China‘s very own Happiest Place on Earth will be enchanting visitors as soon as this summer.
The Shanghai Disney Resort is slated to throw open the doors of its Magic Kingdom on June 16, becoming the first Disney destination on mainland China and the third in Asia following Tokyo Disneyland‘s debut in 1983 and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort opening in 2005.
The estimated $5.5 billion resort is a joint venture between Disney and Shanghai Shendi Group, a state-owned enterprise that is holding 57 percent of the project.
“The resort reflects Disney’s legendary storytelling along with China’s rich culture, and showcases some of the most creative and innovative experiences we’ve ever created,” Disney CEO Robert Iger said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to showing it to the world and sharing it with the people of China for generations to come.”
Disney is hoping to capitalize on China’s massive economic growth in recent years, although forecasts this year have sent the world’s second-largest economy into a tailspin.
The new resort broke ground in 2011 and will encompass more than 960 acres. It will include an Enchanted Storybook Castle, being billed as the largest, most technologically advanced of Disney’s fabled castles.
The park will also be home to different themes, and include Marvel and Star Wars characters owned as part of Disney’s other properties.
Global warming is just one of many reasons why we as humans should make more of an effort to reduce our impact on the environment. Much of the technology we use in our daily lives has made things a lot more convenient, and it’s wonderful being able to zoom to the other side of the planet in the space of a single day, but the environmental impact our cars, planes, and the like have had is something we should all be seriously concerned about.
But what if we could make air travel cleaner, and cheaper? Last year at the Shenyang Faku International Flight Convention in China, Shenyang Aerospace University and the Liaoning Universal Aviation Academy revealed China’s first all-electric plane, which it soon plans to begin mass producing for the foreign market.
The aircraft, named RX1E Ruixiang, has a wingspan of 14.5 meters and a body made of carbon fiber. It reportedly runs on a battery which requires only 10 kilowatts to charge, which in mainland China would cost less than US$1. Despite that, the plane can reach speeds up to 160 km per hour (99mph), and fly at an altitude of up to 3,000 meters (9,800 feet).
With a maximum flight duration 90 minutes – allowing it to travel up to 240 km – the RX1E isn’t quite ready to carry passengers and cargo internationally, but its a start. Hopefully the technology can be further developed and electric airplanes more widespread, allowing those of us with the travel bug to scratch that itch in a more environmentally friendly way.
21st Century Fox will give Hong Kong‘s television industry a major shot in the arm with a massive investment in making programes in the city for the Asian and international market.
The company’s Fox International Channels will spend US$1 million per episode on one or two miniseries per year in the city, using Hong Kong production talent and local stars. The first two will go into production this year.
It is one of the biggest investments ever by a Western firm in television production in Asia. One local expert said it would help the city’s television industry – once a regional powerhouse – regain ground on its rivals.
Cora Yim, senior vice-president of Fox International Channels, told the South China Morning Post that a year and a half of development had gone into the first two shows. The first title, Guilty as Sin, is said to be set in Hong Kong and tell a local story. The second is said to have an “Asian scale” and will be shot primarily in English for an audience both within and beyond the region, Yim said.
“We plan to produce premium miniseries; high-concept television made by film talents from here,” said Yim, who serves as the channels’ head of Chinese entertainment and territory head for Hong Kong. “Many film directors in Hollywood are producing television but this has yet become a trend in Asia. We want to bring US standards to Asia.”
The main platform for the new series – which will be six to eight episodes long – will be Star Chinese Movies, a Fox subscription channel available in much of Asia. The channel previously launched an initiative called Go Local! to produce films for local audiences in Asia. In Hong Kong, that led to a partnership with Emperor Motion Pictures to produce edgy films with an eye on a local, rather than mainland, audience.
Among the fruits of that deal is Sara, a sexually charged drama, which has netted HK$12.4 million at the box office since its release earlier this month.
Charlene Choi Cheuk-yin playing journalist Sara, and Simon Yam Tat-wah playing Yin, in Sara, directed by Herman Yau.
Fox is negotiating with potential partners in the region and Yim says she hopes to complete some deals during FILMART, the annual film and television trade gathering that opens at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai today.
The international television industry has changed, Yim says. Content production was no longer tied to a single channel’s platform as shown by the likes of Netflix, the on-demand streaming service that has yet to launch in Asia but has 57 million subscribers worldwide. Netflix grew by offering other broadcasters’ shows on demand, but has since branched out into original content.
Yim said that model contrasted starkly with Hong Kong, where free-to-air player TVB dominates. Ricky Wong Wai-kay’s HKTV attempted to break the stranglehold by spending HK$1 million per episode on drama. But Wong failed to win a free-to-air license and has launched online, a first for the city.
Peter Lam Yuk-wah, vice-president of the Hong Kong Televisioners Association, said Hong Kong had been the leader in television production around the region, but TVB’s monopoly had hurt its competitiveness. South Korea and mainland China, in particular, had taken advantage.
He welcomed the investment in the ailing industry and said technology would revolutionize the platform, giving birth to a new business model outside the terrestrial television network.
Needless to say, Hong Kong has had a lot of shit to deal with lately. Protesting for free elections while under Chinese rule isn’t a walk in the park. The last time that happened in a big way (in mainland China), hundreds of civilians were mowed down by tanks and assault rifles in Tiananmen Square. So really, something Hong Kong doesn’t need right now is for their chief executive’s daughter to be a total fucking asshole … which, unfortunately, she totally is.
According to Coconuts Hong Kong, Chai Yan Leung, the daughter of embattled Hong Kong leader Cy Leung, attacked commenters who criticized a picture of a necklace she had posted on her Facebook page. Leung is known for flaunting expensive designer accessories and shoes on her social media accounts.
In her response to her detractors on Facebook, which has since been taken down, Leung wrote: “This is actually a beautiful necklace bought at Lane Crawford (yes- funded by all you HK taxpayers!! So are all my beautiful shoes and dresses and clutches!! Thank you so much!!!!) Actually maybe I shouldn’t say ‘all you’- since most of you here are probably unemployed hence have all this time obsessed with bombarding me with messages.”
The 22-year-old Leung also went on to insult her fellow Hong Kongers’ English: “Actually considering the standard of English I’ve skimmed through at times I doubt you’d even understand what the term ‘social media platform’ means; or in fact, any of the above. But anyway, enjoy copying and pasting all of this onto Google translation and still not getting it. It’s okay- your mother still loves you.”
Here’s her screed in full:
Business Insider points out that Leung’s Instagram account is still active and that her posts there indicate that she’s a fan of the Hilton sisters — pick your jaw up off the floor – and that she places designer shoes around her room as decor, rather than wearing them out.
Earlier this year, the South China Morning Post broke the story that Leung had posted a 3 a.m. photo of her slashed wrist to her Facebook page next to the caption “Will I bleed to death?”
Pro-Democracy protests in Hong Kong have continued into Monday morning with thousands of sleeping protesters still occupying the streets.
While images of exhausted police and demonstrators are now being broadcast and reports the riot police have withdrawn, the protestors look set on staying put.
This movement is now being dubbed as “The Umbrella Revolution” with people shouting: “Do something good for Hong Kong. We want real democracy!”
Over the weekend, reports of violent clashes between the protestors and police were seen with police throwing tear gas at the crowds and constructing defense barriers. In response, thousands sought to protect themselves with homemade goggles and improvised shields. Twenty-six people have reportedly been taken to hospital and 148 arrested.
The clashes come as a climax to last week when students boycotted classes to protest Beijing‘s plans to vet candidates and rejecting open nominations for Hong Kong’s 2017 leadership elections. Since China took over Hong Kong from the British in 1997, it has maintained certain liberties and control unseen in mainland China.
Now, Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” premise is being directly challenged.
The Chinese government are calling the protests illegal. Despite their efforts for a media blackout, extraordinary scenes of deserted and litter strewn streets have still emerged from the city.
In an effort to stem the tide of images, the government have now banned Instagram on the Chinese mainland.
For the better half of the last decade, brands have salivated at the prospects of entering Mainland China. Once a country associated with producing low-quality products and a life of practicality, it has now welcomed a more fashion-driven and at times ostentatious approach to living as shown by the spending habits of the growing middle and upper class. However, for many proven global brands, entering China has been very difficult to navigate given the differences in culture and of course the sheer size of the market and its differentiation between social classes across different city sizes. Add in a particular brand of government that has shown to be heavy-handed in its approach to taxation and government spending on luxury goods, and you have a potentially harrowing experience for any new brand.
Somebody that has understood the regional landscape for over two decades is Richard Hobbs. After helping launch a number of denim and streetwear labels, he and his partner Peter Caplowewanted to fill a void in Asia’s fashion buying forum and launched The HUB last year. There are well-documented cases of trade shows in Las Vegas, New York and Berlin, but there was a lack of similar opportunity in the Greater China region. In China, there aren’t many great examples of multi-branded retailers but that is changing, and the fashion literate are looking far beyond just luxury and fast fashion — but legitimate brands with great stories.
The statistics year after year are generally bulletproof and point towards the establishment of what will be a $160 billion-plus fashion industry by 2016. Richard Hobbs broke down the various important elements that one should consider before making the move to China. By no means is it an end-all guide to doing business in the emerging country, but rather a starting point for dialog and consideration.
10 Corso Como, Shanghai
600 Million Shoppers Await
In the first case, as a brand, you can’t really afford to ignore a market – by latest forecasts and analysis – of around 600 million aspirational consumers with money to spend. Whatever its shortcomings and political/ethical matters, China is only going to increase in importance and influence and in the era of globalization and instant communication the rest of the world is bound to get closer to China as it will to the rest of the world. There is also a hunger for credible brands with provenance and a legitimate story – not just from consumers but from investors as well. There are brands in China with thousands of stores that have been built up by pure “imitation” and suspect branding, design and marketing concepts simply because the consumer did not know any different. The customer is now way too smart and can see through these brands and are now able to determine legitimate brands easily (via Hypebeast and others), so their time is limited and they will need to be replaced.
Adidas Originals Flagship Store, Shanghai
Adapting to the Culture of Business in China
A lot of caution is needed when entering China. Things have improved over the last few years but there are massive bureaucratic hurdles covering taxation, company formation, import duties, profit repatriation, relabeling and product testing. These are often very difficult to really get your head around and change constantly but they are all problems that can be solved if you have the right people on the ground. From a cultural aspect the biggest change is the approach to business. When I first went to China to do business in 1990 I spent 3/4 of each day drinking tea and leaving meetings with no idea whether it was a good or bad one, then getting smashed on really dodgy alcohol. It then took weeks, if not months, to actually get a simple sale or purchase signed off. Then it was all about developing a personal relationship and generating trust. Now people want to know immediately what’s in it for them and when they will get paid or get their return. Each style has its pros and cons but I would still recommend not rushing into a relationship that sounds amazing, because invariably it won’t be.
Galeries Lafayette Flagship Store, Beijing
Recognizing the Sensibilities of Chinese Consumers
Obviously every country/region has its own influences in fashion, music, sport, media that lead to consumers connecting with brands and product. The main difference with China is that it’s only really been open to international trends for the last seven years, with the growth of the traveling mainlander and social media in the last four years. So in comparison to the West it’s completely immature and unsophisticated but transforming dramatically. They are becoming more knowledgeable by the day about both international labels and domestic designers and hunting down their targets. The lack of multi-label stores and the sheer size of the country is the reason for the rapid growth in online commerce and the use of Weibo and WeChat to connect with consumers. We had one exhibitor at the last HUB who currently ONLY sells via WeChat and there are so many commercial applications being developed that this area is actually leading the world. They are taking online customer service to another level not seen anywhere else. We also ran a panel session during The HUB last week about the retail experience, online and offline, and the keynote speaker was Winnie Foon from ShangPin. They actually offer a service for VIPs where they can order three sizes or colors of an item and the courier will wait at their door while they try on and take back what they don’t like, as well as the payment for what they want to keep. At the same time the physical retail experience in China is massively behind the West or Japan, who do it better than anyone else. Store design and planning, customer service, staff training and retention need a lot of work.
Research the Market
From a personal perspective I would have to say that signing up to take part in The HUB would be a great first step. You have to treat China, and Asia, seriously as a long term business objective. Brands should not just turn up in the market and expect to get a bunch of orders and everything runs smoothly. If you are an American brand looking to launch in Europe you would definitely go on some research trips; meet a bunch of people; consider logistics, pricing, merchandising, marketing, etc. before making a commitment.
The same applies to China but on an even larger scale. Do your research, prepare localized support, pre-market, learn and connect. The brands that come to The HUB and get the best results are those that prepare properly and don’t expect immediate results. When I have launched brands in the past in the U.S. or Europe you pick up very little business at the first trade show, a bit more at the second, and then at the third the bigger players who have been watching you to see whether you are going to be around for a while and can deliver, step up. China is a long term play but now is the time to get engaged. I see particularly street brands that can be hugely important in China if they only took this approach.
Finally, take care of your IP. Before you make a major move, and recommended anyway, always get your trademarks properly covered. It’s expensive but essential and there are too many tales of bad experiences to even start relating here.
Leveraging Multi-Brand Retail Opportunities
Really it’s the fast fashion retailers that are making the big moves and the shop/copy domestic brands offer the main alternatives to luxury. The lack of multi-label retailers and no real wholesale infrastructure does make it difficult for brands to grow as they would expect in the West. However, part of our mission is to keep selling the concept of multi-brand to investors, mall management, property developers as well as existing distribution companies. Most international brands normally work through a network of own stores and franchisees.
On the denim side Lee and Evisu, which Peter originally launched in China in 2001, are strong with wide distribution. Most of the big sports players – Nike, adidas, et al – have massive franchise programs. They have been dealing with the post Olympic downturn which saw local competitors like Anta, 361 and Li Ning get hurt but will be around for a long time. There is a big demand for heritage brands from the UK and Italy where the more affluent consumer is moving away from blatant luxury and looking for something a bit more sophisticated and with real provenance. At The HUB we also host these types of exhibitors who normally do well. Last season Barbour signed a deal for 300+ stores in China during the show and there have been others who have arranged licensing and distribution deals from connections made at The HUB.
As I said earlier I see huge opportunities for street brands to come in to the whole Asian market with its massive youth population. There is very little international competition and the domestic brands are weak, in my opinion!
Maison Martin Margiela, Beijing
Understand How Social Media in China Works
To me the jury is still out on how you validate social media activity into sales but there is no doubt that it is massively important as part of an overall digital strategy for any brand. Instagram is probably the most important and because it is open in China (as opposed to Facebook and Twitter), has a big part to play. It’s also the most relevant in the fashion industry globally. China hasWeibo and WeChat which, as a mobile platform, has been the main route to connect with far-flung customers. Savvy users are really building their online businesses with these platforms so they do become much more than a brand communication channel. I don’t have access to any accurate research or data but would hazard a guess that the young Chinese consumer is far more connected to their favorite brands through SM than their Western counterparts.
There’s More to Foreign Fashion in China Than Luxury
It could probably only happen in China but I would guess that the luxury companies have made more than enough money with their runs at China over the last 15 years that they can handle, and were expecting, a downturn. Any system that allowed customers to sell back their recently acquired handbag at 75% to 80% of its ticket value was going to end at some point. For me it’s the emergence of the educated and informed middle class and the consumer looking for individuality and credibility that will drive the next growth of fashion and retail within China. Some previous luxury buyers will drop into that sector but overall it’s too big a market to worry about that might happen to the big boys. They should be able to work it out.
Tens of thousands gathered at a central park in Hong Kong on Wednesday to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, even as a stifling security presence in Beijing and elsewhere in mainland China appeared to forestall protests.
The organizers of the vigil in Hong Kong said the crowd on Wednesday numbered over 180,000, while the police estimated that 99,500 people had attended. The turnout on Wednesday was the largest since 1989, according to the organizers, and the second-largest, according to police estimates, trailing the 2010 turnout, which was 113,000.
State-controlled Chinese news organizations largely ignored the anniversary, even as the foreign news media gave it global attention. In Washington, the White House said in a statement, “Twenty-five years later, the United States continues to honor the memories of those who gave their lives in and around Tiananmen Square and throughout China, and we call on Chinese authorities to account for those killed, detained or missing in connection with the events surrounding June 4, 1989.”
In the years since the crackdown, mainland China has combined rapid economic growth with severe and recently increasing restrictions on civil liberties. In the weeks preceding the anniversary, the Chinese police detained and in some cases prosecuted scores of human rights activists.
Online censors have stepped up their already extensive blocking or deleting of websites and postings that challenge the Communist Party’s effort to erase the public’s memory of the bloodshed in 1989, when soldiers in Beijing killed hundreds of students, workers and professionals demonstrating for greater democracy and limits on corruption.
The crowd that gathered Wednesday night in Victoria Park in Hong Kong was visibly younger than in previous years and included, for the first time, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, a widely admired Roman Catholic priest who in the past had held prayers near the commemoration but had not taken part.
In recent years, the gathering had been dominated by people age 40 or older who remembered coverage of the night of the crackdown and who sometimes brought their children. That demographic profile appeared to have been upended this year, as people in their 20s and 30s predominated. An announcer on the stage asked all those attending the vigil for the first time to raise their hands, and many sprang up.
One first-time attendee, Rex Liu, a 27-year-old office worker, said that although he felt regret that students had died 25 years ago, he was motivated more by concern about the prevalence of corruption in current-day China. “I feel the need to come this year to express my discontent over the rotting and corrupt state of the Chinese government,” he said.
The general silence about the anniversary that security agencies imposed in mainland China left Hong Kong as the only city on Chinese soil where such a public commemoration could take place.
Asked during a brief interview near the end of the vigil whether he was attending the event as a church leader, Cardinal Zen, the retired archbishop of Hong Kong and a longtime advocate of greater democracy, gave a small shrug and a short, amused laugh. “No, no, no, I am myself,” he said.
Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency, published an article on Wednesday quoting a government spokesman criticizing the United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights, who called on Tuesday for Beijing to release pro-democracy activists and others who have been detained.
“The so-called press release made by U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, grossly goes against her mandate and constitutes a grave intervention of China’s judicial sovereignty and internal affairs,” Hong Lei, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said at a daily news briefing, according to the Xinhua report. Ms. Pillay had released a statement on the anniversary calling on China to free dissidents. “China has chosen a viable path to develop human rights, and this is not to be changed by any discordant voice,” Mr. Hong added.
Among those who had assembled around Victoria Park was one man defending the armed crackdown. He held a sign in Chinese that read: “Oppose overturning the verdict on June 4; the democracy movement is a menace to national tranquillity. Without a prompt crackdown, China would not be what it is today.”
The man, Chiu Keng Wong, a Hong Kong resident and camera dealer, said he was in China in 1989.
“People don’t understand the situation back then,” he said. “This had to be done to defend reform and opening up. Older people who have spent time in China understand my view.”
Several groups in Hong Kong allied with the Beijing government have tried to make the case that dwelling on June 4 is politically unhealthy, and one of them, the Voice of Loving Hong Kong, held a small gathering near Victoria Park. Guarded by a phalanx of police officers and metal barriers, the group had a banner urging the people of Hong Kong to “let go of this burden.”
The democracy movement in Hong Kong has fractured over how to deal with Beijing’s steadfast refusal to change its official stance on the Tiananmen Square crackdown, and over Beijing’s reluctance to allow greater democracy in Hong Kong itself. The clearest sign of that division was a separate protest Wednesday evening on the opposite side of the harbor from the Victoria Park candlelight vigil, which has been held every year since 1989.
The rival event, which the police said attracted 3,060 people, was organized by the Proletariat Political Institute, a group led by Wong Yuk-man, a democracy activist who is also on the 70-member Legislative Council. He contends that the established pro-democracy parties are not sufficiently assertive in challenging Beijing.
“The vigil has been held for more than two decades, and the significance of the vigil is diminishing,” Mr. Wong’s group said in a statement Tuesday evening. “It is now no more than a routine ceremonial event.”