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WORLD

By Ding Yi / Aug 05, 2020 06:04 PM / World

India has blocked Chinese search engine Baidu Search and social media platform Weibo in a fresh round of its tech purge taking aim at apps New Delhi believes might “harm” its “sovereignty and integrity”.

The move comes after India imposed a ban on 59 Chinese apps including ByteDance’s TikTok, Tencent’s WeChat and Alibaba’s UC Browser on June 29, citing national security concerns.

Baidu Search and Weibo are among 47 apps on a secret list that the Indian government banned on July 27, the Times of India reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.

Unlike the first ban, the apps subject to the second ban have not been announced. The Times of India reports they are mostly clones and different versions of some of the first round of apps, including TikTok Lite, Likee Lite and Bigo Live Lite. The apps were targeted because they were said to participate “in activities prejudicial to the sovereignty, integrity and defense of India as well as the security of state and public order”.

An official source told the Times of India that the Indian government is also considering blocking more apps in the future.

Since the first Indian app ban in June, the U.S. has threatened to block some Chinese social media apps due to national security concerns, with the Trump administration tightening the screws on TikTok by asking it to sell its U.S. business by mid-September in exchange for an opportunity to continue to operate there.

Last week, a group of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers said that they will urge the government to limit the use of TikTok on the grounds that the app could mishandle sensitive information.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (dingyi@caixin.com)

Related: Bytedance Founder Doubts Probe Intentions as Company Poised to Sell U.S. TikTok Under Duress


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WORLD

Ding Yi / Jul 31, 2020 07:01 PM / World

Uber has abandoned a plan to relocate its Asian-Pacific headquarters to Hong Kong from Singapore because of its inability to persuade the Hong Kong government to enact legislation for the ride-hailing industry.

In a statement issued Thursday, the U.S. company said that it will keep Singapore as a regional hub for the medium term and will continue with its efforts to seek legislation to regulate the ride-hailing business in Hong Kong.

The announcement comes a month after Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong, a move that has dampened some tech firms’ confidence in the city’s future as a hub for international business.

In May, Uber announced that it was ready to move its regional headquarters from Singapore to Hong Kong and planned to build an innovation and engineering hub in the former British colony on condition that the Hong Kong government removed regulatory hurdles.

Since entering Hong Kong six years ago, Uber has faced strong resistance from local policy stipulating that drivers must obtain a hire-car permit before using their private vehicles to transport passengers for profit.

According to a report by Nikkei Asian Review, such permits cost HK$5 million ($645,157) each at open auction as the Hong Kong government has not issued new permits since 1998 to reduce traffic and air pollution.

In addition, Uber has also encountered boycotts from drivers working for taxi companies.

Currently, Uber, which sold its Chinese mainland business to local rival Didi Chuxing in 2016, operates across the Asian-Pacific region in Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Didi to March Into 20 New Australian Cities Next Month

 


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Ding Yi / Jul 31, 2020 05:10 PM / World

Chinese video streaming giant iQiyi is deepening localization in Southeast Asia with plans to establish local teams in East Asia and the Middle East in future.

That was the message delivered by Yang Xianghua, president of iQiyi’s membership and overseas business group, at recent media industry forum APOS 2020 Virtual Series, according to a company statement released on Wednesday.

Yang said that iQiyi is now in the process of establishing local offices in a number of Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, according to the statement.

Southeast Asia is a key part of iQiyi’s overseas expansion plans, which the company officially announced in 2019 with the launch of the international version of its app that offers content in multiple languages.

Chief Executive Gong Yu, iQiyi’s founder, told Reuters in December that the company aims to make paying subscribers based outside China account for half of the total within the next five years.

The importance the company is placing on this plan could be reflected in its new management appointments last week, when three industry veterans were named country managers to oversee the localization and development of iQiyi’s business in the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia. In addition, Yang said that iQiyi has also made plans to set up local teams in South Korea, Japan and the Middle East, according to the statement.

Yang said iQiyi sees partnering with smart TV and smartphone makers as its top priority, particularly at a time when global governments are accelerating the deployment of the super-fast 5G wireless networks.

IQiyi’s staffing arrangements or content plans for its expansion were not mentioned in the statement, but the company’s headquarters in Beijing and Singapore have released plans to support its overseas teams in the production of content that caters to local tastes. Previously, iQiyi has admitted that cultural barriers remain a major obstacle to its global expansion.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Chinese Video Giant iQiyi Eyes Southeast Asian Markets with Three New Hires

 


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Ding Yi / Jul 30, 2020 05:11 PM / World

Chinese flying carmaker EHang has obtained a Canadian test flight permit for its flagship passenger-grade autonomous aerial vehicle, EHang 216, as the company tries to commercialize its self-flying vehicle services.

The Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC), which was issued by the Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA), allows EHang 216 to conduct routine trial flights in Quebec, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

“This is another milestone in regulatory breakthroughs for EHang 216 and the first of this kind of permit for periodic operations of passenger-grade autonomous aerial vehicles,” Ehang said.

EHang has so far gained test flight approvals from aviation authorities in countries including China, the U.S. and Norway, the company said.

In China, EHang has been testing its products for various uses including sightseeing, cargo logistics and search and rescue operations.

Guangzhou-based EHang is building an “airport” for sightseeing trips in the southern Chinese city of Hezhou, scheduled to be able to handle the taking off and landing of around 20 EHang 216s by the end of 2020. The Nasdaq-listed company is also using EHang 216s in a commercial pilot program for heavy-lift air logistics in Taizhou, in the east of China.

In the first quarter of 2020, EHang posted a net loss of 20.4 million yuan ($2.9 million) on revenues of 18.8 million yuan, according to the company’s quarterly earnings report. During the period, the company sold nine EHang 216s, compared with three units a year earlier, the financial report said.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: EHang to Trial Heavy Air Cargo Drones

 


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Ding Yi / Jul 29, 2020 06:48 PM / World

For years, TikTok has been criticized by some Western lawmakers for allegedly mishandling its user data. Now, the wildly popular short video app faces a new accusation that it might meddle in U.S. elections.

In a letter to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security, a group of heavyweight Republican U.S. senators led by Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio expressed concerns that TikTok may enable the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to engage in influence operations designed to interfere in American elections.

“We are greatly concerned that the CCP could use its control over TikTok to distort or manipulate (political) conversations to sow discord among Americans and to achieve its preferred political outcomes,” the senators wrote in the letter dated Tuesday, labeling TikTok a popular forum for Americans to engage in political conversation.

In the letter, the U.S. lawmakers also asked if it is possible TikTok could give the CCP an opportunity to conduct campaigns aimed at changing the elections’ outcome and if there are any other Chinese-owned social media apps that are able to provide vectors for U.S. election interference.

ByteDance-owned TikTok has repeatedly denied allegations that it acts at the behest of the Chinese government.

TikTok has made efforts to ease such concerns, including hiring an American CEO, storing American data in the U.S. and establishing a Los Angeles-based content moderation transparency center that allows external experts to see how it deals with content on its platform.

The letter comes as the U.S. is threatening a ban on TikTok and pressing its allies to work with it in cracking down on the app for security reasons.

On Tuesday, a group of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers said that they will urge the Shinzo Abe government to limit the use of TikTok on the grounds that the app could mishandle sensitive information.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Japanese Ruling Party Pushes for Limits on TikTok


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Ding Yi / Jul 28, 2020 03:11 PM / World

After imposing a high-profile ban on 59 Chinese apps last month, India is now taking aim at more China-owned apps that it believes could be detrimental to its data security and sovereignty.

India has drawn up a list of 275 more Chinese apps that it will scrutinize for any violations of user privacy or risks to national security, a move that could bode darker days for Chinese internet companies doing business in the country, local media The Economic Times reported Tuesday, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

One source said New Delhi “may ban all, some or none from the list.”

The list, reviewed by the Economic Times, includes Tencent’s PUBG, Xiaomi’s Zili, Alibaba’s AliExpress, ByteDance’s Resso and ULike as well as apps from NetEase, Sina and Meitu.

These apps have been listed due to user privacy concerns as well as fears over potential threats to India’s sovereignty and integrity posed by app owners that share user data with their home country in accordance with China’s data-sharing norms, official sources told the Economic Times.

In addition to this move, the Indian government is also planning to legislate for constant scrutiny of apps operating in India, the Economic Times quoted another senior government official as saying.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: In Depth: What Will Chinese Apps Do After India Ban?

 


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By Ding Yi / Jul 22, 2020 05:22 PM / World

Hugely popular short video app TikTok has been publicly labeled by Netflix as a major competitor for the first time, as global pushbacks have left the Chinese app’s global expansion plans almost in tatters.

“TikTok’s growth is astounding, showing the fluidity of internet entertainment,” the U.S. video streaming giant said in a letter to shareholders tied to its second-quarter earnings report. The letter also listed WarnerMedia, Disney, and NBCUniversal as Netflix’s opponents.

Netflix has long included a competition section in its earnings reports to explain its ideas about its rivals ranging from traditional TV networks to online video services. Apart from YouTube and Facebook, Netflix has never before name-checked popular social media and video apps as a threat big enough to challenge it, according to a report by Quartz.

Netflix’s move comes as ByteDance-owned TikTok encounters setbacks in its global expansion push due to its handling of user data and alleged ties to the Chinese government.

TikTok has been banned in India, and is now facing tightened scrutiny in many of its overseas markets including the U.S., Australia and the European Union. In the U.S., where the government is also considering a ban, TikTok is expanding its lobbying team in an effort to ensure a more favorable operating environment in the country.

As one of the world’s most popular apps, TikTok has amassed more than 2 billion downloads on Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store and garnered over 800 million monthly active users globally.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Cover Story: Will TikTok Be the Next Huawei?


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By Flynn Murphy and Anniek Bao / Jul 22, 2020 04:41 PM / World

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Hong Kong’s richest man has a taste for vegan ice-cream.

Li Ka-shing’s Horizon Ventures has upped its investment in California-based synthetic milk start-up Perfect Day, leading a $300 million capital injection alongside the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investment) and Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings.

Perfect Day is a pioneer in the lactose-free, vegan-friendly dairy products market and last year launched a range of ice creams made from “milk” grown in tanks.

The company makes the milk using microbes that have been genetically engineered to eat sugar and produce the proteins usually found in cow’s milk: whey and casein. These can be used to make foods like ice cream, butter and cheese.

Horizon’s renewed interest in the company has sparked speculation about the U.S. firm's designs on the Greater China market.

But it’s unclear whether Perfect Day's techniques will pass muster with Chinese regulators, which have strict standards for the import and labelling of genetically modified foods.

Perfect Day's website says its products do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) because the microbes are filtered out of the milk, but that “genetic modification is part of our process.”

The company is one of a growing number of synethetic food-makers eyeing Chinese markets, including Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.

Read the full story later today on Caixin Global.

Contact reporter Flynn Murphy (flynnmurphy@caixin.com)


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By Ding Yi / Jul 22, 2020 12:35 PM / World

Photo: IC

Photo: IC

Nasdaq-listed video streamer iQiyi has hired three industry veterans to help it better navigate key Southeast Asian markets.

The Baidu-backed company has appointed Sherwin Dela Cruz as country manager of the Philippines; Dinesh Ratnam as country manager of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei; and Steven Zhang as country manager of Indonesia, the company said in a statement Monday.

All three will be responsible for the localization and development of iQiyi’s business in their respective Southeast Asian markets, according to the statement.

Both Dela Cruz and Ratnam previously worked at iFlix, a Malaysia-based video streaming platform which was recently acquired by Tencent, while Zhang comes from Chinese livestreaming platform JOYY.

In announcing the new hires, Yang Xianghua, president of the membership and overseas business group at iQiyi, said that the three executives will help iQiyi boost its presence in Southeast Asia with their local market development expertise, especially at a time when cultural barriers remain a key obstacle to the company’s global expansion.

In 2019, iQiyi officially kicked off its global expansion with a focus on Southeast Asia, where it has established ties with local partners like Malaysian media brand Astro to launch localization activities. In the same year, iQiyi also launched the international version of its app, which offers content and search functions in multiple languages including Chinese, English, Thai, Malay, Indonesian and Vietnamese among others.

The announcement comes more than a month after iQiyi hired former Netflix executive Kuek Yu-Chuang as vice president of international business to oversee strategic planning, marketing, business development and public affairs functions for its overseas business.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Shares of Baidu-Backed iQiyi Jump After Reuters Reports Tencent Seeking Majority Stake


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By Ding Yi / Jul 21, 2020 04:35 PM / World

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

South African mobile operator Vodacom Group has selected Alibaba-owned Alipay as the technology provider for its upcoming WeChat-like app that will help South African users manage business and day-to-day activities.

The app will offer small and medium-sized enterprises access to a litany of financial services such as lending and insurance, according to a statement released by Vodacom on Monday.

It will also target South Africans who do not have bank accounts with lending and other financial services, the statement said.

For ordinary consumers, the app will help them shop online, pay bills, transfer money and order new stock, the statement said, adding that the new tool will also allow access to digital lifestyle services including streaming music, playing games, watching videos and hailing rides.

The partnership will bring a new revenue stream to the operator of the new app, Vodacom Financial Services, which in just four years has grown from a loss-making entity into a business with more than 12 million customers, and contributes 1 billion rand ($60 million) in profit to Vodacom Group, the mobile operator said.

The tie-up with Vodacom is the latest example of Alipay’s push to expand its global clout. In March, Alipay and British fintech company TransferWise announced a partnership that would enable the latter company’s 7 million customers to send money held in 17 currencies to Alipay users as Chinese yuan.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Data from Alipay Shows Signs of Consumption Returning as Some Virus Restrictions Eased


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By Ding Yi / Jul 21, 2020 01:03 PM / World

Photo: IC

Photo: IC

China’s top four smartphone brands in India extended their market dominance in the second quarter by increasing their share to 75.1% from 66.1% a year earlier, according to research firm Canalys.

Despite a significant drop in shipments, China’s Xiaomi was still the market’s top dog in the second quarter of 2020. For the three months through June, it controlled 30.9% of India’s smartphone market with 5.3 million shipments, representing a year-on-year decrease of 48%, according to Canalys.

The other smartphone sellers in the top five — Vivo, Samsung, Oppo and Realme — also saw their shipments decline, with Samsung suffering the largest year-on-year shipment drop of 60%. That brought the South Korean company’s market share down to 16.8% from 22.1% a year earlier.

“Smartphone vendors faced a diabolical situation (in the second quarter), dealing with both low supply due to complete halt in production and diminished demand,” Canalys said.

Recent tensions between China and India, which saw New Delhi ban 59 Chinese apps, seem to have had little relative impact on Chinese smartphone brands’ popularity in the South Asian country, though most of the latest tensions occurred at the very end of the quarter.

Canalys analyst Adwait Mardikar attributed the Chinese vendors’ success to their strategy of driving a “Made in India” message to consumers and positioning their brands as “India-first." Mardikar also credited the Chinese brands’ low prices that gave them an edge over Samsung, Nokia and Apple.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Chinese Smartphone Brand Outstrips Samsung’s Q1 Sales to India


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By Ding Yi / Jul 20, 2020 04:05 PM / World

Japan is looking to invite Apple supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC) and other global chipmakers to build an advanced manufacturing plant alongside domestic chip equipment suppliers in the hope of capitalizing on their technologies to bolster its chip industry, according to a report by Yomiuri Daily on Sunday.

The news comes two months after TSMC unveiled plans to build a $12 billion semiconductor manufacturing facility in the U.S. state of Arizona which will produce state-of-the-art five-nanometer chips that can be used in advanced defense and communications devices.

The Japanese government is planning to offer a total of several billion dollars to overseas chipmakers joining the project over the following few years, the Yomiuri Daily reported, without citing sources. The report gave no timeline for the project.

TSMC has not yet responded to Caixin’s request for comment.

In the second quarter of 2020, TSMC saw its net profit surge 81% year-on-year to NT$120.8 billion ($4.1 billion), the company said, despite a new U.S. rule limiting TSMC and other companies from supplying chips made with U.S. technology to Huawei.

The company also predicted that its business will be driven by stronger demand for its 5-nanometer and 7-nanometer technologies in the third quarter.

As one of the leaders in the global chipmaking industry, TSMC reportedly expects to mass-produce 3-nanometer chips in 2022. Smaller chips allow more computing power to fit into a given space.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Taiwan Chipmaker TSMC Creates ‘Good Will’ With $12 Billion U.S. Factory Plan


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By Ding Yi / Jul 20, 2020 01:27 PM / World

AutoX has obtained a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to test a self-driving vehicle without a human driver behind the wheel, becoming the first Chinese company to receive such a driverless testing permit in the U.S. state.

The permit allows the Alibaba-backed self-driving startup to test its autonomous vehicle on designated streets in San Jose, AutoX said in a statement on Saturday. The car is allowed to run under fair weather conditions and light precipitation with a speed of up to 45 miles per hour.

In order to qualify for a driverless testing permit, companies must provide proof of insurance or a bond equal to $5 million, verify the vehicles are capable of operating without a driver, meet federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards or have an exemption from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to DMV.

AutoX founder and CEO Xiao Jianxiong hailed the DMV permit as recognition of his company’s autonomous driving expertise, which he said has reached “Level 4” autonomy, which allows a vehicle to run almost completely independent of human intervention.

AutoX has taken tentative steps to commercialize its self-driving technology by trialing its driverless taxi services in the U.S. and China. In April, the firm extended its pilot “robotaxi” project to Shanghai, where people can hail its autonomous taxis powered by 5G-based “vehicle-to-everything” technology enabling the cars to interact with road infrastructure like traffic lights. A human driver is still present in the car and can take over the controls in case of an emergency.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: WeRide to Test Fully Autonomous Vehicles in Guangzhou


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By Ding Yi / Jul 17, 2020 05:19 PM / World

Photo: IC

Photo: IC

A top White House official has provided a possible option for embattled TikTok to avoid being banned in the U.S.: break away from its Chinese owner ByteDance and operate as an American company.

“We haven’t made final decision but ... I think TikTok is going to pull out of the holding company which is China-run and operate as an independent American company,” White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told reporters on Thursday, according to a report by Reuters.

Kudlow declined to comment when asked if U.S. companies could acquire TikTok. But he said that getting independence from ByteDance could be “a much better solution than banning” the popular short-video service.

Kudlow’s remarks came after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier this month that the Trump administration was weighing its options over a possible ban of Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, over their possible relationship to the Chinese government and handling of user data.

TikTok has consistently denied allegations that it mishandles user data and acts on the behest of the Chinese government.

In order to ease the security and privacy concerns, TikTok has taken a litany of measures including hiring Walt Disney’s former streaming head Kevin Mayer as its new CEO. But the move failed to satisfy top U.S. officials like White House trade advisor Peter Navarro, who dubbed Mayer as an “American puppet” for working at a Chinese app.

On Wednesday, U.S. tech news provider The Information cited a ByteDance investor saying that in the face of growing U.S. oversight, the company was mulling plans to focus more on business in its home market by exploring opportunities in new sectors, and was trying to develop another hit app.

These new developments could be a blow to the confidence of ByteDance founder and CEO Zhang Yiming, who is focusing on building the company’s global management team as part of its overseas expansion plan.

Last week, a TikTok spokesman said in a statement that ByteDance was assessing corporate structure changes for its TikTok business, Reuters said.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: TikTok Fined $155,000 For Mishandling User Data in South Korea


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By Ding Yi / Jul 17, 2020 12:58 PM / World

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Chinese autonomous truck startup TuSimple has reached a strategic agreement with U.S. truck maker Navistar to co-develop self-driving trucks outfitted with Level 4 technology that allows a vehicle to run almost completely independent of human intervention, TuSimple said in a WeChat post on Thursday.

As part of the agreement, Navistar also invested an undisclosed amount in TuSimple, which splits its operations between the U.S. and China.

The partners intend to mass-produce the Level 4 technology-powered driverless trucks by 2024, by which time TuSimple aims to complete construction of an autonomous freight network covering 48 American states, according to the post.

Customers will be able to purchase the highly autonomous trucks through Navistar’s traditional sales channels in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, the post added.

TuSimple president Lu Cheng is bullish on the partnership, saying the two partners’ combined expertise will help them find “a clear path to commercialize self-driving Class 8 trucks at scale.” Class 8 refers to heavy-duty trucks as classified by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration.

The deal could allow TuSimple and Navistar to capitalize on each other’s strengths to achieve their respective aims. TuSimple needs an established truck maker to experiment with its self-driving systems before its eventual launch of fully autonomous freight operations, while Navistar is betting TuSimple’s technology will give it an edge over its rivals.

Some experts believe self-driving technology could be more easily applied to autonomous freight services that normally run on fixed highway routes with relatively simple road conditions compared to other types of vehicles, thus providing a clearer path to profitability.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Chinese Self-Driving Truck Firm Aims to Cover Most of U.S. by 2024


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By Ding Yi / Jul 16, 2020 04:52 PM / World

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Just two weeks after being removed from Indian app stores, ByteDance-owned TikTok took another hit in South Korea, where the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) fined the viral short video app 186 million won ($155,000) for mishandling user data, according to a report by Yonhap News Agency on Wednesday.

The South Korean telecom watchdog said that its decision stemmed from TikTok’s violation of local telecom laws that ban apps from collecting the data of children under the age of 14 without parental consent, Yonhap reported.

The move marks the latest blow to TikTok’s efforts to expand its overseas footprint as global concerns about the social media platform’s data privacy practices grow.

In an investigation which began in October last year, the KCC found that TikTok illegally gathered some 6,000 pieces of data involving children and failed to inform local users before moving their personal data onto its servers in the U.S. and Singapore, Yonhap added.

As of the end of last year, TikTok had 3.4 million users in South Korea, according to Yonhap, citing data from industry tracker WiseApp. Since its entry into the country in 2017, the app has been popular among teenagers.

The news comes a week after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to ban Chinese social media apps including TikTok during an interview with Fox News.

Facing mounting U.S. pressures, TikTok has reportedly expanded its lobbying team to include Michael Hacker, former senior advisor to the House majority whip James Clyburn, D-S.C. and Kim Lipsky, who previously worked as staff director of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

In the past three months, TikTok’s lobbyists held at least 50 meetings with U.S. congressional staff and lawmakers in an attempt to ensure a more favorable operating environment in the U.S., according to a report by the New York Times.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: India Asks Banned Chinese Apps 77 Questions Over Content Review and Data Security


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Ding Yi / Jul 15, 2020 06:36 PM / World

The Chinese companies whose 59 apps have been banned in India on national security grounds have been given three weeks to respond to an Indian questionnaire consisting of more than 70 questions revolving around content moderation, foreign government ties and user data security, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Reuters said that it has seen the Indian Information Technology Ministry’s questionnaire, which asks owners of the banned apps including TikTok whether they obeyed any foreign government in editing, promoting or demoting content, whether they were under probes by the United States, European Union or elsewhere for surreptitiously harvesting user data, among other questions. Tensions between India and China have been heightened following a border dispute.

The questionnaire also includes a question seeking to investigate whether company executives in India communicated with film stars, social media influencers or journalists to promote any content, even if the communication was not for commercial purposes. Other questions are related to advertisers, business structure, taxation practices and privacy policies, according to Reuters.

In late June, the Indian government banned 59 Chinese apps including ByteDance’s TikTok, Tencent’s WeChat, Alibaba’s UC Browser and Baidu’s Baidu Maps in what they called a move to eliminate the threats posed by the apps to the country’s sovereignty and security.

Following the Indian ban, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Trump administration was considering removing Chinese social media apps including TikTok from U.S. app stores during an interview.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Four Things to Know About What Makes TikTok Tick

 


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By Ding Yi / Jul 14, 2020 06:02 PM / World

Photo: IC

Photo: IC

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing is enhancing its presence across Australia as most Covid-19 lockdowns ease in the country.

The Beijing-based company, which entered the Australian market in mid-2018, will extend its Didi Express service to 20 new cities from August 10, including Canberra and Adelaide, according to an emailed statement Tuesday.

As part of the planned business expansion, Didi said that Adelaide will be the first of the 20 cities to be served by its Didi Max service, without specifying whether the service will be available in the other 19 cities in the future.

The move comes as Didi ups the ante in its race with U.S. Uber and India’s Ola in Australia, where the Chinese company has some 75,000 active drivers and more than 1.5 million active riders.

Currently, SoftBank-backed Didi operates in eight Australian cities including Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

Apart from Australia, Didi also runs business in Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama. In June, the firm said that it would entirely halt its taxi-hailing service in 11 prefectures in Japan from July 1 due to lack of demand for rides caused by the pandemic.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Didi to Halt Service in Several Japanese Prefectures Citing Impact of Covid-19


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By Ding Yi / Jul 13, 2020 06:03 PM / World

Photo: Visual China

Photo: Visual China

Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn plans to invest $1 billion to expand its iPhone production at a plant in southern India, Reuters reported Saturday citing two sources, as Apple quietly decouples some of its manufacturing from China amid the escalating tech war between Beijing and Washington.

“There’s a strong request from Apple to its clients to move part of the iPhone production out of China,” one of the sources told Reuters.

Production of some of Apple’s iPhone models, made by Foxconn in China, will shift to the Sriperumbur plant in the state of Tamil Nadu, where Apple’s iPhone XR is made, the source told Reuters.

The planned factory expansion will create 6,000 new jobs, one of the sources said, according to Reuters.

Some experts say that making more phones in India will help Apple save on import taxes and labor costs in India where iPhones are considered as a status symbol due to their high prices.

Apple’s production shift is in line with an Indian government plan, launched last month, to offer incentives to global smartphone markers in exchange for promises of establish or expand production in the South Asian country.

Apple only accounts for 1% of India’s smartphone market, Reuters reported, lagging much far behind its Chinese and South Korean rivals such as Xiaomi and Samsung.

In the first quarter of 2020, Xiaomi continued to be the biggest smartphone vendor in India with a market share of 30%, followed by Chinese brand Vivo with 17% and South Korea’s Samsung with 16%, according to research firm CyberMedia Research.

Samsung has already said it will make smartphones for export from its plant outside New Delhi, according to the Reuters report.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Xiaomi Maintains Lead in India’s Smartphone Market, But Chinese Peers Catch Up


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Ding Yi / Jul 06, 2020 07:37 PM / World

France will not impose an outright ban on Huawei’s 5G equipment, but will avoid complete dependence on the Chinese company’s technology, the head of the French cybersecurity agency ANSSI has said.

“What I can say is that there will not be a total ban,” Guillaume Poupard said in a recent interview with local media Les Echos. “But for operators that are not currently using Huawei gear, we are urging them not to,” he added.

Government permits with durations from three to eight years are being granted to French carriers that are already using Huawei equipment in their 5G networks, Poupard said. He added that from next week, those that have not received authorization can consider the lack of response as a rejection of their request after the legal deadline.

The ANSSI head stressed that the decision was made to protect French independence and not as “Huawei bashing or anti-Chinese racism.”

In March, Reuters quoted sources as saying that France would not ban Huawei but would remove its products from the country’s core mobile networks, a strategy similar to the U.K.’s decision made earlier this year.

On Saturday, The Telegraph reported that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to phase out the use of Huawei’s technology in Britain’s 5G network as soon as this year after the country’s spy agency GCHQ raised new security fears over the U.S.-sanctioned Chinese company.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

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

 


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