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By Dave Yin / Nov 15, 2019 01:34 PM / Politics & Law

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Internet regulators in Shanghai have shut down Chinese news website Business Times after it refused to comply with an official order to change its name and cease “unauthorized” reporting activities.

The bilingual outlet’s parent company, whose name translates to Shanghai Leading News Information Technology, used the “Business Times” name to “illegally conduct interviews, publish, and reprint online news and information,” thereby disrupting the distribution of news on the internet and misleading the public, according to a Wednesday announcement by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC).

The announcement gave no further details on the specific content that led to the outlet’s demise. Its website, businesstimes.cn, was offline by the time of publication.

Regulators had previously demanded that Business Times change its name and cease illegal operations, but the outlet did not comply within the stipulated time frame. That led the CAC’s Shanghai branch to cut off the Business Times’ website access. “Only then did the company express willingness to cooperate,” the announcement said.

Additionally, officials determined that the publication lacked press credentials, the announcement said, referring to a 2017 law requiring all news services ranging from websites to public social media accounts to obtain government permits in order to disseminate information.

Although the size of Business Times’ readership is unclear, its Chinese name bears a striking similarity to a number of outlets including the once-influential China Business Post, a Beijing-based magazine that was shuttered by the government in 2008 after it published an investigation into a state bank that was said to be inaccurate. Public records suggest that Shanghai Leading News was established in 2011.

This marks the second time this week that Chinese authorities have disciplined a news service. On Tuesday, the CAC’s Beijing office ordered Chinese tech unicorn ByteDance’s news aggregator app Jinri Toutiao to amend its search results after discovering entries that “slandered” a 20th-century Chinese revolutionary.

Contact reporter Dave Yin (davidyin@caixin.com)

Related: Bytedance’s News App Disciplined for ‘Slandering’ Communist Hero

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POLITICS & LAW

By Ding Yi / Nov 11, 2019 11:16 AM / Politics & Law

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Photo: VCG

Water-powered cars, toxic crayfish, and dodgy cancer cures have at least one thing in common.

They all featured in made-up stories that circulated widely on the Chinese internet this year.

A report by internet giant Tencent claims the most common examples of online ‘misinformation’ were related to medical care, food safety, and social issues, according to state news agency Xinhua.

The report said use of machine learning technology, mostly by news apps, is accelerating the spread of false information across China’s internet.

But it also pointed a stern finger at that introduced by overseas websites, saying the “false” information was a “communication risk,” without actually specifying what type of information it was referring to, or how much was considered sensitive by the Chinese government.

Within the three categories of medical care, food safety, and social issues, 42% of the examples were completely made up, 36% were partly true, and 10% were disguised as the findings of authoritative research institutions, according to the report.

Tencent conducted the investigation under the direction of the China’s Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, the state body that oversees China’s internet-related affairs.

Beijing sees such information as a potential threat to social stability and has taken several measures to combat online rumors in recent years, including the establishment of a platform named “Piyao” in 2018 that allows people to report and refute it. 

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: China Considers Blacklist for Online Rumormongers
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By Bloomberg / Nov 11, 2019 10:25 AM / Politics & Law

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Photo: VCG

(Bloomberg) — China is considering further cuts to subsidies for electric-vehicle purchases, according to people familiar with the matter, threatening to deal another blow to a once-burgeoning industry that’s facing an unprecedented slump.

Industry regulators in the world’s largest EV market have been discussing the proposal but are holding off on a decision until they weigh car sales data over the coming months, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. The plan involves reducing subsidies on consumers’ purchases of EVs next year but discussions are still at an early stage so there’s no guarantee the cuts will happen then, two of the people said.

China, which began subsidizing EV purchases in 2009 to promote the industry, has been gradually reducing handouts in the past few years to encourage automakers compete on their own. But the last time the government cut subsidies it triggered the country’s first drop in EV sales on record, exacerbating what had already been the most prolonged downturn in the world’s largest auto market.

The slump in China has dragged down the global EV sector as the country accounts for about half of the world’s sales of electrified cars. Still, regulators continue to face pressure to reduce handouts as state support helped bankroll the livelihood of hundreds of local startups and fueled concerns about a bubble in the industry.

But here’s the dilemma: Pull the levers too fast and it risks undermining China’s bigger ambitions of leading the world away from fossil-fueled gas guzzlers. China considers EVs as a strategically important sector and is mulling a target for 60% of all automobiles sold in the country to run on electric motors by 2035, people familiar with the matter have said.

China’s finance ministry, which has been overseeing the discussions, didn’t immediately respond to faxed queries.

Related: China’s New NEV Battery Recycling Mandate Puts the Onus on Struggling Carmakers

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By Bloomberg / Nov 08, 2019 10:36 AM / Politics & Law

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Photo: VCG

(Bloomberg) — U.S. prosecutors charged a New York company and its employees with a 13-year scheme to illegally import and sell Chinese-made surveillance and security equipment to the American government.

Aventura Technologies, founder Jack Cabasso and six others are accused of defrauding customers including military agencies by falsely claiming that it manufactured security cameras and other products in the U.S. when they were actually imported from China.

Aventura “created a channel by which foreign adversaries and other actors” could access “some of our government’s most sensitive facilities and computer networks,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said at a news conference in Brooklyn, New York. The products Aventura claimed to manufacture had “known cybersecurity vulnerabilities,” he said.

Six of those charged were arrested Thursday and are scheduled to appear in federal court in Brooklyn. They’re accused of money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud.

The U.S. seized records, bank accounts and a 70-foot yacht purchased with money made in the scheme, prosecutors said.

Messages left for the Commack, New York-based company and for James Branden, Cabasso’s lawyer, weren’t immediately returned.

Aventura sold laser-enhanced night vision cameras to the Navy and body cameras to the Air Force, prosecutors said. Aventura, which also claimed to manufacture walk-through metal detectors, collected at least $88 million in the scheme, prosecutors said.

Related: In Unusual Move, Huawei Offers ‘No Backdoor’ Deal to India Amid Security Concerns: Report
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By Ding Yi / Nov 07, 2019 11:47 AM / Politics & Law

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Photo: VCG

China has only just launched commercial services for its superfast 5G mobile networks, but the country isn’t resting on its laurels.

The government has already charged 37 experts at various universities and research institutes to develop the sixth generation of the technology, according to a Wednesday statement by the Ministry of Science and Technology.

“The establishment of this team marks the official beginning of the research and development of 6G technology,” the statement said.

During a panel discussion, researchers briefed the ministry on 6G development and the possible capabilities of the technology, the statement added, without adding further details.

Last week, China’s three major telcos officially launched their commercial 5G mobile service plans. Some 130,000 5G cell towers will be put into operation across the country by the end of this year, providing coverage to the largest cities.

Although Chinese officials signaled last year that the country was already looking into 6G technology, Wednesday’s statement gave the most detailed outline yet of the country’s research ambitions. Other countries, including the United States, South Korea, and Finland, also have nascent 6G research labs.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: China Launches 5G with Monthly Plans as Low as $18

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By Ding Yi / Nov 06, 2019 03:07 PM / Politics & Law

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Photo: VCG

China’s market regulator is tightening the screw on the country’s sprawling e-commerce platforms to combat the formation of digital monopolies in the run-up to the Double 11 shopping extravaganza.

On Tuesday, the State Administration for Market Regulation summoned representatives from several e-commerce platform operators including Alibaba, JD.com, and Pinduoduo for a meeting in the eastern city of Hangzhou. It urged them to halt the practice of forcing online vendors to sign exclusive cooperation agreements that forbid them from selling their products on competitors’ platforms, state news agency Xinhua reported.

The regulator reiterated that such “either-or” agreements constitute monopolistic behavior banned under a new e-commerce law. They also violate Chinese antitrust and unfair competition laws, Xinhua said.

The market watchdog also stated that it will continue to closely monitor the formation of any digital monopolies and launch antitrust probes where necessary to create a level playing field.

The Hangzhou meeting comes as JD.com prepares to sue rival Alibaba for allegedly abusing its market-leading status to coerce online sellers into exclusive cooperation agreements. JD.com is demanding that Alibaba pay more than 1 billion yuan ($142 million) in damages, cease the practice, and issue a formal apology. An Alibaba executive previously dismissed the agreements as “normal market behavior” that ensures “good money crowds out the bad.”

Sellers seem to be growing bolder in calling out the practice as well. On Tuesday, domestic home-appliance maker Galanz announced that a Guangzhou court has accepted its lawsuit against Alibaba’s Tmall marketplace, which Galanz accuses of unfairly demanding exclusivity.

China’s e-commerce behemoths are gearing up for the world’s biggest one-day shopping event, Double 11, to be held on Nov. 11. Last year, the festival generated revenue of more than $30 billion within 24 hours.

Matthew Walsh contributed reporting.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Alibaba Sued by Home Appliance Maker Over E-Commerce Marketing

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By Wang Mengyao and Ren Qiuyu / Nov 06, 2019 12:37 PM / Politics & Law

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Photo: VCG

Four Beijing branches of public relations firms have been individually fined up to 1.3 million yuan ($185,400) for deleting negative online comments about client companies, after a court in central China’s Hubei province ruled that their actions violated the country’s criminal law.

Employees and legal representatives of companies including D&S and Shenzhen Jiufu Investment Consulting pleaded guilty in the case heard by the Shashi District Court in Hubei’s Jingzhou city. They were found to have illegally deleted, blocked, or suppressed negative information about their clients posted on the internet from July 2015 through the opening of the case.

According to the judgment, D&S signed three search-engine optimization (SEO) contracts with marketing company Amway China, the terms of which allowed D&S to delete, block, and otherwise suppress negative information about Amway that appeared in results on Baidu, China’s biggest search engine. Testimony from employees of both D&S and Amway confirmed this.

The contracts also ensured that positive information about Amway would appear high up in Baidu search results and negative information would be reduced, removed, or buried lower down, according to an assistant manager in Amway China’s marketing department.

Amway China has previously faced criticism for its multi-level marketing schemes, which some have decried as a pyramid scheme.

The court ruled that all the companies involved had operated illegally by violating national regulations, blindly pursuing profit, exchanging money for the purpose of deleting information on the internet without authorities’ permission, and disturbing market order. They were fined between 300,000 yuan to 1.3 million yuan and the individuals involved were sentenced to between three and six years imprisonment.

Read the full story on Caixin Global soon.

Contact reporter Ren Qiuyu (qiuyuren@caixin.com)

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By Dave Yin / Nov 05, 2019 05:05 PM / Politics & Law

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Photo: VCG

A New Zealand telecom provider has announced the trial of a localized, private 5G network that uses equipment manufactured by Huawei Technologies, calling into question the extent to which the Chinese tech giant is blocked from supplying the country’s next-generation mobile networks.

Despite being blocked a year ago from deploying Huawei gear in its 5G networks, mobile carrier Spark New Zealand announced Saturday that is providing a Huawei-powered 5G offering for the exclusive use of Emirates Team New Zealand, a sailing team, which aims to use the network in designated parts of Auckland Harbor to gather real-time data on a new boat it is testing.

The new network is an extension of Spark’s 5G lab in Auckland, New Zealand’s most populous city. The lab uses equipment from suppliers including Huawei and test spectrum on loan from the country’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Last year, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), a New Zealand intelligence agency, blocked a 5G deal between Spark and Huawei citing security concerns. The move was widely interpreted as an outright ban of the Chinese tech giant from the nation’s next-gen networks, though Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern later made claims to the contrary.

“The GCSB … is aware of this (new) usage of test spectrum,” Spark spokesperson Arwen Vant told Caixin in an email, referring to the company’s use of Huawei tech, adding that there was no change to the status of the previously blocked deal.

Vant also said that Spark does not currently intend to extend the Auckland Harbour 5G trial to other clients and has not made a decision about suppliers, though it wants to be “multi-vendor.” The company has previously enabled limited 5G services in other parts of New Zealand using Nokia equipment.

Huawei’s murky ties to the Chinese state have led to accusations that the company could leverage its overseas telecoms infrastructure for espionage purposes, claims that the company denies and Beijing slams as “politically motivated.”

Among the Five Eyes nations — an intelligence alliance comprising New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. — the U.S. and Australia have fully banned Huawei from their 5G networks. In July, Canada delayed a decision on the company until after its federal election, which was held last month.

Also in October, reports emerged that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is moving to allow Huawei into “non-contentious” parts of U.K.’s 5G network, following a policy promoted by his predecessor Theresa May.

Contact reporter Dave Yin (davidyin@caixin.com)

Related: U.S. Efforts to Blackball Huawei Hit Resistance in Europe

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By Ding Yi / Nov 04, 2019 05:28 PM / Politics & Law

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Photo: VCG

A university professor in eastern China is suing a wildlife park that gathers information about visitors by scanning their faces, in one of the country’s highest-profile pushbacks against facial recognition technology to date.

On Monday, a court in Hangzhou, a city in Zhejiang province, accepted the case filed by Guo Bing, an associate professor of law at Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, against Hangzhou Safari Park.

Guo claims he paid 1,360 yuan ($193.46) in April in return for an annual pass to the park that scanned his fingerprints on entry. But last month, the park installed a so-called upgraded admissions system that scans faces before granting admittance.

That riled the privacy-conscious Guo, who demanded that the park refund his annual pass on the grounds that the data collected by the facial recognition system could be misused. The park refused.

Guo accuse the park of violating China’s consumer rights law, which stipulates that business operators must gain permission from consumers before gathering their personal information.

The case has sparked discussion in China, where facial recognition technology is being rolled out everywhere from tourist attractions to teahouses, ostensibly to reduce operating costs, according to state news agency Xinhua.

No date has yet been set for the hearing.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Baidu Launches ‘AI Teahouse’ With Facial Recognition and Robot Waiters

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By Matthew Walsh / Nov 01, 2019 05:33 PM / Politics & Law

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Photo: VCG

China will strive to establish an economic zone in space by the middle of the century, a senior official at the country’s main state-owned space-program contractor has said, according to a government newspaper report.

Bao Weimin, who is the chief of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation’s science and technology commission, said Wednesday at a forum in Beijing that the country plans to set up the economic zone in cislunar space — the area lying inside the moon’s orbit — within the next few decades. His comments were reported Friday by the Science and Technology Daily, a newspaper affiliated to the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Citing the vast economic potential of the project, Bao said in future China will expand research into reliable, low-cost aerospace transport systems featuring regular spaceflights to and from Earth. The country will seek to master the basic technology by 2030, build such a system by 2040, and establish the economic zone sometime around 2050.

The zone could generate output of $10 trillion by midcentury, the newspaper report said, citing unnamed experts.

China’s space sector is developing rapidly, with both state-owned and commercial aerospace players notching notable achievements in recent years. In July, Interstellar Glory Space Technology became the first private Chinese space company to launch a rocket into orbit. And in June, the country’s space agency announced the successful launch of a rocket from a sea-based platform, the first time a nation has done so using its own technology.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: First Private Chinese Company Launches Rocket Into Orbit

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By Huang Shulun and Liu Jiefei / Oct 31, 2019 01:40 PM / Politics & Law

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Photo: VCG

These days, Xu Jianfei, managing director of soybean trading company Huahong Investment, regularly works until midnight — tracking down suppliers, organizing transport and consulting with clients.

It’s a common story among Chinese soybean traders who have been forced to scour the world for new sources of the legume in a bid to reduce their dependence on imports from the United States, with which China is engaged in a protracted trade war.

Before tensions surfaced between the world’s two biggest economies, the U.S. was China’s biggest source of soybean imports. But Beijing has choked those off in a bid to hurt American farmers and retaliate against Washington’s import tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese goods.

It’s been an uphill struggle to find alternatives, Chinese buyers say. “Sourcing options are limited,” Xu told Caixin in a recent interview. “We’ve reached an inflection point in terms of where China gets its soybeans from, but the global supply chain hasn’t yet adjusted to this new situation.”

Read the full story later today on Caixin Global.

Contact reporter Liu Jiefei (Jiefeiliu@caixin.com) 

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By Matthew Walsh / Oct 30, 2019 12:17 PM / Politics & Law

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Photo: VCG

One of China’s top commerce officials says the country will “neither explicitly nor implicitly” force foreign companies to transfer technologies when doing business in China, Reuters reports.

The comments by Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen at a Tuesday press conference in Beijing address a major bone of contention in the ongoing trade war between China and the U.S.

Overseas investors, companies and policymakers have long voiced displeasure at being forced to hand over sensitive or private technologies to Chinese partners in exchange for market access. Because of China’s foreign direct investment restrictions, foreign companies must operate joint ventures with local firms in certain industries.

Those partnerships often necessitate technology transfers, either as an explicit precondition or as a means to facilitate cooperation.

Chinese and American leaders are currently negotiating the text for the first phase of a trade agreement announced by U.S. President Donald Trump on Oct. 11, part of which is likely to strengthen protections for U.S. intellectual property rights in China.

“The U.S. trade negotiating team will certainly appreciate the minister’s statement, but similar statements have been made and ignored in the past,” Brock Silvers, managing director of Adamas Asset Management in Hong Kong, told Caixin. “In the U.S. we often say, ‘The devil is in the details,’ but in China we could refine that axiom to say, ‘The devil is in the local implementation.’”

Wang, who doubles as China’s deputy international trade representative, outlined a number of other potential directives at the conference, including further opening up the financial industry and adjusting existing policies to grant foreign and domestic players equal market access to making new-energy vehicles, Reuters reported.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: China, U.S. Working on Text of Phase One Trade Deal: MOFCOM

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By Bloomberg / Oct 30, 2019 10:19 AM / Politics & Law

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Photo: VCG

(Bloomberg) — Germany’s spy chief said Huawei Technologies “can’t fully be trusted,” signaling security hardliners in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government want to keep the Chinese technology giant out of the country’s fifth-generation networks.

Bruno Kahl, the president of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service, or BND, gave public testimony in Berlin Tuesday in which he was asked about the risk level of Huawei’s presence in the expanded 5G network and its ties to the government in Beijing.

“The trust in a state company that has a very high level of dependence on the Communist Party and the country’s intelligence apparatus is not present,” Kahl told a panel of lawmakers overseeing German intelligence agencies.

Merkel’s government earlier this year ruled out an outright ban on the Chinese equipment supplier as Germany builds ultrafast 5G networks, defying warnings by the U.S. government and security hawks that Huawei equipment poses a risk of exposure to Chinese espionage.

That position was reinforced this month by reports the Chancellery had intervened to soften draft securities standards by removing the ability of authorities to identify “untrustworthy” vendors. The Chancellery has denied any intervention, saying there had never been a clause to ban Huawei.

At the same time, the government is under pressure to ensure German companies can tap the benefits of the next generation of communications technology quickly and at a reasonable price.

"It will become quickly profitable for German companies to have access to 5G," Merkel said at a technology conference in Dortmund Tuesday. She promised that the Federal Network Agency will announce shortly how companies will have access to reserved 5G frequencies.

All the same, Kahl signaled the government is still processing its security measures, saying “I have not been able to see that a definitive decision has been taken one way or the other.” The panel he was addressing was holding its annual public session; it usually meets behind closed doors.

Huawei pushed back, saying that accusations over trustworthiness were unfounded for a company serving three billion people globally.

“We have never introduced, and would never entertain the thought of introducing, so-called ‘backdoors’ in our equipment,” Huawei said in an emailed response to a query. “No government agency or outside organization holds any shares in Huawei or controls Huawei in any way.”

Even after Merkel ruled out a full ban, with an eye toward maintaining trade relations with China, officials in the BND as well as the foreign and interior ministries still wanted tools to potentially keep Huawei out if they sensed a security risk for Germany. The ability of authorities to determine whether equipment contained backdoor features that could be exploited by China is “very limited if not to say hopeless,” Kahl said.

Even if it were possible, he added, a software update could “immediately” alter the network and open it to “sabotage or espionage.”

Kahl underscored that a block on Huawei would have to be for core areas of 5G networks. “There may be areas where a participation doesn’t have to be excluded,” he said.

Related: U.S. Proposes Purge of Huawei, ZTE Equipment from Government-Subsidized Networks

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By Hu Yue and Timmy Shen / Oct 29, 2019 02:25 PM / Politics & Law

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Photo: VCG

China is taking blockchain technology very seriously indeed.

President Xi Jinping has urged more efforts to develop blockchain technology and underscored its importance for technological innovation and industrial transformation, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported on Friday.

Bitcoin’s price surged over 30% after the report.

China’s blockchain sector is said to be early in its development when it comes to technology, policies, talent and infrastructure, as well as legal and regulatory frameworks.

Multiple industry insiders have warned of potential risks. “We hope the authorities’ attention can really boost the industry’s development of blockchain and its applications, and will not lead to an ‘extravaganza’ of speculators and swindlers,” a manager from an internet giant told Caixin.

Years ago China saw a frenzy of initial coin offerings (ICOs) that grew out of control and triggered a regulatory crackdown. In September 2017, China banned all ICO activities, declaring them a form of illegal fundraising, and shut local cryptocurrency platforms that facilitated them. Major exchanges based in China then had to move overseas. The authorities also said last year that speculation, market manipulation and violations of regulations were common.

However, China’s authorities seem to believe blockchain technology holds promise for things like supply chain finance and data sharing among government agencies.

Read the full story on Caixin Global soon.

Contact reporter Timmy Shen (timmyshen@caixin.com)

Related: Cryptocurrency ‘Bubble’ Risk Cited by Central Bank

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By Qin Jianhang, Jiang Zhiyu and Tang Ziyi / Oct 29, 2019 01:33 PM / Politics & Law

The sentencing of a 13-year-old boy who stabbed a 10-year-old girl to death in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian has prompted heated debate about how the country handles juvenile criminal cases.

On Oct. 20, the boy, surnamed Cai, confessed to killing the unnamed girl that day. Local police announced Thursday that he had been sentenced to three years of “rehabilitation and reeducation,” during which time he will be sent into foster care, because Cai is under 14, the minimum age of criminal responsibility in China.

Chinese legislators are divided over the decision, with some calling for the age of criminal responsibility to be lowered.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today

Contact reporter Tang Ziyi (ziyitang@caixin.com)

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By Matthew Walsh / Oct 28, 2019 01:02 PM / Politics & Law

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Photo: VCG

Beijing has passed a new cryptography law, state news agency Xinhua reported Saturday, ahead of the proposed launch of what could become one of the world’s first government-backed nationwide digital currencies.

Due to take effect on Jan. 1, the law aims to “promote the development of the cryptography industry, guarantee internet and information security, (and) protect national security and social and public interests,” according to Xinhua. The Chinese state will “encourage and support” research and scientific and technological applications to foster progress and innovation in cryptography, the report said.

The law’s passage comes as China edges closer to setting up its own form of digital currency to slash the cost of keeping paper money in circulation and tighten its grip on the nation’s money supply.

Last month, the central bank appointed Mu Changchun, a onetime deputy director of its payment and settlement department, as the new chief of its digital currency research institute, sparking speculation that a digital currency rollout was in the pipeline.

Mu had previously said in August that the People’s Bank of China would soon release a digital currency of its own following five years of research and development.

China’s proposed digital currency would likely resemble Facebook’s planned Libra coin, a blockchain-based cryptocurrency that analysts worry could piggyback on the social network’s massive global presence to foster money laundering.

The news also comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping backed the development of blockchain technology at a meeting on Thursday.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: China Readies for Digital Currency Launch

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By Wang Su and Ren Qiuyu / Oct 22, 2019 12:51 PM / Politics & Law

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Photo: VCG

The U.S. Embassy in China denied that there are visa quotas for Chinese students but confirmed to Caixin on Sunday that those applying for study in science- and technology-related fields would be subjected to administrative review.

American embassy officials at the China International Education Exhibition attempted to allay worries over rumored visa restrictions on Chinese students, pointing to an increasing number of issued student visas between April and August this year. The total increased to 89,179 student visas, up 5,869 from the same period last year.

However, embassy staff confirmed that applicants for subjects related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — also known as STEM subjects — will still be subjected to administrative review, a step in the visa application process that has no time limit. According to the Institute for International Education’s 2018 Open Doors report, 46% of Chinese students studying in the United States in the 2017/18 academic year majored in STEM courses.

After the conclusion of trade negotiations earlier this month, U.S. President Donald Trump said at a press conference that Chinese students would not be treated differently. “We have incredible talent coming in from China. They occupy a big space in our universities and we want to keep it that way,” he said, with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in attendance.

The Trump administration has implemented visa limits on students studying in STEM fields to battle alleged intellectual property theft.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

Contact reporter Ren Qiuyu (qiuyuren@caixin.com)

Related: Trump Promises to Deal with Chinese Students’ Visa Woes

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By Zhao Runhua / Oct 16, 2019 12:16 PM / Politics & Law

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Photo: VCG

It’s been a long time coming, but China’s billion-plus mobile phone users will soon be able to keep their cellphone numbers when changing carriers — a function enjoyed for years by users in the West. The new policy will take effect nationwide from Nov. 30, state-run broadcaster CCTV reported Tuesday.

The country’s three service providers — China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom — have finally ironed out the details of a service first mooted nearly a decade ago, CCTV said, citing the country’s telecommunications ministry.

While other countries, including the United States and most European nations, rolled out such mobile-number portability (MNP) initiatives as far back the early 2000s, China’s attempt to do so has been beset by long-running discussions and trials. Carriers in general tend to resist such portability, as it removes a major deterrent for consumers to switch their mobile service providers.

In March, Premier Li Keqiang announced that the country planned to formally implement MNP in 2019, one year earlier than originally proposed by the telecoms ministry.

Further regional trials will be completed by November prior to the rollout of the nationwide service, the ministry told CCTV, adding that specific regulations on MNP services will be published soon.

Related: China Mobile CEO Li Yue Resigns

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By Liu Yukun and Tang Ziyi / Oct 14, 2019 05:00 PM / Politics & Law

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Photo: VCG

China's Ministry of Finance has indicated it will scrap all subsidies for hydrogen fuel cell cars by the end of 2020 as planned, bringing their treatment into line with other types of new energy vehicle (NEV).

The ministry signaled the move in an official response issued late September to Chen Hong, chairman of SAIC Motor, in his capacity as a deputy in China’s National People’s Congress, the country’s legislature. Chen had proposed during this year’s Two Sessions that the central government should continue to subsidize hydrogen cars.

The response circulated online last week.

China has committed to winding down subsidies for NEVs — a category that includes pure electric, hybrid electric, and hydrogen cars — by the end of 2020.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

Contact reporter Tang Ziyi (ziyitang@caixin.com)

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By Dave Yin / Oct 10, 2019 05:41 PM / Politics & Law

Developers of an app used by anti-government protesters in Hong Kong to track police presence in the city have condemned Apple’s decision to pull the software from its App Store, as the U.S. tech giant finds itself in its latest clash with Beijing.

HKmap.live, a mapping program popular among attendees at the sometimes-violent demonstrations, was removed from the App Store on Thursday. Apple said it had verified with the Hong Kong Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau, a body affiliated to the territory’s police force, that the app had been used “to target and ambush police (and) threaten public safety,” and that criminals had used the app to “victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement,” thereby violating both company guidelines and local laws.

Apple’s volte-face marks the second time it has flip-flopped on whether to host HKmap.live. The company initially rejected the app’s request to register with the App Store on Sept. 26, but reversed that decision Monday.

In a statement on Twitter, the developers of HKMap.live said they disagreed with the assessment from both Apple and the Hong Kong Police Force.

“The majority of user (reviews) in App Store … suggest HKmap IMPROVED public safety, not the opposite,” the developers said. “There is 0 evidence to support CSTCB’s accusation that (the) HKmap App has been used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement.”

Apple’s move follows a scathing Tuesday editorial in official Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily that slammed the company for approving the app, alleging the company had “opened the gates to those causing violence and chaos in Hong Kong.”

HKmap.live is the iOS version of a website that provides similar functionality. Both the website and the Android variant, hosted on Google’s Play Store, remain online.

Contact reporter Dave Yin (davidyin@caixin.com, @yindavid)

Related: Communist Party Newspaper Blasts Apple for Hosting App Favored by Hong Kong Protesters

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