CX Daily: Southeast Asia Tech Scene Becomes Battleground for Chinese Capital
In depth /
Southeast Asia becomes region’s next tech battleground
On the streets of Jakarta, more than 10,000 motorcycle drivers rush to provide ride-hailing, delivery and other services. Those wearing mostly green jackets with black trim work for Gojek. The other group wears mostly black jackets with green trim and drive for Grab.
Jakarta-based Gojek and Singapore-headquartered Grab are the two most valuable tech startups in Southeast Asia. Competing in ride-hailing, delivery of foods and other goods, digital payment and other services, the two are engaged in cash-burning turf wars in Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and beyond. They are fighting to build a super app to dominate a Southeast Asia market of 600 million people, and backing them are some of the world’s biggest investors, led by Chinese giants.
The Gojek-Grab rivalry shows how Southeast Asia is turning into an extended battlefield between tech startups under the influence of Chinese industry giants and capital. As China’s internet sector cools following years of white-hot growth, companies and investors are turning to Southeast Asia as the next frontier.
Check out our feature.
FINANCE & ECONOMICS
Trade war /
U.S.-China trade deal could be signed by ministers, White House adviser says
The “phase one” trade deal between China and the United States could be signed by ministers rather the presidents of the two countries, U.S. President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser said Friday.
Asked by reporters at the White House when the deal would be signed, Larry Kudlow, director of Trump’s National Economic Council said: “You know, the two leaders may be able to put together a signing ceremony. Both leaders have said from time to time their top ministers could do it.” However, Kudlow declined to predict when the deal would be ready to be signed, saying that “I don’t want to hang numbers on days, dates, days of the week.”
Chinese narcotics crackdown pushes illicit networks into lower Mekong nations
Recent clampdowns by China have pushed transnational narcotics networks into the lower Mekong countries like Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, flooding the area with methamphetamine that has remained cheap despite record seizures by the regional authorities.
Amid growing concern that drug syndicates will diversify to fentanyl, ministers and anti-drug officials from Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam met in Bangkok last week to map out a strategy to increase cross-border investigations and operations. But criminal networks have been deft in adjusting their tactics according to policing strategies, causing methamphetamine prices to plunge to levels last seen 20 years ago, “indicating extremely high levels of availability,” the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said.
Central bank issues warning on growth pressure, inflation
China’s central bank said it will “increase counter-cyclical adjustment” to ease downward pressure on the economy, while staying vigilant on the possibility of expectations that inflation may spread.
The economy faces greater difficulties as investment growth slows and industrial production remains sluggish, the PBOC said in its third-quarter monetary policy report released Saturday. The central bank highlighted an increase in challenges from the previous report in August and reiterated its concern on inflation risks.
Cyber crime /
China battles wave of online predatory lending
In May, a man named Song took out a small online loan of 1,500 yuan ($214) through an app he had downloaded onto his phone. But within five months, his debt had exploded to 350,000 yuan after the platform bombarded him with pitches from 55 other connected loan apps luring him to use them to repay his original debt.
When Song failed to cough up what he owed, the platforms harassed him and his family, colleagues and friends through phone calls or threatening messages. When he finally reported the problem to his local public security bureau in Qitaihe in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang in May, it launched an investigation that resulted in the breakup of nine criminal gangs, the arrest of 73 suspects and the freezing of assets totaling 700 million yuan.
Check out the full story.
Quick hits /
Regulator takes over brokerage unit of CEFC China
Regulator unlocks unlisted shares of Hong Kong-listed mainland firms
The rise and fall of Asian twin cities
BUSINESS & TECH
Photo: IC Photo
JD.com sues government over ‘Double 11’ trademarks
Court hearings are underway in a case brought by JD.com Inc. against the National Intellectual Property Administration. China’s No. 2 e-commerce company is attempting to overturn a government ruling that invalidated its "Double 11" trademarks related to the annual Nov. 11 online shopping festival at request of rival Alibaba.
The Thursday hearing centered on whether JD.com’s trademarks were similar to those registered by Alibaba and whether customers could be misled. JD.com told the court that its Double 11 logos have distinctive designs and clearly identify the company. Besides, consumers would have to use different software to access the two platforms, JD.com argued.
New Zealand telecom picks Nokia, leaves door open for Huawei
New Zealand telecom provider Spark will use Nokia equipment in two installations of 5G networks across the country in the coming weeks and year, the company said Monday. The Finnish components will enable 5G wireless broadband in five rural locations in New Zealand’s South Island by the end of December, followed by other locations in March 2020.
The company also plans to roll out both mobile and wireless broadband service in major cities starting in mid-2020, but the company did not specify a vendor and said this stage still needs regulatory approval. When asked whether Huawei could be deployed, a company spokesperson said Spark would make applications with authorities as the need arises. Huawei remains on Spark’s list of “preferred RAN equipment suppliers for 5G,” the company said.
Hong Kong unrest /
Alibaba cancels investor event in Hong Kong amid protests
Alibaba Group Holding called off plans for an investor luncheon in Hong Kong amid intensifying protests in the city, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The e-commerce company is conducting investor meetings by phone rather than in person for its planned new share sale, citing logistics and safety concerns, a source said. Citigroup, one of the underwriters on Alibaba’s offering, warned staff to steer clear of dangerous places after one of its bankers was arrested in the financial district this week.
Quick hits /
JD.com beats estimates with 28% revenue growth in 3rd quarter
China home to one-third of world’s best unicorn investors, Hurun Report says
Burberry to work with Tencent to open social retail store in Shenzhen
South China province to charge highway tolls by axle, not weight
End in sight to bankrupt machine tool maker’s woes
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