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By Ding Yi / Jul 26, 2021 07:29 PM / Business & Tech

E-commerce giant Alibaba founder Jack Ma took the top spot on the 2021 Forbes China Philanthropy List, showing the consistency of the entrepreneur’s generosity despite his empire being under strict government scrutiny for its business practices.

The Forbes list, published last week, measures cash given by 100 Chinese entrepreneurs and their businesses in 2020.

Last year, Ma and Alibaba offered combined cash donations of 3.2 billion yuan ($493.6 million), according to Forbes.

Ma has focused more on philanthropy and education since he stepped down as Alibaba chairman in 2019. He has made few public appearances since last October when he delivered a controversial speech in Shanghai on China’s financial system, which was widely considered a trigger for Beijing’s subsequent move to suspend the Shanghai and Hong Kong IPOs of Ant Group, Ma’s fintech company that runs Alipay.

Pony Ma and his internet company Tencent ranked third on the list with 2.6 billion yuan of cash donations, while Zhang Yiming and his tech unicorn ByteDance came in fifth, donating 1.2 billion yuan. Eminent Chinese tech CEOs including Ding Lei of NetEase, Wang Xing of Meituan, Richard Liu of JD.com and Lei Jun of Xiaomi also made it onto the Forbes list.

Overall, the 100 Chinese entrepreneurs on the list donated a total of 24.5 billion yuan in 2020, up from 17.9 billion yuan in 2019, with internet companies accounting for the largest share of charitable-giving in China, with cash donations of 7.8 billion yuan for the year. The increase in part reflects how resilient the country’s internet industry has been in a year in which the Covid-19 pandemic has spurred demand for online services.

In recent years, many Chinese tech and internet companies have increased donations in an effort to fulfill their corporate social responsibilities as Beijing urges enterprises not to make profitability their only priority. Over the past week, nearly all the big names in Chinese tech have offered to donate money to flood-battered Henan province in Central China.

Related: Alibaba Targets Fresh Graduates to Stay Competitive in Tech Market

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BUSINESS & TECH

By Ding Yi / Jul 26, 2021 06:04 PM / Business & Tech

CalmCar, a Tianjin-based startup that specializes in developing vision systems for autonomous vehicles, has raised $150 million in a series C funding round led by German auto-parts maker ZF Friedrichshafen AG as the Chinese company aims to begin its IPO process by 2022.

The round attracted several other investors including Dragonstone Capital Management, Great Filter Venture, OCI International and Vietnam-based automaker VinFast, CalmCar said in a statement last week.

The new funds will be used to expand the mass production of its software and hardware products used in Level 2 to Level 4 self-driving vehicles, according to the statement.

Level 4 technology is what most self-driving car companies are focusing on developing, being the standard that U.S. engineering standards group SAE International identifies as features that allow a vehicle to drive itself under certain conditions but only if all those conditions are met. Level 5 is the highest attainable level of automation according to SAE.

Founded in 2016, CalmCar uses artificial intelligence to develop machine vision systems for use in areas like autonomous driving, robotics, smart transportation and public security. Its two flagship products are a 360-degree sensor system to detect moving objects, traffic lights and lane lines around a car, and a monitoring system that sounds an alert when a driver shows signs of fatigue, makes a phone call or smokes.

CalmCar said that it has R&D facilities in Tianjin, Beijing and Detroit, staffed by a team of more than 150 engineers in total.

In June, CalmCar signed a deal with ZF to jointly develop budget automated parking assistance and automated valet parking systems that they expect to install in cars on a large scale in China next year. ZF has also teamed up with TuSimple, a self-driving truck-maker that focuses on the China and U.S. markets, to develop a central computing platform for driverless rigs.

Related: DeepRoute.ai Self-Driving Taxis Hit Shenzhen Roads

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By Ding Yi / Jul 23, 2021 08:14 PM / Business & Tech

Cloudwise, a Beijing-based company that develops artificial intelligence for IT operations platforms, has raised $150 million in a series E funding round led by Sequoia Capital China.

Such platforms use big data, AI algorithms and other analytics technologies to enhance the efficiency of operations like monitoring, automation and service desks.

The round attracted several other investors including FutureX Capital, SIG China and Citic Private Equity Funds Management, Cloudwise said in a statement Thursday.

The company said that it will use the fresh capital to support R&D for its platforms for customers in more industries, as well as the improvement of its service systems.

The company also said that China’s ongoing efforts to accelerate a digital transformation that aims to enhance productivity and spur economic growth will give a boost to its business.

In 2020, the digital economy accounted for nearly 40% of China’s GDP, according to a white paper published in April by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a think tank affiliated with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Cloudwise has customers in industries including banking, insurance, manufacturing, energy, aviation and real estate, according to its website.

The value of the global market for artificial intelligence for IT operations is expected to grow to $11.02 billion by 2023, up from $1.73 billion in 2017, according to MarketsandMarkets.

Related: Weekend Long Read: Five Ways AI Will Put China Ahead

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By Ding Yi / Jul 23, 2021 06:25 PM / Business & Tech

Chinese electric-car maker Nio has started shipping the first batch of its flagship ES8 SUVs from Shanghai to Norway, in a move to carve out territory in a country seen as the gateway to Europe.

Deliveries are expected to commence in September in Norway, Nio’s first overseas market, the company said in a statement on Thursday. In June, Nio gained Whole Vehicle Type Approval for the ES8, an official permit that allows the car to be sold across all EU countries.

The Shanghai-based company did not disclose how many ES8s are initially being shipped.

Nio has established a taskforce of 200 Norwegians to solicit opinions on how to make a car that caters to local tastes, according to the statement.

Earlier this month, U.S.-listed Nio obtained two certificates from TÜV Rheinland for its power swap stations and charging equipment, meaning it is qualified to provide power swapping and charging services in the EU.

Nio’s push into Norway comes as the company has maintained high sales growth for several quarters in China. In the second quarter, Nio delivered 21,896 units, more than double the number in the same period of last year.

However fellow electric-car maker Xpeng has stolen a march on Nio in expanding into Europe. In December, the Guangzhou-based startup began handing over the first 100 G3 electric SUVs to customers from 28 Norwegian cities and towns.

Related: EU-Recognized Certificates Pave the Way for Nio’s European Expansion

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By Ding Yi / Jul 23, 2021 02:46 PM / Business & Tech

Xiaomi’s pole position in India’s smartphone market remained unassailable in the second quarter as nearly a third of the country’s smartphone sales went to the Chinese electronics giant.

In the three months through June, Xiaomi shipped 9.5 million smartphones in the country, up 77% year-on-year, giving it a market share of 29%, according to Canalys.

Canalys analyst Jash Shah linked Xiaomi’s performance to growth in its online sales, which received a boost from the budget Redmi Note 10 series.

Xiaomi has also set its sights on other parts of the world. The company recently overtook Apple for the first time to become the world’s second-largest smartphone brand in the second quarter, with shipments rising 300%, 150% and 50% year-on-year in Latin America, Africa and Western Europe respectively.

Samsung narrowly held on to second place, controlling 17% of the Indian market by shipping 5.5 million smartphones in the second quarter, a little more than third-placed Vivo, which shipped 5.4 million smartphones.

Realme and Oppo took fourth and fifth spot respectively with market shares of 15% and 12%. Of the top five, Realme experienced the highest year-on-year shipment growth of 181%.

Overall, smartphone-makers shipped a total of 32.4 million devices in India between April and June, an increase of 87% compared with the same period of last year, when a countrywide coronavirus-induced lockdown was imposed. However, that represents a 13% drop from the previous quarter, which Canalys attributed to the second wave of coronavirus infections that stifled demand in the quarter.

Related: Closing In on Samsung, Xiaomi Dethrones Apple to Become World’s No. 2 Smartphone Seller

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By Ding Yi / Jul 22, 2021 07:00 PM / Business & Tech

Alibaba is launching what it calls its biggest ever recruiting program for fresh graduates, as the battle for young talent intensifies in China’s tech landscape despite Beijing’s tightening oversight of the sector.

The Jack Ma-founded giant is offering 113 positions at Alibaba Group and its affiliates, including Ant Group, Cainiao, Alibaba Health Information Technology and Alibaba Pictures. About 45 of the jobs are available to new graduates for the first time, according to a statement on Monday.

The positions, based in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Nanjing and Chengdu, will be shared in technology-related and non-technology categories. These involve fields ranging from machine learning, autonomous driving and chip design to product operation, video editing and visual design.

The statement did not disclose how many new graduates Alibaba plans to hire to fill the vacancies.

The number of university graduates in China hit 9 million in 2021, an increase of 350,000 over 2020, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said in June.

Alibaba’s hiring plan comes as many Chinese tech companies have increased their payroll costs to introduce new blood and retain excellent employees.

In March, TikTok owner ByteDance embarked on a hiring spree for its new education division, with plans to hire some 10,000 employees to fill China-based vacancies in teaching, product management and community management in four months.

Earlier this month, JD.com, a major rival of Alibaba, promised to increase the average employee annual salary to the equivalent of 16-months pay by July 2023 from the current 14-month model.

Related: Tesla Launches Hiring Spree in China as It Prepares for Shanghai Production of Model Y

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By Ding Yi / Jul 22, 2021 05:51 PM / Business & Tech

Foxconn came under the spotlight in January thanks to its partnership with Volvo Cars owner Geely with regards to electric vehicle manufacturing. Since then, the iPhone assembler has done more to get involved in the industry’s supply chain.

On Wednesday, Japanese motor-maker Nidec said that it is in talks with Foxconn and its automobile arm Foxtron Vehicle Technologies to create a joint venture to make traction motor systems for electric vehicles.

The three parties will “conduct feasibility studies and contract negotiations” with the aim of reaching an agreement by the end of this year to form the joint venture by 2022, Nidec said in statement on Wednesday.

The venture would focus on developing, producing and selling traction motor systems, a core component used to propel a vehicle, according to the statement, adding that details about the venture have yet to be decided and are subject to change as discussions progress.

In May, Foxconn announced it was working with automakers Fisker and Stellantis to push deeper into the car manufacturing. The partnership with Fisker focuses on the development of an affordable electric vehicle, while the deal with Stellantis involves R&D for intelligent control technologies for connected cars.

Related: Foxconn to Set Up Chipmaking Joint Venture with Yageo

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By Ding Yi / Jul 22, 2021 04:59 PM / Business & Tech

Volvo Cars has signed a deal with its parent Zhejiang Geely Holding Group to buy out the latter’s shares in their joint ventures in China to take full control of its manufacturing and sales in the world’s largest auto market as Beijing opens up more industries to foreign investors.

The agreement, which is awaiting the approval of China’s regulators, will see Volvo Cars acquire Geely Holding’s 50% stake in Daqing Volvo Car Manufacturing Co. Ltd. and Shanghai Volvo Car Research and Development Co. Ltd., according to a joint statement released on Wednesday.

The two transactions, for which financial details were not disclosed, will give the Swedish carmaker full ownership of its production plants in Chengdu and Daqing, its Chinese sales company and its R&D facility in Shanghai, the statement said.

Holding full ownership means Volvo Cars could prevent its technologies from being shared with local partners, and grants it the right to pocket all benefits earned in the Chinese market, where the company sold 166,617 cars in 2020, a year-on-year increase of 7.5%.

Volvo Cars said the transactions will start in 2022, when the Chinese government will remove the restriction on foreign ownership in joint ventures producing passenger vehicles. The transactions are expected to be formally completed in 2023.

From 1994, Beijing followed an industry policy requiring foreign carmakers to set up joint ventures with local partners before making cars in China. This lasted until 2018 when the rule was partially eased with the lifting of the cap on foreign ownership in joint ventures producing new energy vehicles.

In 2020, Beijing removed the foreign ownership restriction on commercial vehicle manufacturing.

Wednesday’s announcement comes more than a week after Volvo Cars announced plans to increase its stake in Geely-backed Swedish electric-vehicle maker Polestar to 49.5% by acquiring the additional shares from PSD Investment, the private investment company of Li Shufu, chairman of both Volvo Cars and Geely Holding.

Related: Geely-Owned Volvo Mulls Going Public This Year

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By Ding Yi / Jul 21, 2021 06:36 PM / Business & Tech

Guangdong-based venture capital firm Sherpa Healthcare Partners has closed its dollar-denominated Fund II focusing on early- to growth-stage investment in China’s medical industry, the company said on Tuesday, riding the wave of a financing frenzy among the country’s medical technology startups.

The fund will mainly provide financial support to China-based companies engaged in biotech research, biomedicine development, medical equipment manufacturing, medical diagnostics and medical services.

Sherpa did not disclose how much money it raised for the fund, but said that it was oversubscribed by investors including public pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, and asset management companies.

Last month, London-headquartered venture capital firm Eight Roads Ventures, an early investor in Alibaba, announced the launch of a $400 million fund to focus on early-stage investment in China-based medtech and life science companies.

Related: Alibaba to Lead $257 Million Fund to Support Tech Startups in China’s Greater Bay Area

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By Ding Yi / Jul 21, 2021 05:33 PM / Business & Tech

The growing use of smart machinery to perform tedious and repetitive tasks traditionally done by human workers has created tremendous opportunities for robot-makers to attract venture capital. XYZ Robotics is the latest beneficiary of this trend.

On Monday, the Shanghai-based startup, which specializes in robotic hand-eye coordination technology, announced that it had raised $35 million in a series B funding round courtesy of multiple investors including Gaorong Capital, 5Y Capital and Source Code Capital.

The company said that it plans to use the fresh capital to boost its R&D capabilities and expand its sales and delivery systems.

Founded in 2018, XYZ Robotics develops a robotic pick-and-place system powered by its 3D computer vision and movement control algorithms, with the system able to pick 1,800 pieces per hour at peak efficiency, according to its website.

The startup said that the buyers of its technology are mainly from the e-commerce, logistics, consumer goods, everyday chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

Gaorong Capital, 5Y Capital and Source Code Capital are active investors in China’s tech startups involved in artificial intelligence, mobile operating systems, communications satellites, chatbots and microchips.

Related: Rehab Robot Specialist Fourier Completes Saudi-Led Funding Round

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By Ding Yi / Jul 20, 2021 07:06 PM / Business & Tech

A pair of Tencent titles took the top two spots in the ranking of the world’s highest-earning mobile games for June, as the Chinese tech giant invests heavily in the business that makes up much of its revenue.

Last month, Honor of Kings, a multiplayer role-playing battle game developed by Tencent’s Timi Studio, pocketed $277 million in revenue, up 21% year-on-year, maintaining its status as the world’s highest-grossing mobile game for four consecutive months, according to SensorTower.

The Chinese mainland was the largest revenue source for Honor of Kings, contributing approximately 95.6% of the game’s June revenue, followed by Taiwan and Thailand with 2% and 1.2% respectively.

PUBG Mobile, a battle royale mobile game developed by Tencent’s Lightspeed & Quantum Studio, claimed the second spot with revenue of $213.8 million, about 53.3% of which came from the mainland, followed by the U.S. with 11.2%.

In June, the combined revenue generated by the world’s 10 highest-earning mobiles games amounted to $1.4 billion, meaning that Honor of Kings and PUBG Mobile accounted for about 35%.

In recent years, Tencent has redoubled efforts to snap up game studios to take on rivals from home and abroad. On Monday, Bloomberg reported that the Shenzhen-based company, which already has stakes in giants such as Riot Games and Epic Games, has agreed to buy the 91.25% of British videogame developer Sumo Group that it does not already own.

Related: Tencent Agrees to Buy British Game Maker Sumo Group

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By Ding Yi / Jul 20, 2021 05:27 PM / Business & Tech

Baidu has launched its Apollo Go robotaxi service in Guangzhou, taking a step closer to its goal of expanding the service to 30 Chinese cities within the next three years.

The service in Guangzhou Science City, a science and technology park located in Guangzhou’s Huangpu district, operates on predetermined routes that take its robotaxis past schools, hospitals, parks, hotels and office buildings, with more than 200 designated spots where the vehicles can pick up and drop off passengers, Baidu said in a statement Monday.

Passengers can book free rides on the autonomous service through the Baidu Maps and Apollo Go apps between 9:30 a.m. and 11 p.m. every day, according to the statement. Safety drivers are still needed to sit in the cars to take control in case of an emergency.

Apart from Guangzhou, Baidu also operates the service in the cities of Changsha, Cangzhou and Beijing. Guangzhou is a hot test ground for autonomous driving as Pony.ai and WeRide are also trialing their robotaxi programs there.

The launch is an extension of a partnership that Baidu and the Huangpu district government forged in February, when the company was allowed to operate a fleet of five types of autonomous vehicles used for applications including passenger transportation between selected destinations, street cleaning and mobile retailing.

By the end of 2020, Baidu said that it had ferried more than 210,000 passengers using its autonomous cars with plans to deploy over 3,000 robotaxis in 30 Chinese cities within the next three years.

Related: Baidu and ON Semiconductor Team Up With Eye on Image Sensors for Self-Driving Cars

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By Ding Yi / Jul 20, 2021 05:15 PM / Business & Tech

Guangzhou-based startup WeRide has acquired 3-year-old Chinese self-driving truck firm MoonX.AI, reflecting its interest in autonomous trucking as an increasing number of companies look for ways to apply their self-driving tech to the long-distance logistics industry.

The deal will see MoonX.AI founder and CEO Yang Qingxiong join WeRide as the company’s vice president and head of research, WeRide said in a statement Tuesday. WeRide will also take on Yang’s team of about 50 algorithm and R&D engineers.

The new role will enable Yang, a computer vision expert who earned his doctorate in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2010, to oversee the R&D and application of WeRide’s autonomous driving technology. Yang will also take the helm of WeRide’s Shenzhen branch.

The acquisition comes at a time when some Chinese robotaxi service providers are coming to the conclusion that trucks, rather than passenger cars, are the low-hanging fruit in the quest to turn self-driving technology into a profitable business. That’s because trucks tend to operate in a less complex driving environments such as on highways.

One example is Pony.ai, which in May obtained a license to conduct autonomous freight operations in the southern Chinese megacity of Guangzhou. The company, which splits its operations between China and the U.S., also runs robotaxi services in Shanghai and Beijing, as well as the cities of Irvine and Fremont in California.

Related: Nissan-Backed Chinese Self-Driving Startup WeRide Raises $310 Million

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By Ding Yi / Jul 19, 2021 08:00 PM / Business & Tech

Ant Group-backed digital payments company Paytm is planning to raise as much as 166 billion rupees ($2.2 billion) in a Mumbai IPO, according to a prospectus filed on Friday.

The Delhi-based company, which counts Alibaba-affiliated Ant Group as its biggest financial supporter, said that it will issue new shares worth 83 billion rupees and offer for sale shares worth another 83 billion rupees held by existing shareholders.

Aside from general corporate purposes, proceeds from the IPO will go towards expanding its payment network and investing in new business initiatives, acquisitions and partnerships, according to the prospectus.

Since its inception in 2009, Paytm has evolved into a payment gateway, e-commerce marketplace and ticketing platform. As of March 31, the platform had more than 333 million users and served over 21 million merchants, according to its prospectus.

Related: Cross-Border Digital Payments Trial to Start by Year-End

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By Ding Yi / Jul 19, 2021 06:35 PM / Business & Tech

Chinese unmanned delivery vehicle startup White Rhino has raised nearly $10 million in its pre-series A funding round led by Linear Capital, as the firm has commercialized its technology in Shanghai.

Founded in 2019 in Beijing by Zhu Lei and Xia Tian, former members of Baidu’s autonomous driving team, White Rhino uses its autonomous vehicles for bulk grocery deliveries as such services are under less time pressure than takeout food delivery services and are sometimes too heavy for human couriers to transport.

Since September 2020, White Rhino has been using its autonomous delivery vehicles to transport grocery orders placed online for a Yonghui supermarket in Shanghai’s Jiading district, which is well-known for its welcoming attitude toward robotaxis. The service covers 14 residential communities near the supermarket, with each order delivered in 37 minutes on average. Supermarket employees are however needed to load the groceries into the vehicles.

White Rhino’s autonomous delivery vehicles offer additional logistics support to supermarkets during busy periods like the Lunar New Year and National Day holidays when delivery personnel cost more than usual and delays often occur, according to Wang Hanji, the company’s marketing manager.

Meituan, a Chinese lifestyle service and food delivery giant, has also been investing in unmanned delivery services. Earlier this month, the company unveiled plans to trial a drone-enabled autonomous delivery network in Shanghai.

Related: Meituan to Trial Delivery by Drone in Shanghai

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By Ding Yi / Jul 19, 2021 03:38 PM / Business & Tech

China’s prestigious Peking University has established a semiconductor school, becoming the latest higher education institution in China to create a school specializing in microchips as Beijing pursues a strategy of technological self-sufficiency.

The School of Integrated Circuits, which was inaugurated Thursday in Beijing, aims to train top-level semiconductor experts in fields including premium chip design, integrated circuit manufacturing and packaging, as well as electronic design automation, a category of software tools for designing electronic systems, Peking University said in a statement Friday.

The establishment of the new school could be seen as a response to a national strategy that makes the semiconductor industry a key area of focus, as chips are key components of high-tech products ranging from supercomputers to self-driving vehicles. The move comes at a time when the U.S. is stifling China’s ambition to attain technological supremacy globally with containment policies that have curtailed Huawei and several other Chinese firms’ purchase of chips made with American technology.

According to Friday’s statement, Peking University’s new chip school has signed cooperation deals with Chinese tech companies including SMIC, Huawei and Yangtze Memory Technologies for a joint chip talent cultivation program, in response to brain drain that has forced domestic chipmakers to spend heavily on poaching high-level semiconductor professionals from overseas.

Chinese universities have embarked on a frenzy to create new chip schools in an attempt to tackle a lack of talent in the industry. Shenzhen Technology University set up an integrated circuit school in partnership with SMIC in June, according to state-run newspaper the Shenzhen Special Zone Daily. In April, Tsinghua University announced the establishment of a similar school.

Related: Tsinghua Sets Up School to Support Semiconductor Self-Sufficiency in China

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By Ding Yi / Jul 16, 2021 10:17 PM / Business & Tech

Self-driving truck startup TuSimple has signed a deal with California-based AEye to co-develop lidar sensors, expanding its roster autonomous trucking partners.

AEye produces lidar sensors, which use spinning lasers to conduct 360-degree scans of a vehicle’s environment by bouncing laser pulses off surrounding objects.

In a joint statement released on Wednesday, TuSimple said that the deal reflects its confidence in AEye’s technology that can help self-driving trucks running at highway speeds detect obstacles up to 1,000 meters away and even in poor weather conditions.

AEye is not TuSimple’s only partner. The company is also partnering with U.S. truck-maker Navistar to develop self-driving trucks powered by Level 4 technology, the second-highest level of autonomy, which allows a vehicle to drive itself under most circumstances with no human intervention. TuSimple is also working with German auto-parts maker ZF to co-develop a central computing platform and a sensing system for self-driving trucks.

Related: TuSimple’s Self-Driving Truck Tech Cuts 10 Hours From Full-Day Route

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By Ding Yi / Jul 16, 2021 06:39 PM / Business & Tech

Beyond Meat is investing further in China’s artificial meat market with the launch of an online store on JD.com, one of the country’s largest e-commerce platforms.

The U.S.-based company in April opened its first foreign factory in the Jiaxing Economic and Technological Development Zone (JXEDZ) near Shanghai to produce pork, beef and poultry alternatives for China-based consumers.

The JD.com store, Beyond Meat’s first e-commerce retail channel in China, will initially sell Beyond Beef, Beyond Burger and Beyond Pork to consumers in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, with plans to expand nationwide, the company said in a statement on Thursday. The three products are all manufactured at the JXEDZ plant and stored in JD.com’s cold chain warehouses.

Beyond Meat said its decision to sell on JD.com, which has nearly 500 million active customers, stems from the e-commerce giant’s guarantee that fresh and frozen food can be safely delivered within 48 hours of being ordered.

Public awareness of mock meat products remains limited in China with only 14% of participants in a recent poll on the country’s popular microblogging site Weibo saying they would try plant-based meats, according to Reuters. And some producers’ adoption of genetically modified (GM) ingredients to give their products a meaty taste could make it harder for them to crack the Chinese market, where regulators and consumers hold a cautious attitude toward GM crops.

Using only non-GM ingredients including herbs, flours, oils and carefully cultivated plant proteins with minimal processing, Beyond Meat has an edge in China over companies like Impossible Foods, which rely on GM products that have so far failed to win regulatory approval.

Related: OmniFoods Hopes Chinese Diners Will Fall Hook, Line and Sinker for Plant-Based Seafood

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By Ding Yi / Jul 16, 2021 04:48 PM / Business & Tech

Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi overtook Apple for the first time to become the world’s second-largest smartphone vendor in the second quarter, boosting its ambition to challenge the longtime market leader Samsung as it expands overseas.

In the three months through June, Xiaomi’s global shipments jumped 83% year-on-year, the highest among the world’s top five, which gave it a market share of 17%, according to research firm Canalys, which did not provide specific sales numbers.

Xiaomi’s market share is just 2 percentage points smaller than Samsung, which retained its No. 1 status as shipments grew 15% year-on-year. Apple, the only seller in the top five to experience a single-digit year-on-year rise of just 1%, fell to second with a market share of 14%, while Chinese players Oppo and Vivo rounded out the group with 10% each, as their shipments rose 28% and 27% year-on-year, respectively.

Xiaomi’s growth is due to its rapid global expansion, with second quarter shipments ballooning 300%, 150% and 50% in Latin America, Africa and West Europe, respectively, said Canalys researcher Ben Stanton.

However, Stanton pointed out that it will be a “tough battle” for Xiaomi to tap the upscale market as its average selling price is still around 40% and 75% cheaper, respectively, than Samsung and Apple.

“So a major priority for Xiaomi this year is to grow sales of its high-end devices, such as the Mi 11 Ultra,” said Stanton, adding that Oppo and Vivo share the same objective.

Huawei was nowhere to be seen among the top smartphone sellers in the second quarter as the company has been crippled by U.S. sanctions that limit its ability to buy chips made with U.S. technology.

Overall, global smartphone shipments increased 12% year-on-year in the second quarter, according to Canalys.

Related: Xiaomi’s $237 Million Share Incentive Plan Aims to Retain Talent

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By Ding Yi / Jul 15, 2021 07:10 PM / Business & Tech

Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund (AEF) will be an anchor investor in a HK$2 billion ($257 million) venture capital fund that will focus on investing in tech startups in the Greater Bay Area, an integrated economic and business zone linking Hong Kong, Macao and Guangdong province.

The AEF Greater Bay Area Fund (GBA Fund) will primarily provide financial support to the region’s startups from the artificial intelligence, health tech and smart manufacturing industries, Alibaba said in a statement emailed to Caixin on Tuesday.

GBA Fund is expected to close funding in the first half of 2022 with participation from a limited number of financial institutions, family offices and conglomerates, according to the statement.

Beijing is betting big on the Greater Bay Area, with the goal of building the region into a leading economic and innovation hub that can compare with other metropolitan clusters like the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2020, the Greater Bay Area, which is home to some of China’s tech giants such as Tencent and Huawei, had a population of more than 80 million people and a GDP of $1.7 trillion.

As of the end of March, AEF had invested in more than 50 startups.

Related: Alibaba Joins $1.36 Billion State-Backed Bailout of Debt-Ridden Suning.com

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