Caixin
Feb 25, 2021 09:42 AM
CX DAILY

CX Daily: The Brutal Human Cost of Pinduoduo’s Breakneck Expansion

The recent deaths of two young employees at Pinduoduo have drawn sharp criticism that the e-commerce upstart may have expanded its business at the expense of workers’ health. Photo: VCG
The recent deaths of two young employees at Pinduoduo have drawn sharp criticism that the e-commerce upstart may have expanded its business at the expense of workers’ health. Photo: VCG

E-commerce /

In Depth: The brutal human cost of Pinduoduo’s breakneck expansion

The recent deaths of two young employees of e-commerce upstart Pinduoduo Inc. raised concerns that the company may be exploiting its employees at the expense of their health, deepening criticism of the Chinese tech sector’s punishing work culture.

In January, an engineer surnamed Tan who worked in Shanghai for Pinduoduo’s recently established payment service Duoduo Wallet, jumped to his death in his hometown of Changsha, the capital of Central China’s Hunan province. That case thrust the Shanghai-based company back into a spotlight that shone on it two weeks earlier, when a 22-year-old woman working for its online grocery shopping service Duo Duo Maicai in Northwest China suddenly died after work.

Following the Duo Duo Maicai employee’s death, a worker surnamed Wang was fired in January soon after he posted online a photo of an ambulance carrying away a colleague who had collapsed at the office. Wang said most ordinary Pinduoduo employees are required to work 300 hours a month, while headquarters staff at Duo Duo Maicai are required to work 380 hours a month. That works out to more than 12 hours a day if no days are taken off in the month.

FINANCE & ECONOMY

HK ègaryé

Given the considerable financial pressure on businesses and individuals, the financial secretary said now was not the appropriate time to revise tax rates on profits and salaries. Photo: VCG

Stocks /

Hong Kong’s plan for 30% stamp duty hike sinks stocks

The Hong Kong government plans to raise the stamp duty on equity transactions by 30% to boost its revenue as the city is set to rack up a record fiscal deficit and Financial Secretary Paul Chan warned that the shortfall would persist for several years.

The proposed increase, announced Wednesday in Chan’s budget speech, will be the first since 1993. The news sent shock waves through the local stock market. The benchmark Hang Seng Index closed 2.99% lower, and the shares of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. (HKEX), which operates the city’s stock exchange, plunged 8.78%, the biggest daily drop in more than five years.

Hong Kong’s deficit will have ballooned to an estimated HK$257.6 billion ($33.2 billion) in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021, Chan said in his speech, rising from HK$37.8 billion the previous year which was the first shortfall in 16 years.

Trade /

China starts informal talks with CPTPP countries in membership pursuit

China’s Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen told a press conference Wednesday that the ministry has been conducting informal talks with some members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), an 11-country free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific.

Wang, also a deputy representative for international trade at the ministry, said the informal talks were to achieve a “more accurate understanding” of the pact on a technical level. An internal review of the CPTPP agreement has been ongoing, he said. Wang did not elaborate on the details.

Digital currencies /

PBOC joins Hong Kong and Thailand in cross-border digital currency project

The digital currency research institute of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) joined an international research project for cross-border payments using central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), according to a Tuesday announcement by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), which jointly initiated the program with the Bank of Thailand in 2019.

The project, renamed “m-CBDC Bridge” and currently in its second phase, aims to facilitate real-time cross-border foreign exchange payment-versus-payment transactions in a multi-jurisdictional context and to explore business use cases in a cross-border context using both domestic and foreign currencies.

The HKMA, Hong Kong’s de facto central bank, expects the project’s findings to solve problems associated with cross-border fund transfers including inefficiencies, high costs and complex regulatory compliance.

Securities /

Citic Securities plans $464 million asset management unit

Citic Securities Co. Ltd., China’s largest brokerage, plans to set up a new wholly owned asset management subsidiary, signaling its intention to join a parade of rivals expanding into the mutual fund management business.

Citic Securities’ board agreed to invest as much as 3 billion yuan ($464 million) to set up a new unit to take over the company’s asset management businesses, the unit of state-owned Citic Group Corp. Ltd. said Monday. According to a plan approved by the board, the new venture’s business scope will include management of securities assets and publicly raised securities investment funds. Managing the publicly raised funds will require license approval by regulators, according to the plan.

Quick hits /

China launches fresh manhunt for fugitive officials

China house prices shake off fresh curbs to resume faster growth

Wang Tao: Holiday travel restrictions could be a boon to the economy

BUSINESS & TECH

HUOLALA

Lalamove, known as Huolala in Chinese, came under the spotlight after a 23-year-old woman died after apparently jumping out of a van she hired from the company. Photo: VCG

Logistics /

Lalamove has ‘inescapable responsibility’ for riders’ death

The Hong Kong-based logistics startup, Lalamove, which is backed by investors including smartphone-maker Xiaomi Corp., apologized for the death of a woman who is said to have jumped out of a van she hired from the company while it was moving.

Lalamove, known as Huolala in Chinese, posted an apology on social media (link in Chinese) Wednesday — 18 days after the death — saying that the platform “bears inescapable responsibility for the incident.” It also proposed a plan to improve user safety and driver screening.

The company came under the spotlight after a 23-year-old woman, surnamed Che, died after apparently jumping out of a Lalamove van she hired. A police investigation of the incident is underway. The 38-year-old driver was arrested on suspicion of negligence causing death, the Hunan government said Tuesday.

Hydrogen /

China’s hydrogen-powered vehicle dreams inch ahead

Government orders for hydrogen-powered vehicles in China have reached 690 units so far this year, a modest figure when compared with the rapidly accelerating electric vehicle sector, but still up a strong 79% from a year ago, an industry organization said.

Orders for vehicles using the clean-burning fuel source came from state-backed buyers in the South China city of Guangzhou, and the northern cities of Baoding in Hebei province and Zoucheng in Shandong province, according to data released Sunday by the organization Qingyunlian, which follows the industry.

The orders included garbage trucks, heavy trucks and public buses. The big majority were from a single 450 million ($70 million) request from an environmental organization in Guangzhou for 500 garbage trucks, equating to about $140,000 per vehicle.

Accident /

Fatal Shandong gold mine explosion leads to probe of 45 people

Chinese authorities found 45 people accountable in a deadly gold mine explosion in eastern China’s Shandong province that killed 10, Caixin learned from the local government.

Police launched criminal investigations of the legal representative of Shandong Wucailong Investment Co. Ltd., operator of the gold mine, for alleged attempts to conceal the disaster. Two top officials of Qixia, where the mine is located, including municipal party chief Yao Xiuxia and Mayor Zhu Tao, are also being probed for failing to report the incident according to government rules.

5G /

West looks on as China dominates global 5G market

After a year and a half of frenzied construction and hundreds of billions of yuan in spending, China has emerged as the clear global leader in 5G infrastructure with a dominant 70% of the world’s base stations, the latest government data show.

The nation now has more than 718,000 base stations for the cutting-edge communications technology, covering all of its major cities, said Liu Liehong, a vice minister at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). Domestic sales of 5G-enabled devices, mostly smartphones, have totaled more than 200 million to date, with more than nine of every 10 smartphones sold in China now 5G-enabled, he said, speaking Tuesday at a major telecom event taking place in Shanghai.

Quick hits /

China’s overseas energy lending tumbles to lowest since 2008

Home appliance giant Midea announces multi-million share buyback plan

China’s largest livestock producer sees profits slide as post-swine flu oversupply eats into prices

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