Xinhua in two minds over virtual red packet craze

Xinhua in two minds over virtual red packet craze

Online lucky money packets are the craze this Lunar New Year, but not everyone is impressed at thestate-run news service

Whether digital red packets will become a new “tradition” to celebrate the Lunar New Year has become a talking point among mainland state media.

The digital version of red packets effectively combines online interactive games with the tradition of older generations giving red packets to their offspring and friends.

They were first launched by online shopping and internet companies last year. But this year, they have become a nationwide phenomenon.

Digital red packets come in several varieties – for example, some are offered by companies as a publicity stunt. But one of the most popular ways to send them to friends is via the online messaging service WeChat.

Users can deposit money with WeChat Wallet, an online payment platform, to be distributed in virtual red packets among a group of online friends. A graphic suddenly appears in the middle of a conversation stream and only those who are quick enough to click can “grab” it to get the money.

Internet and online shopping giants Tencent and Alibaba this year offered millions of yuan in virtual money or shopping coupons packaged as red packets, or hongbao, for their customers.

Other internet companies, such as the online shopping mall and the taxi-booking app provider Kuaidi Dache also said they would hand out coupons. Even the People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, dispatched virtual envelopes containing up to 10,000 yuan (HK$12,600) to users of its mobile app during the holiday period.

Such games have become a national frenzy even though the amount of money one can get is typically very small – one or two yuan – but mainlanders seem to enjoy the chase more than the money itself.

According to Tencent, on New Year’s Eve alone, 1 billion yuan’s (HK$1.26 billion) worth of virtual red envelopes was sent through WeChat. Alibaba said 240 million packets, worth some 4 billion yuan, had been sent through its Alipay’s 683 million users.

The national frenzy has become a talking point for state media, and even different branches of Xinhua ran commentaries from different perspectives.

Xinhua’s Wuhan branch wrote on its website yesterday that the Spring Festival, as the Lunar New Year celebrations are called, should change with the times.

In the past, the holiday was celebrated with lantern shows, temple gatherings or Chinese opera. But in the digital era, digital red packets have “preserved the core values of family reunions, welcoming the new, getting rid of old things, and wishing for a prosperous year,” it said.

“It has improved mutual care, sharing and blessings between families, friends and colleagues.”

However, Xinhua’s Xian branch took a different slant, saying many people had ignored their families in their obsession to grab digital red packets, which requires constant attention to one’s mobile phone.

“Anything that is excessive causes harm … Picture a son who has travelled a thousand kilometres home only to be glued to his mobile phone screen the whole time while his parents, who have longed to see him, are ignored,” the commentary said.

“No wonder some people say digital red packets are destroying the Spring Festival. These red packets may be eye-catching, but they cannot replace the warm smiling faces of your family.”

Published by

Robert Chaen

Global CEO-Founder of ChangeU and Movsha Movers & Shakers, Hero-CEO Whisperer, Writer, The #1 Alpha Change Expert, Father of Asian FireWalking Robert Chaen is an International Keynote Speaker, writer, researcher, and corp games designer. He is famously known to be the “Hero-CEO Whisperer”, 1-on1 coaching with many CEOs and Celebrities for corporate strategies, staff & office political issues, personal branding, and even public figure OSHA safety drilling called Drager Defense. He has transformed CEOs and managers in Coca-Cola China, TVB Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airport Services, VADS, TM, Public Bank, Auditor General's Office Maldives, etc. He is the prolific creator and online Author of innovative management tools such as DragonCEO, Diamond Leader, Papillon Personal Effectiveness, OSHA Drager Defense, KPI Bank, etc. He is also the Founder of Movsha, an international networking with monthly mingles with MOVers & SHAkers, Angels, Entrepreneurs, CEOs, Celebrities, HR-PR-CSR, HODs, and the Most Influential IDEA people. ​Chaen is widely considered as one of the top International Platform Keynote Speakers for Resorts World Genting Senior Management Conference (Manila), 7-Eleven HK, Samsung, Coca-Cola China Mini-MBA @Tsing Hua University, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Jockey Club, The Story Conference where he interviewed Datuk Kamarudin (Chairman of AirAsia) and Siti Nurhaliza. He has been widely featured in TVB, AWSJ, CNBC, SCMP, The Star, and Sin Chew. As “The Father of Asian FireWalking”, he coached TVB celebrities (Ekin Cheng Yee-Kin) to walk on 650°C fire; and raised HK$68M in the world’s 1st and only live TV Charity FireWalk (TVB Tung Wah Charity Show), before Tony Robbins even came to Asia. If Robert can get you to walk on 650⁰C fire, he can inspire you to be THE BEST. He champions CN-HK-EU-US Tycoons to be philanthropic, and to be angel investors to support the next generation of Jack Mas, Steve Jobs, Richard Bransons, Steven Spielbergs, or Barrack Obamas. With some slick motivational speakers with fake doctorates out there, graduates often describe Robert to be "the most credible, empowering, truthful Coach" who believe in his graduates to believe in themselves. ​However, clients have described Robert as "The #1 Cool Badass Alpha Change Expert". He has the coolest first class stature, rapport and trust from clients. He will not hesitate to tell the badass truth ever so gently because clients are paying him big bucks to reveal the truth, find solutions, persuade the hostile HODs, and align cross-teams within the organization. Originally based in Hong Kong for 20+ years, he had worked with top Branding/Ad agencies at J Walter Thompson and Leo Burnett, and was a certified FranklinCovey (7 Habits) in USA, and NLP MasterCoach (USA). His warmth is known to soften the most hardened, resistant sceptics. He will inspire your team to Go for Top 1, or to be a Dragon CEO. With boundless energies, Robert owns 15+ successful business Joint-Ventures, and created unique products under his global VC network called Chaen's Angels VC. He is deeply passionate about ChangeUTH Youth CSR, Science-Based Medicine (vs. quackery), short films and Reality TV. Touched by a personal tragedy through the loss of his HK-born Portuguese wife, co-coach and business partner, Brenda José of 18 years, Robert explores the many ways in which the spirit world is communicating with the living with real scientific studies and evidence. He gives inspiring conferences on The Secret Afterlife.

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