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LATEST
Trending in China: Xiaomi CEO’s Shows How Best To Harness China’s Social Media Humor for Serious Business
Apple Takes Down Over 30,000 Apps from China Store Amid Government Crackdown
Chinese Chipmaker SMIC to Establish Joint Venture for Wafer Production
Microsoft Said Plan to Acquire TikTok Will Continue
Uber Abandons Plan to Move Regional Headquarters to Hong Kong
Trending in China: Undergraduate Degree in Housekeeping — Valuable Asset or Waste of Resources?
Huawei and Apple Shine in China’s Smartphone Market During Second Quarter
Video Streamer iQiyi Eyeing Southeast Asian, Middle East Expansion, Executive Says
Lawson Expands in China With Prefab Convenience Stores
TikTok Undergoing U.S. Investment Review, Treasury Secretary Says
Chinese Community E-commerce Firm Nice Tuan Nets $80 Million in Third Funding in 2020
Trending in China: Shanghai Film Festival Rekindles Childhood Memories with Outdoor Screenings
China’s EHang Gets Green Light to Test Self-Flying Vehicles in Quebec
Trending in China: Pop Star Jay Chou’s Livestream Signals Kuaishou’s Increasing Partnership with Celebrities
Tencent to Pick Up Stake in Shanghai-listed Weaver Network for $110 Million
U.S. Senators Worry TikTok Could Be Used to Interfere in Elections
Tesla Launches Hiring Spree in China as It Prepares for Shanghai Production of Model Y
ByteDance AI Lab Head to Leave as TikTok Faces Global Headwinds
Huawei May Become the World’s Biggest 5G-Phone Maker This Year
Trending in China: Domestic Violence Victim Left Paralyzed After Flight Attempt Makes Second Try at Divorce
BUSINESS & TECH

By Ding Yi / Aug 03, 2020 04:27 PM / Business & Tech

Apple kicked more than 30,000 apps off its Chinese App Store on Saturday, including over 26,600 games, possibly in response to a Chinese policy requiring paid games or games offering in-app purchases to obtain a government license before publication, according to statistics provided by research firm Qimai.

The crackdown puts an end to the previous practice of allowing developers to sell games on the Chinese App Store while they were awaiting government approval, as Chinese regulators tighten their grip on apps which they deem could be used to spread “sensitive” content and the government increases efforts to combat gaming addiction.

Early signs of Apple’s purge appeared in February, when the U.S. company asked developers to submit government licenses for their paid games and games with in-app purchases before June 30. In July, Apple extended the deadline to July 31, at which point developers would be banned from continuing to operate on the Chinese App Store if they failed to submit such licenses.

Some industry experts said that the rule, which has been enforced by China’s major Android app store since 2016, is expected to take a toll on small game developers, some of which could switch their revenue model to in-app advertising to steer clear of the approval process which is long and complex.

As of Saturday, about 179,000 games remained on the Chinese App Store, of which some 160,000 were free, according to Qimai.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Huawei and Apple Shine in China’s Smartphone Market During Second Quarter


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BUSINESS & TECH

By Ding Yi / Aug 03, 2020 02:01 PM / Business & Tech

Chinese contract chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) has unveiled plans to establish a joint venture to develop a new wafer plant in Beijing, as the company tries to increase semiconductor output and reduce costs.

SMIC and Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area Management Committee will jointly build the facility to make 12-inch wafers, a component in semiconductors used in the manufacture of integrated circuits, according to a filing published on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s website on Saturday.

The plant aims to produce 100,000 12-inch wafers per month in the initial phase, the filing said, adding that it will make adjustments to its capacity in the second phase based on market demand.

First-phase investment in the project is set to be $7.6 billion, with SMIC contributing about 51% of an initial registered capital of $5 billion, according to the filing.

Some industry experts said that the new plant could help SMIC enhance its production capacity at a time when the Shanghai-based company is striving to close the technological gap with rivals such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC)

Last month, Hong Kong-listed SMIC made a secondary listing on Shanghai’s Nasdaq-style high-tech STAR Market. The company said that it would use the proceeds from the stock sale to develop 12-inch chips, bankroll the research and development of advanced technologies and supplement working capital.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: In Depth: Behind the Bet on China’s Pricey, Technologically Lagging Chipmakers


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By Zhang Qi, Zhang Erchi and Mo Yelin / Aug 03, 2020 01:36 PM / Business & Tech

Microsoft confirmed for the first time it is seeking to acquire the U.S. operations of short-video app TikTok from China-based parent company ByteDance Ltd., saying it will go ahead with the plan, despite reservations from U.S. President Donald Trump.

Following a conversation between Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Trump, Microsoft is prepared to continue discussions to explore the purchase of TikTok activities in the U.S., as well as in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, the U.S. software giant said in a statement on Sunday.

“Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns. It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury,” the statement said.

Microsoft said it will move quickly to pursue discussions with ByteDance that are expected to conclude by September 15. It said it would also continue discussions with the U.S. government and President Trump during the process.

The Microsoft announcement came after Trump earlier said it would ban TikTok from the U.S. “As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” the president told reporters Friday night. When asked when it would happen, he said: “Soon, immediately. I mean essentially immediately.”

Read the full story on Caixin Global later.

Contact reporter Mo Yelin (yelinmo@caixin.com)

Related: Trump Says He Will Ban TikTok From Operating in U.S.


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Ding Yi / Jul 31, 2020 05:55 PM / Business & Tech

Huawei maintained its spot as top dog and Apple saw the highest growth in China’s smartphone market in the second quarter of 2020.

For the three months through June, Huawei’s smartphone shipments in China grew 8% year-on-year to 40.2 million units, giving it a whopping 44.3% market share, according to a report by market research firm Canalys. The figure exceeds the combined share for the next three biggest players, Vivo, Oppo and Xiaomi.

The strong performance comes as Huawei shifts its focus to its home China market as a result of U.S. sanctions and China’s aggressive plans to accelerate the commercialization of 5G technology.

“Huawei is aiming to be the go-to 5G brand in China. Its 5G portfolio exceeded 60% of its total shipments in Q2,” Canalys analyst Louis Liu said, adding that 39 million 5G-enabled smartphones were sold in the country in the second quarter, up 260% from the previous quarter.

Another market research firm TrendForce previously predicted that a total of 235 million 5G-enabled smartphones will roll off production lines worldwide this year, about a third of which will be produced by Huawei.

Another winner in the second quarter was Apple, which finished fifth in China, as the U.S. tech giant achieved the highest year-on-year smartphone shipment growth of 35% with 7.7 million units. That helped it to narrow its gap with Vivo, Oppo and Xiaomi, which finished second, third and fourth, respectively, all suffering double-digit declines, Canalys said.

Canalys attributed Apple’s growth to the launch of its more affordable iPhone SE and promotions around installment plans and trade-in offers.

Vivo, Oppo and Xiaomi posted second-quarter smartphone shipments of 14.8 million units, 14.5 million units and 9.3 million units, respectively.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Huawei Takes Global Smartphone Crown From Samsung

 


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Naoki Matsuda / Jul 31, 2020 02:47 PM / Business & Tech

Japanese convenience store operator Lawson will begin opening prefab outlets in China that will save money on construction and give rise to a more flexible expansion strategy.

The first prefab store will open Friday in Nanjing, the capital of China's eastern Jiangsu Province. About 10 prefab stores are scheduled to open across the country before the year ends.

Unlike a conventional minimart, which takes about 20 days to build, the prefabs will take a week to complete, saving 40% on construction costs. Even if a location closes, the prefab building can be reused elsewhere.

The prefab convenience stores will come in two versions: A shop that is slightly smaller than a regular 80-sq. meter minimart and a kiosk for transit stations.

Lawson partnered with Panasonic to develop the stores. Panasonic's heat-insulating materials is said to help save 20% on electricity costs. Lawson plans to use the knowledge gained from China to open prefab stores in Japan as well.

Lawson operates more than 2,700 stores in China. The coronavirus epidemic has fueled a rise in bulk shopping, which has lifted average sales per customer. On the other hand, customer volume has dropped, owing to sheltering habits and surging online shopping.

Prefab convenience stores are still a novel concept in China, however. Lawson plans to counter online retailers by opening prefabs in parks, idle corners in factories, and other areas with small retail space but substantial foot traffic.

This article was first published by Nikkei Asian Review

 


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By Ding Yi / Jul 30, 2020 07:35 PM / Business & Tech

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin confirmed Wednesday that TikTok is under a national security review by the department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), Reuters reported, as TikTok’s CEO defended the place of the Chinese app in the U.S. market.

It is the first time that the U.S. government has admitted that TikTok is subject to review by the CFIUS amid growing calls from some American lawmakers for tighter scrutiny of the Chinese app due to fears over how it handles users’ data. CFIUS has the authority to scrutinize foreign investment which it believes could be detrimental to national security.

“TikTok is under CFIUS review. We will be making a recommendation to the president this week so we have lots of alternatives,” Mnuchin said, according to Reuters.

Mnuchin’s remarks come a week after a U.S. Senate committee unanimously passed an act aimed at banning TikTok from being used on government-issued devices. Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Trump administration was considering a ban on TikTok and other Chinese social media apps on national security grounds.

Also on Wednesday, TikTok published a blog post by its new American CEO Kevin Mayer, in which he wrote that American advertisers would be left with few choices in the absence of TikTokand that competition in the U.S. digital social entertainment industry would dry up.

Mayer also stressed in the blog post that TikTok does not accept political advertising and has no such agenda, possibly in response to recent concerns from a group of top Republican senators who have voiced worries that TikTok could be used by the Communist Party of China to engage in influence campaigns designed to meddle in American elections.

After being banned last month in India, a market that accounted for nearly a third of its global downloads, TikTok faces uncertainties in the U.S., with White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow hinting that leaving its Chinese parent ByteDance and operating as an American company could be a much better option for TikTok to escape a ban.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: U.S. Senators Worry TikTok Could Be Used to Interfere in Elections

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Eudora Wang / Jul 29, 2020 07:00 PM / Business & Tech

Tencent has entered into an agreement to pick up a 5 per cent stake in Shanghai-listed office automation solutions provider Weaver Network for over 771 million yuan ($110 million).

The deal comes at a time when the COVID-19 outbreak has further accelerated the adoption of intelligent office solutions in China.

Shenzhen-based Tencent will purchase 10.6 million ordinary shares, or a 5 per cent stake, in Weaver Network at a price of about 72.7 yuan ($10.4) apiece through Tencent Industrial Investment Fund, Weaver Network disclosed in a filing with the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) on July 27.

Tencent will become the largest institutional shareholder of Weaver Network after the transaction.

The filing indicates that Tencent already signed the agreement on July 24 with the seller, Wei Jinkun, a shareholder of Weaver Network and the father of the company founder and chairman, Wei Lidong.

Wei Jinkun and Wei Lidong currently hold an aggregate of nearly 121.8 million ordinary shares, or a 57.36 per cent stake, in Weaver Network. After the transaction, their shares will be diluted to 52.36 per cent, at about 111.2 million ordinary shares.

Established in 2011, Shanghai-based Weaver Network provides office automation solutions and collaborative management software to help enterprises improve work efficiency.

The company delivers products and solutions to clients in a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, real estate, financial, healthcare, tourism, and transportation.

Some of its corporate clients include Hong Kong-listed retail pharmacy firm Shanghai Pharma, Chinese conglomerate Fosun Group, real estate developer Greenland Group, and Beijing-based insurer PICC, per the company website.

Weaver Network raised 248 million yuan ($35 million) in an initial public offering (IPO) in Shanghai in January 2017. Its shares are listed under the symbol “603039.”

The company booked 201 million yuan ($29 million) in revenue in the first quarter of 2020, down 1.98 per cent compared to the same period in 2019. Its net profit attributable to shareholders decreased by 2.22 per cent to about 19 million yuan ($3 million) during the period, according to its latest financial report.

Originally published by Deal Street Asia

 


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Ding Yi / Jul 29, 2020 06:43 PM / Business & Tech

Tesla is launching a comprehensive recruitment drive in China, the world’s largest automobile market, where the U.S. firm is generating increasing revenue.

The California-based automaker is looking to hire designers and information technology engineers in China, according to posts published on the company’s human resources public WeChat account.

Separately, in a recent video, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk extended an invitation to those interested in working for Tesla China, revealing that his company builds teams that “will be doing original design and engineering in China.”

In January, Tesla unveiled plans to open a China-based design and research center to build electric cars characterized by Chinese elements and called for talented designers to apply for jobs at the new facility to help realize the goal of integrating the best of Chinese design into Tesla’s future-facing vehicles.

Tesla also put out a job ad for a large number of vacancies in final assembly, bodywork, stamping and painting workshops in Shanghai as well as logistics and quality control departments.

The hiring spree comes as Tesla is preparing to begin producing the Model Y sport utility vehicle at its Shanghai factory, where the domestically made Model 3 sedans are built.

Tesla cars’ popularity in China has been exploding, which is reflected in the company’s latest quarterly sales figures. In the second quarter of 2020, Tesla grew its China revenue to $1.4 billion from $690 million a year earlier, making the country its second-largest market after the U.S., where it raked in $3.1 billion in sales, according to a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

In May, Tesla sold 11,095 Shanghai-assembled Model 3 sedans in China, taking the crown as the country’s largest vendor of new-energy vehicles that month, according to the China Passenger Car Association.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Tesla Supplier CATL Breaks Ground With New Battery Lab

 


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By Ding Yi / Jul 28, 2020 08:20 PM / Business & Tech

Ma Wei-Ying, the head of ByteDance’s artificial intelligence (AI) lab, will leave after a three-year stint at the Chinese tech company, which has made global headlines recently because of its short video app TikTok, a company representative told Caixin on Tuesday.

Ma joined ByteDance from Microsoft to become a vice president and head of the AI lab in February 2017, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The company representative did not provide further details about the reason behind Ma’s departure or his next employer.

In 2016, ByteDance established the AI lab to develop innovative technologies, including natural language process, machine learning, augmented reality and computer vision, for its content platforms, according to the lab’s website.

Ma’s departure comes as TikTok faces global pushback due to its data processing practices and alleged ties to Beijing. The U.S. is considering a ban on TikTik after the ByteDance-owned app was removed from India’s app stores, alongside 58 other Chinese apps.

U.S. technology news outlet The Information reported that Ma planned to take a position at Tsinghua University.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: TikTok Unveils $200 Million Fund to Help U.S.-Based Users Make Money Amid Ban Threat

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Ding Yi / Jul 28, 2020 07:24 PM / Business & Tech

Huawei is expected to become the world’s largest 5G-enabled smartphone manufacturer in 2020, driven by growing demand in its home China market, where mobile carriers are racing to roll out 5G wireless networks.

A total of 235 million 5G-enabled smartphones will roll off production lines worldwide this year, about 31% of which will be produced by Huawei, according to market research firm TrendForce. The Chinese telecom giant will make 74 million units, TrendForce predicted.

Apple will claim second place with an output of 70 million 5G-ready smartphones, giving it a global market share of 30%, while Samsung will be third with 12%, TrendForce predicted. Huawei’s Chinese peers ― Vivo, Oppo, and Xiaomi ― will obtain their respective global market shares of 9%, 8% and 8%, it added.

“Huawei is shifting its focus to the domestic Chinese market as a result of U.S. sanctions and China’s aggressive plans to accelerate 5G technology’s commercialization,” TrendForce said in a post last week.

China now has at least 6.6 million devices, including handsets, that are connected to 5G wireless networks powered by more than 400,000 5G base stations, according to an official from the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

In June, domestic shipments of 5G-enabled phones swelled to 17.5 million units, accounting for 61.2% of total handset deliveries for the month, according to data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, an MIIT-affiliated think tank.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: China Has 66 Million Devices Connected to 5G, Official Says

 


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Ding Yi / Jul 27, 2020 07:10 PM / Business & Tech

ByteDance is reportedly in talks with Indian edtech startup Lido Learning for a potential investment opportunity, as the TikTok owner carves out an expansion plan for its fledging education business for the coming years.

The move comes as coronavirus-induced lockdowns have led to a surge in global demand for online tutoring services.

Beijing-based ByteDance has held several rounds of discussions with Mumbai-based Lido Learning, but whether talks will end up in a deal remains uncertain, Indian media outlet, The Economic Times, reported Friday, citing three sources.

Founded in 2019, Lido Learning provides live and custom-designed tutoring services to students in the K-10 segment and claims to have over 5,000 students studying on its website and mobile app.

The news comes just two weeks after ByteDance Senior Vice President Chen Lin unveiled a plan to invest “a huge amount” of capital in its newly-established education business in the next three years regardless of possible losses and the saturation level of the market.

The attempt to invest in Lido Learning could also be seen as part of ByteDance’s broader strategy of find promising tech firms to buy into, as the Chinese company’s primary money-making app TikTok is banned in India, one of the key overseas markets for the wildly popular short video service.

ByteDance is a late entrant to the education sector, operating one-on-one English tutoring app GoGoKid and online course livestreaming app Qingbei.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)


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Eudora Wang / Jul 27, 2020 06:20 PM / Business & Tech

Chinese community group buying e-commerce platform Xingsheng Selected is set to raise about $800 million in new funding after the coronavirus pandemic strengthened consumer demand for fresh groceries, said two people with direct knowledge of the matter.

New York-based buyout giant KKR & Co is understood to be leading the round. Other investors including Sequoia Capital China and Huaxing Growth Capital, the flagship investment platform of China Renaissance, are expected to participate, said the sources, who declined to be named because the information is private.

The total transaction value of the deal could reach approximately $800 million, according to one of the sources.

KKR declined to comment on the information. Xingsheng Selected and other investors did not respond to DealStreetAsia’s inquiries.

The company’s fundraising development comes as China’s online-to-offline (O2O) grocery businesses are gaining good traction during the COVID-19 outbreak that has forced people to stay at home and reduce human interactions. An array of top-notch investors has already made new bets in the field in the first half of 2020.

Only one day earlier, Beijing-based online grocery platform Missfresh pocketed $495 million in a new investment led by CICC Capital, with participation from Tencent, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Tiger Global Management and other investors.

In June, Tongcheng Life raised $200 million in a Series C round led by Nasdaq-listed Chinese social media platform Joyy Inc and existing shareholder Engage Capital. The company sought to enhance its supply chain capabilities and expand its presence in eastern and southern China.

Nice Tuan, a community e-commerce service also known as “Shihuituan,” also secured another $81.4 million in a Series C1 round led by GGV Capital this June – five months after the completion of an $88.3-million round. Alibaba, Beijing-based angel fund ZhenFund, Joy Capital, and Shanghai-based Qiming Venture Partners were among investors in the two rounds.

Changsha-based Xingsheng Selected is a community group-buying platform incubated by Rurong Xingsheng, a convenience store chain operator with a strong footprint in southern and central China. The new retail business allows consumers to purchase fresh produce and other daily supplies through a WeChat mini-programme, and then pick up the products from branded convenience chain stores in their neighbourhood.

Also backed by Chinese supply chain-focused fund Eastern Bell Capital, the company currently has a presence across 13 provinces and municipal cities in China. Its gross merchandise volume (GMV), a metric used in the e-commerce sector to measure transaction volumes, reached 10 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) in 2019. An average of more than seven million orders are placed on the platform every day, shows the company website.

In September 2018, Xingsheng Selected raised tens of millions of U.S. dollars in a Series A round of financing led by Kathy Xu Xin, managing partner of Capital Today and an early backer of Chinese Internet firm NetEase and e-commerce major JD.com.

Global investment firm GSR Ventures and Beijing-based angel fund ZhenFund participated in the previous round.

This article was originally published by Deal Street Asia

Contact editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)


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/ Jul 25, 2020 11:42 AM / Business & Tech

(Bloomberg) — KE Holdings Inc., a Chinese online property platform backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd. that’s also known as Beike Zhaofang, filed for a U.S. initial public offering that could raise about $2 billion, people familiar with the matter said.

Beike filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday and listed a placeholder amount of $1 billion, an amount that’s typically subject to change. At $2 billion it would be the largest U.S. IPO by a Chinese firm in more than two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Beijing Homelink Real Estate Brokerage Co., also known as Lianjia, is one of China’s biggest realtors. It launched Beike, which means shells in Chinese, in 2018 as its online platform for property brokerage. Beike raised about $800 million from Tencent in a funding round last year.

Its filing comes on the same day Chinese electric vehicle maker Li Auto launched a U.S. IPO to raise $1 billion. The two sizable deals mark a change from last year when U.S. IPOs by Chinese companies were marred by shrinking deal sizes and fundraising targets amid poor investor demand.

The last Chinese firm to raise over $1 billion in a U.S. float was Tencent Music Entertainment Group in December 2018. Escalating tensions between the U.S. and China have cast a shadow over such cross-border listings, although the most recent IPOs have outperformed their U.S. counterparts.

Details of Beike’s offering such as its size are still subject to change, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. A spokesperson for the company declined to comment.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, China Renaissance Holdings Ltd. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are working on the transaction.

Contact editor Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com)

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Ding Yi / Jul 24, 2020 01:59 PM / Business & Tech

TikTok has announced the launch of a $200 million fund to encourage U.S.-based “influencers” to create more content, even as the Trump administration threatens a ban.

To qualify for the TikTok Creator Fund which will accept applications starting August, creators must be 18 or older, meet a certain follower threshold and consistently post original content in line with the platform’s community guidelines, TikTok U.S. general manager Vanessa Pappas wrote in a blog post published on Thursday.

The fund, which will be handed out over the following year and is expected to grow, is part of TikTok’s broader plans to support users to gain additional earnings on its platform, through which some star creators have signed brand partnership and sponsorship deals.

Previously, TikTok has launched a project called the TikTok Creator Marketplace aimed at connecting brands with creators for paid campaigns that drive awareness and attract new customers.

The creator fund’s launch comes as TikTok comes under increased scrutiny in the U.S., where some lawmakers are urging the government to ban the ByteDance-owned app due to concerns about its data processing activities and alleged ties with Beijing.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs unanimously passed an act initiated by Senator Josh Hawley aimed at barring U.S. federal employees from using TikTok on government-issued devices.

Despite mounting U.S. pressure, TikTok is reportedly planning to hire 10,000 employees in the U.S. over the next three years, a move that comes amid reports that a group of U.S. tech investors led by venture capital firms General Atlantic and Sequoia Capital are in talks with U.S. regulators about an option to buy a majority stake in TikTok.

Last week, White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said that decoupling TikTok from ByteDance and making it an independent American company could be a possible option for the app to escape a U.S. ban.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: ByteDance Seeks New Investment Opportunities Amid Global TikTok Pushbacks

 


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By Ding Yi / Jul 23, 2020 05:17 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Fast-rising Chinese tech company ByteDance is seeking more investment opportunities as some foreign governments make life for its primary money-making app TikTok increasingly difficult due to data security concerns.

The Beijing-based company has given its vice president of product and strategy, Alex Zhu, the task of finding promising tech firms that ByteDance could buy into, CNBC reported Wednesday, citing a ByteDance spokesperson.

So far, ByteDance has invested in 21 companies and acquired seven firms, with the most recent acquisition taking place in May, when ByteDance purchased medical knowledge platform Baikemy.com in its foray into the field of online health content, according to corporate data provider Crunchbase.

In addition to making investments in external firms, ByteDance, which has grown from a humble news aggregation app to the world’s most valuable startup, is also exploring opportunities to start new businesses, among which education could be a key priority.

In a recent internal speech, ByteDance senior vice president Chen Lin announced plans to pour “a huge amount” of capital into its newly-established education business in the next three years regardless of possible losses and the nearly saturated market dominated by bigger rivals like VIPKid and Yuanfudao, according to a transcript published on the company’s public WeChat account Wednesday.

ByteDance is a late entrant to the sector, operating one-on-one English tutoring app GoGoKid and online course livestreaming app Qingbei.

Chen’s remarks come amid a boom in China’s online education sector that took off during the coronavirus-induced lockdowns when students were told to continue their studies through online learning platforms.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: TikTok Leaving ByteDance Is ‘Better Solution Than Banning’, White House Adviser Says


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By Anniek Bao / Jul 23, 2020 03:52 PM / Business & Tech

China's answer to YouTube has taken the country's collectible toy trend to the next level, launching a live-streamed variety show where celebrities hype and sell them.

Alibaba-backed Youku debuted "The Luckiest Guy" on Tuesday, with the company boasting that it sold 10,000 collectible toys in just one minute, and made 400,000 yuan ($57,187) in the first 30 seconds.

The show is part of Youku's focus this year on attracting teen audiences, Wang Shuang of Youku Entertainment Center told Caixin. Most of the company's core users and consumers were born in the 1990s.

The toys, which are mostly figurines, are created by local artists and game designers, with Youku hoping to use its stable of celebrity talent to promote them.

In May, Youku established a sub-unit, UTS (Youku Toy Show), focused on collectible toys and merchandise.

The designer-toy industry is becoming big business in China. The sector's value surged from 6.3 billion yuan in 2015 to 20.7 billion in 2019, according to consultancy Frost & Sullivan, which predicts it will almost quadruple by 2024.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

Contact editor Flynn Murphy (flynnmurphy@caixin.com)


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By Ding Yi / Jul 23, 2020 12:58 PM / Business & Tech

While expanding its reach globally, Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing is also redoubling efforts to diversify its business domestically.

The SoftBank-backed company has launched a new standalone ride-hailing service that targets younger consumers and claims to offer more affordable rides than its main Didi app, according to a company statement on Wednesday.

The move could give Didi a boost as it aims to complete more than 100 million trips a day and achieve 800 million monthly active users globally by 2022.

The service, named Huaxiaozhu, is operated under a separate app with a logo resembling a piggy-bank on wheels. It is already being trialed in some cities in Southwest China’s Guizhou province and the eastern province of Shandong, the statement said.

It added that the app only allows existing Didi drivers to register and adopts the same security and compliance standards to ensure safe rides. Didi did not immediately respond to Caixin’s questions about the exact pricing structure of the rides.

In a separate Weibo post, Huaxiaozhu said consumers can earn discount vouchers for rides by participating in activities such as recommending the new service to other people.

The service’s launch comes a month after Didi marched into China’s already crowded on-demand logistics market with the rollout of an intra-city cargo delivery service in the cities of Chengdu and Hangzhou. That service is embedded in Didi’s China app.

In June, the Beijing-based company also started pilot operations of its “robotaxi” service in Shanghai, marking a baby step toward its goal of operating more than 1 million autonomous vehicles through its platform by 2030.

Separately, Didi has denied media reports that it’s in preparations for a listing in Hong Kong, claiming that it has no plan for an initial public offering.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Didi to March Into 20 New Australian Cities Next Month


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By Bloomberg / Jul 23, 2020 03:54 AM / Business & Tech

Chinese fintech giant Lufax, backed by Ping An Insurance Group Co., is targeting to raise at least $3 billion in a U.S. initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company is weighing a U.S. share sale as soon as this year after previously exploring an offering in Hong Kong, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private.

Bank of America Corp., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and UBS Group AG are among banks helping preparations for the share sale, according to the people. HSBC Holdings Plc and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have also done some early work on the deal, the people said.

The bank lineup hasn’t been finalized, and details of the offering could change, the people said. Political tensions between the U.S. and China could also affect Lufax’s listing plans, one of the people said.

Lufax is preparing for a confidential filing, Reuters reported earlier on Wednesday, citing unidentified people. Reuters didn’t specify the size of the potential offering. Representatives for Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan, Lufax and UBS declined to comment.

Lufax, which was once among the country’s largest peer-to-peer lenders, has morphed into a financial giant offering wealth management and retail lending services. The startup, which has explored an IPO for some years, transformed its business after Chinese authorities launched a sweeping crackdown of the once-unruly P2P lending sector. Now an arm of Ping An, its assets under management dropped by 6.1% in 2019 after “asset portfolio adjustment and restrictions on consumer finance products” slashed transaction volumes by 30%.


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Ding Yi / Jul 22, 2020 06:30 PM / Business & Tech

Lesser-known Chinese electric vehicle startup Hozon Auto plans to go public on Shanghai’s Nasdaq-like high-tech STAR Market by the end of 2021, the company said in a WeChat post on Monday.

The announcement comes a little over a week after its peer Li Auto filed for an initial public offering (IPO) on the Nasdaq Global Market.

The WeChat post also revealed that Hozon Auto has launched a series C funding round, without providing further details. The company has completed four fundraising rounds to raise some $900 million, according to domestic media reports.

Currently, Hozon Auto has two models ― the Nezha N01 and the Nezha U ― which started deliveries in November 2018 and June 2020 respectively, the company said. It added that it has delivered more than 16,000 electric cars as of the end of June.

The Zhejiang-based firm also said that its third model, which is able to run 401 kilometers on a single charge, is set to hit markets in the third quarter of 2020.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Money-Losing Electric Carmaker Li Auto Files for U.S. IPO


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Ding Yi / Jul 21, 2020 06:38 PM / Business & Tech

Tencent-backed online publishing and e-book company China Literature has announced it anticipates a net loss in the first half of 2020, in a sharp contrast to net profits during the same period last year, according to a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Monday.

The company attributed the expected losses to possible non-cash impairment of goodwill and trademark rights of between 3.7 billion yuan ($529 million) and 4.7 billion yuan resulting from its acquisition of Chinese digital production firm New Classics Media in 2018 and New Classics Media’s possible failure to meet its revenue goals during the period as the coronavirus pandemic took a toll on the film and television industry.

However, China Literature said that the possible impairment will not have significance impact on its operations, liquidity and compliance with debt covenants.

Last month, China Literature made peace with millions of authors who had voiced concerns over copyright and profit distribution by offering a three-tiered contract system giving authors greater control over how their intellectual property is licensed, and containing an agreement on sharing profits from any adaptations of their IP.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Air Conditioner Maker Gree Warns Profit May Drop Sharply in First Half of 2020

 


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