Several ambassadors residing in China have recently found themselves in steaming sessions that see them vaunting their country's culture and certain specialty products. This new media channel allows China to strengthen its foreign relations by helping facilitate prime advertising for the products of the countries concerned.
It's a scene that is surprising on first view. Sri Lanka's ambassador to China found himself in front of over 300,000 people for his streaming debut, ready to tout his products.
Palitha Konoha joined several other ambassadors who have recently used this new channel to promote themselves to the Chinese public, who have a genuine appetite for this kind of live, e-commerce experience. Accompanied by a local live-streaming influencer, the ambassador told stories, in spite of the language barrier, to the audience. Like a professional salesman, he promoted coconut oil products that, according to him, contribute to the health of his skin. According to the South China Morning Post, the products sold out within minutes of the stream.
Zora Liu Meixi is behind the many ambassadorial interviews that are streamed. In her show "Guest Embassy," she has hosted the ambassadors of Venezuela, El Salvador, Rwanda and the Maldives. All of them used the channel to promote their products, but also to show courtesy and kindness to the Chinese and promote China to their home nation, fostering a deeper connection between the countries. In China, e-commerce continues to represent impressive sales numbers since the onset of the pandemic. In the latest figures for the end of 2020, the number of e-commerce users reached 388 million and saw exponential growth (+121%).
It offers huge potential for countries willing to sell to the Chinese market in large quantities. But to succeed at this, however, you have to do it right. "Many ambassadors are friends of mine, and it's like doing a show with friends," she told the South China Morning Post. "As a media personality, my biggest goal is to closely follow the country's publicity strategy, to tell China's story and spread China's voice."
Jason Kimonyo, Rwanda's ambassador to China took his first steps in livestreaming in January this year. He says he sold 2,000 packages of coffee beans in about 10 minutes. He later explained that this prompted tea and coffee producers to increase production and raise prices. With the popularity of livestreaming in China, a wide variety of products can be promoted in front of a huge audience in a matter of moments, which makes the potential rewards substantial.