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POLITICS & LAW

/ Apr 17, 2020 10:41 AM / Politics & Law

Photo: IC

Photo: IC

(Bloomberg) — With autonomous-vehicle companies parked by Covid-19, Pony.ai has teamed up with Los Angeles-based e-commerce site Yamibuy to deliver packages and groceries in the city of Irvine. Yamibuy specializes in Asian foods and home goods. The partnership is meant to help meet the surge in delivery demand, as consumers across the U.S. and around the world have been forced to stay at home.

Pony.ai, a Fremont, California-based startup, will deploy its fleet of 10 modified Hyundai Kona battery-electric cars with a safety driver in every one. The contactless and autonomous deliveries will go directly to customers’ doorsteps, with Yamibuy automatically assigning orders from its platform to Pony.ai vehicles in Irvine. Packages then will be collected from a local distribution center, driven to a customer’s address and left on the doorstep by the safety driver — or a customer can choose to collect a package from the trunk of the car.

The delivery service, which launched today, is expected to run until midsummer. Under rules from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, autonomous-driving companies are allowed to test delivery vehicles on public roads, so long as they hold the correct permit and the vehicles weigh less than 10,001 pounds.

“We quickly converted our existing robotaxi fleet to repurpose them for goods delivery,” said Pony.ai Chief Executive Officer James Peng. “I am thrilled that we are able to help the local community by delivering much-needed food and packages to the doorsteps of residents.”

Autonomous-vehicle startups across the Bay Area and the rest of California have suspended testing of their self-driving technology on public California roads in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. That list includes General Motors-backed Cruise, Alphabet-owned Waymo and San-Francisco based Zoox.

While Pony.ai has largely focused on autonomous ride-hailing, the partnership with Yamibuy addresses part of what’s seen as a growing need, in a post-pandemic world, for safe, contactless ways of getting goods to consumers. In early April, SoftBank-backed Nuro was granted a California DMV permit to test low-speed delivery vehicles without a safety driver. The permit allows Nuro to make deliveries for local businesses. Waymo also has a driverless testing permit.

Pony.ai hopes, in time, to generate revenue from the partnership with Yamibuy. The company is in talks with the DMV over whether it will be allowed to be compensated for delivery under state rules, which prohibit delivery fees without a commercial use permit.

“Under a permit for testing with a driver, AV companies cannot receive compensation for transporting goods,” the California DMV said in an emailed statement. The issue of fares for autonomous ride-hailing in California has been a source of contention between the industry and regulators, as the industry is eager to prove the commercial viability of AVs.

Prior to the pandemic, Pony.ai was running an autonomous ride-hailing pilot in Irvine, sanctioned by the California Public Utilities Commission, as well as providing rides to city employees in Fremont, traveling between city government buildings. The startup deepened its relationship with Toyota Motor Corp. in February when the Japanese automaker invested $400 million in Pony.ai, taking its valuation to more than $3 billion.

Pony.ai’s operations in China slowed down because of Covid-19 earlier this year, but it resumed robotaxi pilots in Nansha, Guangzhou province, and in Beijing by Feb. 17, as government restrictions eased. The company has since implemented new sanitation protocols for its China vehicles, requiring cleaning after each ride. Pony.ai said it hopes to restart the California pilots once it’s safe and it has permission to do so.

“It is this focus on versatility of our technology that enabled us to contribute to society during this unprecedented time,” CEO Peng said.

Related: China’s Pony.ai Among First to Launch Passenger-Carrying Robotaxi Service

Contact editor Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com)

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POLITICS & LAW

By Dave Yin / Mar 04, 2020 07:39 PM / Politics & Law

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China’s most comprehensive internet regulations to date include a list of prominent locations on websites where content deemed politically acceptable should go and information deemed ideologically undesirable — but not illegal — must not.

The content placements include highly visible locations on a website or app such as homepages of websites and e-commerce platforms, pop-ups, featured pages and social media posts, lists of popular search queries, popular recommendations and page rankings. They also apply to online games and even software skins.

According to the new rules (link in Chinese) these spots should be used for “encouraged” content, including promotional material about government-ordained “core socialist values,” Communist Party policy decisions, China’s economic and social development, and content that showcases the “worthy accomplishments and fervent lives” of the people, increases the global influence of Chinese culture, dispels public concerns, or “eulogizes truth, goodness and beauty.”

Content excluded from eye-catching locations includes stories featuring exaggerated headlines or scandals, “improper” comments about natural or manmade disasters, as well as content that is sexually titillating, instigates discrimination between different groups of people, is vulgar or in “poor taste,” or may lead minors to develop “unhealthy” habits.

“Online content creators should take steps to be on guard against and resist … such harmful information,” the regulations say.

The list of curbed content is separate from information that is outright illegal. Banned content includes posts that violate national security and interests, disrupt racial unity, defame national martyrs, promote or incite extremism, spread rumors, or disrupt economic and social order, the regulations say.

Online platforms have been told they should carry out stricter real-time content management, flesh out user registration and account management techniques, audit comment sections, and quell rumors and internet-based crimes. In addition, companies are required to write annual reports on their content management efforts and discuss the state of “social commentary.”

The new rules, first published by internet watchdog Cyberspace Administration of China in December, came into effect Sunday. Its implementation comes as AO3, a major U.S.-based fiction platform hosting a vast collection of homoerotic literature created by Chinese writers, was blocked in mainland China.

Contact reporter Dave Yin (davidyin@caixin.com) and editor Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: China Handled 12 Million Reports of ‘Illegal and Harmful’ Data in December


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By Dave Yin / Jan 07, 2020 04:25 AM / Politics & Law

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China is making major revisions to its antitrust law for the first time in more than 11 years to give it more teeth while reining in the dominance of the country’s internet goliaths.

A draft revision of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law, released last week by the State Administration for Market Regulation, expands on criteria used to judge a company’s control of a market and mentions internet companies for the first time. 

The draft mandates considering the effect businesses have on the web as a whole, their economies of scale, the “lock-in” effects of their products or services, and their ability to handle and process data, among other things.

The proposal marks a dramatic shift from the current version of the law, implemented in 2008, prior to the boom of China's internet sector. As of 2018, the country had seven of the top 30 companies by global internet market capitalization including Alibaba Group, Tencent and Meituan Dianping, according to the Internet Trends 2019 report by investment fund Bond Capital.

The draft revision also increases the potential financial punishments for lawbreakers by as much as a hundred-fold.

As before, those engaging in monopolistic behavior will have their proceeds confiscated and will be fined between 1% and 10% of revenue for the previous fiscal year. However, for those that have yet to implement their plans or had zero revenue in the previous fiscal year, the draft law raises maximum penalties from 500,000 yuan to 50 million yuan (from $71,713 to $7.2 million). Industry associations caught violating the law can be fined 5 million yuan, up from 500,000 yuan.

The law also mandates that the government set up and implement inspection measures to “help ensure standardization of administrative practices and prevent policies and measures that eliminate or hinder competition,” the draft law says.

Regulators are seeking comment until the end of the month.

Chinese authorities in recent months have moved to shake up the hegemony of China’s internet giants, especially in fintech. 

In September, the People’s Bank of China issued a plan to standardize and promote interoperability of payments via quick response code, or QR code, China’s main means of digital transactions. The goal is to cut down on exclusivity and allow smaller players to join a field dominated by Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay.

In December, the central bank also approved U.S. payment giant PayPal Holdings Inc.’s acquisition of a Chinese online payment provider, bringing in a third major rival in digital payments.

Contact reporter Dave Yin (davidyin@caixin.com)

Related: It’s Open Sesame for PayPal in China After Gopay Deal Closes

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By Bloomberg / Dec 30, 2019 03:13 PM / Politics & Law

The Chinese scientist who created the world’s first genetically altered babies has been sentenced to three years in prison and a lifelong ban from working in reproductive technology, state media reported on Monday.

He Jiankui, a Shenzhen researcher who drew widespread condemnation when he revealed his experiment last year, will also have to pay a 3 million yuan ($430,000) fine, said a report from Xinhua News Agency, citing the verdict of a court in the southern Chinese city.

Two others who assisted him were also sentenced. Zhang Renli, a researcher at the Guangdong Provincial People’s Hospital, received a prison term of two years and Qin Jinzhou, a researcher at the Shenzhen Luohu Hospital Group, received a term of 18 months, suspended for two years.

The Xinhua report said that in He’s experiment, for which he recruited couples with HIV who did not want to pass the disease to their offspring, two women became pregnant and three gene-edited babies were born. The trial proceedings were not made public to protect the identities of the children and their parents, said Xinhua.

Related: He Jiankui Used AIDS Network to Recruit 200 Couples for Gene-Editing Experiment


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By Matthew Walsh / Dec 19, 2019 01:02 PM / Politics & Law

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China’s government has named and shamed some of the country’s biggest internet firms whose apps continue to violate user privacy, as the industry regulator nears the end of an official crackdown on the illegal collection of personal information.

Software operated by the likes of internet giants Tencent and smartphone-maker Xiaomi appear on the list of 41 rogue apps published in a Thursday circular by the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The apps’ violations range from illicitly collecting and using personal data to demanding unnecessary permissions from users and hindering account cancellation.

Tencent’s popular instant-messaging service and web portal QQ, which had 807 million monthly active accounts last year, was blasted for continuing to force users to give up their location data, require them to give a host of authorizations before granting access to the app, and stymie account cancellations. In addition, QQ’s reading app, QQ Yuedu, was found to have secretly collected personal data and shared it with third parties.

The list also singled out a finance app operated by smartphone giant Xiaomi that still makes account cancellations trickier than necessary.

Caixin Global has contacted both Tencent and Xiaomi for comment.

Other apps to receive a rap across the knuckles include digital media platform Sina Sports, news provider Sohu News, and news and data platform 36Kr. A number of logistics, livestreaming, and lifestyle apps also appeared on the list.Since the campaign was launched in November, more than 8,000 apps had rectified their behavior, the ministry said in the circular, urging the companies concerned to straighten themselves out by Dec. 31 or be “dealt with” according to the law.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: China Starts Crackdown on Apps’ Violations of User Privacy

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By Timmy Shen / Dec 09, 2019 02:41 PM / Politics & Law

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Last week, a local court in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou formally opened what is thought to be the country’s first job discrimination case against a transgender person invoking a 2018 legal mechanism for resolving disputes over equal employment rights.

The plaintiff, a transgender woman known by the pseudonym Ma, is suing her former company, an online cosplay-platform operator, on the grounds that employers cannot discriminate against their staff on the basis of their “personalities,” a term that includes lifestyle, physical appearance, and reputation, among others.

Ma claims that she received unpaid leave from the unnamed company late last year to undergo gender reassignment surgery in Thailand. She claims that on returning to her job as a production assistant, her employer began citing her “health condition” as grounds for being “unsuitable” for work with clients. The company fired her in February, citing “serious violations” of its attendance rules.

Ma argues that the firm did not inform her of the attendance issue and that her gender was the real reason for her dismissal. Under China’s employment law, it is illegal for companies to discriminate against employees based on gender.

Xiang Zhenhua, the company’s legal advisor, told Caixin that the public had misinterpreted a regular employment tribunal as a case of gender-based discrimination. “Putting that label on this case is actually the biggest injustice here,” he said.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

Contact reporter Timmy Shen (hongmingshen@caixin.com, Twitter: @timmyhmshen)

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By Guo Yingzhe and Wu Xiaomeng / Dec 05, 2019 02:26 PM / Politics & Law

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

A former graft buster is under investigation for what is thought to be corruption charges. China’s top anti-corruption agency announced Wednesday that Wang Limin, a deputy head of the financial research institute at government-backed think tank the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, is under an investigation for alleged “serious violations of (Communist Party) discipline and law.” The statement did not specify what the suspected violations were, but this type of statement commonly refers to corruption. Wang used to be an inspector at the anti-graft agency. He later worked as an official for several local governments, and as a senior executive for state-owned reinsurance or investment companies. 

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

Contact reporter Guo Yingzhe (yingzheguo@caixin.com)

Related: Update: Executive of China’s Largest Bank Accused of Taking Enormous Amount of Bribes


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By Matthew Walsh / Dec 03, 2019 11:53 AM / Politics & Law

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China will soon release an “unreliable entity list,” the business news arm of the country’s nationalist tabloid Global Times said in a tweet early Tuesday morning, citing an unnamed source.

The list will include American companies, the tweet said, adding that China has sped up the move due to the expected passage of a U.S. government bill that encourages President Donald Trump to take a harder line on condemning suspected rights abuses in China’s Muslim-majority western region of Xinjiang. The U.S. bill “will harm Chinese firms’ interests,” the tweet said.

China has consistently denied all allegations of rights abuses in Xinjiang.

The “unreliable entity list” is suspected to take inspiration from Washington’s own Entity List, which is drawn up by the U.S. Department of Commerce and records a group of businesses, research institutions, governments, and individuals that must obtain special licenses to export goods to the country. At its root, the Entity List sanctions companies that Washington deems a threat to national security.

A number of high-profile Chinese tech companies, including telecoms giant Huawei and surveillance firm Hikvision, have been added to the U.S. Entity List this year.

Beijing-based Global Times is a Chinese- and English-language tabloid run under the purview of the Communist Party-controlled People’s Daily newspaper group. It is known both for its stridently nationalistic tone in its domestic reporting and for its well-connected and outspoken editor Hu Xijin, who frequently spars with critics of the Chinese government on Western social media.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: U.S. Extends Limited Huawei Licenses for a Further 90 Days

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By Matthew Walsh / Dec 02, 2019 04:38 PM / Politics & Law

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The Yangtze delta, one of China’s most economically advanced regions led by the financial hub of Shanghai, could soon become a major engine in the country’s high-tech ambitions. That’s the picture emerging from a newly published central government plan to further develop a grab-bag of high-tech industries in the region.

While low on specifics, the document, co-published by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council, the country’s cabinet, is chock full of the latest high-tech buzzwords. It outlines a blueprint to transform the area into a research and development hub for big data, cloud computing, blockchain, internet of things, artificial intelligence, and satellite navigation technologies, especially smart vehicles and self-driving cars. 

Basic infrastructure, including 80% 5G coverage, will be completed by 2025, according to the document.

The area specified in the plan comprises Shanghai as well as cities in the three eastern provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Anhui. In 2016, the State Council agreed in principle to require the region to build “a group of world-class cities with global influence” by 2030.

Sunday’s announcement came as the Shanghai municipal government said it will beef up support for its tech industry by encouraging financial institutions to extend credit lines to local firms in the hope they will eventually list on the city’s Nasdaq-like tech board.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: Shanghai Lets Tech Firms Apply for Loans by Pledging Patent Rights

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By Ding Yi / Dec 02, 2019 12:46 PM / Politics & Law

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Shanghai is ramping up efforts to enhance its tech sector.

The Chinese financial hub rolled out a new policy allowing cash-strapped small- and midsized tech companies to get financing by pledging their intellectual property rights, state news agency Xinhua reported Sunday. The news comes just days after the release of a city-wide circular which should help improve such firms accessing bigger credit lines from large financial institutions.

The new policy is backed by the Shanghai Intellectual Property Administration, the Shanghai branch of the People’s Bank of China, and 10 other banks. It permits the city’s promising tech firms to submit their patent rights, trademark rights, and copyrights for a government assessment and mark them as collateral when applying for loans.

Lenders will establish new funding and rate-pricing mechanisms, simplify credit approval processes, and draw up rules for risk management, credit review, and due diligence, Xinhua said.

The new policy also aims to increase the number of loans granted to industrial parks housing patent owners and small tech businesses, Xinhua added.

The policy is seen as a renewed effort by Shanghai authorities to create a fair and transparent financial system for money-hungry local tech firms. Last week, the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Informatization issued a circular encouraging financial institutions to extend credit lines to the city’s tech companies considering IPOs as part of a broader policy to help them float on Shanghai’s new Nasdaq-like high-tech STAR Board.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Shanghai Sets Out New Rules For Financial Services to Help Local Tech Firms

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By Bloomberg / Dec 02, 2019 10:49 AM / Politics & Law

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

(Bloomberg) — Guidelines that require Chinese telecom carriers to use facial recognition technology on buyers of SIM cards kicked in on Sunday as the country cracks down on fraud.

Companies should use artificial intelligence or other measures on buyers to ensure they match the identification provided to purchase the SIM cards, according to a notice issued in September by the Ministry of Industry and Information. Telcos must also ensure that the SIM cards aren’t resold, and that they are bought from legitimate businesses.

The measures are aimed at safeguarding citizens from scammers, and as part of anti-terrorism and cybersecurity efforts, the ministry said.

Related: Government Asks SenseTime to Lead Plans for National Facial-Recognition Standards

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By Dave Yin / Nov 30, 2019 02:36 AM / Politics & Law

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China is set to implement its first major revamp of drug industry regulations in 18 years, incorporating new types of industry players, tweaking rules for imports and foreign businesses, moving to anticipate the growing need for health care and making room for innovation.

The updated Pharmaceutical Administration Law, issued Aug. 26 by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), goes into effect Dec. 1. The revision is part of a major overhaul of China’s health-care system and a strategic biopharma industry plagued with fake or low-quality products, accounting irregularities and high prices.

New players

The updated law at its core features the national implementation of a four-year old pilot program regulating a broad new category of entities, domestic and foreign.

The new “Marketing Authorization Holders (MAH)” category encompasses drug developers, manufacturers and sellers that have applied for and obtained drug licenses or registrations and bring drugs to market. These entities are responsible for ensuring a drug’s quality during its entire life cycle, including clinical trials, manufacturing, market research, post-sales monitoring, risk management and more.

The law stipulates that MAHs should have independent internal quality inspection staff, audit external contracted manufacturers and make annual reports to drug regulators. Foreign MAHs should have the legal representatives of their China-based entities fulfill their obligations but still bear joint responsibility.

The law also tweaks language pertaining to imports.

Medication being sold for the first time in China and specially designated biological and pharmaceutical products must be inspected, not just pass in the event of an inspection, before they can be imported or sold in China, though the final clause removes a previous discussion of “inspection fees.”

Importing and manufacturing drugs without approval documents now constitute a crime, with newly added penalties including fines, revoking of licenses and jail time.

Getting with the times

In several firsts, the law formally encourages innovation while addressing industry developments that previously lacked legal clarity.

For one, the NPC is requiring the regulator’s drug approval process to be streamlined and setting a 60-workday deadline for the National Medical Products Administration to approve applications for clinical trials. The law now also mandates oversight from independent ethics committees and informed consent from trial participants, following widespread concern over Chinese scientists performing DNA editing on humans to treat diseases.

The final draft also for the first time clears online sales of prescription drugs, barring vaccines, blood products, narcotics, medications for mental disorders, drugs with high toxicity for clinical use, radioactive treatments and those with special designations. Previous drafts of the revision explicitly banned such sales of prescription drugs.

While the move signals a new direction for the industry, it ups the onus on online platforms, requiring them to monitor their MAHs, report to regulators, and curb law violations by denying service if necessary.

Anticipating challenges

The revision also adds a section on a drug reserves system, with stockpiles to be set up at regional and central levels to deal with a disaster or epidemic. The policy is similar to the national pork reserves the government unveiled in September amid the ongoing African swine fever crisis.

The new law expands the State Council’s power to control drug supply. Whereas the existing 2015 amendment allows restrictions on exports of drugs with shortages, the new language says that when necessary, the State Council can adopt “organized manufacturing,” price interventions, expand imports and other measures.

The NPC is requiring the national drug regulator to set up a unified drug tracking system, which MAHs and drug manufacturers are expected to implement, according to the new law.

The drug tracking system echoes an announcement earlier this month that China will launch a system for tracing vaccines in an attempt to curb counterfeits.

Contact reporter Dave Yin (davidyin@caixin.com)

Related: Drugmakers Slash Prices to Get on Coveted China List

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By Ding Yi / Nov 28, 2019 11:56 AM / Politics & Law

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The Chinese government has appointed artificial intelligence (AI) firm SenseTime to lead a working group in charge of drawing up national standards for the facial recognition industry, SenseTime said in a statement published Wednesday on its WeChat public account.

The group will work to standardize the research and development of facial recognition products and ensure it is applied safely and consistently, SenseTime said.

The working group, which also includes Tencent, Xiaomi, and Ant Financial, is overseen by the National Information Technology Standardization Technical Committee (NITS), which is in turn affiliated with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. It will also promote the further formulation of facial recognition standards at an international level, the statement said.

Caixin was unable to contact NITS for comment.

Facial recognition technology is used in a wide range of sectors in China, from surveillance to electronic payments and tourism. But it has also sparked controversy due to its alleged role in identity theft and data leakage.

In a recent high-profile pushback against facial recognition technology, a university professor in eastern China sued a wildlife park for allegedly storing his personal data without asking for consent, thereby violating consumer rights laws.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Riled Professor Sues Zoo for Scanning His Face Without Permission

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By Bloomberg / Nov 28, 2019 11:25 AM / Politics & Law

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

(Bloomberg) — Lawyers for Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou are opposing the broadcast of her extradition proceedings in Canada, saying it’d raise the risk of U.S. President Donald Trump muddying her case.

Televising the hearings “amplifies the risk that the President of the United States will once again intervene in the Respondent’s case, or harbour resentments, that are both threatening and intimidating,” her defense said in a court submission.

Earlier this year, Trump made conflicting statements on whether he might try to intervene in the U.S. Justice Department’s efforts to extradite Meng in order to boost a China trade deal. Her defense has used that to argue that her case is politicized and she should be freed.

Meng, eldest daughter of Huawei’s billionaire founder Ren Zhengfei, was virtually unknown publicly until her arrest last December at Vancouver’s airport at the behest of U.S. officials. The U.S. accuses Meng of tricking banks into conducting transactions that violated sanctions on Iran.

Meng deserves the court’s protection, her lawyers said, because the media glare on her case has been “overwhelming.” “Her every move is scrutinized by the media, from her legal submissions to the clothes she wears.”

Drawing more attention from Trump or U.S. officials would place undue pressure on how Meng defends herself and could sway her fight to be freed, they said.

Meng is set to appear in court on Jan. 20 for the formal start of extradition hearings.

Related: French Minister Says Country Will Not Ban Huawei From 5G Networks: Reuters

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By Ding Yi / Nov 22, 2019 02:56 PM / Politics & Law

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The U.S. government has reportedly issued permits allowing some American suppliers to resume component sales to Huawei, days after it announced it was extending a three-month trade reprieve to the embattled Chinese tech giant.

The U.S. Commerce Department has begun granting licenses to certain companies, including Microsoft, permitting them to sell goods to Huawei, which has been on a trade blacklist since May due to national security concerns, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing anonymous sources.

Nearly one-quarter of some 300 license applications have been approved, Reuters quoted a U.S. official as saying. It remains unclear which kinds of products have received the green light.

The Commerce Department told Reuters in a statement that the licenses permit sales which “do not pose a significant risk to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.” Microsoft told Reuters on Thursday that it had obtained a license to “export mass-market software to Huawei.”

On Monday, the Commerce Department said in a statement on its website that it will extend for 90 days the so-called temporary general license authorizing American companies to pursue specific, limited engagement with Huawei. But the Chinese telecoms-equipment maker downplayed the move, saying that the U.S. decision “does not change the fact that Huawei continues to be treated unfairly.”

The U.S. government has alleged that Huawei gear installed in telecom networks could be exploited by the Chinese government for espionage.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Huawei Lawyers Present New Legal Argument to Stop Meng Wanzhou Extradition To U.S.


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By Ding Yi / Nov 21, 2019 04:49 PM / Politics & Law

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Lawyers for Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer held in Canada on U.S. charges, have reportedly filed a court application asking the Canadian government to immediately cease attempts to extradite the Chinese executive to the United States.

In an email, Huawei spokesman Benjamin Howes slammed the possible extradition as failing to meet the Canadian standard of double criminality, which means that Meng can only be extradited to the U.S. for trial if the alleged behavior she is accused of is recognized as a crime by both countries, Reuters reported Thursday.

Howes defended the argument by saying that the Canadian sanctions on Iran at the time of Meng’s arrest were not equivalent to the American ones, thus falling short of the principal condition to meet the standard, according to Reuters.

Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, was detained at a Canadian airport in December last year at the request the United States, where she faces fraud charges over allegations that she violated American sanctions against Iran. Meng has maintained her innocence and is fighting extradition.

The Chinese government has insisted several times that Meng should be released, with the latest such demand made after Beijing resumed imports of pork and beef from Canada earlier this month.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: China Again Urges Release of Huawei CFO After Resuming Canadian Meat Imports


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By Ding Yi / Nov 20, 2019 04:34 PM / Politics & Law

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Chinese authorities slammed WeChat as the country’s most popular messaging app overtook QQ as the online tool most favored by swindlers to conduct online fraud.

More than half of the online fraud cases cracked by Chinese authorities last year were conducted through WeChat, the so-called super-app that allows users to do almost everything from mobile payment to ticket booking, according to a cybercrime report by the Supreme People’s Court released on Tuesday.

Among those online scams, 31.52% involved identity theft, while the quantity of cybercrimes using recruitment ads to hook potential victims rose, the report said.

Internet fraud accounted for 17.67% of the total fraud seen across the country, up from 7.67% in 2017, with the southeastern coastal areas being most vulnerable to internet scams, according to the report.

In 2018, China saw the total number of online fraud cases grow by 50.9% compared with the previous year, said the report, which categorizes cybercrime as illegal online behavior that jeopardizes social and personal interests or undermines computer systems.

In January, a gang was apprehended by the Shanghai police for pretending to be an attractive female preschool teacher on WeChat to entice men to hand over money.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: WeChat Pay Eyes Foreign Visitors in Race with Alipay

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By Bloomberg / Nov 19, 2019 10:24 AM / Politics & Law

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Photo: VCG

(Bloomberg) — The U.S. is extending for another 90 days a limited set of exemptions that lets some American companies continue doing business with Huawei Technologies, despite a ban on the Chinese firm.

“The temporary general license extension will allow carriers to continue to service customers in some of the most remote areas of the United States who would otherwise be left in the dark,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement Monday. “The department will continue to rigorously monitor sensitive technology exports to ensure that our innovations are not harnessed by those who would threaten our national security.”

The Commerce Department blacklisted Huawei in May, adding it to what’s known as an entity list. That move was an effort to block U.S. companies from selling components to China’s largest technology firm, which the White House accuses of being a threat to America’s national security. Huawei has denied those claims. The entity listing requires American firms to obtain a government license in order to sell to blacklisted businesses.

Related: U.S. to Extend Huawei Reprieve by Allowing It to Continue Trade With U.S. Clients: Report

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By Zhang Yuzhe and Timmy Shen / Nov 18, 2019 02:48 PM / Politics & Law

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Photo: VCG

In May this year, a man surnamed Song in northeastern China’s Heilongjiang province used an app to take out an online microloan of 1,500 yuan ($214).

Within five months, Song had borrowed 350,000 yuan, after the app bombarded him with recommendations to download 55 more lending apps in order to repay his original debt.

When he failed to stump up the cash, the original platform started harassing Song, his family, his colleagues, and his friends through phone calls and threatening messages.

Song finally reported the problem to the police in May. His case, which was detailed by the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) during a briefing last week on online criminal activity, highlights China’s efforts to crack down on a group of data companies that provide technology or data services for loan sharks.

The MPS didn’t disclose the names of these companies, but a source close to the MPS told Caixin that they could include Shanghai Xinyan AI Technology, Shanghai Chengshu Information Technology, Tongdun Technology, and Hangzhou Mojie Data Technology.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

Contact reporter Timmy Shen (hongmingshen@caixin.com)

Related: In Depth: China’s Big Data Clampdown Leaves Online Lenders in a Bind

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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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