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LATEST
Forbes Names China’s Top 100 Businesswomen of 2021 With 40 New Entries
China’s Electric Vehicle Sales Expected to Grow 51% This Year, Research Firm Says
Chip Startup Horizon Robotics Joins Hands with Automaker to Develop Smart Cars
Chinese Copycats Rush in as Clubhouse is Blocked in China
Honor of Kings Retains Top Spot as World’s Highest-Earning Mobile Game
Trending in China: Employee Punished After Gaining Beijing Residency Rights Then Quitting Firm
Industrial Software Startup Eyes Southeast Asia With Latest Funding
Alibaba-Backed Lender MYBank is One of First Privately Owned Banks to Join Digital Yuan Pilot
China Still Far From Semiconductor Self-Sufficiency, Report Says
Tencent-Backed Esports Company VSPN Weighing U.S. IPO
Trending in China: Ride-Hailing Van Death Raises Concerns About Women’s Safety
Mobike Co-Founder Hired to Lead Baidu-Geely Electric Car Firm
Geely and Concordium Team Up to Tap Blockchain Opportunities in China
Trending in China: Today Smartphones, Tomorrow Smart Cars? Xiaomi Rumors Fly
Trending in China: Young Chinese Techie Becomes Internet Star After Chat With Apple’s Cook
Mastercard Partners with Fintech Firm to Launch Central Bank Digital Currency-Linked Prepaid Card
European Consumers Group Targets TikTok
Xiaomi Overtakes Samsung, Huawei in Russia for Smartphone Sales Online
Video Streamer iQiyi’s Subscribers and Revenue Fall, but so do Losses
Trending in China: Moutai Chief Engineer’s Academic Honor Raises Eyebrows, If Not Glasses

Heather Mowbray / Feb 24, 2021 07:00 PM / Trending Stories

Wang Laichun, former Foxconn “factory girl” who worked her way up to found and chair electronics supplier Luxshare, is at the top of this year’s Forbes China Top 100 Businesswomen List published yesterday.

The influential Forbes list ranks female leaders by their company’s business performance, market size and areas of innovation, and includes over 40 new names this year, many in pharmaceuticals. Published a week before the much celebrated Women’s Day on Mar. 8, the list highlights accomplished female leaders in a country where men still hold most of the business power, although China is thought to dominate the list of self-made female billionaires.

Wang is followed in the top three by Cheng Xue, vice chairwoman of soy sauce maker Haitian Flavor and Wu Yajun, chairwoman of property developer Longfor Group Holdings.

The average age of the women on the list is 50, with more than half educated to Master’s level and above (including MBA), and a quarter having studied abroad. Most live in Beijing and Shanghai.

Bytedance’s Kelly Zhang at No. 12 has been instrumental in changing how Chinese social media users absorb information as ‘product guru’ for short video app Douyin. Thirteenth on the list, Wendy Wei, CFO of Alibaba since May 2013, readied the company for its IPO a year later, and remains at its strategic heart.

Dong Mingzhu, livestreaming chairwoman of Gree Electric Appliances who turned the domestic brand into a leading global appliance maker, and is now struggling to find a replacement for when she retires, has moved down to No. 5 on the list.

Starbucks China President Wang Jingying is 24th followed by the vice board chairwoman and COO of video streaming site Bilibili, Carly Lee.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related: Apple Supplier Luxshare’s Controlling Shareholder and Vice Chairman Sell $1.11 Billion of Shares

 


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Ding Yi / Feb 24, 2021 06:48 PM / Business & Tech

China’s electric vehicle sales are expected to jump significantly this year, helped by charging network expansion and supportive government policies.

In 2021, about 1.9 million electric vehicles are expected to be sold in China, representing a year-on-year increase of 51%, according to market research firm Canalys.

Canalys based this judgment on several factors including Tesla beginning deliveries of the Model Y, its second Shanghai-assembled car model after the Model 3, SGMW increasing production of the Hongguang Mini to meet strong demand and more affordable city cars like Great Wall Motors’ Ora R1 continuing to gain popularity.

In 2020, China achieved record-breaking sales of 1.3 million electric vehicles, up 8% year-on-year, Canalys said, attributing the performance to strong sales of the Tesla Model 3 and the Hongguang Mini.

“If it had not been for the huge success of these two very different EVs, the Chinese EV market would have declined in 2020. Between them, the two models represented one in five of all EVs sold in China,” said Chris Jones, chief automotives analyst at Canalys.

According to statistics from the China Passenger Car Association, the Tesla Model 3 and the Hongguang Mini were the most popular and second most popular new energy car models in China in 2020 with respective retail sales of 137,459 units and 112,758 units.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)


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Ding Yi / Feb 24, 2021 05:51 PM / Business & Tech

Beijing-based artificial intelligence chip developer Horizon Robotics and automaker SAIC Motor have signed a deal to jointly develop smart, internet-connected vehicles, as Beijing aims to increase the use of homemade semiconductors amid U.S. sanctions.

The agreement will see Horizon Robotics provide its full range of artificial intelligence chips, advanced driver assistance systems and technologies related to visual perception to SAIC Motor for use in its smart vehicles, according to a company statement issued on Monday.

As part of the agreement, the two companies will build a joint team to develop an intelligent driving domain controller and self-driving system that will enable SAIC Motor to compete with Tesla in the fully self-driving car category, the statement said.

Recently, six-year-old Horizon Robotics announced plans to launch its new Journey 5 chip that features 96 trillion operations per second computing power, giving it Level 4 autonomy. This is the second-highest level of self-driving capability based on U.S. Society of Automotive Engineers standards.

China’s local governments have strengthened support for indigenous carmakers, especially those making smart electric cars in the face of escalating U.S. sanctions against Chinese tech firms like Huawei. On Saturday, the Shanghai municipal government announced a partnership with Horizon Robotics to establish global research and development centers in the city in order to accelerate the development of homemade central processing units and artificial intelligence chips for smart vehicles.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: China’s Horizon Robotics Raises $400 Million to Develop Autonomous Driving Chips

 


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By Timmy Shen and Shen Xinyue / Feb 24, 2021 12:43 PM / Business & Tech

China’s internet sector has reacted swiftly to the sudden popularity of American audio drop-in chat app Clubhouse, with at least two similar apps rolled out since it was blocked in China earlier this month.

A similar app called “Now”, developed by internet startup Tianjin Xiaochuan Technology Co. Ltd., was made available on Apple’s App Store last weekend, and its functional design and interface are very similar to those of Clubhouse.

Also, Hong Kong-listed livestreaming platform Inke Ltd. recently rolled out “Duihuaba”, or “Let’s Chat,” but it has since been removed for “upgrades,” according to the company, from both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

Clubhouse is an invitation-only, audio-based app that allows users to set up public or private live chatrooms.

Read the full story here.

Contact reporter Timmy Shen (hongmingshen@caixin.com)

Related: Chinese Users of Clubhouse App Say Service Appears to Be Blocked


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Ding Yi / Feb 23, 2021 06:49 PM / Business & Tech

Honor of Kings, a fantasy multiplayer role-playing battle game developed by Tencent, was still the world’s highest-earning mobile game in January, a position it has maintained for three consecutive months, according to SensorTower.

Last month, Honor of Kings saw its revenue grow 22% year-on-year to $267 million, about 97% of which came from China, followed by 1% from Thailand, SensorTower said.

The second-highest grosser was the mobile version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG Mobile) of Tencent, which generated more than $259 million in revenue in January, representing a year-on-year increase of 26%. China-based gamers showed the greatest interest in the game by contributing nearly 60% of its monthly revenue, followed by 9.8% from the U.S.

Tencent has been expanding its game offerings to increase competiveness against rivals from home and abroad. In December last year, Tencent released the mobile version of Call of Duty in China, aiming to copy the success of the game’s PC version.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Pandemic Drives Revenue Growth for China’s Top 30 Mobile Game Publishers

 


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Heather Mowbray / Feb 23, 2021 06:29 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

The hashtag #Iqiyi-Staff-Ordered-To-Pay-100,000-Yuan-For-Hukou-After-Quitting-Job# was trending on Weibo on Tuesday, as a Beijing court upheld an initial judgment against an employee in a dispute over residential status. The employee was ordered to pay the company 100,000 yuan (around $15500) in compensation for leaving the company just three months after securing prestigious Beijing residency rights known as a hukou.

#爱奇艺员工落户北京后离职被判赔10万#

What’s the story?

New York-listed video platform company iQiyi Inc took on a new staff member named Peng in July 2018, with both parties agreeing that Peng would work for the company for five years in exchange for a Beijing residency (hukou). In December 2019, Peng’s application was completed but in February 2020, Peng resigned for “personal reasons”. IQiyi sued Peng for not acting in good faith, demanding 166,000 yuan. Peng unsuccessfully argued that the resignation was due to unfair treatment by the company. On appeal, the initial ruling was upheld, and the video platform was set to receive 100,000 yuan in compensation.

Beijing hukou or residency status gives the holder permission to purchase property in the capital and hand down the same status to offspring, as well as access to other services and other rights. For example children of a Beijing hukou holder may apply to attend one of Beijing’s top-ranked universities with a lower gaokao score than applicants from outside the city.

What are people saying online?

A number of commenters reported similar hukou-related penalties at their workplaces. One person suggested the iQiyi’s HR department would have been trembling (at the prospect of losing the case).

Gaming the system in such a way was viewed positively by many social media users. “It’s completely worth it” wrote one, who saw the fine as insignificant in the face of the benefits of a Beijing hukou.

With a hint of envy, Weibo users itemized the benefits of a Beijing hukou – pension, health care, education, and preferential access to Beijing assets including housing. Although one said, “If you don’t have children, your hukou is useless. The hukou can solve some school problems, but to benefit in other ways you have to be able to afford a house.”

Some people wondered if quitting in such a way was worth it for Peng, whose social credit was now ruined. “Who will employ him now?”

Related: Charts of the Day: iQiyi Brings Bottom Line Into Focus

 


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Yang Ge / Feb 23, 2021 06:12 PM / Business & Tech

Next stop, Southeast Asia.

That’s the word coming from Chinese industrial software startup Black Lake Technologies, which is eying the region as it prepares to move outside its home market five years after its founding. Black Lake disclosed the plan as it announced it has raised a fresh 500 million yuan ($77 million) in venture capital in its latest funding round.

Based in China’s commercial capital of Shanghai, Black Lake designs manufacturing execution systems (MES) using a “software as a service” (SaaS) business model. It helps companies to upgrade and digitize their systems, including better integrating them with partners in their supply chains.

CEO Zhou Yuxiang told Caixin the company’s latest funding was specifically aimed at bringing aboard well-connected investors who can help advance the company’s strategic agenda. To that end, Black Lake hopes to expand in Southeast Asia by drawing on Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek, which led the latest funding round and is also one of the region’s top investors.

The company is eying the region’s high concentration of manufacturers that are its main clients in places like Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Zhou said Black Lake originally planned to enter Southeast Asia last year and even signed some contracts with clients in the region. But it had to delay those plans due to travel restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Right now we’re still in the early proof-of-concept stage” Zhou said.

To read the full story, click here

Related: Faster or Longer? Taiwan’s MediaTek Launches 5G Modem Chip That Lets Manufacturers Decide 

Contact reporter Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com)


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Ding Yi / Feb 23, 2021 06:04 PM / Business & Tech

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Alibaba-backed online lender MYBank has joined the ranks of several state-owned commercial banks involved in China’s digital yuan pilot program, becoming one of the first privately owned banks to participate in a trial aimed at introducing a sovereign electronic currency system which is widely believed will revolutionize the country’s online payment industry.

Being one of the parties enlisted for the research and development of China’s digital currency, six-year-old MYBank will “steadily advance the trial pursuant to the overall arrangement of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC),” a MYBank spokesperson told Caixin on Tuesday, without elaborating on the matter.

MYBank differentiates itself from traditional commercial banks by using cloud technology to lower financing costs and fast-track the loan approval process particularly for small- and medium-sized enterprises, which have grown in recent years.

Tuesday’s confirmation comes three days after the state-backed China Securities Journal reported that Tencent-backed online lender WeBank is expected to also join the digital yuan program, which is being run under the auspices of six state-owned financial institutions including Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Agricultural Bank of China. The report, which also mentioned MYBank’s involvement, said that MYBank and WeBank’s services will soon be included in the PBOC’s digital yuan app. WeBank declined to comment on the report when contacted by Caixin on Tuesday.

Adding the two online banks to the pilot program could help the PBOC expand the influence of its planned digital yuan as Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay control more than 90% of China’s digital payment market. The move also comes as Beijing has tightened its oversight of the country’s major fintech firms over monopoly concerns.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Alibaba-Backed MYbank to Offer Nearly $700 Million of Perpetual Bonds

 


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By Ding Yi / Feb 23, 2021 12:26 PM / Economy

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China was the world’s biggest chip buyer last year, but it’s still just a bit producer.

In 2020, sales of integrated circuits in China jumped 9% year-on-year to $143 billion, according to a recent report by market research firm IC Insights. But only about 5.9% of the total went to indigenous companies, signaling that the country still has a long way to go to become self-sufficient in chip production.

Around 15.9% of integrated circuits sold on the Chinese mainland last year were manufactured locally. But most of those were made by foreign and Taiwan-based companies with mainland-based factories, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd., United Microelectronics Corp., SK Hynix and Samsung, the report showed.

IC Insights estimated that about 60% of integrated circuits sold in China last year were installed in products that were later exported.

Logic chips were the largest segment of China’s integrated circuit market in 2020, accounting for 26% of the total sales, followed by microprocessor with 23%, according to the report.

China aims to domestically produce 70% of its semiconductors by 2025 as part of its broader plan to attain global leadership in manufacturing in high-tech industries like artificial intelligence and information technology. That goal was made against the backdrop of tightening U.S. restrictions on American and overseas chipmakers that hope to ship to Chinese tech firms like Huawei.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Huawei Unveils New Foldable Phone Despite Growing Chip Deficit


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By Bloomberg / Feb 23, 2021 12:06 PM / Finance

Chinese esports firm VSPN is considering an initial public offering in the U.S. as soon as this year to build its war chest for expansion in China’s competitive gaming arena, people familiar with the matter said.

VSPN, also known as Xi’an Quantum Sports Management Co., could raise several hundred million dollars in the IPO, one of the people said, requesting not to be named because the matter is private.

Deliberations are at an early stage and details including size and timeline could change, the people said. A company representative said they don’t have an IPO plan at this stage.

Focusing on esports tournament organization and content creation, VSPN is expanding in a crowded space that could grow to 165 billion yuan ($26 billion) in revenue this year, according to iResearch. Founded in 2016, the company has helped with esports tournaments for games including Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s blowout hits Honor of Kings and Peacekeeper Elite, according to its website.

Headquartered in Shanghai, the company also has offices in Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Indonesia and the U.S., creating more than 13,000 competitions for broadcast. The company raised $60 million in a Series B+ funding round from backers including Prospect Avenue Capital and Guotai Junan International Holdings Ltd., according to an announcement in January. Its other investors include Kuaishou Technology, Sequoia Capital China, Susquehanna International Group, Tencent and Tiantu Capital.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related: Tencent-Backed Esports Startup VSPN Closes $60 Million Funding


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Heather Mowbray / Feb 22, 2021 06:48 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

#23岁女生在货拉拉车上跳窗身亡#

The hashtag #23-year-old-woman-dies-after-jumping-from-a-Huolala-removal-van-window# has been trending on Weibo with almost 800 million views, and has attracted 35,000 comments since the news was posted on the media site Ziniu on Feb. 21.

What’s the story?

According to the self-published media report, after hiring a moving van that came with a driver, at around 9 p.m. on the evening of Feb. 6, Che Shasha, a 23-year-old woman from Changsha in Hunan province, “jumped from the window” of the front passenger seat and was hit by passing traffic. The driver of the van-hailing logistics company Huolala called customer services to report that a passenger had attempted to kill herself. Che initially survived the incident but died of her injuries several days later. A social media user who claimed to be the deceased woman’s younger brother said that the van driver was detained by police. He has since been released.

What are people saying online?

One of the most read hashtags on Weibo on Monday, the incident “raised many questions” many relating to the fact the driver reportedly detoured from the route he was booked to follow. “The driver veered off course three times … if there wasn’t some kind of sexual encounter, what would provoke the woman to escape via the window?”

People asked why there was no voice monitoring in the van, and why the woman had not been asked to scan a health code on getting in, security and public health features in most ride-hailing vehicles.

“Girls, when you move house, call on a male friend or a strong female friend to help, don’t go alone,” wrote another Weibo user.

Some social media users questioned the publishing of images of the woman before and after the incident, saying that the media disrespected the victim. “My feelings cannot be described in words. I just wanted to cry.”

Related: China’s Uber-Like Truck Platform Raises $1.7 Billion for Business Expansion

 


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Ding Yi / Feb 22, 2021 06:17 PM / Business & Tech

Chinese search engine giant Baidu has hired bike-sharing startup Mobike co-founder and former chief technology officer Xia Yiping as chief executive officer of its new electric vehicle venture with domestic carmaker Geely, a Baidu spokesperson said on Monday.

Last month, Baidu announced plans to set up a new venture with Geely to make smart electric vehicles as part of its ongoing efforts to monetize its self-driving technologies. Currently, Baidu is focusing more on non-search businesses such as autonomous driving and cloud services to diversify its revenues sources beyond online advertising sales which have shown signs of stagnation.

“Mr. Xia Yiping has rich management experience in the fields of smart vehicles and mobility services, and we welcome him to join Baidu’s auto firm and look forward to his contribution to Baidu and the auto industry,” the Baidu spokesperson told Caixin.

Xia previously worked for Fiat Chrysler, Ford and ZTE before co-founding Mobike in 2015, according to his LinkedIn profile. Mobike was acquired by Chinese lifestyle service and food delivery giant Meituan in 2018.

During Baidu’s fourth-quarter earnings call last week, CEO Robin Li disclosed that his company hopes to launch its first electric vehicle model within three years.

The Baidu-Geely tie-up is not the first pairing between a tech firm and a conventional carmaker to co-develop electric vehicles in China. Last year, SoftBank-backed Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing launched the D1 electric taxi it co-developed with automaker BYD. The D1 features assisted driving and is designed for ride-hailing.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Cloud Services Boost Baidu’s Revenue but Cast Shadow Over its Profits

 


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Ding Yi / Feb 22, 2021 06:12 PM / Business & Tech

Volvo owner Geely and Switzerland-based Concordium have signed a deal to establish a joint venture that will provide China-based customers with blockchain technology that can be used to build new business models and create decentralized applications.

The joint venture, which is expected to be operational later this year after regulatory approval is secured, will use Concordium’s blockchain technology to help customers build businesses focused on issues such as digital identity, as well as regulatory and privacy enhancement technologies, according to a joint company statement on Friday.

The new company, 80% of which will be controlled by Geely, will work with Genius & Guru, a wholly owned subsidiary of Geely, to jointly develop commercial application cases and solutions across various industries, the statement said.

The partnership will help Geely and Concordium “explore pathways to build a leading blockchain industry ecology to reduce the cost of trust and provide companies with access to a platform with the tools they need to develop blockchain-based applications,” said Geely CEO Li Donghui.

Blockchain has become a buzzword in China since Xi Jinping in 2019 showed his support for the development of the novel technology, which has huge potential to enable lower costs, faster processing, higher efficiency and increased transparency for industries ranging from banking to cross-border e-commerce.

In September last year, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Ant Group introduced a blockchain technology-powered international trade payment platform that uses technologies such as artificial intelligence and the internet of things to simplify the process of cross-border trade. The emerging technology has also been adopted in online purchases for the purpose of credibility and transparency thanks to its merit of creating permanent, unalterable and traceable transaction records.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Foxconn, Geely Plan Venture to Make Cars for Other Automakers

 


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Heather Mowbray / Feb 19, 2021 07:21 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

#小米确定造车#

Chinese online media group Late Post quoted “multiple sources” as saying that giant smart appliance maker Xiaomi would soon be moving into red hot automobile production.

What’s the story?

Xiaomi Corp has reportedly decided to enter electric car production, having secured top rankings in smartphone sales in Russia and India in recent days.

Lei Jun, the founder of Xiaomi, has a history of being interested in electric cars, having visited Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2013. Sources told Late Post that the company has its internal strategy team involved in researching the future “micar”, while it also invested in Chinese electric car startup Xpeng in 2019.

Although no details have been released by the company about its first automobile offering, the smart appliance maker will be looking to develop beyond smartphones to more complex IoT objects, namely smart vehicles, which are now on the cusp of affordability and range targets.

What are people saying online?

The majority of comments query the reliability of the news, given that no official confirmation has come from Xiaomi just yet. Some say it shows that making electric cars is as easy as adding an electric motor to a battery, while others doubt Xiaomi will actually be able to produce cars. “In the past, no one dared to commit to car making, but now if you believe Xiaomi, it’s as simple as making a kid’s toy car,” wrote one Weibo user.

Xiaomi’s marketing prowess is the focus of some comments, including one saying that there will be “thirty seconds of ads when you get in, and automatic ads played at every red light.”

On the positive side, one social media user awaits a cheap product that can be sold to young people as their first car, saying, “Electric cars will soon cost as much as cabbages, and reach 1000 km on a single charge.”

Related: China Vehicle Sales Post Strong Growth, Even as Chip Shortage Weighs

 


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Ding Yi / Feb 19, 2021 07:14 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

A 22-year-old Chinese university student, who has amassed millions of fans for creating videos about high-tech electronic gadgets, has recently been catapulted to online stardom after a video in which he had a one-on-one talk with Apple CEO Tim Cook went viral on Weibo, one of China’s biggest social media platforms.

What’s the story?

On Thursday, the young university student, who only gives his surname as He, posted a video on his Weibo account, in which he asked Cook several questions about Apple’s corporate culture, how the company reacts to feedback from Chinese customers and what it has done to help elderly people embrace the fast-changing digital world.

Some people however have viewed the video as being more of a publicity stunt with Cook seemingly using it to show how creative Apple is and the importance the U.S. tech giant attaches to the Chinese market.

“There is no formula for innovation. But what we do is we have a culture of creativity and a culture of collaboration. And these two things together, when they intersect, create enormous innovation,” Cook said in the video. The remark was strongly echoed by He, who was “astonished” at the battery performance of Apple’s M1 chip-powered MacBook Air, which He described as “black magic”.

Cook also disclosed in the video that some features of Apple products were developed based on Chinese consumers’ feedbacks such as the iPhone’s night mode camera, which automatically turns on when a low-light environment is detected, thus reducing editing trouble later.

Since taking the helm at Apple in 2011, Cook has paid several visits to China, meeting government officials, business partners and Apple store employees there, as the country has become one of the company’s most important sales drivers.

What are people saying online?

Although the video is full of flattering words about Apple and its products, most internet users focused more on the student as ordinary people rarely get the opportunity to talk to Apple’s head.

“Compared with He, who has already exchanged views with Apple CEO Tim Cook on life goals and the future of the world, I, at the same age, have just asked Apple store staff for a discount,” a Weibo user commented.

Meanwhile, some turned up their noses at the talk. One internet user, who publishes tech stories regularly online, wrote that the talk was just a marketing device used by Apple, citing a separate video in which He admitted that he was contacted by Apple before the talk.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)


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Ding Yi / Feb 19, 2021 07:11 PM / Business & Tech

Payments processor Mastercard has partnered with fintech firm Island Pay to introduce a prepaid card that can be loaded with a central bank digital currency (CBDC) called the Bahamas Sand Dollar.

The prepaid card enables users to instantly convert the digital currency into traditional Bahamian dollars and pay for products and services anywhere Mastercard is accepted, according to a company statement on Wednesday.

The Bahamas Sand Dollar, issued by the central bank of the Bahamas, carries the same value and consumer protection as a traditional Bahamian dollar, and will be available to tourists in the future, the statement said.

Mastercard has been trying to earn a position in the digital currency field. In September last year, the company rolled out a testing platform for central banks to evaluate use cases of CBDCs. The platform enables the simulation of issuance, distribution and exchange of CBDCs between banks, financial service providers and consumers.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)


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By Anniek Bao / Feb 19, 2021 02:30 PM / World

A European consumer rights group has filed an official complaint accusing the popular short-video app TikTok of violating the rights of the app’s users and exposing underage viewers to inappropriate material.

The complaint, filed to the European Commission Wednesday, jeopardizes TikTok’s access to the 27-nation market, which supplies roughly one-seventh of the ByteDance Ltd.-owned app’s total users worldwide.

It also puts the company at risk of being fined as much as 4% of its annual global sales under some of the world’s strictest data protection rules.

The European Consumer Organization also urged the European Commission and several consumer protection authorities to launch investigations into TikTok. “They must act now to make sure TikTok is a place where consumers, especially children, can enjoy themselves without being deprived of their rights,” its statement said.

Related: TikTok to Make Layoffs Following Permanent Ban in India

Read the full story here.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)


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By Ding Yi / Feb 19, 2021 02:21 PM / World

Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi overtook Samsung and Huawei to become the largest seller in Russia’s online smartphone market in the fourth quarter of 2020, as the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country led to more online purchases.

In the final quarter of last year, Xiaomi accounted for 31% of Russia’s online smartphone sales, up from 19.2% a year ago, according to Counterpoint Research.

Samsung came in second with an online market share of 27%, but the South Korean giant was still the most popular brand in the overall Russian smartphone market in the quarter.

Apple made it into the top three in regards to online shipments for the first time with a market share of 15.5%, which Counterpoint Research attributed to the increased popularity of its iPhone 12 series and Huawei’s supply shortages largely caused by U.S. sanctions.

Huawei controlled 14.8% of Russia’s online smartphone market in the fourth quarter, claiming the fourth spot, compared with a year ago when it was the country’s biggest online smartphone seller with a 31.2% share.

Counterpoint Research analyst Soumen Mandal said that Huawei “is planning to introduce some flagship models along with some mid-range devices” to provide more options for consumers in Russia in order to regain market share there.

Although Russia’s total smartphone sales fell 11% year-on-year in the fourth quarter, online sales continued to rise, accounting for 35% of the total, Counterpoint Research said, without providing the specific shipment figures.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Xiaomi Leads Indian Smartphone Market Despite Falling Numbers


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Ding Yi / Feb 18, 2021 06:47 PM / Business & Tech

Chinese online video platform iQiyi suffered a slight revenue decline in the fourth quarter of 2020, as subscribers fell.

In the three months through December, Baidu-backed iQiyi’s total revenue decreased 1% year-on-year to 7.5 billion yuan ($1.1 billion), about half of which came from sales of membership services, which also dipped 1% from a year ago, according to the company’s latest earnings report.

The company’s net loss narrowed to 1.5 billion yuan from 2.5 billion yuan in the same period of 2019, the report said.

Its subscribers fell by 5.2 million to 101.7 million by the end of December, when compared with the end of the final quarter of 2019, according to the report.

iQiyi said that it expects current-quarter revenue to be between 7.07 billion yuan and 7.53 billion yuan, representing a year-on-year decrease of between 8% and 2%.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Cloud Services Boost Baidu’s Revenue but Cast Shadow Over its Profits

 


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Heather Mowbray / Feb 18, 2021 06:25 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

#央媒评茅台总工入围院士候选人#

If it’s not the company’s sky-high share price, or news about scalpers earning big profits from its famous liquor, Kweichow Moutai Co. Ltd. has still found ways to stay in the news over the holidays. This time word that its chief engineer has been short-listed for a top national research position at the Chinese Academy of Engineers is topping headlines, leaving online readers bemused.

What’s the story?

On Feb. 8, Southwestern Guizhou province announced its picks for national academic positions in science. Of the four on its shortlist for the prestigious appointment, Wang Li, chief engineer at China’s most valuable liquor company Moutai, has attracted attention on social media.

The Guizhou Association of Science and Technology promoted Wang, 48, for a position as researcher of “fermentation and light industrial biotech.” Wang is already celebrated in her home province, and her tech studio at Moutai has produced many provincial and national top grade liquor experts as well as nationally recognized brand and design researchers. Moutai has a close relationship with the Guizhou government, recently giving it a 4% stake in the company to a provincial government-owned investment vehicle.

In recommending Wang, Guizhou authorities said her studio was responsible for raising the standards of Moutai and liquor production in general. Wang is the first expert from the field of China’s homegrown liquor known as baijiu in the running for a national science role.

What are people saying online?

People have been calling Wang the first “sauce-aroma academician,” a term that refers to the most pungent taste category to which Moutai’s famous spirits belong as a result of a rich fermentation process.

A sarcastic social media commenter wrote on Weibo, “I can only pat Moutai on the back for its scholarly achievements, as do I Wuliangye (a rival baijiu brand). It will not be long now before (famous brands) Pixian bean preserve, Hongtashan cigarettes, Zhenjiang vinegar and Lee Kum Kee soy sauce secure themselves academicians too.”

One Weibo post picked up on an article pinning the No. 1 liquor’s success to science from 2019 in which the state-owned distillery’s party secretary Li Baofang hypothesized, “Everyone knows that Moutai tastes good, but with improvements in science, we can now put to rest the question of why Moutai tastes good.”

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