marketers can learn from China appeared in Candid and CustomerTalk (links in Dutch).

Our most read new articles in 2021:

  1. Corona QR-codes: Made in China (link in Dutch)
  2. Five misconceptions about China’s Social Credit System
  3. Corona QR-codes: welke data gebruikt China’s Health Code? (link in Dutch)
  4. Is Jack de sjaak? Over Jack Ma, Alibaba, Ant Group en de slof van mijn vader (link in Dutch)
  5. Timeline: Didi’s many clashes with China’s regulators

2021 also saw Ed present various guest lectures for higher educational institutions among which Saxion, NASSH and BUas. Some of the lectures, which were all done as webinars, have later been (partially) published on ChinaTalk’s YouTube channel. Other presentations that Ed delivered were done for events by China Cafe, the World Horticulture Center (link in Dutch) and the Power to the Patient symposium (link in Dutch). The latter saw Ed present on the stage of Nijmegen’s City Theatre, which brought out some of his theatrical keanings.

Last but not least, after skipping an edition in the first half of 2021, the China Knowledge Quiz (link in Dutch) returned in its full glory in September. Because of COVID-19 restrictions it took place in a courtyard and it will go down in history as one of the most remarkable editions.

Our most watched new videos in 2021:

  1. New Retail: the Luckin Coffee case
  2. Introduction to China’s Live-Streaming e-Commerce
  3. What is ChinaTalk?
  4. Broken China: Ethics and Morality in the Middle Kingdom
  5. Digitale innovatie in Chinese gezondheidszorg – Fangbian Pianyi Haowan

Shifting direction

Mid-2021 we decided to shift the primary language of our website to English. Besides publishing new articles in English we have also translated (and updated) some of our most popular previous articles to English, among which pieces on Singles Day, the Social Credit System, intercultural marriage, digital innovation and more. We also created a short promo clip to give people a better idea of what we do at ChinaTalk.

Because of the limitations under the lasting COVID-19 situation, we have also diversified our services. Besides our lessons in Chinese language and culture for educational institutions and individuals, lectures and temporarily paused study tours, we now also offer trend and company watching and content creation services. We would especially recommend you to check out the latter, which include the creation of training videos we have become quite skilled at if we may say so ourselves. 😉

Of course we hope that we can soon leave the pandemic behind us, meet you again at physical events and eventually take you to experience China on one of our tours. But in the meantime we hope we can support you with our other services in compelling and passionate knowledge transfer and wish you all the best for 2022. We know we all need it!


Ed & Jessica