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Jan
2016

Leader’s movement: the wind direction in China

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Chinese president Xi Jinping paid an official visit to the UK from October 19th to 23rd that was widely publicised, but the reaction of ordinary Chinese people to the visit interested us. Here is some clue as to how the activities of a Chinese leader influence society without any specific verbal stimulation.

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Coverage in the media

As the mainstream traditional media delivered formal reports about the state visit, social media in China reflected a different focus.

Firstly, as some commentators in the UK raised the question as to why the Chinese were being offered such a warm welcome to come to do business, discontent was also being expressed on Chinese social media about the government’s plans to invest abroad before improving people’s lives domestically.

Other than this single point of controversy, all the other comments showed a strong interest in all the details, side stories, and background information related to everything Mr. and Mrs. Xi experienced. From the scale of the royal banquet, to the history, the palaces and houses used to host them, from chronology of the first ladies’ dresses on formal occasions to the list of Queen Elizabeth’s crowns.

Detailed stories were widespread on Chinese social media and a single repost could get over one thousand reads. On Weibo.com, one of the most popular social media sites in China, four hash tags about Xi’s UK visit got over 390 million reads in total. These hash tags were at the top of the hottest issue rankings during the entire visit.

 

The business opportunities were spotted immediately

The pub that President Xi and Prime Minister Cameron visited near Chequers has now become a sightseeing spot for Chinese tourists. According to the pub owner, the meal set that Xi tried (a pint of beer and fish & chips) has become the standard combination for the incoming Chinese tourists. On a Sunday lunchtime they served 7 groups of about 30 Chinese visitors, some were tourists and some were Chinese living in the UK.

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Rooney Anand the CEO of Greene King, the brewery that produced the beer that Cameron ordered for Xi, said orders from China had rocketed 1600% after their visit. Up to Chinese New Year there will be 50 thousand cases of its IPA product shipped to China. Mr. Anand said they were working with a distribution partner to get the shipments ready.

Back in China, only days after the picture of Xi sipping the British brewery went online, the pictures together with slogans like ‘come try what Xi Dada drank in the UK’ were used by pubs to attract customers in many cities across China, from Xinjiang to Shanghai and Hainan to Beijing.

 

The leader’s action alters the wind direction in China

The actions and preferences of the Chinese leader are always closely studied and acted upon by the countries business leaders, for whom, it’s the “wind direction” meaning to sail with the government wind so that they can go further; local governments will support Mr. Xi’s position and therefore their businesses can run more smoothly and be more successful.

Even the public service advertising on Chinese tv has now started to use a children’s image based around a paper-cut picture of Shanxi, the province Mr. Xi lived in for 7 years during the “down to the countryside movement”, in which the government sent educated urban youths to work in the countryside and mountainous areas of China. No doubt the President himself knows nothing of the advertisement style, it’s just the people trying to make a connection with the leader.

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