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Jade sales enter the era of livestreaming

By Xu Junqian | China Daily | Updated: 2019-06-04 07:36

Potential buyers inspect jade at another market in the city. HU CHAO/XINHUA

Yunnan venue hosts hundreds of broadcasters

Wang Qing was clearly unhappy with the amount being offered for a rock that might contain high-quality jade.

Speaking into his phone during a livestream auction in Ruili, a city in Yunnan province on China's border with Myanmar, he said: "7,000 yuan? For this? Before you offer a second price, friend, please take a closer look at the clarity and color."

Wang then moved both the flashlight and camera lens on his phone nearer to a gray, irregular-shaped rock that appeared no different from countless others to be found in China and elsewhere.

Before the phone bidder made a new offer, Wang struck up a conversation with a vendor from Myanmar standing next to him. He used simple Chinese phrases, instead of complete sentences, to make himself understood more easily.

The vendor was seeking a price of 120,000 yuan ($17,352).

Wang told the vendor: "Tell me your lowest price 120,000 yuan is impossible. If you lower the price for the bidder, you stand a better chance of making a sale. Make some money and buy some nice shoes."

The vendor, an adolescent casually dressed in flip-flops, used hand signals to suggest he would accept an offer of 110,000 yuan. The top offers from buyers in the livestream had peaked at about 10,000 yuan.

Wang quickly said there would not be a sale before moving on to the next piece of rock.

"The price gap between 10,000 yuan and 110,000 yuan is manageable, but the character of the stone from the Myanmar vendor is not what people in my chatroom are looking for," he said, implying they wanted better quality.

Some 90 percent of the jade sold in China comes from Myanmar.

Wang, 23, is one of 415 government-authorized livestream broadcasters at the Yangyanghao Taobao Raw Jade Trade Market in Ruili.

Livestreaming at the market, which operates in an area formerly occupied by a jade museum, began in December. The market is the first and to date the only one in the country that allows online auctions and trading in raw jade through livestreams.

As China sets the global pace in e-commerce, it is doing the same in livestreaming.

Taobao, the country's largest e-commerce platform, said its sales generated through livestreaming reached 100 billion yuan last year, a fourfold increase from 2017. Such sales typically involve a celebrity demonstrating a product and answering real-time questions from a digital audience using smartphones.

The trend emerged in the beauty industry in late 2015, with a number of young women showcasing the effects of a new lipstick or mascara. It has since gradually expanded to a variety of consumer products, ranging from snacks to high fashion.

But when it comes to raw jade, the price of which can range from hundreds to hundreds of millions of yuan, doubts and controversy can arise.

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