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At China’s annual meeting of its top legislative body, three draft reports are usually submitted for delegates to discuss and approve.

They comprise the premier’s government work report, the National Development and Reform Commission’s economic development report, and the Ministry of Finance’s budget report.

The documents provide a review of the past year and explain how the central authorities will govern the country in the coming year.

This year’s plenary session will also review and approve the proposed 13th five-year plan for the period from 2016 through to 2020. 

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Here are the five key points to take away from the draft plan and reports.

1. Growth target set at 6.5 to 7 per cent

This year’s proposed target for gross domestic product expansion has been set at a range between 6.5 per cent to 7 per cent.

The range, rather than a specific number, reflects China’s dilemma between pursuing economic growth and pushing ahead with reforms.

Innovation would be the top driving force for future growth, according to Li’s work report.

2. Hong Kong, Macau to play bigger roles in China’s economic development; Taiwan policies to be maintained

Beijing will “elevate Hong Kong and Macau’s positions and roles in China’s economic development and opening up” according to their “distinctive strengths”, Li said.

In its draft 13th five-year plan, also released on Saturday, China pledged to support Hong Kong in furthering its status as a global financial, shipping and trading hub.

He added that Beijing would adhere to previous policies on Taiwan, “firmly oppose secessionist activities” and maintain peaceful development of cross-strait ties.

3. Further interest rate liberalisation; government-managed floating system to stay

China has pledged to further liberalise interest rates and stick to a government-managed floating system.

Beijing aimed this year to keep the yuan generally stable on a “reasonable and balanced level” and to control “abnormal flow of cross-border capital effectively”, according to the annual report of China’s top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission.

4. China to boost overseas defence

The premier also pledged to improve China’s ability to protect its citizens and businesses abroad.

China would ensure that the G20 summit in Hangzhou this September would go smoothly, Li said. Beijing would “participate constructively” in seeking solutions for global issues, he added.

The government has budgeted 954 billion yuan (HK$1.13 trillion) for defence spending this year – a 7.6 per cent increase from last year. 

5. Slack officials warned, blundering ones to get second chance, rewards for innovators

Li warned officials against neglecting their duties.

China has been facing a situation in which many cadres chose not to perform their duties at all for fear of making mistakes and getting hauled up amid the country’s ongoing corruption crackdown.

Li warned that the Communist Party would have zero tolerance for officials who slacked off on their jobs. There was room for correction for those who made mistakes and rewards for innovators, he said.

See the full article from the South China Morning Post here.

 

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WeChat had more mobile transactions over just Chinese New Year than PayPal had during 2015

The scale of social and messaging platforms in China is at its peak on Chinese New Year, as statistics on usage of platforms such as WeChat and Weibo reveal.

According to WeChat, owned by digital media business Tencent, 420 million people sent each other lucky money via the app’s payment service on the eve of Chinese New Year. According to WeChat, it has seen a total of 8.08 billion red envelopes sent so far for Chinese New Year, eight times more than last year. 

To put this into context, according to PayPal it made 4.9 billion transactions in 2015 (half of the number of transactions made on WeChat just for Chinese New Year) and only 28 per cent were made on a mobile device.

The lunar new year festivities spread to the UK this year, with many foreign brands taking to the streets and online to help people celebrate. But it is the digital channels that are changing the shape of celebrations in Asia.

According to the data from Tencent, women were more generous as 56.5 per cent of senders were female.

One significant difference in the digital version of the tradition seems to be the amount being sent. The statistics revealed that the most popular amount gifted was RMB 8.88 ($1.35), (eight is a lucky number). This is a lot lower than would be gifted in envelopes in person and is likely to be a lot lower than the average transaction amount on a platform like PayPal.

See the full article from the Drum here.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat are the platforms that get most of marketers’ love in the U.S., but digital practitioners could learn a thing or two from WeChat, China’s booming mobile app that’s one of a growing number of messaging apps brands are watching closely.

The Chinese app boasts more than 600 million users, and some reports claim more than 50 percent of those users open it 10 times a day. While that still pales in comparison to Facebook’s 1 billion daily global users, Tencent-owned WeChat has a tight grip on China’s social and mobile industry compared with competitors like Line and Viber.

Thomas Graziani, co-founder of Chinese agency WalktheChat, which specializes in WeChat marketing spoke with Adweek about how marketing and advertising works on WeChat, which has significant differences from U.S.-based platforms.

A few things marketers should know about WeChat:

It’s the Facebook of China… but more
To grasp WeChat as a marketing platform, it’s important to first understand how the app works and why people use it.

In the U.S., the average smartphone user opens a handful of apps every day to text friends, check email, use social media and take pictures. In China, WeChat is all of those apps rolled into one and is sometimes the only app consumers use.

Here is a short list of things the app lets folks do:

  • Message friends
  • Pay bills and manage their bank accounts
  • Order food
  • Buy clothes and movie tickets
  • Book cabs
  • Make doctor’s appointments
  • Post to social media
  • Send money to friends
  • Check in for flights
  • Read news

Getting onto the platform takes some know-how

There are two options for building a brand following on WeChat: a subscription account that lets brands push out one message per day and a service account that caps the number of brand messages to one a week. Both require setting up an account.

With subscription accounts, brands can push out consistent messaging, which WalktheChat recommends for marketers that already have a strong content-marketing strategy.

Service accounts, on the other hand, reach more people but can’t be used as often by marketers. According to Graziani, these accounts are better suited for brands that want to do more than use the platform for branding—including e-commerce and customer service.

In either case, it’s hard to break through the clutter, and the app requires brands to act more like users than marketers.

“Because people spend all their time on it, it’s extremely competitive to get attention from people,” Graziani said. “The platform is not making it easy for brands to reach users.”

Similar to how digital marketers approached Facebook years ago, brands strive for a lot of followers because WeChat is a numbers game.

See the full article form AdWeek here.

Tencent first became known for its instant messenger service and games, and is now one of the biggest tech firms in the world. The WSJ’s Wayne Ma explains how Tencent got so big.

See video here.

A recent partnership between Chinese internet giants Alibaba and Tencent has pointed to an effort to squeeze the third largest player, Baidu, out of the market.

Recent evidence of this can be seen in the group buying market, though dwindling in the west this model is booming in China. Groupon-type platforms have been growing and according to research firm Analysys International, bargain hunters spent 77 billion yuan (US$12.1bill) in sales through group buying sites in the first half of this year.

Now a merging of Alibaba supported Meituan and Tencent backed Dianping means a single player will have around 80% of the market (Meituan is estimate at about half, Dianping at around 30%). The combined business could be worth US$15 billion.

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The new merged entity would squash rival group-buying site Nuomi, fully owned by Baidu. This deal seems to signify an escalation in movement to push Baidu out of the market. Alibaba and Tencent also merged their taxi-hailing business to form Didi Kuaidi, the largest local taxi sharing app, while Baidu gives financial backing to US brand Uber.

These two recent partnerships of rivals who still compete head-to-head in entertainment, e-commerce and even banking will provide a united front in some of the fastest growing segments. But will this be enough to push Baidu completely out of the picture?

See Bloomberg’s thoughts on the topic here.