China News Brief
    June 03, 2024

    Saic Anji Eternity, a clean energy ship built by China’s domestic automakers, arrives from the shipyard to load cars for export at Yantai Port in Yantai, Shandong province, China, on May 15, 2024. Image: Getty Images

    China threatens up to 25% tariffs on US, EU luxury cars#

    China has signaled plans to impose tariffs  up to 25% on imported cars with large engines from the US and EU, escalating trade tensions. The China Chamber of Commerce to the EU announced this potential move, which could significantly impact European and US automakers. Shares of companies like Mercedes-Benz and BMW fell in response. Beijing’s threat comes as the EU investigates China’s electric-vehicle subsidies, with possible tariffs this month. This investigation has strained EU-China relations despite President Xi’s recent visit to Europe. Most of China’s auto imports are luxury vehicles, and brands like Toyota, Mercedes, and Porsche could be affected. The Biden administration has already imposed 100% tariffs on Chinese electric cars, and the EU is scrutinizing Chinese subsidies across various industries. China's Foreign Ministry urged resolving such disputes through dialogue.

    Swiss watch exports to China continue decline#

    According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, Swiss watch exports  in April 2024 reached 2.147 billion CHF ($2.36 billion), up 4.5% YoY, recovering from last month's significant drop. The first four months of 2024 saw a 2.6% decrease compared to the previous year. Among the top 10 markets, only mainland China (-7.5%) declined, while Hong Kong (0.2%) stayed stable. Other Asian markets saw double-digit growth, including Japan (13.6%), Singapore (12.5%), UAE (13.3%), and South Korea (27.1%). The US, the largest market, grew by 11.6%, while Europe overall grew by 6%, with notable increases in the UK (4.6%), Germany (8.9%), and Italy (5.3%), but France remained stagnant (0.4%).

    Hong Kong Retail Association expects big sales decline in May#

    On May 31, the Hong Kong Retail Management Association reported severe challenges  in the Hong Kong retail market, and said it expects a double-digit decline in May. In April, retail sales dropped 14.7% YoY to HK$29.6 billion ($3.78 billion), exceeding market expectations. Chairwoman Annie Tse noted that over 90% of retailers saw sales decline, with some sectors experiencing 20% to 40% drops. Contributing factors include last year’s high base from consumption vouchers, low mainland consumer spending, changing tourist shopping habits, reduced large purchases, and adverse weather. Tse suggested the government attract more mainland tourists and negotiate higher duty-free allowances to boost spending.

    Alexander Wang launches flagship store on

    On May 30, US fashion brand Alexander Wang partnered with to launch  the brand’s flagship store on the platform. Following its entry into Tmall in 2020 and the launch of its official WeChat mini-program in 2023, this collaboration further demonstrates Alexander Wang’s commitment to deepening its presence in the Chinese market and enhancing its online shopping experience. With’s extensive market share and excellent logistics services, this partnership marks a crucial step forward for Alexanderwang’s comprehensive retail operations in China.

    Bahrain launches 1st direct flights to Shanghai, Guangzhou#

    The Gulf nation of Bahrain has launched  a commercial flight route from Bahrain International Airport to Shanghai Pudong Airport, marking Bahrain’s first direct flight to China. On May 29, Gulf Air also inaugurated a direct flight from Bahrain to Guangzhou. Consequently, there will now be a daily direct flight between Bahrain and China, with flights from Bahrain to Shanghai on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and flights to Guangzhou on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

    Bulgari enlists Liu Yifei, Zendaya, Anne Hathaway for Rome-set ad#

    Bulgari teamed up  with renowned actresses Zendaya, Anne Hathaway, and Liu Yifei to release a new ad campaign. Directed by Nathalie Canguilhem and shot by fashion photographer Zoey Grossman, the campaign captures many spectacular landmarks in Rome, Italy, including Capitoline Hill, Piazza Navona, and the courtyard of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza. The continuous mirrors reflect each ambassador’s graceful figure, precisely capturing their every precious moment of transformation.

    Patek Philippe mounts exhibition in Beijing#

    To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Beijing Maison, Patek Philippe will host an exhibition  titled Beijing Time, Homecoming from today to June 16. During the exhibition, the limited edition Ref.5330G-011 World Time watch will be released. Thierry Stern, the fourth-generation successor of the Stern family and current president of Patek Philippe, will attend the 10th-anniversary celebration dinner. The Maison Patek Philippe Beijing, which opened in May 2014, is the brand's second maison worldwide, following the opening of the Maison Patek Philippe Shanghai in 2012.

    Art Shanghai launches Sino-French women’s film project#

    In celebration of the 60th anniversary of China-France diplomatic relations, the Art Shanghai European National Treasures Exhibition, in collaboration with the Cinémathèque Française, is launching  the Sino-French Women's Film Project titled Her in Creation. This segment explores the history and achievements of women’s cinema in France and China, from the 1890s to the present. It features exhibitions, screenings, and forums, with the main exhibition at Bund Origin One and film screenings at Shanghai Film Art Center and Shanghai Broadway Cinema from June 13 to July 13. The project is supported by Chanel.

    Prada names director Jia Ling as new brand rep#

    Italian luxury brand Prada has announced  director and actress Jia Ling as its new brand ambassador. Jia has been active in film, television, and stage, appearing on the Spring Festival Gala seven times. In 2021, she directed and starred in Hi, Mom. Prada’s campaign featuring Jia, shot by fashion photographer Wang Ziqian, highlights her creative spirit.

    Shein London IPO edges closer#

    Sajid Javid, the UK former Chancellor of the Exchequer, is in talks for a role  at Shein, the online fashion giant planning a significant London stock market float. This move highlights Shein’s focus on corporate governance and its commitment to a London IPO, potentially valuing the company at £50 billion ($63 billion) or more. The IPO, advised by Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley, would be one of London’s largest. Shein, based in Singapore and operating in over 150 countries, faces challenges with US regulators and is exploring London as a listing venue amidst competition from New York.