What is Alibaba, China’s E-commerce Giant?


Q&A US | China | internet |

Formed in the Hangzhou flat of co-founder Jack Ma in 1999, Alibaba has ridden the seemingly insatiable Chinese appetite for online shopping to become one of the world’s most valuable companies.

On Friday, the US-listed company confirmed plans to add its value further, but listing additional shares in Hong Kong in an offering worth around $13 billion.

Here are the answers to key questions about the company:

– How did Alibaba start? –

Ma, a former English teacher who claims to have never written a line of computer code, had dabbled in various ventures with mixed success before friends introduced him to the internet while on a 1990s trip to the United States.

With Amazon already making waves in online shopping, Ma convinced a group of Chinese and foreign friends to front $60,000 in 1999 for a business-to-business e-commerce venture.

Ma dubbed it “Alibaba” because the name is easily pronounced in virtually any language, including Chinese, and because the “open sesame” catchphrase signified that its platforms “open a doorway to fortune for small businesses”, according to the company.

– Why has it been so successful? –

Alibaba was founded at a time when Chinese incomes were soaring after decades of rapid economic growth and the country was becoming increasingly digitalised.

That allowed Alibaba to easily facilitate commerce between consumers increasingly hooked on the ease of online shopping, and the country’s countless manufacturers of cheap goods.

Today, China has the world’s largest online population — in excess of 850 million — most of them smartphone users deeply immersed in the country’s growing digital ecosystem and e-commerce.

The business generated by Alibaba’s own mobile monthly active users — which reached 785 million in the most recent financial latest quarter — propelled rapid growth, and in September 2014, the company listed on Wall Street, raising $25 billion in what remains the largest IPO ever.

– What does it do? –

E-commerce remains the company’s bread and butter, conducted mainly via its largely consumer-to-consumer Taobao site and the more business-to-consumer Tmall, and typically paid for via its digital-payments unit Alipay, which has become a pioneer in that sector.

Through Alibaba’s platforms, Chinese consumers can buy a wide array of products from clothing to electronics, food, luxury products and even more unusual goods — including Boeing 747 cargo planes.

But Alibaba’s success has seen it invest heavily in new business lines as well.

It owns leading Chinese video streaming website Youku, and its Alibaba Pictures unit in 2016 bought a stake in Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners, which owns DreamWorks Pictures, among other entertainment ventures.

It also is investing in cloud computing and other aspects of China’s growing digital ecosystem including the acquisition of Chinese food-delivery leader Ele.me.

– How big is it? –

Alibaba is now the most valuable public Chinese company, with a market capitalisation of around $477 billion as of this week, and one of the top-10 most valuable in the world, though still trailing US e-commerce counterpart Amazon, which is worth around $870 billion.

Alibaba now claims nearly 104,000 employees at its headquarters in Ma’s hometown of Hangzhou in China’s eastern province of Zhejiang, but also around China and overseas.

The company has in recent years taken steps to go global, primarily in Southeast Asia where it runs the Lazada e-commerce platform.


© Agence France-Presse

Djokovic Ramps Up Shanghai Masters Title Defence

Novac Djokovic of Servia celebrates after winning during his men’s singles third round match against John Isner of the US at the Shanghai Masters tennis tournament in Shanghai on October 10, 2019. NOEL CELIS / AFP


Novak Djokovic rolled into the Shanghai Masters quarter-finals as the world number one made light work of American John Isner on Thursday.

The defending champion from Serbia dismissed the 16th seed 7-5, 6-3 in 74 minutes and plays upcoming Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas or Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in the last eight.

Roger Federer, the 20-time Grand Slam champion, faces 13th seed David Goffin of Belgium later Thursday.

Asia, Africa Out Of FIBA World Cup At First Hurdle

Harrison Barnes #8 of USA goes to the basket against Japan during the First Round of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup on September 5, 2019 at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai, China. NATHANIEL S. BUTLER / NBAE / GETTY IMAGES / AFP



It is the largest basketball World Cup ever but there will be no teams from Asia or Africa in the second round of the sport’s global showpiece.

Hosts China with their 1.4 billion population crashed out of contention on Wednesday with a 72-59 defeat to Venezuela.

That came hours after Tunisia surrendered a spot in the next round, and a guaranteed place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, with an agonising 67-64 loss to Puerto Rico.

Nigeria thrashed South Korea 108-66 at the same time, but the fate of Africa’s highest-ranked team already been sealed after losing both their opening games.

The last time there was no team from Asia or Africa in the second round was in 1998, when the championship had only 16 teams.

Now it has a record 32 but it is almost exclusively teams from the Americas, led by reigning champions the United States, and Europe who will compete for the medals.

Outside of those only Australia, nominally Asian in the FIBA rankings are concerned, have also reached the second round and they could be joined by New Zealand if they beat Greece on Thursday.

Paolo Povia, coach of the Ivory Coast, said there were “a lot of factors” why African sides had failed to make their mark in China.

“There’s definitely a difference in experience and knowledge of the game,” said Povia after his team lost 80-63 to Poland on Wednesday, their third defeat in three games.

“The development of the game (in Africa) is a little inconsistent. In our team we have some guys who have learned to play the game in different places all over the world.

“So you don’t get the same continuity all the time in how the game is learned.”

Basketball is hugely popular in the Philippines but the national team — the joint-shortest at the competition — have lost all three of their matches.

They were drubbed 108-62 and 126-67 by Italy and title-contenders Serbia respectively before narrowly succumbing to already eliminated Angola on Wednesday.

Serbia’s plain-speaking coach Sasha Djordjevic said that the Philippines’ lack of physicality and athleticism “might be the problem”.

“Obviously you are missing quality,” he told a reporter from the Philippines.

After easy wins over the Philippines and Angola, Djordjevic also questioned the format of the enlarged World Cup, containing eight groups of four countries in the first phase.

“There are some groups that from the start you practically know which two teams are going to advance,” he said, shaking his head.

“I don’t know if that’s a good thing for the World Cup in general because what does it serve us?

“What does it serve the Philippine team losing by this points difference?” he said, of Serbia’s 59-point win.

Ousted teams such as the Philippines need to rally themselves, because they now face a low-key “classification” round with Olympic qualifying in play.

China World Cup Boost As Nine Foreigners Switch Nationality


China could soon be able to field a national team made up almost entirely of players born elsewhere after authorities said nine foreign footballers were switching allegiance.

On Wednesday Brazil-born striker Elkeson became the first player without Chinese heritage to be named in the national squad, as China attempts to reach the World Cup for a second time.

The 30-year-old is poised to make his debut next month in a 2022 World Cup qualifier in the Maldives, where London-born Nico Yennaris — who is half-Chinese — will likely win a third cap.

“We want to go to Qatar (2022 World Cup),” Chen Xuyuan, new president of the Chinese Football Association (CFA), was quoted as saying by state media.

“Naturalised players can be helpful in order to achieve the national team’s short-term goals.

“Up to now, clubs have registered nine naturalised players with or without Chinese heritage at the CFA in total, some of them are still going through the naturalisation process.”

Chen, named to the top post in Chinese football on Thursday, said that more naturalised players will likely represent China as qualification for 2022 progresses.

“But it will never be a long-term policy of the CFA and the numbers will be very limited,” Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.

Several Brazilian attacking players from the Chinese Super League are reportedly among those being naturalised, as is English-born defender Tyias Browning.

The move to give passports to players born elsewhere — particularly when they have no Chinese ancestry — has divided fans.

Some say the CFA should do everything it can to help Marcello Lippi’s side reach only China’s second World Cup.

Others say that a country of 1.4 billion people should easily be able to find 11 players good enough.

China have reached football’s biggest stage only once, in 2002, but left without a point or scoring a goal.

President Xi Jinping wants China to become a major force in world football by 2050, but Lippi’s side languish 71st in the current FIFA rankings.

Chen also reiterated China’s wishes to stage a World Cup, also part of Xi’s ambitious plans for football in the country.

“Hosting the World Cup is a dream of all Chinese fans, including me,” said Chen, declining to say when the country will make its move.

“The CFA will analyse and find out when is the best timing to bid,” he added.

Brazilian Elkeson To Break Record, Earns China Call-up

Guangzhou Evergrande’s Elkeson (C) watches as Beijing Guoan’s goal keeper Zou Dehai (2nd L, in grey jersey) fails to stop a goal during their Chinese Super League (CSL) football match in Beijing on August 11, 2019.


China named Elkeson in their squad for their opening World Cup qualifier with the Brazilian poised to be the first without Chinese ancestry to play for the country.

Coach Marcello Lippi has long complained about a dearth of attacking options and has moved to plug the gap with the 30-year-old, who will use the Chinese name Aikesen.

The move to naturalise a Brazilian is controversial and comes after China similarly gave a passport to London-born midfielder Nico Yennaris.

The former Arsenal man however is half-Chinese, whereas Guangzhou Evergrande striker Elkeson qualifies for China having played in the country since 2013.

READ ALSO: Bayern Munich Offer Coutinho Fresh Start On Loan

Along with Espanyol forward Wu Lei and Yennaris, Elkeson is part of a 35-man squad named by Italian World Cup winner Lippi for China’s game at the Maldives on September 10.

Elkeson appears likely to be the start of a growing trend for perennial under-achievers China.

Fellow Brazilians Ricardo Goulart and Fernando are both reportedly set to be naturalised, along with English defender Tyias Browning, also of Evergrande.

Although many other nations, notably 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar, call up players born in other countries, China had resisted doing so until now.

But respected football commentator Zhan Jun recently hinted at public discord, writing to his 16 million followers on the Twitter-like Weibo: “Sigh, don’t know how the fans who care about Chinese football are feeling?

“I can’t get over it,” said Zhan, in a post which drew thousands of comments.


Tesla To Build Wholly-Owned Shanghai Plant – Report

Tesla To Build Wholly-Owned Shanghai Plant - Report

Tesla has reached an agreement with Shanghai authorities that would make it the first foreign automaker to build its own plant in China, putting it in the driver’s seat in the world’s biggest electric-vehicle market, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Silicon Valley electric carmaker’s wholly-owned manufacturing facility would be built in Shanghai’s free-trade zone, the Wall Street Journal said, quoting unnamed sources with knowledge of the deal, and could allow Tesla to dramatically lower the cost of its cars in China.

China usually requires foreign automakers to set up joint ventures with local Chinese partners, which involves splitting profits and giving away some technology, though they also avoid import tariffs.

AFP was not immediately able to obtain comment from Tesla or the Shanghai government.

China’s electric-vehicle market is already the world’s largest and is expected to continue growing fast, especially since the government plans to require that all automakers’ sales include a certain percentage of electric vehicles from 2019.

Beijing is also mulling plans to ban fossil-fuel burning cars by an unspecified date, following decisions by France and Britain to outlaw the sale of such vehicles from 2040 to limit emissions.

No timeframe for the launch of the Tesla plant was given.

Tesla had said in June that it was in talks with the Shanghai government and that it would detail its China manufacturing plans by the end of the year.

More than half a million “new-energy” cars were sold in China last year, and the government is targetting sales in the millions in coming years.

The Wall Street Journal said any cars built by Tesla in the free-trade zone would still incur a 25 percent import tariff.


Shanghai Hosts Annual Mud Run Competition

Shanghai Hosts Annual Mud Run Competition

Shanghai’s most adventurous gathered for a dirty work out on Saturday at the city’s annual “mud run”.

More than 4,000 people participated in the race which involved navigating 26 obstacles, including inflatables and ropes.

The men’s group winner was You Peiquan who completed the race in 39 minutes 28 seconds while Zhang Xueqing won the women’s group at 53 minutes 48 seconds.

Each winner will receive an award prize of RMB 8000 ($1180.9).

Shanghai is the third race of the mud run tournament in China and the next race will be held in Shenzhen in August.

Each ticket of the race is sold at RMB 299 ($44.1).


Shanghai Holds Fifth Annual Pride Run

Shanghai Pride RunOver 200 people ran in Shanghai’s fifth annual Pride Run on Saturday.

Raymond Peng, one of the event’s organisers, said he hoped the event would provide a chance for participants to interact with Shanghai residents and let them know “we’re friends living under the same sun”.

This year’s event, which started at 9:30 AM local time (0130 GMT) featured six different routes throughout the city, ranging from 3km-15km (1.8 – 9.3 miles).

The Pride Run is part of Shanghai’s ninth gay pride celebration, which features four days of events but without a pride parade, coinciding with similar events in other cities around the world.

Organisers say about 6,000 people are expected to attend the four-day event themed “The Time is Now” that runs from June 15 to 18.


We’ll Build Resilient Nigerian Cities – President Buhari

Buhari President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Shanghai said that his administration would give priority to the building and development of resilient and viable cities comparable with other developed cities across the globe.

At separate meetings with the Mayor of the Chinese city of Shanghai, Mr Yang Xiong and the Director of Shanghai Free Trade Zone, Liu Fangzhou, President Buhari said that the Federal Government would give full support to Free Trade and Export Processing Zones in the country to spur rapid economic development.

Buhari-China-Free-Trade-Zone-inspectionThe President, who visited the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, said Nigeria was prepared to learn how to make its cities more viable from those that have achieved development.

“We have already identified the development of infrastructure which will bring industries that create jobs and help us to diversify the economy.

“We are going to work hard to achieve these within the period we have in office. Nigerians will see progress and feel the impact,” the President said.


Commending the hardwork and incredible success story of the city of Shanghai, President Buhari said that the virtues of hard work were central to every human achievement and development.

In his remarks, the Mayor of Shanghai expressed the willingness of several Chinese businesses to key into the vision of the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, for Africa by investing in Nigeria.

Also speaking, the Director of the Free Trade Zone commended the effort of the Nigerian government towards the diversification of the economy and encouraged the country to focus on a favourable policy environment to encourage foreign investors.

Turbulence On Air Canada Flight From China Injures 21

canada-airlineAt least 21 people have been sent to the hospital after a Canada-bound airline experienced severe turbulence.

The Air Canada flight from Shanghai to Toronto was diverted to Calgary for an emergency landing after the incident.

Eight passengers suffered neck and back injuries, as hospital officials say all the victims are in stable condition.

Some of the passengers narrated their experience.

The Boeing 777 with 332 passengers and 19 crew members landed at Calgary without further incident.


Djokovic, Murray Through To Shangai Quarter Finals

DjokovicNovak Djokovic has continued his progression through the Shangai Rolex Masters with a third-round win over Feliciano Lopez.

Having won the top prize at the China Open in Beijing last week, the World No 1 is into the quarter-finals in Shanghai, as he aims for consecutive Chinese titles.

He swept aside Lopez 6-2 6-3 and will now play Bernard Tomic in the final eight.

Andy Murray was forced to work hard for a three-set win over John Isner.

The world no 2 dropped the opening set in a tie-break, but gradually mastered the American’s huge serve to close out a 6-7 6-4 6-4 victory in China.

Murray will face Tomas Berdych after the Czech defeated Gilles Simon 6-3 6-3.

Animasahun Continues Fine Form At ITTF Hopes Challenge In China

Abayomi-Animasahun-finishes-second-at-ITTF Nigeria’s 12 years old table tennis talent, Abayomi Animasahun, once again, put up a good display to finish second at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Hopes Challenge in Shanghai, China.

Animasahun defied all odds to win silver in the boys’ singles of the 2015 ITTF competition.

Animasahun has made good improvement on his performance at his first international competition at the Egypt Junior Open in June where he won the U-12 boys’ singles.

He also finished among the top eight at the China Junior Open last week. Some ITTF officials have described the Nigerian player as Africa’s prospect in the sport.

From the group stage, Animasahun stunned some of the highly-rated players from Netherlands and Thailand to settle for second place after losing to United States’ Nikhil Kumar in one of the three matches in the preliminary round. But for placing second, he joined the American boy to qualify for the semi-final stage.Animasahun

In the quarterfinal match, he continued his fine-form to beat New Zealand’s Nathan Xu 8-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-5) to set up a semi-final tie against Belgium’s Adrian Rassefosse which he won. He finally set up a rematch against the American boy who had earlier defeated him in the group stage.

However, he lost again in the final match as the American won the match at 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 to be crowned the boys’ champion.

The performance of the young Nigerian has received praise from ITTF Education and Training Coordinator, Dejan Papic.

“Animasahun attracted a lot of attention, first he managed to outlast Nathan Xu of New Zealandin long top spin exchanges. The surprise victory made him hot, he moved better in the semi-final against Belgium’s Adrian Rassefosse and played with increased confidence. But in final, he ran out of steam and American Kumar played better in each game. It seemed the fact that Kumar being a left hander was one of the deciding factors,” Papic said.

In the girls’ singles, Egypt’s Sara Elhakem emerged winner after beating Germany’s Sophie Kee in the final. Nigeria’s representative Muibat Bello finished eighth at the competition that featured sixteen players.