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China daily praises PM Narendra Modi’s social media diplomacy

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Beijing: A leading English daily of China on Monday lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diplomatic initiatives via social media, saying that it will “play a constructive role in the relationship between India and China”.

“When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on his 60th birthday on his Sina Weibo account on Wednesday (July 1), he once again showed the high value he attaches to diplomacy through social media accounts,” the Global Times stated in an opinion piece headlined “Modi’s social-media diplomacy can help build Sino-Indian understanding”.

The article is based on an interview with Zhao Gancheng, director of South Asia Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies.

Noting that Modi’s account in Sina Weibao, the Chinese version of Twitter, has tens of thousands of followers, it stated: “Yet this is not a special move, for he did the similar things for the US, Russia and Japan, through which he has delivered a message to the world that India is more open, and is keeping up to date with the latest trends.”

According to Zhao, despite India being the largest democracy in the world, there is an impression that it is a “rather conservative nation” and negative news about the country emerge from time to time.

“Therefore, Modi is trying to provide a new perspective on India to the international community through his public diplomacy. Communicating to people abroad is one part of this,” the article stated.

“Such public diplomacy will also play a constructive role in the relationship between India and China.”

According to the South Asian affairs expert, although there are currently no huge irritants affecting bilateral ties, there has been no major progress either in recent years.

“Besides, while certain difficult issues remain unsettled, it is still an open question as to when the two countries will completely settle on the track of healthy cooperation, especially with the backdrop of border disputes,” the article stated.

According to Zhao, the people of the two countries do not see each other as friends.

“Some Indians consider China to be their biggest threat, while some Chinese also view India negatively,” the opinion piece stated.

“In this case, Modi’s Weibo account and his interactions with Chinese people can have a positive effect on bilateral relations.”

Zhao opined that through Modi’s kind of public diplomacy, “people from each side can raise their understanding of one another, which will, in turn, play a significant role in enhancing Sino-Indian ties”.

“Of course, thorny issues need to be resolved through negotiations by leaders from both countries. Nevertheless, it can be assumed that if more Chinese look favourably on India, a relaxed atmosphere for smooth and healthy bilateral relations will be created,” the Global Times article concluded.

(IANS)

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Amazon Plans to Close its Domestic Marketplace in China by Mid-July

Amazon shoppers in China will no longer be able to buy goods from third-party merchants in the country, but they still will be able to order from the United States, Britain, Denmark and Japan via the firm’s global store

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FILE - Amazon plans to close its domestic marketplace in China to focus on more lucrative businesses there. VOA

Amazon.com Inc. plans to close its domestic marketplace in China by mid-July, people familiar with the matter told Reuters, focusing efforts on more lucrative businesses selling overseas goods and cloud services in the world’s most populous nation.

Amazon shoppers in China will no longer be able to buy goods from third-party merchants in the country, but they still will be able to order from the United States, Britain, Denmark and Japan via the firm’s global store. Amazon expects to close fulfillment centers and wind down support for domestic-selling merchants in China in the next 90 days, one of the people said.

Home-grown e-commerce

The move underscores how entrenched, home-grown e-commerce rivals have made it difficult for Amazon’s marketplace to gain a foothold. Consumer insights firm iResearch Global said Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Tmall marketplace and JD.com Inc. controlled 81.9 percent of the Chinese market last year.

“They’re pulling out because it’s not profitable and not growing,” said analyst Michael Pachter at Wedbush Securities. Ker Zheng, marketing specialist at Shenzhen-based e-commerce consultancy Azoya, said Amazon had no major competitive advantage in China over its domestic rivals.

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FILE – A logo of JD.com is seen on a helmet of a delivery man in Beijing, June 16, 2014. VOA

Unless someone is searching for a very specific imported good that can’t be found elsewhere, “there’s no reason for a consumer to pick Amazon because they’re not going to be able to ship things as fast as Tmall or JD,” he said.

Amazon’s customers in China will still be able to purchase the firm’s Kindle e-readers and online content, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing unit that sells data storage and computing power to enterprises, will remain as well.

The U.S.-listed shares of Alibaba and JD.com rose 1% Wednesday after Reuters first reported the move, before paring gains later in the day. Amazon’s shares closed flat.

US retreat, e-commerce showdown

The withdrawal of the world’s largest online retailer — founded by the world’s richest person — comes amid a broader e-commerce slowdown in China. Alibaba in January reported its lowest quarterly earnings growth since 2016, while JD.com is responding to the changing business environment with staff cuts.

 

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FILE – A worker removes an advertisement billboard of Indian online marketplace Flipkart, installed along the roadside in Mumbai, India, Oct. 16, 2015. Amazon.com Inc. is concentrating on India and its competition, Flipkart. VOA

It also follows the Chinese e-commerce retreat of other big-name Western retailers. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. sold its Chinese online shopping platform to JD.com in 2016 in return for a stake in JD.com to focus on its bricks-and-mortar stores.

Similarly, the country appears to factor less in the global aspirations of fellow U.S. tech majors Netflix Inc., Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Pachter said.

ALSO READ: Microsoft, Amazon in Race For $10bn Pentagon Project

Amazon bought Chinese online shopping website Joyo.com in 2004 for $75 million, rebranding the business in 2011 as Amazon China. But in a sign of Tmall’s dominance, Amazon nevertheless opened an online store on the Alibaba site in 2015.

The firm is still expanding aggressively in other countries, notably India, where it is contending with local rival Flipkart. (VOA)