Asia Minute: Veterans Day Is 'Singles Day' In China

Nov 11, 2020

This is Veterans Day — and for Commonwealth nations, it is "Remembrance Day." Both mark the end of the First World War on this date in 1918. But in parts of the Asia Pacific, this day is known as something else entirely.


Back in the 1990s, some students at Nanjing University in China started calling November 11th “Singles Day,” because it’s made up of four ones on the calendar.

It started out as an informal celebration of being romantically unattached — gradually becoming popular elsewhere in China with singles parties and blind dates.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma figured it would be a fine day for online sales, and the Chinese ecommerce giant launched its first “Alibaba Singles Day” in 2009. Now the company calls it the biggest single online sales day in the world — every year.

This year it stretched out with a ten-day run-up to the main event.

Counting those early days, Alibaba registered more than 56-billion dollars in sales before nine in the morning Beijing time on Wednesday — and counting.

This capitalist event born in the heart of communist China has also recruited western celebrities from Magic Johnson to Taylor Swift as part of its global sales pitch for deals.

One other item that’s recently dropped in price — Alibaba’s shares.

China’s government has drafted new rules to further regulate its largest internet companies. That news sent Alibaba shares down more than 8% Tuesday — their biggest one-day tumble in nearly six years.