Sunday, March 26, 2023

FirstFT: China bans celebrity endorsements

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Chinese celebrities have been banned from endorsing a clutch of health and education services, signalling a new phase in President Xi Jinping’s campaign to overhaul the country’s corporate and social landscape.

The rules, which ban entertainers and influencers from backing the products via social media, television commercials, live-streams and interviews, will constrict the lucrative world of star endorsements. Private tutoring and health foods, as well as tobacco products, healthcare and medical equipment are among the targeted industries, according to a notice issued by Beijing’s top market regulator, the State Administration for Market Regulation, along with six other government agencies.

“Celebrities should consciously practise socialist core values ​​in their advertising endorsement activities,” the rules stated. “Activities should conform to social morals and traditional virtues.”

Since late 2020, Xi has spearheaded a broad-based crackdown on China’s corporates, including the tech and entertainment industries, as well as wealthy businesspeople.

The latest clampdown was announced as the Chinese president intensifies his drive to reform social values and youth culture in the world’s most populous country, under the banner of “common prosperity”.

What do you think of the ban? Tell us in our poll below. Thanks for reading FirstFT Asia. — Emily

1. Bolsonaro’s team appears to accept election defeat Brazil’s outgoing leader Jair Bolsonaro has appeared to accept his defeat to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, although he did not explicitly concede, breaking his silence two days after the men faced off in a bitterly contested presidential election.

2. Musk outlines Twitter premium subscription plan Elon Musk has said Twitter will offer a premium subscription service for $8 a month that will verify users, boost the visibility of their posts and allow them to see fewer advertisements, in his first step towards overhauling the product since he took the reins at the company last week.

3. Shanghai Disneyland locks down after positive Covid test Shanghai authorities are rushing to trace and test visitors to the city’s Disneyland theme park after shutting the venue as part of a wave of pandemic prevention measures across China that has also buffeted iPhone maker Foxconn. The park was locked down on Monday after a single guest tested positive for Covid-19, in a repeat of a similar closure in late 2021.

4. Bumper profits raise pressure on oil majors Profits at two of the world’s largest oil producers soared as BP and Saudi Aramco reaped a windfall from historically high energy prices that have fuelled inflation and stoked a global cost of living crisis. Saudi Aramco reported its second-highest quarterly profits since listing its shares in 2019, as BP’s earnings put it on course for one of the most profitable years in its history.

  • Interview: Japan’s near total dependence on imported energy means it cannot “survive” without continuing to buy oil and gas from Russia, said the head of one of the country’s big five trading houses.

5. Ocado shares soar on new South Korea retail partnership Ocado shares surged by more than a third yesterday after it announced its first major deal since 2019, to provide retail technology for Lotte Shopping, one of South Korea’s largest companies. Ocado will help the South Korean group develop its online business and build a network of warehouses with advanced storage and automated picking systems to fulfil customer orders.

  • More earnings news from Asia: Toyota’s quarterly operating profit fell 25 per cent from a year earlier as the world’s largest carmaker warned that it was struggling to cope with yen volatility, interest rate rises in the US and production disruption caused by China’s coronavirus lockdowns.

The day ahead

Hong Kong investment summit The Global Financial Leaders’ Investment Summit, which kicks off today, was set to reassert its place as an international finance centre. But positive Covid tests and an approaching tropical storm have already damped expectations. (Bloomberg)

New Zealand reserve bank financial stability report An initial analysis of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s climate stress test, part of the November 2022 Financial Stability Report set to be released today, highlighted the risk that river flooding poses to lenders’ residential mortgage portfolios. (Reuters)

Federal Reserve interest rate decision The US Federal Reserve is set to announce its decision on interest rates today. Federal Open Market Committee is expected to implement its fourth consecutive 0.75 percentage point rate rise.

What else we’re reading

Germany struggles with China dependency If the war in Ukraine exposed the folly of Germany’s decades-long reliance on Russian gas, Berlin is about to pick up a bigger tab for its even deeper dependence on China. The country has long been one of the largest markets for German machinery, chemicals and cars.

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Unilever to extend four-day working week trial to Australia More than half of Unilever’s 900 Australian workers will begin working four-day weeks from November 14. The extension of Unilever’s trial represents a boost to the global campaign for four rather than five-day schedules, which argues that the shorter week helps staff become happier, healthier and more productive.

There is no need for defeatism on climate change The reasons not to be cheerful on climate change are obvious, writes Pilita Clark. So what grounds are there for optimism? One big reason: governments and regulators are finally getting serious, and taking unprecedented steps that would have been unthinkable even a year ago.

We do need a digital town square Musk is right, to say that, over time, the number of shared spaces where such disagreements can be hashed out has shrunk, writes Stephen Bush. But the question is whether he can make Twitter the place to peacefully hash out our disagreements.

Imran Khan bids to regain power in Pakistan The country’s ousted prime minister and former cricket star has embarked on a week-long march through Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab, to the capital Islamabad, hoping to whip up a large enough show of support to topple the government of rival Shehbaz Sharif and force early elections.


Giuseppe Eskenazi, 83, has been selling East Asian art for five decades. His family’s gallery has long been at the pinnacle of London’s scene, even as tastes and clients have changed. His latest exhibit: ‘50 Years of Exhibitions’ runs to February 3 2023.

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