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By Ding Yi / Jun 11, 2021 08:09 PM / Business & Tech

ByteDance aims to become a technology supplier for companies eager to digitalize as the Beijing-based company seeks to expand revenue beyond mainstay consumer-facing apps.

On Thursday, the TikTok owner officially introduced a smart technology brand called Volcano Engine, which it said will focus on exporting proprietary technologies, including recommendation algorithms, data analytics and artificial intelligence to more corporate clients, according to a statement received by Caixin.

ByteDance, which had been operating Volcano Engine for a year in a low-profile manner before Thursday’s official launch, highlighted its recommendation algorithms as a major business growth technology that it wants to sell to enterprise clients, citing an example in which the technology helped an e-commerce firm double its gross merchandise volume, according to the statement.

The company said that it has provided its business growth technologies to corporate clients including e-commerce giant JD.com, smartphone maker Vivo, carmaker Geely, video streamer Bilibili and China Construction Bank.

The huge success of ByteDance could not be achieved without recommendation algorithm technology that played a key role in catapulting its early flagship news aggregator app Jinri Toutiao and its current hit TikTok into stardom by using big data and deep learning to provide users with personalized content.

Thursday’s launch comes as TikTok, one of ByteDance’s major profit drivers, appears to show signs of losing steam globally amid a growing backlash in some of its overseas markets, especially in the U.S. and the EU, where lawmakers have raised concerns over its handling of user information. The app has been permanently blocked in India on national security grounds. India was once TikTok’s biggest overseas market.

In May, TikTok amassed 80 million downloads worldwide, down from the 112 million installs it logged a year ago, according to SensorTower. Although, the download number helped TikTok retain its status as the world’s most downloaded nongame app for the month, the year-on-year decline leaves Bytedance open to questions about whether it can hold on to the territory.

On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden revoked Trump-era bans on TikTok and WeChat and ordered a new review of software applications from foreign companies that could pose a risk to Americans’ sensitive data.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Trailing Rivals, Tencent Short-Video App Pivots to Movies and TV

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Ding Yi / Jun 11, 2021 07:22 PM / Business & Tech

Alibaba is working with its logistics arm Cainiao to develop self-driving trucks, signaling long-distance freight ambitions to match its development of robots for last-mile deliveries.

That was the message from Alibaba Chief Technology Officer Cheng Li at the 2021 Global Smart Logistics Summit held on Thursday, according to a statement received by Caixin.

The move comes as competition heats up in the self-driving vehicle industry, with more and more players starting to explore how to make better use of their technologies in the trucking business. The moves stem from a widely held notion that trucks, unlike passenger vehicles, are low-hanging fruit in a push to make money from self-driving technology because they operate under less complex driving conditions such as on highways.

The statement did not provide details about its plan for developing autonomous trucks. And an Alibaba representative declined to comment on the matter when contacted by Caixin.

However, the statement revealed that Cainiao plans to deploy 1,000 logistics Xiaomanlü robots on Chinese university campuses and in residential communities over the next year.

Xiaomanlü, meaning “little workaholic donkey” in Chinese, was introduced by Alibaba last September for use by Cainiao in delivering orders on the last mile of their journey. The robot is powered by a deep learning and high-definition positioning system that enables it to plan delivery routes, identify obstacles, predict pedestrian movements and operate in spite of a weak GPS signal, according to Alibaba.

Apart from Alibaba, JD.com and Meituan are also trialing their last-mile robot-enabled delivery services. Last month, the two companies obtained permits to test their driverless delivery vehicles on several designated public roads of Beijing, where the government has rolled out policies to promote the future commercialization of the technology.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Alibaba Unveils Delivery Robot to Meet ‘Last-Mile’ Demand

 


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

BlueCity, the operator of China’s largest LGBTQ dating app Blued, released mixed first-quarter results showing the company suffered widening losses even as revenue grew.

In the three months through March, the company’s total revenue jumped 30.7% year-on-year to 271.1 million yuan ($41.4 million), while its net loss widened to 52.1 million yuan from 7.6 million yuan the year before, according to its financial report released Thursday.

The composition of 10-year-old BlueCity’s revenue is in line with a trend in which more and more social networking platforms are deriving considerable revenue from livestreamed videos.

In the first quarter, nearly 81% of BlueCity’s total revenue came from livestreaming services, reaching 219.9 million yuan, up 22.4% year-on-year. The remainder of the total revenue was contributed by services related to merchandise sales, membership and advertising, with merchandise sales enjoying the fastest year-on-year growth of 297.7% among its four major business segments, the earnings report showed.

The revenue growth was offset by increased spending on marketing, R&D and administration, which grew 69.2%, 59.1% and 157.5% year-on-year respectively.

The number of paying users reached 640,000 by the end of March, representing a year-on-year increase of 47.8%, according to BlueCity.

The company said that it expects its full-year revenue to stand between 1.41 billion yuan and 1.46 billion yuan, representing a year-on-year increase of between 37% and 42%.

BlueCity’s Nasdaq-listed shares closed down 5.84% at $7.10 on Thursday.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Chinese LGBTQ Dating App Owner BlueCity Acquires Youth-Focused Gay Platform Finka

 


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Matthew Walsh / Jun 10, 2021 07:29 PM / Business & Tech

As China’s top leaders discuss a draft law that would beef up data protections, companies are hurrying to show they have what it takes.

The latest to do so is Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., which on Wednesday opened its largest cybersecurity and transparency center in the southern Chinese city of Dongguan.

The 20,000-square-meter complex aims to help cybersecurity industry stakeholders share their expertise in cyber governance and work on technical solutions, Huawei said in a statement.

The center, which will employ more than 200 engineers, will be open to regulators, independent third-party testing organizations, and standards bodies, the technology giant added.

“Cybersecurity is more important than ever,” said Ken Hu, Huawei’s rotating chairman, at the facility’s opening ceremony. “As an industry, we need to work together, share best practices, and build our collective capabilities in governance, standards, technology and verification.”

The project is Huawei’s seventh “transparency center” and the first it has set up in China. The controversial company built the previous facilities amid scrutiny from foreign regulations over the security of its products.

Beijing’s top brass are meeting this week to discuss proposed new rules on how personal data is collected, processed and stored, as the country looks to further curb the power of its tech titans.

One draft provision would penalize Chinese firms that hand over domestically stored information to foreign law enforcement and judicial agencies.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)


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Ding Yi / Jun 10, 2021 07:23 PM / Business & Tech

Hanson Robotics, a Hong Kong-based tech startup that shot to fame for making a social robot named Sophia, is launching a new prototype for the health care market, according to Reuters.

The prototype, named Grace, has a thermal camera that can take people’s temperature and measure their responsiveness, and it uses artificial intelligence to diagnose patients, Reuters reported on Thursday.

The English, Mandarin and Cantonese-speaking robot has capabilities that allow it to talk to front-line medical workers. The robot can take medical readings and ease frontline health care workers’ pressure by talking to them and assisting with certain tasks, Reuters said.

Hanson Robotics founder David Hanson told Reuters that Grace “can simulate the action of more than 48 major facial muscles” with a demeanor akin to an anime character, which is helpful in building trust and enhancing natural engagement with humans.

Mass production of a beta version of Grace is expected to begin by August, Reuters reported, citing David Lake, CEO of Awakening Health, a joint venture between Hanson Robotics and Singularity Studio. There are plans to fully deploy Grace next year in countries including China, Japan and South Korea, Lake added.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Delivery Robot Specialist PuduTech Pockets $78 Million in New Funding

 


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Ding Yi / Jun 10, 2021 07:18 PM / Business & Tech

Geek+, a Beijing-based startup focusing on developing robotics and artificial intelligence technologies to improve warehouse efficiency, has secured a contract to deploy its autonomous mobile robots in a distribution center operated by convenience store chain Circle K in Hong Kong, capitalizing on a trend of robots being used to streamline workflow and reduce staffing costs in industries from manufacturing to logistics.

The 13,000-square-meter distribution center, which restocks more than 300 Circle K Hong Kong stores that serve over 600,000 customers per day, is using 100 autonomous mobile robots developed by Geek+ to perform tasks such as moving ordered goods from designated areas to workstations where human workers complete the selection process, Geek+ said in a statement on Tuesday.

Geek+ said that these robots are equipped with technologies enabling them to automatically plan the optimal routes and that their small size will leave more room for storage racks to be placed in the distribution center.

Founded in 2015, Geek+ has developed a portfolio of robots that are designed to do jobs including picking, sorting, forklifting and disinfecting, according to its website.

Use of robots in workplaces or public places has seen a rapid rise especially since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, due to the implementation of social-distancing measures. In China, for example, some hospitals started to use robots to deliver drugs and meals in an effort to reduce potential infections with the virus.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Chinese Robot-Maker Rokae Raises Fresh Capital Amid Official Push for Intelligent Manufacturing

 


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

Tesla’s Shanghai-built Model Y became China’s second best-selling new-energy vehicle model in May, an achievement that came only five months after the U.S. carmaker started delivering the SUV in the world’s largest auto market.

Last month, Tesla sold 12,728 Model Ys in China, compared with April when the car claimed the title of the country’s sixth most popular new-energy car model with sales of 5,407 units, according to statistics from the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA).

In January, Tesla, which sees the Chinese market as a major profit driver and has been deepening its localization efforts, started delivering the Shanghai-assembled Model Ys to China-based customers. The Model Y is the second locally-produced car model Tesla now sells in China after the Model 3, which the company started delivering locally in January 2020.

The Model 3 was the third best-selling new-energy car model in May with sales of 9,208 units, representing a year-on-year decrease of 17%, according to the CPCA.

The Model 3’s sales drop came after Tesla was mired in a public relations crisis in China triggered by a protest staged at April’s Shanghai Auto Show by a Tesla customer, who alleged that the company’s brakes had safety issues citing a crash in February involving a Model 3 driven by her father. Under pressure from regulators, Tesla agreed to provide the protester with complete driving data for the half hour before the crash, which the company said showed poor driving rather than brake failure.

The Elon Musk-founded company has also made efforts to meet regulatory compliance requirements related to car data security in China. In May, the electric carmaker said it had built a new data center in Shanghai to store information gathered on local users and their vehicles, with a promise to give car owners access to its vehicle information checking platform.

May’s top spot was taken by Hongguang Mini, a low-cost, two-door micro-electric vehicle made by General Motors’ Chinese joint venture, with sales of 29,706 units, according to the CPCA.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Tesla Announces New Shanghai Data Center to Allay Concerns

 


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Ding Yi / Jun 09, 2021 07:22 PM / Business & Tech

With a growing number of contracts it has secured with tech firms betting on autonomous driving, Chinese lidar-maker Hesai Technology has caught more and more attention from venture capitalists bullish on the company’s remote sensing technology, which can boost smart cars’ self-driving capabilities.

The latest investors endorsing Hesai, a Shanghai-based startup that develops lidar sensors for autonomous vehicles and other robotics applications, are smartphone maker Xiaomi, food delivery firm Meituan, Hillhouse Capital’s GL Ventures and Citic Private Equity Funds Management, which co-led Hesai’s series D funding round that raised more than $300 million, Hesai said in a statement on Tuesday.

Other investors included a U.S. dollar-denominated fund managed by Huatai Securities and Hesai’s existing shareholders — Lightspeed China Partners and Qiming Venture Partners, according to the statement.

Lidar is a key technology for autonomous driving as it uses pulsed laser light the way radar uses radio waves to detect objects around a car as it moves.

Seven-year-old Hesai said it will use the proceeds for the mass production of a hybrid solid-state lidar, the construction of a smart manufacturing facility and the development of automotive-grade lidar chips.

Hesai has developed a series of products including mechanical lidar, solid-state lidar and an all-in-one sensing kit for autonomous driving, with its latest product, the PandarXT lidar, being designed for uses in unmanned logistics, mapping and surveillance, according to its website.

The new financing also mirrors strategic implications for Xiaomi and Meituan.

In March, Xiaomi jumped on the electric car manufacturing bandwagon with a massive investment plan, and a cash injection into Hesai opens the possibility that future Xiaomi-branded cars will be outfitted with Hesai-developed sensor systems. The move came after Baidu, which also has a partnership with Hesai, said it had embarked on a joint venture with domestic automaker Geely to produce smart electric cars.

Meanwhile, Meituan is exploring last-mile delivery services using robots capable of automatically identifying obstacles and planning delivery routes. Meituan is also a backer of Shenzhen-based startup PuduTech, which focuses on developing indoor delivery robots.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Meituan, JD.com Get Green Light to Trial Unmanned Delivery Vehicles in Beijing

 

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Ding Yi / Jun 09, 2021 07:18 PM / Business & Tech

Momo Inc., which runs two of China’s biggest dating apps, started the year 2021 with lackluster quarterly results, with both revenue and profit suffering a decline as the number of paying users diminished.

In the three months through March, the company’s total revenue fell 3.4% year-on-year to 3.5 billion yuan ($529.7 million) while its net profit dipped 14.3% year-on-year to 461.7 million yuan, according to its latest earnings report released Tuesday. The firm expects revenue to dip further in the current quarter.

Momo makes money from four major businesses including live videos, value-added services, mobile marketing and mobile games, with the first two contributing nearly 98% of its total revenue in the first quarter.

In the first quarter, revenue derived from live videos totaled 2 billion yuan, down 15.9% year-on-year. This was largely offset by a jump in revenue generated from value-added services, which reached 1.5 billion yuan during the period, up 23.8% year-on-year. The remainder of the quarterly total revenue came from mobile marketing and games, generating 38.7 million yuan and 11.2 million yuan, down 32.3% and 11.9% year-on-year respectively.

In addition to its namesake dating app Momo, which has developed into a diversified social messaging and networking platform featuring various entertainment functions including short videos, livestream broadcasting and group video chats, the company also operates a dating app called Tantan that it acquired in 2018.

Unlike the Momo app, Tantan recorded 48.7% revenue growth in the first quarter, reaching 567.7 million yuan, which the company said was largely due to the increased popularity of its live video services. Tantan managed a pivot to livestreaming amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The number of the company’s paying users of live video and value-added services reached 12.6 million by the end of March, compared with 12.8 million a year ago, according to the financial report.

Momo said that it expects total revenue for the second quarter to stand between 3.6 billion yuan and 3.7 billion yuan, representing a year-on-year decrease of between 6.9% and 4.3%.

Momo’s U.S.-listed shares closed up 3.23% at $14.37 on Tuesday.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Momo Breaks Up With Founder as Dating App’s Revenue Continues to Slide

 


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Ding Yi / Jun 09, 2021 07:15 PM / Business & Tech

China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) and BYD are scrambling to win a contract to supply electric vehicle batteries to Apple, which aims to start production of a passenger vehicle in 2024, Reuters reported.

CATL and BYD are in preliminary discussions with the iPhone designer, which come with a prerequisite that the two companies build manufacturing facilities in the U.S., where some automakers are calling on the government to support producing batteries locally, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing sources with knowledge of the matter.

The condition was confirmed by senior White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein, who told Reuters that Apple’s demand is “completely consistent with what the president has talked about in terms of onshoring supply chains particularly in areas where we might grab global market share.”

However, CATL, which already provides Tesla with batteries, is unwilling to build a U.S. factory due to political tensions between the two countries and cost concerns, the sources said.

The news comes as many battery-makers are increasing their production capacities against the backdrop of many governments around the world demanding a higher share of electric cars in total car sales as part of efforts to fight global warming.

Last week, Reuters reported that CATL was mulling a new car battery plant in Shanghai, which would be situated near Tesla’s China factory.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: CATL to Supply Batteries for Mercedes-Benz Electric Truck

 


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Icy Chen / Jun 09, 2021 07:13 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

A video of a woman berating a fellow bus passenger on a Beijing bus went viral on Tuesday, with the related hashtag #Woman-cursed-passenger-for-being-slow-to-give-up-their-seat accruing 450 million views and 16,000 comments on Weibo by Wednesday evening.

What’s the story?

A video shows the woman, who claims to be physically disabled, confront a younger woman for not giving up her seat.

The 63-year-old, who says she is a local of the capital, loudly insults the other passenger, calling her a “stinky migrant” and accusing her of “begging in Beijing.” She was subsequently detained and has since apologized for her behavior.

According to the latest census, Beijing’s official population stands at 21.89 million of which 38.5% originate from outside the city. The number of registered migrants in the capital has swelled by 19.5 % in the past decade.

What are people saying online?

Social media users condemned the older woman’s sense of superiority and her rudeness. One comment said, “On public transportation, you should be grateful that others give up their seats for you if there are no priority seats. And if they don’t, it is also fine. You got the seat in the end and kept swearing?”

Some readers were outraged by the Beijing native’s discriminatory remarks about migrants. “Does the prosperity of a city depend only on the locals? No city can live without migrants. Only a city with people in it can have what it wants!”

One reader pointed out that this incident reflects “psychological pressure faced by locals when their living space is squeezed,” going on to say, “It pokes at the pain of migrants in the north, and at the tears of local residents.”

Related: China to Make It Easier for Rural Workers and Students to Get Residency Status in Cities

 


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Ding Yi / Jun 08, 2021 07:37 PM / Business & Tech

JD.com-backed delivery platform Dada Group said its losses swelled in the first quarter of 2021, despite a decent jump in revenue.

The Shanghai-based company reported a net loss of 710.3 million yuan ($111 million) in the three months through March, compared with a 495.4 million yuan loss a year ago, according to its earnings report released on Monday.

Total revenue grew 52.1% year-on-year to 1.7 billion yuan, according to the report. The report also showed that its number of active users hit 46.1 million by the end of March, up 67% year-on-year.

Dada makes money from two major businesses. One is Dada Now, an intracity courier service that generated 894.5 million yuan in revenue in the first quarter. The other is JDDJ, a grocery delivery unit Dada acquired from JD.com in 2016, which contributed 778.3 million yuan to Dada’s quarterly total revenue.

The spike in revenue was offset by surging operational and marketing expenses, which drove Dada’s total spending up 70% year-on-year in the first quarter to 2.4 billion yuan.

Dada’s Nasdaq-listed shares closed up 1.3% at $25.74 on Monday.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Delivery Platform Dada Stays in the Red Even as Pandemic Proves a Boon

 


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Ding Yi / Jun 08, 2021 07:06 PM / Business & Tech

Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo made the ranking of world’s top five smartphone vendors in the first quarter of 2021, according to research firm Gartner, collectively controlling a third of a global market from which U.S.-sanctioned Huawei has retreated.

In the three months through March, Xiaomi retained its status as the world’s third-largest smartphone vendor, with sales growing 65% year-on-year to 48.9 million devices during the period, giving it a global market share of 12.9%.

Vivo and Oppo ranked fourth and fifth with a basically equal share of the market — 10.2%. The two companies’ sales jumped 73% and 60% year-on-year in the first quarter to 38.7 million and 38.3 million units respectively.

Gartner attributed the Chinese smartphone makers’ sales growth to increased demand for their 5G-enabled phones and the decline of Huawei and LG. Huawei suffered a severe contraction in smartphone sales starting in the second half of last year largely due to chip shortages caused by U.S. sanctions. In April, South Korea’s LG announced it would close its money-losing smartphone division, a move that Reuters reported would leave its 10% share of the North American market, where it is the third-largest smartphone brand, ripe for being gobbled up by Samsung and Apple.

According to Gartner, in the first quarter of 2021, Samsung was still the global market leader with a share of 20.3%, followed by Apple which controlled 15.5%.

Overall, global smartphone sales increased 26% year-on-year to 378 million units, Gartner said.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Huawei Makes HarmonyOS Open Source to Boost It as Android Alternative

 


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Ding Yi / Jun 08, 2021 07:02 PM / Business & Tech

A consortium led by Chinese internet stalwart Sina Corp. is reportedly in talks to buy a stake in Yoozoo Games, a Shanghai-based video game developer which made headlines late last year when its founder Lin Qi was poisoned to death.

Sina, together with Weibo Corp. and a Shanghai-based state investment fund, is in final talks with Yoozoo Chairwoman Xu Fenfen to acquire 18% of the company in a deal that is likely to close in the coming weeks, Reuters reported Monday, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Xu is the former wife of Lin, and their three children have inherited Lin’s 24% controlling stake in Yoozoo following his death. But since all three are minors, Xu effectively controls the company until they reach adulthood.

According to Reuters, the consortium is also looking to buy the remainder of the 24% stake in the coming months.

The news comes as Sina is betting big on gaming in a bid to diversify its revenue base beyond online advertising on its news portals and Twitter-like Weibo social media platform.

In April, Reuters reported that Chinese video streamer Bilibili, which counts gaming as one of its major revenue sources, was in talks to buy a separate 24% of Yoozoo’s shares in a deal valued at nearly 5 billion yuan ($764 million).

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Controversy-Plagued Game Studio’s Shares Soar on Report of Bilibili Interest

 


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Ding Yi / Jun 07, 2021 07:38 PM / Business & Tech

Friday saw the maiden Japanese flight of EHang’s flagship autonomous passenger drone, another vote of confidence from a foreign government in a technology which the Chinese company claims will revolutionize aerial transportation.

The EHang 216’s flight was approved by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan (MLIT), making it the first passenger-grade autonomous aerial vehicle to conduct trial flights in Japan’s open airspace, according to the company statement Friday.

Guangzhou-based EHang said that the test flight — part an event at Kasaoka Air Station in Okayama prefecture — is in line with a 2018 industrial blueprint which aims to have aerial transportation of goods and people using self-flying vehicles up and running in Japan by 2023.

The MLIT is studying safety standards for flying cars to achieve this goal, added EHang, which said in April that the Civil Aviation Administration of China had set up a working group to examine the airworthiness of the EHang 216.

EHang touts the drone, which can fly 35 kilometers on a full charge, as means of short-distance transportation. The company also has designs on longer trips with the launch of a new model, the VT-30, which it says has a range of up to 300 kilometers and will be able to ferry up to two passengers at a time.

EHang’s U.S.-listed shares have plunged 74% since short seller Wolfpack Research released a report in February accusing it of cooking the books. EHang denied the short seller’s allegations.

The company’s net loss swelled to 50.8 million yuan ($7.8 million) in the fourth quarter of 2020 from 200,000 yuan a year ago, with sales of 22 EHang 216s for the period, according to its latest earnings report.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: China to Examine Airworthiness of Battered Drone-Maker’s ‘Flying Car’

 


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Ding Yi / Jun 07, 2021 07:32 PM / Business & Tech

Huawei is deepening its involvement in the semiconductor industry with an investment in a Chinese company engaged in producing a major component for chipmaking equipment, as the Chinese tech giant grapples with chip shortages caused by the U.S. sanctions.

Hubble Technology Investment, Huawei’s wholly owned venture capital arm, recently invested in Beijing RSLaser Opto-Electronics Technology, which focuses on producing light source systems for chipmaking machines, according to corporate data provider Tianyancha.

The deal enables Huawei to become RSlaser’s seventh largest shareholder with a 4.8% stake, according to Tianyancha. The Institute of Microelectronics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences is the biggest shareholder of RSlaser. It has a 26.6% stake.

Since its founding in 2019, Hubble Technology Investment has participated in 33 deals involving a variety of industries ranging from automation software to industrial chemicals, according to financial data provider PitchBook.

The investment comes as Huawei strives to lessen the effect of the U.S. sanctions that have blocked its access to handset chips made with American technology. In large part because of the U.S. tech ban, Huawei suffered a severe contraction in smartphone sales starting in the second half of last year.

China’s contract chipmakers mainly use foreign-made equipment to produce chips. In March, China’s largest chipmaker SMIC extended its contract with Dutch company ASML to keep buying the latter’s lower-tech chipmaking machines until the end of the year as the Shanghai-based chipmaker struggled to meet customer demand amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The U.S. has been pressing ASML to stop selling its high-tech hardware to China as part of a broader effort to curb Beijing’s ambition to build up its chip sector.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Sanction-Hobbled SMIC to Keep Doing Business With Major Western Supplier

 


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Ding Yi / Jun 07, 2021 07:30 PM / Business & Tech

Beijing-based lifestyle service and food delivery giant Meituan has launched a fund to boost the research and application of green technology, as China pledges to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2060.

Meituan will initially inject 500 million yuan ($78 million) into the Meituan Green Tech Fund, which will be used to finance scientists’ research on fundamental low-carbon technology as well as support demonstration projects designed to encourage the technology’s application in packaging, recycling and smart supply chain operations, Meituan said in a statement on Friday.

Meituan also said that it plans to launch a so-called “carbon account” that merchants on its platform and users can use to record their carbon footprints as reflected in the number of recycled packaging and nondisposable tableware they use.

Friday’s announcement comes a day after Meituan’s billionaire founder Wang Xing unveiled plans to transfer $2.2 billion worth of his company holdings into a separate charitable fund that will focus on areas such as education and scientific research.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Meituan Chief Wang Xing Joins China’s Growing Ranks of Philanthropists

 


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Icy Chen / Jun 07, 2021 07:22 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

Following the release of the essay prompts included in the annual college entrance exam or “gaokao,” online debate has centered around one of the topics chosen this year — Communist Party history.

The hashtag #Gaokao-composition has been viewed 5 billion times and received 2.2 million comments as of Monday afternoon.

What’s the story?

Since it resumed in 1977 following the end of the Cultural Revolution, the gaokao has been a national fixation. One hot topic of discussion every year is the Chinese literature exam, with essay questions often picked apart by social media users keen to give their two cents about the topics chosen.

Communist Party history made it onto this year’s list of prompts, with one of the eight papers offered asking students to reflect on the century-long struggle that the Chinese people have “integrated into their souls.”

Other questions addressed responsibility and commitment in one’s youth, the pursuit of ideals, and the meaning of life.

What are people saying online?

With the approaching 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party, the political content of this year’s gaokao sparked discussion among China’s social media users. Many expressed support with one comment reading, “No great poet or writer can be separated from his time. Is it useful to select talents without considering the development of China? When will cultural confidence be achieved if the essay test is not about the country and its youth?”

However, some readers felt that the prompts weren’t the best way to assess students, with one saying that “these essay questions cannot show off students’ active thinking and don’t do much to encourage boldness or creativity. It is hard to gain any reflection of a student’s literary talent [from them].”

One reader suggested that “fostering patriotic fervor and correct values in students is a matter for politics and history classes, while the Chinese exam should be all about Chinese.”

Related: Trending in China: Are People Without Degrees ‘Intellectually Challenged’? HR Statement Sparks Outrage 


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By Ding Yi / Jun 04, 2021 07:24 PM / Business & Tech

Chinese tech giant Tencent’s cloud computing arm has added four new internet data centers in Bangkok, Frankfurt, Tokyo and Hong Kong as part of ongoing efforts to widen the use of its cloud services around the world.

The data centers are built in accordance with the so-called Tier 3 standard and are located in the cities’ network hubs with connectivity to major local and international network operators, Tencent Cloud said in a press release on Thursday.

The Tier Classification System was created by the U.S.-based Uptime Institute to evaluate the performance of data centers, with Tier 3 data centers requiring no shutdowns when equipment needs maintenance or replacement. Tier 4 is the highest level in the system.

In a separate statement, Tencent Cloud said that the new data center in Tokyo will technically support Tencent’s news, video streaming and social media platforms to display content related to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which have been postponed to this summer due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tencent Cloud has been accelerating its global expansion to grab a slice of the public cloud services market. In March, the company announced plans to launch an internet data center in Bahrain this year, its first public cloud infrastructure in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 23% in 2021 to $332 billion, up from $270 billion in 2020, according to Gartner.

Tencent Cloud operates mostly in China and the Asia Pacific region, but also has data centers in Silicon Valley, Virginia, Toronto and Moscow, according to its website.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Tencent Cloud Plans First Mideast Data Center in Bahrain

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Icy Chen / Jun 04, 2021 06:24 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

Timed to coincide with International Children’s Day, the Ministry of Education released Regulations on the Protection of Minors in Schools, which requires schools to provide sex education. The news has received thousands of comments on social media expressing hope the reform will be rolled out in a helpful way for the nation’s youth.

The hashtag #Ministry-of-Education-requires-schools-to-start-sex-ed has been viewed 330 million times and received 43,000 comments.

What’s the story?

Schools have been required to provide sex education so that students can protect themselves from sexual abuse and harassment, learn more about their physical health and increase their awareness of sexual issues.

Schools are required to establish a systematic workflow for preventing, reporting, and dealing with sexual assault and harassment that must include putting regulations in place in dorms and using video surveillance.

Staff at educational institutions are now explicitly forbidden from having romantic or sexual relationships with students. Any who do will be dismissed and have their teaching credentials revoked. Moreover, they will be barred from the education profession for life, the regulations said.

What are people saying online?

Social media users commented in the thousands, with many hoping the reform will address children’s real issues in a flexible and open-minded way, rather than taking a blanket approach to a complex topic. One comment read: “Schools need to be open in telling students and parents that sex education is an essential part of a student’s development. Don't reject sex education because of shame.”

Most Weibo users have expressed support for this reform, believing it is necessary to protect the young. One reader offered a warning, “You think sex education comes too early, but sex offenders won’t mind your kids being too young!”

Another reader noted that sex education should not be limited to the physical, but should also include psychological advice too. “Children who are born attracted to the same sex should not be discriminated against, as this may leave them with self-doubt and low self-esteem.”

Related: China Sets Up National Body to Take On Child Abuse

 


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