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|BEIJING Darian Thompson Jersey , Nov. 12 (Xinhua) -- Singles' Day, China's annual online shopping extravaganza on Nov. 11, smashed all previous records on Friday, with world media giving intensive coverage on the event pondering its implications for the Chinese economy.
The most eye-catching event is Alibaba Group's Global Shopping Festival,which generated 120.7 billion Chinese yuan (17.8 billion U.S. dollars) in gross merchandise volume (GMV) during the 24-hour event.
The figure represents a 32-percent surge over the previous year's 91.2 billion yuan (14.3 billion dollars) in transactions on Alibaba's e-commerce platforms of Tmall and Taobao Marketplace.
Orders worth 10 billion yuan (1.47 billion dollars) were achieved in the first six minutes 58 seconds on Alibaba, almost six minutes faster than last year.
"As a China-only event, Singles' Day has already blown America's Black Friday out of the water," FT said.
Now in just 24 hours, Alibaba's sales have surpassed the main U.S. online spending spree, which last five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, said the AFP.
Total online sales during the five-day period in 2015 were 11.1 billion dollars, according to Adobe Digital Index. The period included Black Friday when retailers kicked off the holiday season with big discounts.
Alibaba's turnover on Singles' Day represented only a very small fraction of its total annual sales, but was "a confidence index for the firm," the AFP quoted independent e-commerce analyst Li Chengdong as saying.
In fact, the Singles' Day event is regarded as more than just a gauge of a certain company's performance, and it has become a barometer for analysts to catch a glimpse of the Chinese economy.
Alibaba has turned Nov. 11 into "a symbol of the power of the Chinese consumer," The New York Times said in a report.
Alibaba's 24-hour online promotion is "closely watched for clues on the health of the Chinese economy," Bloomberg News said.
The Singles' Day bonanza is "offering assurances about the strength of the Chinese consumer despite the nation's economic slowdown," it said.
Bloomberg News noted that China's economy is increasingly dependent on its more than a billion consumers as global growth fizzles.
"Shoppers have so far shrugged off a slowdown in the world's second largest economy," it said. "The growing middle-class is now demanding better quality products, and innovative ways to shop."
Nikkei Asian Review commented in an article that "China is in the middle of a transition from a manufacturing-focused economy to a consumption-driven one, with the service sector now generating more than half of China's gross domestic product, and Alibaba is inarguably driving the shift."
Besides inviting international sports stars David Beckham and Kobe Bryant and American actress Scarlett Johansson to a gala that celebrated Alibaba's shopping festival this year, the company also sought to attract consumers by exploring new ways of shopping.
This year, Alibaba made a significant push outside the realm of pure sales to include increasing levels of interactivity among its platforms, the merchants and consumers shopping at home.
One highlight was a new virtual reality (VR) shopping experience, Buy+, in which users could shop and purchase goods in a VR environment.
The company also launched an augmented-reality game, "Finding the Carnival Cat," a Pokemon Go-style game that allowed players to chase Tmall's cat mascot into real-world retailers and restaurants such as Starbucks and KFC.
However, BBC commented that the Chinese Internet conglomerate is not without challenges looking to exploring innovative ways of shopping.
VR shopping, while giving online shoppers a more immersive experience, has to face the problem that not everyone can afford expensive VR hardware, BBC said.
Also, shoppers may soon grow tired of the novel idea of gamifying shopping like the way players lost their interest in Pokemon Go several months after its launch, BBC added.
Another controversy surrounding the Singles' Day event is the authenticity of the dazzling numbers. Alibaba's Singles' Day revenue has come under scrutiny by regulators of the Security and Exchange Commission in the U.S., where the company is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
But Alibaba President Michael Evans said the company was confident in its numbers, which go through independent auditing.
Wall Street Journal said: "Regardless of any possible smoke and mirrors, Chinese shoppers are the bright spot in the country's slowing economy and they will increasingly spend overseas."
？PUTRAJAYA， Malaysia， Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- The governments of Malaysia and Singapore signed a legally-binding agreement Tuesday on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR)， which will cut travel time between the two cities to 90 minutes once it runs into operation by the end of 2026.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong， who was paying a visit to Putrajaya for the 7th Leaders' Retreat between the two countries.
The two leaders did not disclose what the cost of the project， which is estimated to cost more than 10 billion U.S. dollars. Companies from China， Japan and Europe have long expressed interests in this project.
The agreement， which followed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the project in July， has formalized the technical， safety and security requirements， commercial， financing， procurement and regulatory frameworks， as well as customs， immigration and quarantine (CIQ) arrangements for the HSR.
The two leaders looked forward to the appointment of a Joint Development Partner by early 2017， as well as the calling of the systems tenders from late 2017， said a statement released jointly by the two sides.
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