First Time China Has Lent Rare Artifacts To Taiwan Since End Of Chinese Civil War In 1949
"Art Diplomacy" has the potential to increase cooperation between China and Taiwan
As ties between China and Taiwan have gradually become closer (particularly in the last year, following the election of Ma Ying-jeou), stories of cross-straits cooperation are becoming increasingly common. From China’s opening of direct flights to Taiwan to increased Taiwanese investment in the mainland (and vice versa) to today’s story about China sending 40 Qing Dynasty-era artifacts to Taipei’s National Palace Museum this October, cooperative gestures between Beijing and Taipei are something of a welcome sign.
Although simmering disputes remain between the two governments about thousands of artifacts taken to Taiwan as the Nationalist army made its retreat to the island in 1949 — which Beijing has sought to repatriate for decades — this exhibition is seen by many as a conciliatory step towards more direct talks on the future of the Chinese artifacts held in Taiwan’s National Palace Museum. As the BBC writes,
About 650,000 paintings, bronzes, porcelain and jade from Beijing’s imperial collection were packed into crates to escape the Japanese army in the 1930s.
Posted in Art, China, Chinese Art, Culture, Museums
Tagged Art, art exchange, beijing, chiang kai-shek, China, china-taiwan relations, cross-straits, exchange, exhibition, international relations, jiang jieshi, qing dynasty, taipei, taiwan, yongzheng
Popularity Of Coffee In the Chinese Market Leads To Rapid “Luxurification” Of The Standard American Coffee Shop
Chinese coffee chains like Ming Tien tend to promote their food and coffee in equal measures, but their comparatively high prices make it difficult to rival juggernauts like Starbucks
While any visitor to China’s biggest cities will quickly become accustomed to seeing familiar sights like Starbucks on virtually every corner, until recently coffee has remained something of a luxury in the world’s most populous nation. Although tea has reigned supreme in China for thousands of years, after 30 years of internationalization the country has opened up to new beverages at a never-before-seen rate: whiskey has become the drink of choice for many of China’s business and political elite, Chinese collectors are snapping up prize bottles at fine wine auctions, China consumes more beer than any other country on earth, soft drink companies like Coca-Cola lean on their reliable China profits, and now coffee is quickly becoming less of a niche drink and more of a daily necessity for millions of Chinese.
Though coffee is less widely consumed in China than other beverages, Chinese coffee chains have multiplied in number in the last 20 years, with large mainland companies like Ming Tien Coffee Language and Taiwan’s UBC Coffee becoming somewhat ubiquitous even in smaller second- and third-tier cities that are less westernized than Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou. China International Business today looks into the sustainability of this growing interest in coffee in China, and how companies like Starbucks and other major foreign chains have capitalized on their “foreignness” to promote coffee as a sophisticated, “western” drink that stands in stark contrast to tea:
According to the April 2009 Euromonitor International Report, the total volume of coffee sold in China grew over 10% in 2008, a hefty figure compared to the world average of roughly 2%, and Starbucks — which opened their first Chinese mainland coffee shop in 1999 in Beijing — isn’t the only one leading the charge, far from it in fact.
Posted in Business, China, Culture, Luxury
Tagged China, chinese, coffee, coffee bean, consumer, consumption, costa coffee, Luxury, ming tien coffee language, taiwan, UBC coffee
Asian Auction Houses Looking Forward To Major Sales Of Chinese Contemporary Art, As More And More People Join Chinese Art Collectors
Top Chinese artists like Yue Minjun remain popular among Asian auctioneers and art collectors alike
Earlier this summer, we profiled several major art auctions, which brought in millions more than expected, in both Hong Kong and Taipei. The success of the HK09 art festival and Ravenel’s 10th Anniversary Spring Auction gave the Chinese contemporary art market a vote of confidence in May and June, and this fall Ravenel hopes to continue its momentum while further cementing its reputation as one of Asia’s preeminent auction houses with two upcoming auctions, to be held in both Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Ravenel’s first autumn auction of 2009, set to take place on November 30 in Hong Kong at the Four Seasons ballroom, should attract a good deal of attention from local and overseas collectors — particularly as it will take place after many other western and Hong Kong auctions in October — but particular interest may be paid to the second autumn sale, which will take place on December 6 at Taipei’s Fubon National Conference Center. As Ravenel is celebrating its 10th anniversary with this sale, and Taiwanese art collectors are renowned for their enthusiasm and occasional aggressiveness, this sale might be a highlight of the season. This is not to say that the Hong Kong auction will be low-key. Trend-watchers will keep a close eye on the makeup of bidders in Hong Kong, and if the demographics follow what we saw in the spring and early summer, it looks like local Chinese buyers will maintain their spot as one of the world’s fastest-rising collector classes.
Clearly, momentum in the contemporary Chinese art market shows that the global financial crisis, while it has bruised nearly anything and everything that can be an investment, has not slowed the new buyers from entering the market. Although Chinese collectors have “joined the party” later than many of their western counterparts, they are more than making up for it now as they become far more prevalent at contemporary art auctions in Hong Kong and elsewhere.
Posted in Art, auction, Business, China, Chinese Art, Culture
Tagged Art, asia, asian, asian art, auction, China, Chinese Art, chinese contemporary art, guardian, hong kong, poly, ravenel, taipei, taiwan
Singaporean Collector Opens His Doors To Give China Society A Glimpse Of His Massive Collection
Dr. Woffles Wu has amassed one of Asia's most extensive collections of contemporary Chinese art
With signs that the global art market, particularly the Chinese and emerging art market, is beginning to turn around, following stronger-than-expected auction results and growing signs that the Chinese yuan’s increasing internationalization will pay off for collectors in the long term, more collectors of contemporary Chinese artwork are being profiled by art publications and newspapers around the world. Taiwan’s Straits Times recently profiled one such collector, a plastic surgeon in Singapore whose collection is among the region’s largest.
Dr. Woffles Wu, a renaissance man of sorts, who makes his living in plastic surgery but dabbles in film production and art collecting, has spent the last two years building his own personal Chinese contemporary art “Maosoleum,” comprising nearly 500 pieces. This week, he opened his doors to Singapore’s China Society, a private club of primarily English-educated professionals, to give Chinese art aficionados the opportunity to catch a glimpse of his impressive collection. With interest in Chinese art rising among collectors such as Dr. Wu in the Asia-Pacific region, it will be interesting to see if private museums like his, or larger publicly-funded additions to museums, will become commonplace for exhibiting contemporary Chinese art.
The Straits Times profiles Dr. Wu’s impressive, 12,000 sq.ft warehouse of Chinese art:
Posted in Art, auction, Business, China, Chinese Art, Culture, Investment, Museums
Tagged Art, asia, asia-pacific, auction, China, chinese, maosoleum, singapore, straits times, taiwan, woffles wu, yuan
Companies Appeal To Wider Range Of Customers With Affordable Yet Upscale Offerings
Taiwanese bakery chain 85c has successfully blended global luxury with prices and products that Chinese consumers find most appealing
Although we tend to focus on the higher-end luxury market, occasionally we notice an interesting news item coming out of the Greater China region that puts a distinctly Chinese spin on luxury. While Chinese luxury brands are still the underdog in their home market — particularly for fashion items or automobiles — coffee shops and bakeries often have a home-court advantage in China. Although Starbucks has had huge success in the Chinese market, opening over 350 stores and projecting that number to double in the next 10 years, home-grown entrepreneurs from Taiwan and the mainland are getting more creative in their approach to “luxury” foods and drinks. While it may be odd to think of a chain like Starbucks being considered “luxury,” in China, these foreign chains mainly draw well-to-do urban youth or professionals rather than high-school kids.
85c, a Taiwan-based coffee and bakery chain, has tried to bridge the gap between the cosmopolitan and the everyday through what it calls “Low Price Luxury” (平价奢华) or “Affordable Luxury,” a concept that has helped the chain expand throughout Taiwan and the mainland, and even into the Australian and US markets. In an interview with CHaINA magazine, 85c’s Assistant General Manager Peter Zhu explains the idea of “Low Price Luxury”:
Posted in Business, China, Culture, Fashion, Investment, Luxury
Tagged 85c, bakery, China, coffee, entrepreneurs, taiwan, tea
Influx Of Mainland Chinese Boosting The Island’s Tourism Figures, Benefitted By Relaxed Travel Rules
Mainland Chinese tourists have flocked to Taiwan since travel rules were relaxed in 2008
The global tourism industry has been hit hard by the global economic crisis, as formerly profligate travelers from Europe, Japan, and North America scale back their vacation plans this summer, and the tourism industries in the periphery of Greater China — Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan — have been no exception. Macau has responded to this drop in wider demand by reaching out more aggressively to Mainland tourists, who find traveling to China’s special administrative regions far easier than applying for foreign visas. We’ve written on Macau’s outreach strategies, but Taiwan is another market altogether. With the election of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou last year, and ties between Taiwan and the Mainland gradually warming, China issued new travel rules that made the process far easier, and soon after began direct flights to Taiwan for the first time in nearly 60 years.
Since then, Taiwan’s travel industry has benefitted from the influx of visitors. According to this press release, the number of overseas visitors jumped 13.8 per cent in the first five months this year to 1.79 million, most of them being tourists. However, the real meat of the release is that the number of Mainland Chinese visitors has surged even as tourists from other major Taiwan tourism markets have plummeted:
Chinese Buyers Fill The Room At Taiwanese Auction House’s Spring Asian Art Sale
Chinese artist Wang Huaiqing's 'Flying Apsaras' brought in more than $1.3 million at this weekend's Ravenel auction in Taipei
While the auction market has been somewhat sluggish this year — despite good showings in western markets over the last few months — the recent buzz building in Hong Kong, the mainland, and Taiwan recently is starting to get more attention. After last month’s hugely successful HK09 Festival in Hong Kong, where western and Asian artists were exhibited and sold briskly, there have been a rash of sales from home-grown auction houses like the mainland’s Poly and Guardian and Taiwan’s Ravenel, and the surprising sales at these auctions to mainland and Greater China collectors have stunned some onlookers, who had underestimated the motivation of these New Collectors. Going with this trend, Ravenel’s weekend sale of modern and contemporary Asian art in Taipei was both the company’s biggest sale to date and a huge success for Asian art auctions in general.
The sale, which all told brought in $6.5 million in sales, with the top lot going for $1.3 million, has positioned the 10-year-old Ravenel as one of the top Asian auction houses. With prices having become somewhat more affordable as a result of the global economic slowdown, we have seen Chinese and Asian art collectors step up to take their place among major global art buyers, and the buying demographic of the Taipei sale — which was predominantly populated by local and mainland collectors — goes to show that this emerging group of collectors will become increasingly influential in coming auctions, both in the region and globally.
Posted in Art, auction, China, Chinese Art, Investment
Tagged Art, asia, asian, auction, cai guo-qiang, cai guoqiang, China, Chinese Art, chu teh-chun, guardian, hk09, hong kong, liao chi-chun, lin fengmian, Luxury, millions, money, poly, ravenel, sale, sanyu, taipei, taiwan, wang huaiqing, zeng fangzhi, zou wou-ki
Taiwan’s Ravenel Art Group Is Rapidly Becoming A Leader Among Asian Auction Houses
Included in Ravenel's December HK auction: Contemporary Chinese artist Feng Zhengjie's, "Chinese Portrait Series No. 2" (2008)
Hong Kong has been the center of attention in the art world over recently, with everyone still talking about the city’s successful HK 09 Art Festival, which took place last month. Alongside the exhibitions of artwork from around the world, the stage was been set for a number of exciting auctions of contemporary Chinese and Western art to take place, both from established houses and newer, Asian auction houses.
Taiwan’s Ravenel Art Group, a relative newcomer, held a major preview of its upcoming Taipei auction in Hong Kong on May 23-24, highlighting the auction house’s focus on a number of high-profile contemporary Chinese artists. Coming later this week, Ravenel’s auction of contemporary Chinese and Southeast Asian art has all eyes on Taipei. A Chinese auction house selling in China to a bidding base that is expected to be primarily Chinese is nothing if not a significant move in the contemporary art world. As we have written often in the past, the “New Chinese Collector” is a mysterious buyer base, one whose art-buying habits are not yet quantified.
Posted in Art, China, Chinese Art, Culture, Investment
Tagged Art, auction, China, greater china, hk09, hong kong, ravenel, taiwan
Those With A Taste For Luxury Goods In Emerging Markets Less Willing To Cut Back, HK Study Finds
While China has not remained unscathed by the global economic crisis, its luxury consumer market shows resilience in consumer confidence and willingness to shell out
One of the more surprising features of the global economic downturn, to some commentators, has been the relative health of the Asian consumer market throughout the crisis. Although developed markets like Japan and Korea have certainly been hit hard — as their high-tech and automotive export markets have declined substantially — emerging markets like Greater China and, to a lesser extent, India, where income gaps are still quite large and wealthy consumers have developed a taste for luxury goods are doing comparatively well.
This is not to say China hasn’t been hit by the slowdown — it has, as low-tech manufacturers and mass producers have, in many parts of the country, been forced to shut down or lay off thousands of workers. However, we are seeing that the specific class of Chinese luxury consumer is continuing to spend through the global recession, perhaps as a sort of badge of wealth, perhaps because these consumers just want to keep buying. There are plenty of theories why Chinese luxury consumers, unlike those in Japan and North America, aren’t waiting to buy their next handbag or car — however, one Hong Kong study in particular caught my eye:
Posted in Business, China, Economy, Fashion, Luxury
Tagged auto, beijing, China, Economics, global economic crisis, guangzhou, india, japan, korea, Luxury, mainland, mall, panamera, porsche, shanghai, shopping, taiwan, trend