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Packed Like Sardines – Hangzhou Sees Huge Wave of Tourism After G20

After the end of the G20, China’s hosting city of Hangzhou has seen a sharp increase in popularity. Now that world leaders have left town, the tourists are streaming in – but not everyone is happy with the crowded scenes.

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After the end of the G20, China’s hosting city of Hangzhou has seen a sharp increase in popularity. Now that world leaders have left town, the tourists are streaming in – but not everyone is happy with the crowded scenes.

On September 4 & 5, world leaders convened in the city of Hangzhou for the annual G20 summit. It marked China’s first time as host of the international forum. Some highlights of the summit included the adoption of the Hangzhou Consensus and plans for implementing the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the Paris Agreement.

Since its conclusion, the summit has generally been regarded a success, especially for China. Being the G20’s hosting country, the summit gave China an opportunity to open its doors and not only present its ideas and viewpoints to the world, but also show its cities and landscapes from their best side – especially the city of Hangzhou has seen a boom in tourism after the summit.

Marketing the City

Before and during the G20, China has made ample efforts to put a spotlight on Hangzhou, one of China’s seven ancient capitals and one of the country’s most important tourist cities. In various Hangzhou G20 promo campaigns, the city has presented itself as a place full of cultural heritage, folk arts, and scenic views.

Besides the various videos showcasing what Hangzhou has to offer, there was also the the G20 concert titled “Hangzhou, A Living Poem”, which featured a symphony concert and gala on water directed by Zhang Yimou, who also produced the 2008 Olympic opening ceremony. The hour-long performance was held on a stage at Hangzou’s famous West Lake, highlighting its stunning scenery.

Chinese netizens on Sina Weibo praised Zhang’s work. One netizen (@茶之风) said: “A moonlit night on the spring river, the Impression of West Lake is as good as the Beijing Olympic ceremony.”

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According to a poll by the South China Morning Post, 52% of participants deemed the West Lake is the most unmissable experience for G20 visitors to Hangzhou.

Hometown of Alibaba

Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, also further promoted the city in a 5-minute video that discusses the important role Hangzhou plays as a China’s tech and entrepreneurship hub. Jack Ma is a native of Hangzhou, where the Alibaba Headquarters are also based. Ma says in the video: “I feel so proud of this city. No matter where in the world I go I always miss it. Every 10 or 15 days I wanna be back.”

Hangzhou’s image as the hometown of Alibaba was further emphasized when the prime ministers of Canada and Italy also took some time to visit the headquarters.

Tourist Boom

Since the end of the G20 summit, Hangzhou has seen a sharp increase in tourism, especially during the weekend of 10/11 September directly following the end of the summit. Apart from all promo videos and Zhang’s concert, the various pictures of world leaders roaming around the city to visit scenic spots and eat local food allegedly also played an important role in the tourism boom.

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Argentine President Mauricio Macri, for example, was photographed biking around Hangzhou with his wife Juliana Awad. Brazilian president Michel Temer was spotted shopping around the city and buying leather shoes.

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The post-summit bustling Hangzhou forms a stark contrast to the pre-G20 urban scenery; the city was then even described as a “ghost town” as factories were shut down and one third of the city’s population was ‘convinced’ to leave town in preparation of the summit.

The Downside of Popularity

Currently, Hangzhou is anything but a “ghost town”. According to one travel agency in China, the number of tickets booked to Hangzhou have now increased dramatically – twice as many as those sold last year around the same time. The trend is expected to continue as Chinese national holidays come up later in September and October.

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Although the tourism boom is a post-summit “bonus” for the city of Hangzhou, there are also some worries about the stream of visitors. Some netizens expose the mess they leave around town; noodle cups, pet bottles, and paper cups are left behind all around the city’s scenic spots by negligent visitors.

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One sanitation worker told local media that as much as 14 ton of garbage was collected in the city within one day recently – about five time more than previous periods.

There are also reports of people using local parks as public toilets.

Some spots were reportedly so crowded that people felt unwell and needed medical assistance.

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Not just the locals, but also the tourists are suffering from Hangzhou’s current “tourist problem”. Many netizens complain that they could hardly get through and that several places in Hangzhou were just so overcrowded with tour groups that it was no use going there.

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Some netizens even wonder if Hangzhou will ever be the same: “The city of Hangzhou has changed the G20, but has the G20 now also changed the city of Hangzhou?”

It will undoubtedly still take some time before Hangzhou will regain some of its pre-G20 tranquility. Until that time, some netizens advise people not to visit the city, that is simply “packed like sardines”.

By Yanling Xu and Manya Koetse

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Yanling Xu is a freelance writer and recent college graduate. Originally from Xiamen, China, she studied in the U.S. and received her Bachelor degree in Political Science and East Asian Studies from Grinnell College. Yanling currently resides in Chicago.

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  1. Avatar

    World Population

    February 12, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    http://live-counter.com/world-population/
    …..Rather, 4.3 people are born on average in every second while 1.8 die in the same time. In a whole, this implies an increase in the global population of 2.5 people per second (4.3 born people minus 1.8 dead people equals 2.5)…

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China Brands & Marketing

The Price is Not Right: Corn Controversy Takes over Chinese Social Media

It’s corn! The “6 yuan corn” debate just keeps going.

Manya Koetse

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Recently there have been fierce discussions on Chinese social media about the price of corn after e-commerce platform Oriental Selection (东方甄选) started selling ears of corn for 6 yuan ($0.80) per piece.

The controversy caught the public’s attention when the famous Kuaishou livestreamer Simba (辛巴, real name Xin Youzhi), who has labeled himself as a ‘farmer’s son,’ criticized Oriental Selection for their corn prices.

Founded in 2021, Oriental Selection is an agricultural products e-commerce platform under New Oriental Online. In its company mission statement, Oriental Selection says its intention is to “help farmers” by providing the channels to sell their high-quality agricultural goods to online consumers.

Simba suggested that Oriental Selection was being deceitful by promising to help farmers while selling their corn for a relatively high price. According to Simba, they were just scamming ordinary people by selling an ear of corn that is worth 0.70 yuan ($0.10) for 6 yuan ($0.80), and also not really helping the farmers while taking 40% of their profits.

‘Sales king’ Xin Youzhi, aka Simba, was the one who started the current corn controversy.

During one of the following livestreams, Oriental Selection’s host Dong Yuhui (董宇辉) – who also happens to be a farmer’s son – responded to the remarks and said there was a valid reason for their corn to be priced “on the high side.” Simba was talking about corn in general, including the kind being fed to animals, while this is high-quality corn that is already worth 2 yuan ($0.30) the moment it is harvested.

Despite the explanation, the issue only triggered more discussions on the right price for corn and about the fuzzy structure of the agricultural e-commerce livestreaming business.

Is it really too expensive to sell corn for 6 yuan via livestreaming?

The corn supplier, the Chinese ‘Northeast Peasant Madame’ brand (东北农嫂), is actually selling their own product for 3.6 yuan ($0.50) – is that an honest price? What amount of that price actually goes to the farmers themselves?

‘Northeast Peasant Madame’ brand (东北农嫂).

One person responding to this issue via her Tiktok channel is the young farmer Liu Meina (刘美娜), who explained that Simba’s suggested “0.70 yuan per corn” was simply unrealistic, saying since it does not take the entire production process into account, including maintenance, packaging, transportation, and delivery.

Another factor mentioned by netizens is the entertainment value added to e-commerce by livestreaming channels. Earlier this year, Oriental Selection’s host Dong Yuhui and his colleagues became an online hit for adding an educational component to their livestreaming sessions.

These hosts were actually previously teachers at New Oriental. Facing a crackdown on China’s after-school tutoring, the company ventured into different business industries and let these former teachers go online to sell anything from peaches to shrimp via livestreaming, teaching some English while doing so (read more here). So this additional value of livestream hosts entertaining and educating their viewers should also be taken into account when debating the price of corn. Some call it “Dong Yuhui Premium” (“董宇辉溢价”).

Dong Yuhui (董宇辉) is one of the livestreamers that have turned New Oriental’s e-commerce into a viral hit.

In light of all the online discussions and controversy, netizens discovered that Oriental Selection is currently no longer selling corn (#东方甄选回应下架玉米#), which also became a trending topic on Weibo on September 29.

But the corn controversy does not end here. On September 28, Chinese netizens discovered that corn by the ‘Northeast Peasant Madame’ brand (东北农嫂) was being sold for no less than 8.5 yuan ($1.2) at the Pangdonglai supermarket chain (胖东来), going well beyond the price of Oriental Selection.

Trying to avoid a marketing crisis, the Pangdonglai chain quickly recalled its corn, stating there had been an issue with the supply price that led to its final store price becoming too high. That topic received over 160 million views on Weibo on Friday (#胖东来召回8.5元玉米#).

Behind all these online discussions are consumer frustrations about an untransparent market where the field of agricultural products has become more crowded and with more people taking a share, including retailers, e-commerce platforms, and livestreaming apps. Moreover, they often say they are “helping farmers” while they are actually just making money themselves.

One Weibo user commented: “Currently, ‘helping farmers’ is completely different from the original intention of ‘helping farmers.’ Right now, it’s not about helping farmers anymore, but about helping the companies who have made agricultural products their business.”

“I bought a corn at a street shop today for 4 yuan ($0.55),” one Weibo blogger wrote: “It was big, sweet, and juicy, the quality was good and it was tasty – and people are still making money off of it. So yes, 6 yuan for a corn is certainly too expensive.”

By Manya Koetse 

 

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China Brands & Marketing

How Made-in-China ‘Magical’ Winter Essentials Are Keeping Europeans Warm Amid Energy Crisis

Chinese manufacturers of heating equipment are the “invisible champions” of Europe’s energy crisis.

Manya Koetse

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Chinese companies are profiting from Europe’s energy crisis. Made-in-China electric blankets, electric kettles, sleeping bags, and hot water bottles are flying off the shelves and Chinese factories are working around the clock to meet the demand of European consumers.

“Chinese Electric Blankets Are the Magic Weapon Keeping Europeans Warm This Winter” (#中国电热毯成欧洲人今冬御寒神器#) and “Explosive Sales of Chinese Electric Blankets to Europeans” (#欧洲人买爆中国电热毯#) are among the popular hashtags discussed on Chinese social media this week in light of Europe’s ongoing energy crisis.

Chinese companies are seeing booming sales of winter essentials recently. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Europe is dealing with an energy crisis. Households and businesses across Europe are feeling the pinch: the shortage of natural gas has led to sky-high prices for heating and electricity. The explosions and subsequent gas leaks that occurred on the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines on September 26 have only made prospects bleaker.

Looking for creative ways to stay warm and reduce energy bills, made-in-China products are in high demand among European consumers, and Chinese factories are scaling up their production to meet the growing demand.

According to Toutiao News, some manufacturers in Dongguan are seeing the highest sales numbers in half a decade; sales volumes have tripled compared to the same period last year. This requires the factory workers to work in shifts of three so the production can continue around the clock.

Electric blankets are especially popular as they are relatively affordable and more cost-effective as they require less electricity to run compared to electric heaters. Chinese electric blankets are generally cheaper than local options.

Chinese media describe Chinese electric blankets as the ‘magical weapons to defend against the cold’ (“御寒神器”).

The word shénqì (神器), meaning ‘magical tool’ or ‘magical weapon’, is often used to refer to products or objects that provide a simple or smart solution to a pressing problem, such as these paint buckets that became a viral hit during Spring festival travel season; this ‘magical’ device to prevent grannies from dancing underneath your window; or this gadget to take revenge on a noisy neighbor.

 

“Now there’s even a joke saying the Yiwu electric blanket sellers are the ones who sabotaged the Nord Stream pipelines.”

 

Besides electric blankets, other made-in-China ‘magical weapons’ that have become popular amongst European consumers include electric kettles, wearable sleeping bags, thermal underwear, and hot water bottles.

Electronic knee warmer.

As this topic of Chinese winter products “taking over Europe” recently became a hot topic on Chinese social media, some people commented on how the prices for these products were much higher in Europe than in China.

In Europe, a simple rubber hot water bottle is usually sold for around ten euros ($10) while the exact same products are sold for around five to ten yuan ($0.70-$1.5) in China.

In this way, the European energy crisis turns out to be a lucrative one for Chinese businesses. Some bigger companies also manufacturing electric blankets saw their stock prices rise.

One joke circulating on Chinese social media suggests that Chinese electric blanket sellers from manufacturing cities such as Yiwu are the ones who sabotaged the North Stream pipes.

“I never expected China to get part of the profits,” one popular comment said, with the following comment saying: “Thanks to the silly Europeans for making a contribution to our economy!”

“I heard they’re even looking [to buy] our Chinese birthday candles, they’ve gone mad,” one Weibo user wrote, while others jokingly wrote: “We’re the real winners.”

In light of the run on electric blankets, Chinese netizens also came up with some alternative suggestions to stay warm.

“It would be better if they’d wear long underwear pants,” one commenter suggests, while others say that people could just “make love to generate electricity.”

“Use a hot-water bottle and drink lots of hot water,” some write, while others recommend European consumers to buy more hand warmers.

Hand warmer sold on Taobao for 128 yuan ($18).

“I suggest them to buy our Xinjiang cotton quilts, they are sustainable and you can save on energy,” one Weibo user wrote in reference to last year’s Xinjiang cotton boycott.

One Weibo user drew their own conclusion in light of the current developments: “I think we could safely say that the world can do without Russians, but we’ll always need China.”

By Manya Koetse with contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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