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ECONOMY

By Ding Yi / Sep 14, 2020 04:16 PM / Economy

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Beijing plans to build what it calls the world’s first high-level autonomous driving demonstration zone in the hope of accelerating the commercial application of self-driving technology, according to a report by state television broadcaster CCTV.

That was the message delivered by Kong Lei, the deputy head of the administrative committee of Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area, during a press conference held in Beijing on Friday.

The demonstration zone will feature a powerful self-driving infrastructure network consisting of a low-latency telecoms system, an accurate obstacle perception system, a high-accuracy positioning system as well as a cloud-based transport network control platform, which are needed for testing the large-scale operation of driverless vehicles featuring Level 4 autonomy and the application of the internet of vehicles, the report said, without providing a specific date for the project’s completion.

The U.S. Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) categorizes autonomous driving technology into six levels from 0 to 5. Level 4 technology allows a car to run almost completely independent of human intervention.

Beijing is among the few Chinese cities that allow companies to test their passenger-carrying autonomous vehicles. Last week, the Chinese capital approved Baidu’s Apollo Go robotaxi service in designated residential and business areas that cover 100 pickup and drop-off stations, becoming the third city after Changsha and Cangzhou to be used by Baidu to pilot its autonomous taxis.

According to a development plan released by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China aims to achieve mass production of self-driving vehicles featuring Level 3 technology by 2025 as part of efforts to build a new-generation transport network control system .

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Baidu Expands Free Robotaxi Trial Service to Northern City of Cangzhou


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ECONOMY

By Ding Yi / Sep 14, 2020 12:36 PM / Economy

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China is expected to be the biggest purchaser of 5G smartphones in 2020, as the country accelerates the deployment of its 5G infrastructure.

Some 172 million 5G smartphones will be sold in China this year, accounting for about 62% of the global total, according to a report by research firm Canalys, which looked at the combined figures for the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

Canalys attributed the expected sales to the rapid commoditization of 5G smartphones on the Chinese mainland and Chinese handset makers’ efforts to launch cheaper phones compatible with 5G networks.

In September, Realme, a budget brand of Chinese smartphone maker Oppo, launched the V3 in China, which is the world’s cheapest 5G smartphone thanks to its starting price of $150.

Jin Shengtao, an analyst at Canalys, described the V3’s launch as a milestone in bringing 5G functionality to entry-level smartphones.

“It is expected that by 2021, nearly 60% of 5G smartphone shipments in China will be cheaper than $400, while 5G penetration in China will reach 83% in the next 12 months,” Jin said in a statement.

Jin predicted that it will have a significant ripple effect on other regions such as Southeast Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa and even Latin America, where Chinese vendors are expanding their presence.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Huawei May Become the World’s Biggest 5G-Phone Maker This Year


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By Lu Yutong / Sep 11, 2020 03:33 PM / Economy

Following the fate of blacklisted Chinese tech firms Huawei and HikVision, Beijing has begun to worry that U.S. sanctions could bleed into other industries like cloud services.

The concern may be justified. In late June, China’s largest server-maker, Inspur, had its supply of chips from American giant Intel Corp. cut off for two days after the U.S. Department of Defense alleged it had military links.

Beijing is now scrambling to protect against such risks.

Enter China Electronics Corp. (CEC), the country’s largest centrally-controlled state-owned IT company, which announced this week it is wading into the cloud services arena — with government support.

On Wednesday, the firm unveiled its “China Electronics Cloud” services with the goal of “guaranteeing the safety of government and companies’ digital transformation.”

The cloud services will exclusively use domestic technologies, and CEC is hoped to be able to offer an alternative to the current Chinese cloud services market, which mostly utilizes Intel’s X86 architecture.

It will also compete with big private cloud providers Alibaba and Tencent.

Read the full story: As Washington Restricts Tech, State-Owned Giant Gets Into Cloud Computing

Contact reporter Lu Yutong (yutonglu@caixin.com) and editor Flynn Murphy (flynnmurphy@caixin.com)


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By Ding Yi / Sep 10, 2020 02:43 PM / Economy

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

In the second quarter of 2020, Alibaba maintained its spot as the biggest cloud services provider in China, where total spending on such services climbed to a record high of $4.3 billion due to growing demand amid the Covid-19 pandemic and government stimulus measures.

During the period between April and June, Alibaba Cloud, Huawei Cloud, Tencent Cloud and Baidu AI Cloud collectively controlled 78.7% of China’s cloud infrastructure services market, with Alibaba Cloud accounting for a whopping 40.1% market share, though the figure is 4.4 percentage points lower than its share in the previous quarter, according to a report by research firm Canalys.

Huawei Cloud ranked second with a market share of 15.5%, up from 14.1% in the first quarter, closely followed by Tencent Cloud, which grew its market share to 15.1% from 13.9% in the previous quarter, the report showed. Baidu AI Cloud was the fourth-largest cloud services seller during the period, maintaining its market share basically unchanged at 8%.

Overall, China’s $4.3 billion spend on cloud services, which represents a year-on-year increase of 70%, enabled the country to maintain its position as the world’s second-largest cloud services market in the second quarter after the U.S., home to industry leaders Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

“Momentum in China’s cloud infrastructure services is set to accelerate,” said Canalys analyst Blake Murray in a statement. “An already growing market is being propelled by government initiatives, commitment by cloud service providers to invest, as well as increasing demand for digital transformation and online services in the post-Covid-19 economy,” Murray added.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Alibaba Takes Lead in China’s Cloud Services Market


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By Liu Peilin, He Shujing and Anniek Bao / Sep 08, 2020 02:01 PM / Economy

China's cable television networks were already close to the brink as people ditched old fashioned TV in favor of disruptive new services.

A pandemic that had everyone sitting around at home might have been expected to boost their fortunes.

But as advertisers counted their pennies and the government pushed networks to provide free content in order to keep people at home, cable firm margins dissolved.

All 11 Chinese listed cable network companies reported tumbling profits and revenue in the first half, with some nosediving deep into the red.

Read the full story on Caixin Global here.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related: National Broadband Firm Takes Shape With $3 Billion From Alibaba, State Grid


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By Han Wei / Sep 07, 2020 02:25 PM / Economy

Daily sales since July 1 at one duty-free shop in Sanya, the popular coastal resort city in the southern province of Hainan, surged above 100 million yuan ($14.6 million) as travelers flocked to the island for its unique tropical scenery and greater variety of duty-free products.

Sanya’s Haitang Bay Duty Free Shop, operated by state-owned China Duty Free Group Co. Ltd., served 740,000 customers between July 1 and Aug. 18, 70% more than in the same period a year ago. They purchased 4.58 million items from fragrances to cosmetics to luxury watches and bags, 150% more than a year ago. The store set a global industry record with 5 billion yuan of sales in 49 days.

On July 1 in Hainan, a set of new policies took effect allowing visitors to purchase more duty-free products with fewer limits. Under the new rules, the quota for individuals on duty-free purchases in Hainan was tripled to 100,000 yuan a year while the duty-free product catalogue increased from 38 to 45, adding new options from mobile phones and tablets to wine. Previous limits on the number of items that could be purchased per customer were increased or eliminated. More licensed duty-free retailers are expected to open shops in Hainan under the new rules.

The revamp in Hainan’s duty-free retail sector is part of China’s strategy of transforming the island province into a regional commercial hub that could compete with Hong Kong, Paris and London. It also reflects Beijing’s efforts to bolster domestic consumption to counter economic challenges from pandemic fallout and escalating trading tensions with the United States.

Contact reporter Han Wei (weihan@caixin.com) and editor Bob Simison (bobsimison@caixin.com).

Read Full Story: Cover Story: Why China Is Expanding Access to Duty-Free Shopping


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By Hannah Zhang / Sep 03, 2020 04:50 PM / Economy

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

After the boom and bust of an earlier generation of financial technology startups, many centered on peer-to-peer (P2P) lending, a new generation of better regulated fintechs is taking their place.

Many of those could be coming to market this year, led by what’s expected to become a world record-setting IPO by Ant Group Co. Ltd.

Buzz coming from the company’s blockbuster dual listing in Hong Kong and on the Chinese mainland, which could raise up to $30 billion, could encourage some smaller fintech peers to expedite their public debuts as well.

But they are likely to face regulatory headwinds amid signs of tightening oversight of China’s top tech companies, especially Alibaba and Tencent, which wield immense clout in the world’s largest internet market.

So which new fintech companies should investors have their eyes on? Read the full story on Caixin Global to find out.

Contact editor Flynn Murphy (flynnmurphy@caixin.com)

Read full story: In Depth: New Breed of Fintechs Line Up to Follow Ant Group’s IPO


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By Peng Qinqin and Denise Jia / Aug 31, 2020 10:36 AM / Economy

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Chinese authorities are getting more serious about fighting money laundering, or the illegal hiding of the origins of money obtained through criminal activities.

In the first six months of 2020, the PBOC doled out penalties of more than 370 million yuan ($53.89 million) for money laundering violations, exceeding the total for all of 2019, data from the central bank showed.

The significant increase in fines reflects a revision in the way the central bank calculates punishment of financial institutions that fail to effectively guard against money laundering. Such institutions would previously receive only one fine at a time regardless of how many rules they broke. Now multiple penalties are imposed for multiple violations. The largest single fine the central bank imposed exceeded 100 million yuan.

According to a work report of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress released May 25, the amendment of the anti-money laundering law has been placed on this year’s legislative agenda. A public consultation on the amendment is expected to be conducted by the end of this year, Caixin learned.

Read full story: Cover Story: How China Is Racing to Catch Up With Money Launderers

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By Yang Ge / Aug 25, 2020 02:30 PM / Economy

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China’s dreams of becoming a semiconductor powerhouse could be set for a fresh blow, with word that one of the nation’s most ambitious projects could grind to a halt at any moment.

That’s the assessment coming from a local government agency in the Central Chinese city of Wuhan, which was set to host a 128 billion yuan ($18.5 billion) logic chip maker called Wuhan Hongxin Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (HSMC).

The project already ran into trouble last November, when a local court suspended its right to use the land where it was building the plant amid a dispute with one of the engineering firms involved. Now an analysis released by the local government at the end of July is saying the project is suffering from a large funding shortfall that could bring it to halt at any time.

So, how big exactly is the shortfall?

According to the report the venture has yet to receive the lion’s share of its planned funding, or 112.3 billion yuan of the originally planned 128 billion yuan, to be exact, or to put it another way, that means that the roughly $2 billion that the project has received to date could end up going to waste.

One of the project’s biggest Achilles heels has been its inability to make it onto the national radar due to failure to complete land acquisitions, environmental impact reports and other necessary steps for its second phase. Landing on the national radar would instantly qualify it for huge government support in the form of billions of dollars Beijing is making available for such projects in a bid to lower China’s reliance on imported chips.

Read the full story on Caixin Global here.

Contact reporter Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com)

Related: Major Chipmaking Project Suspended by Court Order


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By He Shujing and Mo Yelin / Aug 17, 2020 05:25 PM / Economy

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picture

When an $8 billion factory in eastern China’s Anhui province revealed it had found customers for its dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips, high-tech pundits from across the country broke out the champagne.

Four years after its founding, Changxin Technology Co. Ltd. finally came of age by becoming China’s first-ever company to design and produce the chips that are a central component of most computing devices.

The Hefei-based company began mass producing the chips last September, though the May revelation finally confirmed that China could compete with global giants like Samsung, Hynix and Micron — the world’s three largest DRAM makers that collectively control 90% of the market.

The news was hailed as a significant development for both Changxin and China’s semiconductor industry, which has suddenly gone into overdrive to become more self-sufficient in the face of increasingly stringent technology export restrictions from the West, led by a campaign from the U.S.

China is pouring billions of dollars into building a semiconductor sector that can produce both memory and logic chips, the two biggest categories of high-tech chips. Of those two, memory is the simpler and thus perhaps the easier one for China to enter and quickly gain market share.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later.

Related: In Depth: Coronavirus Just the Latest Hurdle to Local Government’s Chipmaking Dreams

Contact reporter Mo Yelin (yelinmo@caixin.com)


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By Ding Yi / Aug 05, 2020 01:25 PM / Economy

Six of the world’s ten largest unicorns — startups worth more than $1 billion — are headquartered in China, as the country aims to become the world leader in innovation.

Ant Group, the fintech arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, ranks as the world’s largest unicorn with a valuation of $150 billion on the back of its planned initial public offering (IPO) in Shanghai and Hong Kong, according to the Hurun Global Unicorn Index 2020 released by Shanghai-based publishing group Hurun Report on Tuesday.

ByteDance claimed the second spot with a valuation of $80 billion despite a recent Indian ban on its flagship app TikTok. The app is also under fire in the U.S. with President Trump threatening to terminate the app’s U.S. operations if it is not sold by mid-September.

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing came in third with a valuation of $55 billion. The company is expanding its footprint across the globe and testing its autonomous taxi service as part of ongoing efforts to build a smart transportation system.

The other three Chinese unicorns breaking into the top 10 list are peer-to-peer online lending platform Lufax, TikTok rival Kuaishou and Alibaba’s logistics affiliate Cainiao.

China is home to 227 unicorns, six less than in the U.S., meaning that the two countries account for a combined 78% of the world’s 586 known unicorns based on valuations at the end of March, said Hurun Report.

“The U.S. and China continue to dominate with nearly 80% of the world’s known unicorns, despite representing only 40% of the world’s GDP and a quarter of the world’s population,” Hurun Report chairman Rupert Hoogewerf said. “The rest of the world needs to wake up to providing an ecosystem that allows unicorns to flourish,” he added.

When it comes to cities, Beijing is home to a greater percentage of unicorns — 16% — than any other city in the world. The Chinese capital is followed by San Francisco with 12% and Shanghai with 8%, according to Hurun Report.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (dingyi@caixin.com)

Related: China Home to One-Third of World’s Best Unicorn Investors, Hurun Report Says


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By Lu Yutong / Jul 24, 2020 12:21 PM / Economy

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Fresh data from China’s solar power industry association suggests the sector is consolidating, as big companies produce a greater share of the world’s largest solar market’s cells and components and smaller ones are pushed out.

The nation’s ten largest photovoltaic companies by output accounted for some three quarters of China’s solar cell production in the first half of 2020, up from about 55% in January.

They also accounted for some 94% of the output of silicon wafers, a key component, and almost all production of the polysilicon used to make them.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a limited impact on solar manufacturing, according to Wang Bohua, vice chairman of the China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA), which released the figures at an industry conference held online Tuesday. Cell production was up more than 15% for the first six months, he said.

But strong upstream performance does not mean more sales, and the consumption side of the industry is likely to face trouble as people save rather than spend their money in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

China is the world’s biggest exporter of solar-related products, but those exports declined in value by about 10% in the first five months on the same period last year.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

Contact reporter Lu Yutong (yutonglu@caixin.com) and editor Flynn Murphy (flynnmurphy@caixin.com)


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By Ding Yi / Jul 09, 2020 04:40 PM / Economy

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

In the first half of 2020, China approved 266 foreign-invested enterprises to run business in its telecom service market which was once off-limits to foreign investors, according to a think tank.

The figure represents a big jump from two decades ago when the number was just single-digit.

Of the 266 companies, 213 obtained permits from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) while the remainder did so from the Shanghai Communications Administration, according to a report released by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) Wednesday.

The licensed firms provide a wide range of value-added telecom services with a focus on online data and transaction processing as well as internet information services, said the CAICT.

Nearly 30% of the licensed firms are wholly foreign-owned, while about 11% are 50:50 joint ventures and 17 companies are majority controlled by foreign investors, according to the report.

In terms of foreign capital source, about two-thirds of the licensed companies are backed by Hong Kong investors, followed by investors from the U.S. and Singapore, the report said.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Huawei Launches U.K. Advertising Campaign for Its 5G Gear


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By Ding Yi / Jul 01, 2020 03:59 PM / Economy

China’s spending on products and services powered by information technology (IT) will continue to grow in 2020, as the government pledges more investment in “new infrastructure” to embrace digitalization.

The figure for this year’s IT spending is expected to hit 2.1 trillion yuan ($297 billion), representing a moderate year-on-year increase of 2.7%, according to a report by market research firm IDC.

IDC predicted that the biggest consumption source for IT products and services will be the economically developed Yangtze River Delta covering Shanghai and the coastal provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu, which will account for 23.6% of the total spending.

The second-largest consumption source will be the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region with a share of 16.6%, followed by the Greater Bay Area with 14.9%, IDC said. The Greater Bay Area links Hong Kong, Macau and some Guangdong cities into an integrated economic and business region.

Chongqing and the provinces of Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi and Sichuan will collectively account for 12.1% of the total spending, IDC added.

Xiao Hongliang, a senior analyst at IDC, said that Beijing’s efforts to transform China into a digital economy and its bet on “new infrastructure” will drive the country’s IT spending growth at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is taking the shine off the Chinese economy.

“New infrastructure” refers to projects that support tech-based developments involving artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, robotics and 5G networks, among others.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Alibaba Takes Lead in China’s Cloud Services Market


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By Yang Ge / Jun 23, 2020 01:28 PM / Economy

Photo: IC

Photo: IC

It may sound modest, but a low-speed trial that took place Sunday in Shanghai could be paving the way for a futuristic Chinese rail network capable of speeds up to 600 kph (373 mph).

Just a year after its official launch in the port city of Qingdao, a rudimentary magnetic levitation (maglev) train being developed by top railway equipment builder CRRC Corp. has conducted an important trial in China’s commercial capital. The trial itself won’t break any speed records, with the single-carriage train ambling down the 1.5 km track at speeds of around 50 kph, with a maximum of around 100 kph.

But the test successfully demonstrated the technology’s coupling capabilities — a key factor for maglev trains that attain their super high speeds through frictionless travel that see trains “float” above the track through use of magnetic forces. The planned top speed of 600 kph is considerably higher than China’s current high-speed rail network’s top speed is 350 kph.

Following Sunday’s test, CRRC is planning to launch a five-carriage maglev train by the end of this year. Many more trials will be needed after that to gradually increase the speed to someday reach the 600 kph goal, Tongji University Professor Sun Zhang told Caixin. Accordingly, fans of the futuristic technology shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for maglev trains to make their commercial debut in China.

A good comparison could come from a similar system being developed by Japanese rail operator JR, which began trials for its own maglev on a 42.8 km track in 2015. A planned line that will use that technology to connect the cities of Tokyo and Nagoya over a distance of about 350 km is still way off in the distance, with a planned launch set for 2027.

Contact reporter Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com)

Related: China Announces $14 Billion for Intercity, High-Speed Rail Projects


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By Ding Yi / Jun 23, 2020 01:07 PM / Economy

Apple will reportedly start kicking unlicensed mobile games off its Chinese App Store next month, a move that will end the practice of allowing developers to sell games on the platform while they were awaiting government approval.

The iPhone maker has informed China’s developers that they must comply with a Chinese government policy from July that requires paid games, or games offering in-app purchases, to obtain government licenses before publication, Bloomberg reported Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The rule, which has been enforced by China’s major Android app stores since 2016, is expected to affect about one-third of the reportedly 60,000 games currently available on China’s iOS App Store that are either paid for or contain in-app purchases, the report said.

The rule could deal a particularly heavy blow to small developers and may change how they operate. Some could switch their revenue model to in-app advertising to steer clear of the approval process associated with paid apps, or they might team up with larger developers like Tencent to obtain licenses, but in the process cede some of their autonomy.

Apple’s move comes as the Chinese government cracks down on games which it considers to be spreading “offensive” content, and amid efforts to fight gaming addiction.

In March, Apple removed the unlicensed pandemic simulation game Plague Inc. from its Chinese App Store after local regulators said some of its content was “illegal.”

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Trending In China: Tencent Uses Facial Recognition to Fight Gaming Addiction – Cue Happy and Angry Faces


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By Ding Yi / Jun 17, 2020 06:07 PM / Economy

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The State Grid, China’s biggest electricity distributor, has announced plans to invest 24.7 billion yuan ($3.5 billion) in digital infrastructure in 2020 amid efforts to revitalize the economy with investment in “new infrastructure” that supports tech-based projects.

In order to promote the implementation of the investment plan, the State Grid has signed strategic cooperation agreements with several tech companies including Tencent, Alibaba, Baidu and Huawei, with the goal of building digital infrastructure in the energy sector including big data centers, the industrial internet, 5G networks and artificial intelligence (AI).

The announcement about the investment plan comes a month after Premier Li Keqiang highlighted the role of “new infrastructure” in China’s drive to accelerate the tech-powered structural upgrade of its economy in his government work report delivered during the annual “Two Sessions” political meetings.

In April, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country’s top economic planner, defined “new infrastructure” as including information-based infrastructure such as 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT), convergent infrastructure supported by the application of the internet, big data and AI; and innovative infrastructure that supports scientific research, technology development and product development.

Over the last two months, China’s major tech companies have expressed enthusiasm for participating in “new infrastructure” development by rolling out their respective investment blueprints.

Alibaba has promised to invest 200 billion yuan in its cloud infrastructure over the next three years to help businesses embrace digitalization. Tencent followed suit with plans to pour 500 billion yuan into high-tech areas of cloud computing, AI, blockchain, IoT and 5G networks over the next half-decade.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: State Grid Juices Up Electric Charging Station Footprint


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By Ding Yi / May 28, 2020 12:52 PM / Economy

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Revenue growth and R&D spending slowed sharply at China’s major internet companies in the first four months of 2020, even as the coronavirus-induced lockdown increased demand for some internet-driven services like telecommuting, online education and digital entertainment.

Between January and April, the Chinese internet sector and related services generated combined revenue of 344.6 billion yuan ($48.1 billion), up 4.9% year-on-year, according to statistics released Wednesday by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). R&D spending rose 5.3% to 17.3 billion yuan. All firms surveyed had annual revenue of more than 5 billion yuan in the previous year.

The revenue growth rate was 15.3 percentage points lower than the same period of last year, while the R&D investment growth was down by 16.1 percentage points.

During the January-April period, revenue derived from information services, including streaming music and video, online games and digital news, totaled 215.2 billion yuan, accounting for nearly 62% of the total, the MIIT said. The ministry added that the country’s major internet companies earned 4.9 billion yuan by providing internet data services in the period, fueled by demand for cloud and big data services.

During the period, profit earned by the surveyed internet companies reached 32.7 billion yuan, up 4.8% from a year ago. But that growth rate was 29.1 percentage points lower than the same period of last year.

As of the end of April, the number of apps available on app stores in China reached 3.59 million, with game-related apps taking the biggest share of 24.6%, the statistics showed.

Beijing, Shanghai and the provinces of Guangdong, Zhejiang and Fujian accounted for 88.8% of the country’s total internet-related revenue, with Zhejiang posting the biggest year-on-year internet-related revenue growth of 30.9%, according to the statistics.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Chinese Internet Companies’ Revenue Topped 1 Trillion Yuan in 2019


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By Ding Yi / May 27, 2020 12:54 PM / Economy

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China has reportedly crafted a general technical plan for the country’s first long-haul, wide-body jetliner, a key aircraft designer said Tuesday, as Beijing steps up its efforts to challenge the duopoly of Airbus and Boeing.

Wu Guanghui, who helped design China’s first homegrown airliner, the C919, told state-owned newspaper the Beijing Youth Daily that the new plane, known as the CR929, will be able to carry 280 passengers on journeys of up to 12,000 kilometers and is expected to start commercial flights sometime between 2025 and 2028.

The CR929 is co-developed by the state-owned aircraft-maker Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) and Russian aerospace conglomerate United Aircraft Corp., the report said.

Wu, who made the remarks Tuesday on the sidelines of the ongoing annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature, added that the CR929 aircraft’s development is still in the preliminary design phase and gave no further details.

He also shared further details of the development of China’s first homegrown single-aisle aircraft, the C919, saying that the program’s six prototype airplanes have conducted test flights needed for obtaining related flight certificates in four Chinese cities last year.

The C919 is a narrow-body airliner launched by COMAC in 2008. The organization has so far received 815 orders for the C919 from 28 domestic and foreign customers, the Beijing Youth Daily reported Wu as saying.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: China’s Homegrown Jetliner Completes New Test Flight


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By Ding Yi / May 26, 2020 12:26 PM / Economy

China’s smart speaker market contracted in the first four months of 2020, as sales consolidated around products manufactured by the trio of Alibaba, Baidu and Xiaomi, according to statistics from market research firm IDC.

For the four months through April, about 10.56 million smart speakers were shipped in China, representing a year-on-year decline of 14.7%, the statistics released Monday showed. IDC largely attributed the drop to the coronavirus pandemic, but said that sales have turned around as brick-and-mortar stores have gradually reopened in March and April.

Alibaba claimed the top spot with shipments of 3.71 million Tmall Genie smart speakers during the period, giving it a market share of 35.2%. Last week, the Hangzhou-based e-commerce giant announced plans to invest 10 billion yuan ($1.41 billion) to develop artificial intelligence-powered smart speakers in a move that could help it retain its dominance in the emerging and competitive market.

Baidu came in second with a market share of 30.9%, a performance IDC said was largely attributable to sales of its touch-screen smart speakers. Xiaomi was third with a market share of 30.4%, meaning the three top players collectively accounted for more than 96% of the market.

IDC predicts that smart speaker makers will double down on boosting their products’ AI capabilities like speech recognition and developing apps that can be compatible with smart speakers.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Baidu Unveils Budget Touch-Screen Smart Speaker with Focus on Child Safety


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