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WORLD

By Bloomberg / Oct 29, 2020 10:29 AM / World

TikTok and its parent ByteDance Inc. sued rival Triller Inc., asking a U.S. judge to clear up a “cloud” over the China-based popular video-streaming app after Triller accused it of stealing technology.

ByteDance is in talks to sell parts of its TikTok unit in a deal that could be worth tens of billions of dollars after President Donald Trump moved to ban its U.S. operations over national security concerns.

The case filed Wednesday in San Francisco federal court is a response to a patent-infringement suit Triller filed against ByteDance in late July in Waco, Texas, a hub for complaints by patent owners looking for a friendly judge and quick litigation.

Triller Chief Executive Officer Mike Wu fired back, saying “we may be small, but we have right on our side.’

“TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, have been infringing on Triller’s patents and stealing its technology for many years -- enriching themselves and their investors at Triller’s expense,” he said in an emailed statement. “This is nothing more than a transparent attempt by a Chinese conglomerate with tens of thousands employees to manipulate the U.S. legal system by not responding to Triller’s complaint or answering for their violations.”

TikTok didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Triller’s allegations against TikTok and its users “cast a cloud” over ByteDance’s business, according to the complaint. ByteDance is seeking a court order that it, its products and its users don’t infringe the patent and that none of them are liable for damages or injunctive relief.

The patent, issued in June 2017 and assigned to Brooklyn-based Mibblio Inc., covers systems and methods for creating music videos synchronized with an audio track. Triller, in its Texas complaint, said it owns the patent. ByteDance says TikTok doesn’t perform the steps covered by the patent.

A showdown over the Trump’s administration’s attempt to ban TikTok, which a federal judge temporarily blocked in late September, is slated for a Dec. 14 argument in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington. The company two weeks ago asked a federal judge to block a broad set of government restrictions designed to curb use of the Chinese-owned video-sharing app in the U.S.

San Francisco-based Fastly Inc., which runs a content delivery network that pushes data quickly around the internet, said on Wednesday that ByteDance pulled most of its TikTok traffic from its network. In a letter to shareholders, Fastly tagged the reduction as a “response to the potential of a prohibition of U.S. companies being able to work with this customer.”

Triller is in talks with blank-check acquisition companies about a merger that would take the company public, Reuters reported this month.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related: Cover Story: Why TikTok May Be Back to Square One With Trump


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WORLD

By Ding Yi / Oct 28, 2020 06:09 PM / World

Smartphone shipments in India rose 8% year-on-year to 50 million units in the third quarter of 2020, a little more than a quarter of which were sold by Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi.

For the three months through September, Xiaomi continued to be India’s biggest smartphone vendor with 13.1 million shipments, according to research firm Canalys. The sales figure represents a year-on-year increase of 9%.

Three other Chinese smartphone sellers were in the top five and they were Vivo, Realme and Oppo, which took the third, fourth and fifth spots with their respective market shares of 17.6%, 17.4% and 12.1%. The three all saw their shipments rise during the quarter, with Realme enjoying the biggest year-on-year growth of 23%, Canalys said.

Collectively, Chinese vendors made up 76% of the total smartphone shipments in India during the quarter, up from 74% a year ago, according to Canalys.

In recent months, Chinese vendors have tried to avoid becoming a target of rising nationalist sentiment in India amid geopolitical tensions between Beijing and New Delhi by reducing their marketing spending and building an image as important contributors to the South Asian country’s economy, said Canalys analyst Varun Kannan.

“Ongoing tensions between India and China has been a hot topic in the past few months, but we have yet to see a significant impact on purchase decisions of mass market customers,” said Kannan.

In the third quarter, South Korea’s Samsung was India’s second-largest smartphone seller with a market share of 20.4%.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Chinese Smartphones Thrive in India Despite Tensions


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Anniek Bao / Oct 26, 2020 06:48 PM / World

It may be a “now or never” moment for smartphone makers vying to take advantage of Huawei Technologies’ current misfortunes as a victim to escalating U.S.- China political tensions.

Smartphone vendors are racing to ramp up purchases from parts suppliers, including panel-making TCL China Star Optoelectronics Technology Co. Ltd. (CSOT), as Huawei takes a big hit from a U.S. law that requires companies to obtain licenses if they want to sell chips made with U.S. technology that have been assembled overseas.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is the latest to have stopped delivering chip orders to Huawei because its manufacturing process relies heavily on U.S. technologies.

However, with surging demand from homegrown smartphone makers, Chinese panel maker CSOT, that delivered $419 million worth of products to Huawei last year, has not seen much of its production capacity stand idle.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related: TCL Tech Plans $588 Million Deal to Boost Stake in Smaller Peer

Japan Parts-Makers See Orders Swell as Rivals Fill Void Left by Huawei


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By Bloomberg / Oct 26, 2020 10:49 AM / World

A San Francisco judge refused to pause her September order blocking President Donald Trump’s ban on Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat as legal fights continue over the administration’s moves against Chinese-owned apps.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler on Friday rejected the administration’s request to let its restrictions on WeChat proceed while the Justice Department appeals the Sept. 19 order she issued at the behest of users of the messaging app.

The administration has also asked a federal appeals court to put Beeler’s order on hold.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related: Cover Story: Why TikTok May Be Back to Square One With Trump


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By Han Wei / Oct 24, 2020 03:02 AM / World

Mongolia delivered the first batch of sheep that the landlocked nation promised China eight months ago in support of its neighboring country’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Loaded on more than a dozen of trucks, 4,000 sheep entered China after being quarantined in the Mongolian border city of Zaman Ude for 30 days. The rest of the 30,000 sheep offered by Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga are expected to enter China by mid-November, officials said.

The animals will stay in Erenhot, a border city in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, for an additional 10-day quarantine before they are slaughtered and processed to be sent to Hubei, China’s first outbreak epicenter. Mongolia’s president promised the sheep during a February visit to China.

The gift shows Mongolia's firm support to the Chinese government and people in the fight against the epidemic and highlights the sincere friendship between the two countries and peoples, China’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

Erenhot is the largest border city between China and Mongolia and a major trade gateway. During the first eight months this year, China exported 68,000 tons of fresh fruits and vegetables to Mongolia through Erenhot, up 12.5% from the same period a year ago. according to state media.

Contact reporter Han Wei (weihan@caixin.com) and editor Bob Simison (bobsimison@caixin.com).


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By Yang Ge / Oct 22, 2020 01:34 PM / World

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Intel’s NAND memory business may be largely based in China, and Chinese buyers may even have expressed an interest in buying the unit whose sale was announced earlier this week.

But the global chip giant almost certainly would have shunned any such interest due to concerns such a transfer would have been vetoed by Washington. That’s the word from one veteran industry observer, commenting on the newly announced sale of Intel’s NAND business to South Korea’s SK Hynix in a deal worth $9 billion.

Much of the operation being sold is based in the Northeastern Chinese port city of Dalian, where Intel has invested at least $8 billion since 2007 to build a complex specializing in the production of NAND-type memory found in everything from smartphones to thumb drives.

China has big ambitions in NAND and other types of memory, especially in light of recent efforts by the U.S. to stymie development of its domestic chip industry. One of the most likely local candidates that may have expressed interest in Intel’s NAND operation would have been Tsinghua Unigroup, an aggressive chip-making aspirant whose relationship with Intel dates back to at least 2014, said Sheng Linghai, a chip analyst at Gartner.

“There’s no way Intel would sell it” to a Chinese buyer, he said. “That’s because there’s no way the U.S. government would approve such a deal.”

To read the full story, click here.

Contact reporter Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com)

Related: Beijing to Inexperienced Companies: Stay Out of Chipmaking


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By Ding Yi / Oct 22, 2020 12:28 PM / World

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Miniso, a Chinese budget household and consumer goods retailer, has opened its first store in Paris in a renewed effort to increase its presence in Europe, following a New York IPO earlier this month.

More than 80% of the products sold in the new Paris outlet, which is located on 58 Rue de la Chaussee-d’Antin, are priced below 10 euros ($11.80), Miniso said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Guangzhou-based company, seen by many as China’s cheaper alternative to Japanese retailer Muji, also said that it plans to open two more stores in Paris by the end of this year in partnership with the team of retail businessman Jonathan Siboni, who is also the president of Paris-based data intelligence firm Luxurynsight.

Founded in 2013, Miniso sells Japanese design-inspired products ranging from cosmetics and textiles to toys and snacks, and has over 4,200 stores in more than 80 countries and regions including the U.S., the U.K. and India. Over 2,500 of its stores are in China.

According to its IPO prospectus, Miniso, which counts tech giant Tencent and equity firm Hillhouse Capital as financial backers, sold 95% of its products for less than 50 yuan in the 12 months between July 2019 and June 2020.

Often labeled as a “copycat” of established Japanese brands, Miniso in 2018 established the Miniso Design Academy (MDA) to make original products.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Chinese Retailer Miniso Beats Uniqlo and Muji at Their Game


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By Anniek Bao / Oct 21, 2020 05:58 PM / World

Pakistan’s recent ban on TikTok services has been far shorter-lived for the Chinese social media app than similar actions taken by the U.S. and India. Some are crediting that rapid reversal at least partly to Islamabad’s long-running ties with Beijing.

On Monday, a ban on the video-sharing app was lifted in Pakistan, its 12th biggest market with over 43 million downloads, just 10 days after the original action was taken. As part of the lifting, TikTok promised to establish a moderation mechanism to police content along lines that are deemed locally appropriate.

After the lifting of restrictions, TikTok’s downloads on Apple’s App Store in Pakistan soared to third place in the world on the SensorTower ranking for the day, 10 places higher than the day before.

TikTok was just the latest internet company to fall foul of Pakistan’s internet watchdog, following previous run-ins with the U.S.’s YouTube, and dating apps Tinder and Grindr.

Read the full story here.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)


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By Yang Ge / Oct 16, 2020 01:48 PM / World

U.S. tech suppliers are stuck when it comes to helping China achieve its microchip ambitions, hamstrung by export restrictions from Washington designed to keep their wares out of Chinese hands.

But that’s not the case for Europeans, one of which is saying it doesn’t need a U.S. export license to sell some of its pricey chip-making equipment to Chinese buyers. Dutch company ASML gave its assessment as it and other tech firms increasingly get caught up in Washington’s ongoing battle to stymie China’s aspirations to become a world-class microchip maker.

The company’s CEO Peter Wennink told analysts ASML doesn’t need a U.S. export license to sell its chip-making equipment based on deep-ultraviolet technology (DUV) if it ships such products to China directly from its Netherlands headquarters. He didn’t comment on whether such sales would be allowed for the company’s most cutting-edge equipment using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) technology.

Wennink added that China accounted for about 21% of ASML’s revenue in its latest reporting quarter, and that it expected sales to “domestic Chinese customers” to grow to more than 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) this year.

Earlier this year, Reuters reported the U.S. had lobbied heavily to stop the sale of cutting-edge chip-making equipment to an unspecified Chinese buyer by ASML. That prompted China’s ambassador to the Netherlands to say he hoped the stalled sale of a Dutch firm’s cutting-edge chipmaking machinery to a Chinese buyer wasn’t due to political reasons.

To read the full story, click here.

Contact reporter Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com)


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By Bloomberg / Oct 09, 2020 10:40 AM / World

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A committee of U.K. lawmakers called on the government to consider banning China’s Huawei Technologies Co. from fifth-generation wireless networks two years earlier than the current 2027 plan.

“Should pressure from allies for a speedier removal continue or should China’s threats and global position change so significantly to warrant it, the government should consider whether a removal by 2025 is feasible and economically viable,” the politicians wrote in the report into the security of 5G networks, published Thursday.

Such a move would impose heavier costs on telecom operators and the economy, but international tensions could force the U.K.’s hand, the House of Commons Defence Committee said in the report.

In July, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government said phone companies would be banned from buying 5G equipment from Huawei at the end of this year and compelled to remove the gear from networks entirely by 2027. Officials said U.S. sanctions introduced in May made it impossible to verify the security of Huawei’s supply chain. A limited Huawei presence was previously considered a manageable risk.

A debate to vote the 2027 ban into law is expected in coming months. Some lawmakers have suggested they will agitate for an earlier removal, arguing Huawei is influenced by China’s government and constitutes a security threat, which the company denies.

If the ban is shifted two years earlier, government should look at compensating operators such as BT Group Plc and Vodafone Group Plc for ripping out equipment before the end of its usable life, according to the report. BT has said complying the current ban will cost it 500 million pounds ($646 million), and that a ban in fewer than 5 years could cause signal blackouts.

The report also recommended reviewing China’s presence in other critical parts of the U.K. economy, bolstering government powers to intervene if diplomatic tensions sour, and supported the idea of a “D10” alliance of democracies that could support alternatives to Chinese technology.

Related: Update: U.K. Bans Huawei From 5G Networks in Major Policy U-Turn

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By Heather Mowbray / Oct 08, 2020 04:50 PM / World

China will be removed from Japan’s list of banned countries from next month. Along with the Chinese mainland, restrictions will be lifted for 11 other countries and regions include Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam and Malaysia, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper

Currently Japan does not permit travel to 159 countries and regions, but plans to downgrade its travel policy and advice regarding these 12 territories from a ban to a “refrain from unnecessary and non-urgent visits” in order to stimulate business stifled this year by pandemic-related travel restrictions.

Japanese businesses are particularly keen for their staff to start traveling to China and Southeast Asia, where many of their companies have factories.

Meanwhile, Chinese and other international business travellers with residency status in Japan will soon be permitted to reenter the country without undergoing two weeks’ quarantine, being tested for Covid-19 on entry instead. Japan hopes other countries will reciprocate and lessen their entry requirements in turn.

Besides replacing quarantine with Covid-19 testing on landing, travel to Japan for foreign executives will soon be simplified. Nikkei reported that, “as of now, CEOs and executives have to come to Japan by private jet and can only stay in the country for a short time,” but that the country is considering allowing in chartered jetliners in the near future, dependent on coronavirus test capacity.

Editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related: China Proposes Fast-Track Entry for Japanese Business Travelers


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Ding Yi / Oct 07, 2020 05:19 PM / World

Brazil-based ride-hailing app 99, a unit of China’s Didi Chuxing, has partnered with WhatsApp to enable users to directly order rides on the Facebook-owned social media app, Didi said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.

The partnership with WhatsApp could give an edge to 99 in its competition with American rival Uber in Brazil, where WhatsApp covers more than half the country’s population with its 120 million monthly active users.

99, which currently has 20 million registered customers in Brazil, will pilot the service on Oct. 15 in four cities in the state of Sao Paulo, according to the statement.

The service is expected to expand to the rest of Brazil by the end of 2020, Reuters reported citing 99’s operations director. “It is a big step forward in extending our presence, especially in the outskirts of cities, where the use of the 99 app grew by 54% during the pandemic,” said Livia Pozzi, 99’s operations director.

The announcement comes eight months after 99 announced the billionth trip via its platform.

In 2018, Didi bought a controlling stake in 99 in a deal that marked the Chinese ride-hailing giant’s first foray into Brazil. Didi also operates in other countries in Latin America including Mexico, Chile and Colombia.

This story has been corrected to clarify the source for when the service is expected to expand to the rest of Brazil. It was 99’s operations director, as cited by Reuters.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Didi-Owned Brazilian Ride-Hailing App Completes 1 Billion Trips


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By Han Wei / Oct 06, 2020 11:02 AM / World

The U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has sent letters to some of Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp.’s (SMIC) suppliers telling them that exports to China’s largest computer chipmaker are subject to additional export restrictions, SMIC said Sunday.

The Shanghai-based company said it is evaluating the impact of the curbs and warned of adverse effects on its production amid supply uncertainties.

“The U.S. previously saw SMIC as a civilian enterprise but now deemed it as a military business,” an electronics industry analyst in China said. SMIC has denied it has links to China’s military.

It is thought that the sanctions may adversely impact the company’s efforts to catch up with the technological capabilities of the world’s most advanced chipmakers.

However, the curbs’ impact on SMIC’s revenue for now is likely to be marginal as advanced chips still account for less than 10% of its sales, according to its second-quarter financial report.

To read the full story, click here

Contact reporter Han Wei (weihan@caixin.com) and editor Bob Simison (bobsimison@caixin.com).


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By Ding Yi / Sep 30, 2020 04:44 PM / World

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Chinese bitcoin mining machine maker Ebang International has established a wholly owned subsidiary in Canada, paving the way for it to enter the digital asset trading business in the country as it strives to diversify its revenue streams

The move comes a little over a month after the U.S.-listed company set up a wholly owned subsidiary in Singapore for its planned offshore exchange for cryptocurrency.

The Canadian subsidiary has received a money service business license from the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Center of Canada to engage in businesses including foreign exchange trading and digital currency transferring in the country, Ebang said in a statement on Monday.

“Our new Canadian subsidiary lays a solid foundation for the company to enter into North America, a market that represents high recognition of digital currency and robust investment opportunity in digital currency trading platforms,” said Ebang Chairman and CEO Dong Hu in a statement.

In the first half of 2020, Ebang narrowed its net losses to $6.96 million from $19.07 million a year ago, even as its revenue nosedived 50.6% year-on-year to $11.04 million, the company said in a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Ebang, which listed on the Nasdaq in June, previously said that it will explore opportunities in blockchain and cryptocurrency in an effort to reduce its reliance on sales of bitcoin mining machines that are vulnerable to fluctuations in the price of the virtual currency.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: China Crypto Miner Ebang Plans to Start Bitcoin Exchange in 2020


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By Ding Yi / Sep 24, 2020 05:25 PM / World

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Chinese genomics company BGI Group has put into operation a factory it built in Ethiopia to produce coronavirus testing kits for local people as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread across the globe, according to a report by the Xinhua News Agency.

The $5 million plant, which is the first coronavirus testing kit production facility in Ethiopia, is designed to be able to make 6-8 million tests a year, and can enhance its annual capacity to up to 10 million if needed, Xinhua reported, citing Chen Songheng, general manager of BGI Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s health ministry has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million coronavirus testing kits from the factory in three batches, with the first batch of 500,000 testing kits to be delivered on October 15, the report said, adding that the plant would switch to making testing kits for diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis and export them to other African countries when the pandemic ends.

BGI has pitched in to support China’s battle against the coronavirus since the Covid-19 outbreak first emerged in Wuhan. The company has also expanded its services to overseas markets, saying that it has supplied testing kits to 35 million people outside China by the end of June.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Gene Giant BGI Profit Jumps Seven-Fold on Virus-Testing Surge


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By Ding Yi / Sep 24, 2020 01:00 PM / World

ByteDance has applied for a tech export license from Chinese authorities.

The application comes as the Chinese company finalizes an agreement with software giant Oracle and retailing titan Walmart to set up a separate company based in the U.S. and prevent its popular short video app TikTok from being banned.

The Beijing-based company has submitted the application to Beijing’s commerce authorities and is awaiting a decision, it said in a brief statement released on its news aggregation platform Jinri Toutiao late Wednesday, without providing further details.

Caixin’s request for details went unanswered at press time.

The application comes weeks after China’s Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Science and Technology added new technologies to a list of those subject to export bans and restrictions for the first time in 12 years.

The revision was seen as being related to negotiations over TikTok, though Chinese regulators played down the suggestion. The addition of controls on AI-backed interactive interfaces, which have been described as the “secret sauce” that makes TikTok so popular, suggested Beijing would need to sign off on any deal to sell to U.S. partners, observers said.

Earlier this week, ByteDance said that its deal with Oracle and Walmart will lead to the formation of a U.S. subsidiary named TikTok Global, of which it will control 80%, adding that the deal does not involve any transfer of algorithms and technologies although it is thought Oracle will be entitled to inspect TikTok’s U.S. source code.

However, a source familiar with the matter has told Caixin that TikTok Global would be controlled by a board of American executives from the likes of Sequoia Capital and Walmart despite being majority-owned by ByteDance.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Exclusive: Americans to Control TikTok Global Board, While China Keeps Majority Ownership


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Ding Yi / Sep 23, 2020 06:37 PM / World

Cainiao, a logistics arm of Alibaba, is partnering with its domestic peer Best to launch a time-efficient delivery service between China and Malaysia, which the duo hailed as a boon for both buyers and sellers as the upcoming “Double 11” shopping extravaganza is expected to drive demand for cross-border e-commerce.

The service, which incorporates customs clearance, sea freight forwarding, overseas warehousing and last-mile delivery, will shorten the cross-border delivery time, allowing Malaysian consumers to receive parcels as early as the day after clearing customs in Malaysia, the two firms said in a joint statement released Wednesday.

The move marks a renewed effort by Alibaba to expand into Malaysia, where the e-commerce giant in 2017 launched its first Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) in Kuala Lumpur, an initiative that aims to help its users, primarily SMEs, to conduct cross-border trade without cumbersome bureaucratic hurdles.

“With a direct logistics service, Malaysian SMEs can look forward to selling goods to China … while consumers in Malaysia will benefit from better customer experience when buying from Chinese merchants,” said Cainiao general manager James Zhao in a statement.

New York-listed Best has also established an express delivery network in Malaysia, which consists of 100 stations for last-mile delivery, with plans to build seven sortation centers there in the next three years, according to the company.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

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

 


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By Ding Yi / Sep 23, 2020 01:48 PM / World

Huawei has cut its R&D investment in Australia and will axe local jobs amid mounting tech tensions between Beijing and Canberra, The Australian Financial Review (AFR) reported Tuesday, citing Jeremy Mitchell, Huawei’s chief corporate affairs officer for Australia.

In 2018, Australia blocked Huawei from providing equipment for its 5G network despite the Chinese company’s assurance that it does not pose a threat to the country’s national security.

“Since the 5G ban Huawei has terminated $100 million of R&D activity in Australia with investment in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland wound-up and the important work and jobs taken off-shore,” Mitchell told the AFR.

Mitchell revealed that Huawei has closed a $60 million operational and business support systems R&D operation in Burwood, Melbourne and a $30 million National Training and Innovation Center in Chatswood, Sydney, as part of the company’s broader plan to reduce its R&D presence in Australia.

“In simple terms the 5G ban on Huawei has cost us 1,000 high-tech and high-wage jobs from the economy. We have gone from 1,200 staff to fewer than 200 and by next year it will be lower still,” Mitchell told the AFR. He added that the ban would bring Huawei’s revenue derived from the Australian market down to below $200 million in the next few years from the previous $750 million, according to the report.

Last month, Huawei said that it would terminate its sponsorship of an Australian rugby league club a year earlier than expected due to a business downturn.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Telecoms Companies and Canadian Government Argue Over Compensation if Huawei Banned From 5G Network


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By Bloomberg / Sep 18, 2020 09:29 AM / World

Photo: IC

Photo: IC

President Donald Trump’s executive order that could ban Chinese-owned WeChat in the U.S. may face a delay as a judge is considering putting it on hold temporarily.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler said at a hearing Thursday she’s willing to grant a preliminary injunction at the request of the U.S. WeChat Users Alliance because Trump’s order is too vague. The judge didn’t issue a final decision on the request.

Trump’s Aug. 6 order prohibits unspecified transactions related to WeChat and its parent company Tencent Holdings Ltd. The Commerce Department is set to provide details about which specific transactions will be off limits for Americans by Sunday, when the order is to go into effect.

WeChat is a messaging, social media and electronic payment app that’s used by over one billion people around the world. The U.S. alleges that the Chinese Communist Party can use the app to spread disinformation, censor news critical of China and steal users’ private and proprietary data.

According to the WeChat users group, Trump’s order would sunder the primary and often exclusive channel many U.S. residents use to communicate with family and friends in both China and the U.S. WeChat is also used to run businesses and non-profit organizations, practice religion and as a source of news. WeChat is so integral to Chinese and Chinese Americans’ lives that a ban would be like “losing a limb” for some users, the group claims.

“I’m sympathetic to the anxiety it creates for the people affected,” Beeler said at the hearing. “This is the only mode of communication for these people.”

Michael Bien, an attorney for the users group, said the harm from Trump’s order has already begun before it has been implemented because the University of Kansas this week said it will pull WeChat from the school’s computer networks. Although the U.S. Wednesday said it won’t criminalize use of the app to send messages by individuals and businesses, there are other uses such as storing data that are also important for the group, according to Bien.

The judge shouldn’t enjoin the president’s order because of its alleged vagueness because it won’t be implemented until the Commerce Department has clarified what transactions are prohibited, Michael Drezner, an attorney for the government, said at the hearing.

The case is U.S. WeChat Users Alliance v. Trump, 20-cv-05910, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Related: WeChat Users Can’t Second-Guess Trump’s Authority, U.S. Says


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By Ding Yi / Sep 16, 2020 12:47 PM / World

iQiyi Sports, a joint venture between Baidu-backed iQiyi and Super Sports Media, is teaming up with FC Barcelona to create a dedicated channel in China for the top-tier Spanish football club in the 2020/2021 season, the company said on Tuesday.

The FC Barcelona Official Channel will provide exclusive and non-exclusive video content including behind-the-scenes access, player challenges, training sessions and interviews, the statement said.

In August last year, iQiyi Sports acquired exclusive live streaming rights to Spain’s top football league, La Liga Santander, for the 2019/2020 season months after Chinese star player Wu Lei joined RCD Espanyol.

The news comes after England’s Premier League recently terminated a live coverage rights contract with iQiyi’s Chinese domestic rival PPTV.

Established in 2018, iQiyi Sports has developed into a multi-sports content platform focusing on major sports events for soccer, tennis, golf and even street dance.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Baidu-Backed Video Streamer iQiyi Probed by U.S. Regulator After Short Seller’s Report


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