Alibaba: China’s most popular ambassador in Europe 阿里巴巴:欧洲最受欢迎的中国大使

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Jack Ma has built e-commerce firm Alibaba into a behemoth. While meeting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at the Vinitaly show in Verona in April, Jack Ma announced the launch of an annual 9 September Wine Festival Day. On that day, 100,000 wine and spirits were offered online in China. Wine exporters can now sell directly to consumers in China. More effectively than trade negotiators, Jack Ma opens the Chinese market to foreign producers.

如今,马云已将阿里巴巴从一个普通的电子商务公司发展成为了享誉全球的电商巨头。受意大利总理Matteo Renzi之邀,马云参加了今年四月于意大利举行的顶级葡萄酒展会“Vinitaly”,并在该酒展会上宣布从今年起每年的9月9日为阿里巴巴“美酒节”。当天,约10万款美酒在天猫和天猫国际上与中国消费者见面。有了这一网络平台,外国葡萄酒出口商现在可以直接对中国消费者出售产品。马云为外国制造商打开了中国市场,远比贸易谈判官员们有效率的多。 

While the media were still resonating of the discussions over China’s market economy status, ChinaEU found it appropriate to illustrate the brighter side of the Chinese-European trade relationship, by hosting two events on global e-commerce. 

当各媒体仍孜孜不倦地针对欧盟是否给予中国市场经济地位做文章时,中欧数字协会却认为在这个特殊时期展示中欧贸易关系中更加光明的一面尤为重要。这也是协会连续举办两场全球电子商务主题活动的初衷。

os5a9566Luigi Gambardella, President of ChinaEU welcomes attendees at the European Parliament (by Gong Tiegang)

中欧数字协会主席鲁乙己为欧洲议会晚宴到场嘉宾致欢迎词 (摄影:宫铁刚)

The first event was a dinner held on October 19th at the European Parliament. Several MEPs participated as well as high level officials from the Chinese government and the European Commission. Addressing the sixty participants of the ChinaEU dinner, Luigi Gambardella, President of ChinaEU, explained the success of e-commerce from experience: “When I connect to Alibaba – Aliexpress as it is branded in the EU – Alibaba reminds me what I was recently looking for and makes me suggestions. When I consult an offer, Alibaba tells me with what other products other visitors compared the product concerned. Alibaba is saving me precious time, which I can dedicate to more productive aims.”

第一场活动于10月19日晚在欧洲议会举行,众多议会议员和来自中国政府及欧委会的高级官员参加了本场晚宴。在欢迎到场的60位来宾时,中欧数字协会主席Luigi Gambardella结合自身经验解读了电商成功的原因:“当我使用阿里巴巴–它在欧洲叫做AliExpress–时,它不但会提醒我最近想买的东西有哪些,同时还为我提供相关产品的购买建议。而当我仔细查看某样商品的详情时,阿里巴巴则会告诉我其他用户在查看同样商品时还参考了哪些别的类似商品来进行比对。阿里巴巴为我节约了大量宝贵时间,我可以用来处理更重要的事情。

os5a9615Duncan Clark, Author of “Alibaba: The House that Jack Ma Built” and Founder & Chairman of BDA China speaks during the dinner (by Gong Tiegang)

《阿里巴巴:马云的商业帝国》作者、北京博达克咨询有限公司总裁 Duncan Clark在晚宴上发言(摄影:宫铁刚)

The author of the book “Alibaba: The House that Jack Ma Built”, Duncan Clark, then took the floor to summarize the ups and downs of Jack Ma from his early beginnings as English language teacher until his eventual success in building a company which today surpassed Amazon and Walmart to become the world’s largest retailer, with 3 trillion yuan (USD 475.89 bn) in total gross merchandize volume. The saga of Jack Ma, said Duncan Clark, shows the incredibly fast pace of change and innovation that China is experiencing, and describes the fierce competition among the different business players, at levels that we rarely see in Europe.

《阿里巴巴:马云的商业帝国》一书的作者Duncan Clark在接下来的讲话中总结了马云创业史的起起伏伏,从最开始的英语老师到最终成功创建商品交易总额高达三万亿人民币(4758.9 亿美元)的商业帝国,一跃超过亚马逊和沃尔玛成为世界最大零售商。Duncan Clark强调,马云的传奇恰恰展示了中国正在经历的这种超快速的变革与创新阶段,而各商业对手间如此激烈的竞争也是我们在欧洲极少看到的。

It is clear that e-commerce is broader than storing and moving goods from one geographic location to another. The success of e-commerce platforms comes from their ability to exploit big data: the billions of information that they collect about the product comparison and shopping preferences of visitors and buyers. 

毫无疑问的是,电子商务的范畴远远超越单纯的储存和将商品从一个地理位置转移到另一个地理位置。电子商务平台的成功在于其对大数据的充分利用能力,即对数以万计的来自访问者和购买者的产品对比信息以及消费倾向信息进行收集和分析。

16-picTommaso Valletti, Chief Economist of DG Competition speaks during the dinner (by Gong Tiegang)

欧委会竞争总司首席经济学家Tommaso Valletti在晚宴上发言 (摄影:宫铁刚)

But data collection entails a lot of legal questions, that the EU Commission is currently examining. Should for example platforms be mandated to share their big data with potential entrants and niche players? Tommaso Valletti, Chief Economist of DG Competition advising Commissioner Vestager on complex competition cases, implicitly touched upon the issue, calling online platforms such as Google, Facebook or Alibaba to maintain their services open. Ironically, he recalled the greedy brother of Ali Baba from the famous children story. Once entered the treasure cave, he forgot the magic word to get out and got trapped there. “Google, Facebook and Alibaba are all great caves, but they should not trap their users inside”, he warned.

但数据的收集涉及众多法律问题,这也是欧委会目前正在仔细审查的重点之一。举例来说,是否应该强制在线平台将其数据与潜在竞争者和利基市场参与者分享?欧委会竞争总司首席经济学家Tommaso Valletti专长于为欧委会竞争委员Vestager针对复杂的竞争案例提供建议,他在晚宴发言中含蓄地提到了该问题,并倡议像谷歌、脸书或阿里巴巴这样的在线平台继续维持其服务的开放性。他继而引用了著名儿童故事《阿里巴巴和四十大盗》里阿里巴巴贪婪的哥哥作为讽刺案例,对金钱的贪欲使他忘记了开门咒语而被困在堆满宝物的山洞里。“谷歌、脸书和阿里巴巴都是价值连城的山洞,但他们不应该将他们的用户困在里面”,Valletti 警告道。

img_5586Thibaut Kleiner, Deputy Head of Cabinet of Commissioner Oettinger speaks during the dinner (by Yao Yueyang)

欧委会数字经济与社会委员Günther Oettinger内阁成员Thibaut Kleiner在晚宴上发言 (摄影:姚悦洋) 

Collection and management of consumers’ data is not the only concern for companies like Alibaba. Thibaut Kleiner, Deputy Head of Cabinet of Commissioner Oettinger, underlined the huge potentials of the business and political cooperation between China and Europe in the digital industries and the benefits that could result for both European and Chinese consumers. On the other hand, he reminded the need to ensure protection of trademarks. In the past, Alibaba has not been immune of accusations by the private and public sectors alike over counterfeit products distributed on its platforms, not only in the EU and the US but also in China.

对于像阿里巴巴这样的公司来说,如何收集和管理消费者数据绝不是它们唯一的担心。欧委会数字经济与社会委员Oettinger内阁成员Thibaut Kleiner指出,中欧在数字工业领域存在着巨大的商业与政治合作潜力,这继而会为中欧消费者带来实际利益。另一方面,他也强调了保护商标的重要性和必要性。在过去,阿里巴巴没少被公私部门指控在网络平台上销售假冒伪略产品,而且不光是在欧盟和美国,同样的谴责也在中国市场存在。

os5a9599Zhang Lirong, Minister of the Chinese Mission to the EU speaks during the dinner (by Gong Tiegang)

中国驻欧盟使团张立荣公使在晚宴上发言(摄影:宫铁刚)

But e-commerce is before all a means to boost growth, jobs and innovation. Zhang Lirong, Minister of the Chinese Mission to the EU, recalled that reinvigorating the economy through mobile Internet, cloud computing and big data tops China’s new agenda for economic growth. Innovation, quality, digitalization and green development are the four principles standing at the core of “Made in China 2025”, the guide to transform the country into a global leader in modern manufacturing.

但不管怎样,电子商务首先是促进增长、就业和创新的一个手段。中国驻欧盟使团张立荣公使提醒道,通过移动互联网、云计算和大数据实现经济的复兴是排在中国经济增长最新议程顶端的首要任务。而在协助中国转变成为现代工业全球领导者的指导纲要《中国制造2025》中,创新驱动、质量优先、数字化和绿色发展则是处于核心地位的四大原则。

The second event took place the following morning at the Press Club of Brussels. The important attendance of Chinese and international journalists, academics and representatives of the industry showed the great interest for the Chinese e-commerce giant and its role for Sino-European trade.

第二场活动于20号上午在布鲁塞尔记者俱乐部举行。中外记者、学者和行业代表踊跃的参与也表明了社会各界对探寻中国电商巨头成功秘密的兴趣及其在中欧关系中所扮演角色的好奇。

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-15-18-00Claudia Vernotti, director of ChinaEU opens the floor of the debate at the Press Club (by Emy De Nardi)

中欧数字协会主任韦茉莉在记者俱乐部为辩论会开场 (摄影:Emy De Nardi)

Claudia Vernotti, director of ChinaEU introduced the session by reminding that in the West, people are still looking too much at Chinese innovations from a Western perspective and stressed that the advantage of Duncan Clark’s book is that it is written by someone knowing Chinese society from the inside, going beyond simplistic yet popular definitions like, Baidu is the Chinese version of Google, Wechat is China’s response to WhatsApp, or Alibaba is the Amazon of China. 

中欧数字协会主任Claudia Vernotti在开场讲话中特别提醒到,在西方人们还是习惯用西方的眼光审视中国的创新发展,而Duncan Clark这本书的优势则在于作者是一个谙熟中国社会并从中国内部进行观察的欧洲人。对他而言,百度不单纯是中国版的谷歌、微信也不仅是中国对WhatsApp的回应,而阿里巴巴更不能被简单地视为中国亚马逊。但上述这些恰恰是西方对中国创新应用浅显却被广泛接受的认知。

14714896_1331528520191195_9108850307535520162_oDuncan Clark, Author of “Alibaba: The House that Jack Ma Built” and Founder & Chairman of BDA China speaks during the debate (by Press Club)

《阿里巴巴:马云的商业帝国》作者、北京博达克咨询有限公司总裁Duncan Clark在辩论会上发言 (摄影:记者俱乐部)

Duncan Clark elaborated that one has to look at Chinese companies as they are, not by always comparing them to Western companies. For example, WeChat, despite resembling WhatsApp in many aspects, is a different animal. WeChat contains more innovative functions, which have revolutionized the way people communicate, work, travel, and even purchase things and services.

Duncan Clark进而强调,中国公司就是中国公司,不要老把它们和外国公司进行比较。拿微信来说,就算它在很多方面和WhatsApp相类似,但它们绝对是截然不同的两个产品。相比WhatsApp,微信有更多创新的实用功能,彻底颠覆了人们交流、工作、旅行、甚至购买商品和服务的传统模式。

14715603_1331530276857686_169195982933570170_oJasmin Battista, Unit of E-commerce& platform, DG Connect, EU Commission speaks during the debate (by Press Club)

欧委会通信网络内容与技术总司电子商务&在线平台部门成员Jasmin Battista在辩论会上发言 (摄影: 记者俱乐部)

Does  the EU promote EU Internet companies that would be able to compete with the Chinese and US giants? According to Jasmin Battista, former member of Cabinet of VP Ansip and now in charge of online platforms and e-commerce policy in DG Connect, Europe needs first of all size. “DSM is a priority for President Juncker and we take the plan very seriously. Today Europe is fragmented into 28 digital markets, but Internet has no boundaries. DSM consists of a set of 16 initiatives that will allow better access for consumers and business to online goods and services across Europe. We will remove the key differences between online and offline worlds, and break down barriers to cross-border online activity.” 

而欧盟是否应该为欧洲的互联网企业提供帮助,支持其与中美互联网巨头抗衡竞争呢?欧委会副主席Andrus Ansip前内阁成员、现欧委会通信网络内容与技术总司电子商务&在线平台部门成员Jasmin Battista表示,欧洲急需的是一个形成规模的市场。“欧盟数字单一市场对于欧委会主席容克来说是绝对的优先发展项,而我们也对该计划持严谨而认真的态度。当今的欧洲被分割成28个碎片化的数字市场,但互联网本身是没有国界的。欧盟数字单一市场包含16项倡议,以期为消费者和企业接触全欧洲范围内的在线商品和服务提供便利和自由。我们将消除线上和线下世界最主要的区别,并打破阻碍跨境网络活动的一系列壁垒。”

But was Alibaba’s success only due to the size of the Chinese market? Digging deeper into the “secret of Alibaba’s success”, Vernotti pointed to another factor of Jack Ma’s success: “resilience”. She cited Jack Ma’s motivational motto: “Today is brutal. Tomorrow is more brutal. But the day after tomorrow is beautiful. However, the majority of people will die tomorrow night”. She said: “Many people do not persevere because they get disappointed by failures and demotivated by the difficulties encountered on the way. Jack Ma failed twice in his attempts to build something great and meaningful, but he persevered until getting to see that bright ‘day after tomorrow’.” 

但是阿里巴巴的成功只是因为有一个巨大的中国市场做支撑吗?在进一步挖掘“阿里巴巴的成功秘诀”时,Vernotti指出了其成功的另一个要素:“强大的韧性”。她引用了马云一句非常鼓舞人心的经典语句:“今天很残酷、明天更残酷、后天很美好,但绝大多数人死在明天晚上、看不到后天的太阳。” Vernotti继续说道:“很多人轻言放弃,因为他们对曾经的失败感到绝望或被路上遇到的困难打倒。马云在创造出某个伟大而有意义的事物之前经历过两次失败,但他的坚持使他最终看到了那所谓‘后天’的美好与光明。”

14712983_1331529976857716_949507857082494219_oChen Laiji, Professor of Cheung Kong School of Journalism and Communication, Shantou University speaks during the debate (by Press Club)

汕头大学长江新闻传播学院教授陈莱姬在辩论会上发言 (摄影:记者俱乐部) 

Chen Laiji, Professor of Cheung Kong School of Journalism and Communication of Li Ka-Shing’s backed University of Shantou confirmed that one of the secrets is: “China’s entrepreneurship success lies in the hard working attitude of its people. This is something taught in China’s education system and is linked to our culture of Confucianism.” Professor Chen studied in particular China’s on-line gaming industry, a market of over USD 22.2bn, and representation of China’s ongoing evolution from a low-end manufacturing based economy to a service-based economy.

汕头大学长江新闻传播学院教授陈莱姬也肯定了这是成功的秘诀之一:“中国企业之所以能成功,取决于其职工努力刻苦的工作态度。它的形成深受我们孔夫子文化的影响并扎根于中国教育系统之中。”陈教授致力于研究中国在线游戏行业,2015年中国游戏市场收入222亿美元排名全球第一。此外,她也一直在密切观察着中国从以廉价制造业带动经济增长向现代服务业经济转型的全过程。

img_5690Eric Pelletier, Head of International Affairs of Alibaba takes questions from the audience (by Press Club)

阿里巴巴集团国际政府事务负责人Eric Pelletier在回答现场观众提问 (摄影:记者俱乐部)

A discussion on the contribution of Alibaba to global trade without any representative of the Chinese company would have left the room with a sense of incompleteness. Eric Pelletier, Head of International Affairs of Alibaba, took questions from the audience and gave some hints on the future direction of the company and its strategy in Europe: “Alibaba’s future is focused on three main drivers: big data, ‘go rural’ and ‘go abroad’. Europe in particular is a priority market for Alibaba, who wants to position itself as a gateway for European SMEs to China”. Alibaba is increasing its presence in Europe, setting up offices in UK, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and more recently in Belgium, with the mission to bring European companies, and especially small and medium enterprises, to the fast-growing consumer market in China. 

在一个关于阿里巴巴对全球贸易贡献的讨论中,如果没有来自该公司的代表参与未免显得有些片面和遗憾。阿里巴巴集团国际政府事务负责人Eric Pelletier在回答现场观众提问时给出了关于公司未来发展方向和欧洲战略的提示:“阿里巴巴未来将重点关注三大主要驱动力:大数据、‘走入农村’和‘走向国际’。欧洲无疑是我们的一个重点发展市场,阿里巴巴希望成为欧洲中小企业通往中国的大门。”抱着帮助欧洲公司、特别是那些中小型公司进入中国快速发展的消费市场的使命,阿里巴巴正在欧洲有条不紊地扩张,目前已在英国、法国、德国、意大利和荷兰分别设立了办公室,并于近期表态将在比利时设立联络处。

Home to over 700 million netizens, China is today the largest Internet market in the world and has just recently surpassed the US to become also the number one e-commerce marketplace, with online transactions totaling 16.4 trillion RMB (2.19 trillion EURO). China’s rapidly expanding middle class, now as big as the whole population of the US, increasingly demands high quality products, and an estimated 461 million Chinese consumers, a third of the population, are now shopping online. This means huge opportunities for European brands, a guarantee of quality worldwide, to tap into the Chinese market.

根据艾瑞咨询数据显示,拥有7亿网民的中国在2015年凭借高达16.4万亿人民币(2.19万亿欧元)的电子商务市场交易额成功超越美国,称霸全球电子商务市场。中国的中产阶级正处于快速扩张阶段,现规模已相当于美国人口数量总和,而他们对高质量产品的需求也在日益增长。今天,大约有4.61亿中国消费者、也就是整个国家三分之一的人口选择在网上购物。这对以品质保障享誉全球的欧洲品牌进入中国市场来说意味着巨大的商机。

E-commerce is thus a particularly promising sector in the bilateral cooperation agenda. It is far away from sensitive political issues, but has great potential to boost trade volumes, investment levels and mutual trust in the respective digital economies.

因此,电子商务可以说是中欧双边合作议程中前景极为广阔的一个领域。它离敏感的政治问题足够远,但却在促进双边贸易额、提升投资水平和加深各自数字经济领域互信方面有着惊人的潜力。

A short video features ChinaEU’s second event: The secret of Alibaba’s success — A Talk with Duncan Clark is available here.

您可以点击此处欣赏中欧数字协会第二场活动的精彩短片:阿里巴巴成功之秘–与《阿里巴巴:马云的商业帝国》一书作者邓肯·克拉克座谈。

Press Review:

新闻回顾:

Chinese Mission to the EU:

张立荣公使出席中欧数字协会晚餐会

Xinhua News Agency:

Europe can learn innovation from China’s e-commerce giant: experts

欧洲专家认为中国创新驱动发展模式值得借鉴

 Guangming Daily:

分享阿里巴巴成功的秘诀

China Daily:

With so many fires to fight, the EU has forgotten its mission

ANSA:

E-commerce: Alibaba, potenziale porta accesso a Cina per Pmi

Kashmir Watch:

Brussels event: The secret of Alibaba’s success

Key4biz:

ChinaEU: l’eCommerce di Alibaba un’occasione per l’Europa

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