China's Tencent signs broad cultural deal with Britain

Chinese internet giant Tencent will announce a cultural trade deal with Britain, including fashion, film and video games, deepening cooperation between the two countries and setting the stage for its own international expansion moves.

Tencent, China's second most valuable company, runs the country's biggest social network, music and gaming systems.




Its billion user-strong WeChat messaging app sits at the heart of China's booming internet economy, yet the company remains largely unknown to Westerners outside of technology or financial circles.

Tencent said the initial focus of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) it has agreed with the UK Department of International Trade would be on film, video games and fashion, which it will bring to its large domestic audience in China.

It will cover digital, cultural and creative projects with the BBC, British Fashion Council, Visit Britain, the country's tourist promotion board, and technical publisher Springer Nature, known for titles such as Nature and Scientific American.

Financial terms were not disclosed. Britain's Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox and Tencent Senior Executive Vice President Seng Yee Lau will announce the deal at an event in London later on Wednesday.
In 2017, Tencent Video, a Netflix-like streaming video service in China, jointly produced the blockbuster nature documentary "Blue Planet 2" with the BBC. It has reached more than 220 million viewers worldwide since it was first broadcast.

The popularity of Tencent's WeChat app stems from how it melds messaging, social networking, e-commerce, media and gaming features in one place that a billion Chinese consumers use on their smartphones from morning to night.

So far, Tencent's international expansion strategy has consisted of making it easier for Chinese tourists to use its services when travelling overseas, rather than creating localised versions of its apps for non-Chinese audiences, said Raj Rajgopal, president of digital strategy consultant Virtusa.

Instead, Tencent has made scores of international investments in ecommerce, payments and gaming firms. Its biggest move in Europe has been to acquire majority control of Finnish mobile games site Supercell in an $8.6 billion deal in 2016.
 

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