Weekly briefing nr 9, 2016 (basically all of March)

April fool’s day is over and it is time to get serious. After a few weeks in the Skip zone behind the Great fire wall the weekly briefing is finally back in business after.

Launched in 2015 the Strategy for Mass Innovation and Mass Entrepreneurship promises to support the development of China’s startup scene and encourage entrepreneurship among the country’s youth. State backed investment funds are pouring capital into the tech sector and local governments are following suit. According to a report published last week, the country’s government-backed venture funds raised about 1.5 trillion yuan ($231 billion) in 2015, tripling the amount under management in a single year to 2.2 trillion yuan.

China's tech giant Huawei announced that in 2015 profits rose by 33% from a year earlier, boosted by demand for its smartphones, among other devices. Strong sales in China and Western Europe have seen Huawei's smartphone business grow quickly. This adds further weight to the discussion on Xiaomis tougher market position.

This Chinese startup seems to have found new markets to conquer.  The company announced the Mi Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker as the first device in its new "Mi Ecosystem" sub-brand. There's no doubt that rice cookers are already crucial kitchen appliances for many. Xiaomi's smartphone-connected rice cooker cooks rice via pressure and induction heating. Priced at 999 yuan, it will be much cheaper than its primarily Japanese competitors.

Chinese residents who use virtual private networks (VPN’s) to circumvent the country’s web blocks experienced increased difficulties connecting through the service in early March. China often tightens its Internet restrictions around the time of sensitive political events, and the tightening coincided with this year’s National People’s Congress. Astrill, a popular VPN service provider, also cautioned users on March 4 of potential disruptions, a day before China’s week-long annual legislative meetings began.

Last week the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), which oversees China’s internet and telecommunications sectors, publicly released draft regulation that outlines rules on domain name registrations for websites. The proposal led to heavy criticism suggesting they would lead to increased blocking of foreign websites. In an effort to address the criticism the ministry said the regulations wouldn’t involve websites “with network access abroad” and wouldn’t affect the ability of users to access those websites. The rules, it said, wouldn’t impede the ability of foreign companies to “launch services in China.”

Read more in this week selected articles from AllChinaTech.

Weekly briefing week 8 2016 (23-29/2)

Didi Kuaidi, the biggest ride-hailing company in China, has received at least $1 billion in commitments for a new fundraising round, according to a person familiar with the matter. Once the financing closes, it would value the Uber rival at more than $20 billion, said the person. The round is oversubscribed, and the company is still negotiating terms with investors, the person said. Didi Kuaidi declined to comment.

China’s cyberspace watchdog said on Sunday it had ordered the closure of a microblog account of a former property tycoon, known for his bold remarks on China’s economic policy. Microblog portals such as Weibo.com and t.qq.com, among China’s most popular, were ordered to ban the account of Ren Zhiqiang, a retired top executive from a state-controlled property developer who has more than 30 million online followers. According to a commentary posted on Feb. 22 on china.qianlong.com, a website run by the Beijing municipal government, Ren, a communist party member, was accused of making remarks against the state media and the party.

Ninebot, the personal transportation device maker Xiaomi invested in last year, unveils today a one-wheel electric scooter.cIt will retail at RMB999 (US$153). A crowdfunding campaign will go live on JD.com on March 1st. Ninebot acquired Segway last April and launched Ninebot mini, a two-wheel transporter, last October.

Read more in this week selected articles from AllChinaTech.


Weekly briefing week 7 2016 (16-22/2)

Happy Lantern festival!

Yet another busy week in tech-china. Newly released statistics indicates that the government might be successful in its drive to support entrepreneurship. Growth of new businesses rose from about 6,900 each day in 2013 to about 12,000 in 2015. About 74.8 percent of the new businesses were in the service sector in 2015, up 1.5 percent year on year, according to State Administration for Industry and Commerce.

China Mobile’s 4G subscribers increased to 23 million in January to 336 million. 3G subscribers decreased by 6.4 million. Total subscribers were 828.5 million. Earlier this month China Unicom told that they had 49.4 million 4G users as of January 2016. Total subscribers reached 257 million.

Huawei said it backed Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook in his stand-off with the United States government over breaking into an iPhone, but stopped short of saying explicitly it would adopt the same stance. “It is very important, we agree with that,” Richard Yu, chief executive of Huawei’s consumer business group, told reporters in Barcelona gathered for the Mobile World Congress.

Apple Pay launched in China on Thursday, a move that takes Apple’s digital payments service into its fifth country worldwide. Apple Pay initially supports credit and debit cards from UnionPay, which counts 260 million users. According to two unnamed employees at China UnionPay Apple Pay had had some 38 million Chinese bank cards added 12 hours after its launch

New rules released by Chinese regulators this week are codifying Beijing’s clampdown on foreign media. According to the new rules, jointly issued by the ministry of information technology and the publications regulator, ban companies with foreign ownership of any kind from engaging in online publishing, though they allow foreign-invested firms to cooperate with Chinese companies on individual projects, as long as they obtain prior permission from authorities.

Read about the problems with Apple Pay's launch as well as dronmaker DJI's rumored IPO in this week selected articles from AllChinaTech.

Weekly briefing week 6 2016 (9-15/2)

The holidays are over for most of us and it seems like the year of the monkey will kick off as hectic as the goat ended. Last Friday Baidu, China’s largest search engine, announced that they had received an offer and where planning to sell its loss-making subsidiary video streaming business iQiyi. With Baidu’s own CEO offering to buy it out, iQiyi will be able to go independent under Baidu’s control without affecting the financial performance of the NASDAQ-listed Baidu Inc.

Alibaba Group said on Thursday it has formed a strategic partnership with K-Pop Giant SM Entertainment. The Chinese e-commerce giant will buy around $30 million worth of S.M.’s newly issued shares, gaining a 4% stake in the Kosdaq-listed company. With its minority stake in S.M., Alibaba looks to tap into some of the most popular K-pop groups through its new music division, Ali Music, and its music streaming apps Xiami and Tiantian.

The Norwegian Web browser developer Opera Software ASA has agreed to sell itself to a group of Chinese technology companies for about 10.5 billion kroner ($1.2 billion). The deal will give the Norwegian company additional financing and access to new customers in China. The buyers include private-equity firm Golden Brick Capital Management Ltd., Chinese game maker Beijing Kunlun Tech Co., Internet security provider Qihoo 360 Technology Co. and Yonglian Investment Co.

Read about Baidu’s selling off iQiyi and more in this week selected articles from AllChinaTech.

Weekly briefing week 5 2016 (1-8/2)

Happy new year! 

As the holidays are upon us many of us are wishing for plenty of Hongbao’s, red envelopes. As China’s tech companies build their financial services, they want to convince people that hongbao exchanges can be just as fun when performed through a smartphone. This year, the country’s three biggest Internet companies—Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent—are offering their own version of online red envelopes and dressing up the custom with games and giveaways. Chinese celebrated new year’s eve by sending out 8.08 billion red envelopes on social networking app WeChat alone. Even the Chinese government is latching on to the digitized version of the tradition, giving away a total of 300,000 RMB (about $50,000) through Alipay, Alibaba’s mobile payment service.

The holiday is no reason for China's internet watchdog to stop monitoring internet. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) on Thursday said it has closed down more than 200 illegal websites and some 6,000 accounts from various social media platforms including pornography, gambling and terrorism, the Global Times reported.

The central government is continuing its drive to support entrepreneurship around the country. The state news agency Xinhua reported that China will establish bases for mass entrepreneurship and innovation while develop makerspaces to foster growth, according to a government statement released on Thursday. Pilot innovation platforms will be established based on existing national demonstration zones for independent innovations and high-tech zones, said a statement released after Wednesday's executive meeting of the State Council presided over by Premier Li Keqiang. Enterprises, research institutes, universities, and innovators will be encouraged to collaborate in creating more makerspaces, to facilitate the upgrading of manufacturing and modern services, the statement said. Priority will be given to information technology, high-end equipment manufacturing and modern agriculture, the statement said. Although ambitious it is still unclear how well the strategy will work out.

Read more about online celebration of the new year, LeEco ‘s planned expansion and more in this week selected articles from AllChinaTech.

Weekly briefing week 4 2016 (26-31/1)

As always the Chinese puzzle is – well, puzzling. New figures of phone sales put Huawei as the most sold domestic phone brand in China. The data from research firm Canalys, stated an 81 percent surge in sales for Huawei year-on-year pushing the company past Xiaomi, which held the top spot during the previous quarter of business. The hey-days of the Chinese cellphone market might be over. New figures show that even Apple and investor darling Xiaomi are struggling to stand out amid intense competition in low-margin handsets.

Online financing might be facing tougher times in the aftermath of the unfolding Ezubao scandal. Chinese police have arrested 21 people involved in the operation of peer-to-peer lender Ezubao, the official Xinhua news agency said on Monday, over an online scam it said took in some 50 billion yuan ($7.6 bn) from about 900,000 investors. Banking regulators are said to be establishing a “monitoring and warning system” against financial risk and fraud.

Global expansion is increasingly on the agenda for Chinese startups. Last year the government launched a series of measures supporting cross border e-commerce and it seems to have paid off.  Chinese interest for the Indian markets are no longer restricted to proposals, but have been making aggressive and widespread investments. The new year began with China's online travel company Ctrip picking up a strategic stake in Makemytrip and Baidu unveiling discussions with multiple Indian internet startups for investments. This comes against the backdrop of Alibaba's high profile investments in Snapdeal and Paytm last year.

Hong Kong is the 5th fastest growing startup ecosystem and ranks 25th in the world, according to the Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking 2015 study released by the San Francisco based research firm Compass. However, Hong Kong’s ambitions to become a leading startup hub might be a hard nut to crack. A report from produced by the University of Hong Kong and InnoFoco for research said it was unrealistic for the city to become the next Silicon Valley. Instead efforts to boost start-ups and innovation in Hong Kong should focus on the city’s existing strengths in services and exploit its cosmopolitan population as a testing ground for new ideas, according to a report.

Chinese internet services are  looking beyond the mainland market. Uber is hoping to squeeze more money from users in China after it announced a tie-in with Alibaba’s Alipay that will enable Uber China customers to pay their fare using the payments service when they are overseas. Alipay and Uber China first partnered to cover domestic rides in 2014, but now the duo is tapping into the huge market for Chinese tourism and business travel. Initially the partnership goes live in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan — three hotspots for travel during the upcoming Chinese New Year — but Uber China said the agreement “will be extended to more regions around the world during the year”.  Read more about this, as well as about Chinese star blogger Han Han’s app and the invisible ethical line for a startup entrepreneur in this week selected articles from AllChinaTech.


Weekly briefing week 3 2016 (19-25/1)

Hong Kong was hit by the coldest temperatures in nearly 60 years as Morning temperatures on Sunday dropped to 3.3°C in urban areas of the southern Chinese city. Also Cross-Strait relations have taken a turn for the cold after the Taiwanese elections last week. Following a campaign by Chinese netizens to jump the country's "Great Firewall" into normally forbidden overseas social media.  Thursday the Facebook page of Taiwan's president-elect was flooded with tens of thousands of pro-China comments.

Chinese state media CCTV Tuesday aired footage of Peter Dahlin, a Swedish human rights activist, confessing and apologising to China for his alleged actions. The previous day CCTV had broadcast a video of Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai, a naturalised Swedish citizen, confessing to a years-old mainland drink-driving offence. The events triggered extensive discussion online over allegations of forced confession. The event also resulted in official criticism from both Sweden and EU, in a statement Swedish foreign minister expressed that the parading of suspects on television is unacceptable and that the Government wants information and wants to see them.

Internet users in China reached 688 million as of the end of 2015, according to the annual report for 2015 released by China Internet Network Information Centre. 127 million users, 18.5% of the total, accessed the internet exclusively through mobile phones. The overall Internet access rate reached 50.3% as of 2015

Chinese authorities are planning to tighten regulation of its fast-growing internet finance industry and crack down on illicit transactions, state media reported on Saturday. The move comes as the country is working to prevent fraud on its online lending platforms. China's unregulated online peer-to-peer (P2P) industry has been dogged by reports of fraud in recent years, underscoring growing financial risks and increasing the potential for social unrest.

A version of Google Play for mainland China will reportedly be launched this coming March. Leaked screenshots obtained by local media suggests that the version will accept Alibaba’s Alipay, debit cards and credit cards.  Read more about this, as well as about Volvo owner Li Shufu's opinions on AI and the worlds ugliest monkey in this week selected articles from AllChinaTech.

Weekly briefing week 2 2016 (11-18/1)

The most bearish tendency seems to be over on the Chinese stock market - at least for now. However the turmoil from earlier this month has left a lasting effect resulting in lower trust in both the capital markets as well as for the Chinese government's commitment to reform. As we reported last week this might have a direct impact on the tech scene as companies face higher expectations from their investors. New figures from the end of 2015 show that the previous wave of investment might be coming to an end, or at least slowing down. In China, venture capital investments fueling the growth of new start-ups fell 29 percent from the third quarter to the fourth, according to a new report from CB Insights and KPMG.

According to government news agency Xinhua China cut more than 300 billion yuan ($46.15 billion) of taxes in 2015 to boost mass entrepreneurship and innovation. Among this, tax exemptions and breaks on small enterprises reached 100 billion yuan and tax cuts designed to encourage high technology development totaled 140 billion yuan.

New numbers from Chinese ridesharing and taxi app Didi Kuaidi demonstrates, more than usual,  just how big the Chinese online market is. The company completed 1.43 billion rides in 2015, and that includes 200 million rides completed in December alone. This means that the Chinese company completed more rides in 2015 than what their main western competitor Uber has completed since it was founded in 2010!

The strengthening of government supervision of online content appears to be continuing.The Cyberspace Administration of China said that it had summoned executives at Baidu, the operator of China's dominant search engine, to discuss illegal content in search results and in online forums.

The commitment to information control was shown clearly during the Taiwanese elections that was held over the weekend. Reports suggest that the freshly elected Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen disappeared from China's most popular social network on Saturday as Chinese censors moved swiftly to block searches for Tsai's name. This comes after Taiwan's independence-leaning opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen won a convincing victory in presidential elections on Saturday.

More in this weeks selected articles from AllChinaTech below

Weekly briefing week 1 2016 (4-11/1)

The year took a rocky start with sharp falls on the Chinese’s stock exchanges. The downturns comes after increased worry over the growth prospects for 2016. The weaker expectations could in the long run affect the climate for startups. Investors who poured billions into China's homegrown technology companies are becoming more cautious. Increasingly it looks like the easy money has been made and the year ahead could prove tougher as China’s tech companies face high expectations from investors.

Meanwhile the battle for internet in China continues. China's internet regulator has vowed to make the views of the ruling Communist Party the “strongest voice in cyberspace”. After a two day meeting the Cyberspace Administration of China said that China plans to lead to a transformation in the governance system of the internet globally. Netizens however seems soso keen. BBC reports on how the surname "Zhao" – has become the latest codeword used to beat China's internet censors and to criticise those who are rich and powerful.

More in this weeks selected articles from AllChinaTech below

Weekly briefing week 53 (28/12-3/1)

The #chinapreneurs team wish a Happy New 2016 to you, your families and friends. I hope the new year will bring you new exciting opportunities to explore, discover and pursue.

In a few weeks we will be in the lunar year of the Fire Monkey. With the end of 2015 and the start of 2016 ending on a gloomy note for the Chinese economy let's hope that some of the Monkey's intelligence and curiosity can change the situation.

The tech world however does not stop and during the New Years holidays we have seen the new Chinese Tesla competitor Faraday Future unveil it's first model and there has been quite a lot of action on the VR front. 

More in this weeks selected articles from AllChinaTech below

Weekly briefing week 52 (21-27/12)

The Holiday Season is upon most us and it's time for reflection and retrospectives. But that doesn't imply that everything grinds to a halt. During the week the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) became a reality. China and the US have also debated the effects China's new Anti-Terrorism laws might have on the tech industry. The controversial law will come effect on Jan 1.  Read more about the new law here

But we also had the usual stream of interesting news from the startup and tech scene. See more about that in the articles below.

Below are this weeks selected articles from AllChinaTech

Weekly briefing week 51 (14-20/12)

Yet another hectic week in China. Chinas political leaders and leaders from the Chinese internet industry meet in Zhengzhou, during Chinas second annual World Internet Conference. In his speech Chinas President Xi Jinping called on countries to respect one another's "cyber sovereignty" and different internet governance models. Microsoft told it is forming a joint-venture in China to tailor a version of its new Windows 10 computer operating system for use by the Chinese government. Apple announced that the company will launch its payment system Apple Pay in mainland China in early 2016. The drone maker DJI opened its first flagship store in its home town Shenzhen. A report released by consultancy firm UHY International showed that China is a global leader in creating new businesses, spawning 4,000 new businesses a day.

Below are this weeks selected articles from AllChinaTech

Weekly briefing week 50 (6-13/12)

Yet another hectic week in China. Beijing issued its first pollution red alert Monday, since the scheme was introduced a year ago. Meanwhile in Zhengzhou, preparations are under way for the second annual World Internet Conference, part of Beijing’s effort to promote its vision of the internet. Internet giant and WeChat operator Tencent removed the presence of several of Uber’s accounts on its popular messaging app. Tencent is one of the major stakeholders of Didi Kuaidi, Uber’s main competitor in the Mainland. The acquisition by Alibaba of prominent Hong Kong based English language newspaper South China Morning Post became public Friday. The accusation raised questions both on the strategy of Alibaba as well as the prospects for press freedom in Hong Kong.

Below are this weeks selected articles from AllChinaTech

Chinapreneurs Weekly Briefing Week 49


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