Dec 21, 2018 06:40 PM

Friday Tech Briefing: Game Approvals in China are Back Online

1. Game On for Tencent as China Signals End to Approvals Freeze

A first batch of games have been reviewed, and publication numbers will be approved soon, Feng Shixin, deputy director of the Publicity Department’s copyright bureau, announced this news on Friday. Publication numbers are a must-have before companies can charge money for a game.

Shares of Tencent Holdings Ltd. and many other game company climbed Friday at news that the first batch of new video games would be given the green light soon, signaling an end to a crippling approvals freeze. Online games are big revenue drivers for Tencent and several other Chinese tech companies.

According to the publishing arm of the Communist Party’s Publicity Department, several games have been reviewed, and publication numbers, which titles must obtain prior to sale, will be approved soon.

Chinese authorities first halted game approvals in March following a major reorganization of government departments. Regulators further stepped up restrictions by announcing in September that it would cap the total number of games in operation, and explore a mechanism that has an age-reminder system and is able to restrict the amount of time that minors spend on games. (Caixin, WSJ)

2. Ofo Founder Blacklisted by Court Amid Debt Woes

The founder of Chinese bike-sharing startup Ofo was blacklisted by a court and barred from excessive spending after the company failed to meet debt obligations amid a cash crunch.

The People's Court of Haidian District in Beijing took the action against Dai Wei, Ofo’s founder and CEO, limiting the amount of money Dai can spend on services and products, according to a court document. Dongxia Datong Management and Consulting Co. Ltd., the company owned by Dai that operates Ofo, was listed as a defaulter.

Ofo is struggling to repay massive debts to suppliers and customers. Court records showed that Ofo faces lawsuits involving debts totaling 53.6 million yuan ($7.77 million). According to Ofo’s refund registration system, more than 10 million users have applied for refunds, putting the total amount to be refunded more than 1 billion yuan. (Caixin)

3. HSBC, Standard Chartered Are Cutting Off Huawei: WSJ

HSBC Holdings and Standard Chartered will no longer provide Chinese telecom-equipment maker Huawei with funding or services, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

The banks reached the decision “after deciding that Huawei is too high risk,” the Journal reported.

Both banks had long relationships with Huawei that allowed it access to banking services outside of China as it pushed into international markets. Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada recently for alleged sanctions violations and fraud affecting banks, including HSBC. (WSJ)

4.Huawei is Not a Cybersecurity Threat: Huawei Chairman

Huawei Rotating Chairman Ken Hu has fired back at countries that are accusing the company of being a cybersecurity threat, saying that the allegations are untrue.

“We have never taken any requests from any governments to damage the business or networks of our customers or other countries,” Hu said in an interview. “For any concerns, the best way is to let the fact speak for itself. The fact is that over the last 30 years, there’s been no major cybersecurity incident; there’s been no cybersecurity threat.”

His remarks are in response to several countries’ banning Huawei from supplying 5G network equipment to domestic mobile carriers. Observers point to security concerns over the company’s alleged ties to the Chinese military and Communist Party. (Caixin)

5. Tencent Joins Naspers in a $1 Billion Funding for India's Swiggy

Tencent Holdings Ltd. joined Naspers Ltd. in a $1 billion investment in Indian food delivery service Swiggy, Bloomberg reports. The value of Swiggy was said to have risen to more than $2 billion. Naspers has become the biggest shareholder of both company.

Naspers led the this funding round, which also backed by Hillhouse Capital and Wellington Management in addition to existing investors DST Global, Meituan Dianping and Coatue, according to Bloomberg.

Swiggy is one of the fastest-growing startups in India. Since the last funding six months ago, Swiggy has expanded to 42 additional cities in India. (Bloomberg)

6. China’s Newest AI Unicorn Raises Another Billion Yuan

AI developer 4Paradigm announced that it had raised 1 billion yuan ($145 million) in its C-round of fundraising, taking its valuation to $1.2 billion.

The startup was founded in 2015 by Dai Wenyuan, a former AI senior scientist at Baidu. The strategic investors in the latest fundraising round included China’s state-owned Citic Group and the state-owned banks Agricultural Bank of China and Bank of Communications.

4Paradigm has now received investments from every one of China’s five largest banks, which also include Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China and China Construction Bank. Dai said in the announcement that the company is now expanding its business from a focus on finance to broader applications in hospitals, civil services, retail and media. (Caixin

Compiled by Qian Tong and Hou Qijiang

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