Tag Archives: China

Excluding Huawei could hurt 5G network development: China envoy to EU
January 28, 2019 12:31 am|Comments (0)

FILE PHOTO: The Huawei logo is pictured outside their research facility in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, December 6, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File Photo

(Reuters) – China’s envoy to the European Union warned that excluding Chinese tech group Huawei could hamper new 5G mobile networks, the Financial Times on Sunday.

Efforts to limit involvement of Chinese technology in upcoming 5G projects in Europe might bring “serious consequences to the global economic and scientific co-operation,” Ambassador Zhang Ming said in an interview with FT.

Some Western governments, led by the United States, have barred the use of the Chinese company’s equipment in new networks over concerns the technology could be used for spying. Huawei has denied the claims, saying network security has always been its priority.

Reporting by Ishita Chigilli Palli in Bengaluru and Paul Sandle in London; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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On the autofarm: China turns to driverless tractors, combines to overhaul agriculture
January 16, 2019 6:01 am|Comments (0)

Xinghua, China (Reuters) – A brand new combine harvester buzzes up and down a field in eastern China without a driver on board, chopping golden rice stalks and offering a glimpse of what authorities say is the automated future of the nation’s mammoth agricultural sector.

Staff members taking part in the experiment on automated farming machinery load fertilizer onto an automated tractor near a field in Xinghua, Jiangsu province, China October 30, 2018. Picture taken October 30, 2018. REUTERS/Hallie Gu

The bright green prototype was operating last autumn during a trial of driverless farm equipment as the government pushes firms to develop within 7 years fully-automated machinery capable of planting, fertilizing and harvesting each of China’s staple crops – rice, wheat and corn.

That shift to automation is key to the farming sector in the world’s No.2 economy as it grapples with an ageing rural workforce and a dearth of young people willing to endure the hardships many associate with toiling on the land.

Other countries like Australia and the United States are taking similar steps in the face of such demographic pressures, but the sheer scale of China’s farming industry means the stakes are particularly high in its drive to automate agriculture.

“Automated farming is the way ahead and demand for it here is huge,” said Cheng Yue, general manager of tractor maker Changzhou Dongfeng CVT Co Ltd, which provided an autonomous vehicle that was also used at the trial in the rice field in Xinghua, a county in the eastern province of Jiangsu.

However, the road to automation is long and littered with obstacles such as high costs, the nation’s varied terrain and the small size of many of its farms.

“I have heard of driverless tractors. But I don’t think they are practical, especially the really large ones,” said Li Guoyong, a wheat farmer in China’s northern Hebei province.

Most farms in his area are only a few hectares in size, he said by phone.

GOING LOCAL

To try to achieve its ambitious 7-year goal, Beijing is supporting trials of local technology across the country organised by industry group Telematics Industry Application Alliance (TIAA).

Members include state-owned tractor maker YTO Group, navigation systems producer Hwa Create and Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science & Technology Co Ltd, which helped develop the combine harvester used in the Xinghua trial along with Jiangsu University.

The next trials are slated for the northeastern province of Heilongjiang and for the hills around the southwestern city of Chongqing in the first half of this year.

Those come after a string of automated developments in the sector.

YTO developed its first driverless tractor in 2017 and is aiming to start mass production soon, depending on market demand, said Lei Jun, an executive at the firm’s technology center, without giving a more detailed timeline.

Lovol Heavy Industry Co Ltd signed a deal with Baidu in April to apply the tech giant’s Apollo automated driving system to its agricultural machinery.

“China is expected to climb the autonomous technology ladder very quickly, mainly because Chinese companies can access the local navigation satellite system, which gives them an advantage over their international peers,” said Alexious Lee, Head of China Industrial Research at Hong Kong brokerage CLSA.

He was referring to China’s ‘Beidou’ homegrown satellite navigation system, a rival to the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS).

Beijing has included agricultural machinery in its ‘Made in China 2025’ campaign, meaning the vast majority of its farm equipment should be produced at home by that time.

Semi-automated technology is already fairly common on farms in places such as the United States, but fully-automated tractors and combines have yet to be mass-produced anywhere.

TOO SMALL

But with many Chinese farms still too small for a regular tractor, driverless ones that could be as high as four times more expensive at around $ 90,000 will be a long way out of reach for many in the short-term.

More than 90 percent of farms in China are less than 1 hectare, while in the United States nearly 90 percent are larger than 5 hectares.

“It is not about whether you have the product. It is about the entire system. It is about commercializing agriculture,” said Lee.

Although analysts and industry officials said that the underlying trend would be for farms to get larger as ongoing reforms to land rights should allow farmers to lease more space.

Sensors in equipment that help monitor crop conditions also need to be improved so that machines can adjust more quickly to different situations, said Wei Xinhua, deputy director of the school of agriculture equipment engineering at Jiangsu University.

China’s $ 60 billion farm machinery industry has been burdened by overcapacity and low profit-margins after a years-long subsidy scheme to promote mechanization in farming led to mass production of low-quality tractors. Analysts said it was too early to say how much the automated farming machinery sector could eventually be worth.

Slideshow (5 Images)

Automated farming machines are also useful in recording data on details such as volumes of fertilisers or other materials used in churning out crops, potentially helping farmers target consumers demanding higher-quality produce as some of that information could be included on food labels.

“Take a bowl of rice. I want to know exactly how it was planted, and how much fertilizer or pesticide was applied to it,” said Cheng at Changzhou Dongfeng.

($ 1 = 6.8450 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton; Editing by Joseph Radford

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EU backs duties on imports of e-bikes from China: EU sources
December 18, 2018 12:01 pm|Comments (0)

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU governments voted on Tuesday to impose duties on Chinese electric bicycles to curb cheap imports that European producers say benefit from unfair subsidies and are flooding the market, EU sources familiar with the case said.

The European Commission, which is investigating on behalf of the 28 EU members, has proposed that definitive or final tariffs of between 18.8 and 79.3 percent should apply for all e-bikes coming from China.

The anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties are the latest in a series of EU measures against Chinese exports ranging from solar panels to steel, which have sparked strong words from Beijing.

Unlike the United States, the European Union has not launched a trade war against China, but it shares U.S. concerns about forced technology transfers and Chinese state subsidies.

The electric bicycle imports are already subject to the duties set on a provisional basis in July. Definitive duties typically apply for five years.

Taiwan’s Giant, one of the world’s largest bicyclemakers, which has factories in China as well as in the Netherlands, would be subject to a rate of 24.8 percent.

The Commission found Chinese exports of e-bikes to the European Union more than tripled from 2014 until September 2017. Their market share rose to 35 percent, while their average prices fell by 11 percent.

It has also said Chinese producers benefit from controlled aluminum prices as well as advantageous financing and land rights conditions and tax breaks.

EU producers include Dutch groups Accell and Gazelle, Romania’s Eurosport DHS and Germany’s Derby Cycle Holding.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop, editing by Robin Emmott

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Canada says China has granted consular access to second detainee
December 17, 2018 12:01 am|Comments (0)

Canadian businessman Michael Spavor arrives next to the former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman (not pictured) after a trip to North Korea, at Beijing Capital International Airport, Beijing, China January 13, 2014. Picture taken January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian diplomats received consular access on Sunday to the second of two men detained by China over the past week, Canada’s foreign ministry said in a statement that gave few details.

John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to Beijing, met Michael Spavor, the statement said. Spavor and Michael Kovrig were both picked up after Canada arrested a senior Chinese executive on a U.S. extradition request.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – who said on Friday the detentions were unacceptable – told CTV his government was taking the situation very seriously.

“We have engaged with the Chinese officials to determine what exactly conditions are they being detained under? Why are they being detained?” he said in an interview aired on Sunday. McCallum met Kovrig for the first time in Friday.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that China should free the two men.

Spavor, a businessman, and Kovrig, a former diplomat, were detained after Canadian police arrested Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, on Dec 1.

U.S. prosecutors accuse Meng of misleading multinational banks about Iran-linked transactions, putting the banks at risk of violating U.S. sanctions. Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei’s founder, has said she is innocent.

Trudeau told CTV that Canada would continue trying to build up trading ties with China.

“We need to do so in a way that is true to our values and stands up for Canadians’ interests, and getting that balance right is complex. (It) has been made more difficult by recent trends,” he said.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Cooney

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Earn after reading: China news app lures with clickbait and cash
December 4, 2018 12:01 am|Comments (0)

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Cai Li, a janitor in Shanghai, developed a serious addiction to news app Qutoutiao, lured by gossipy articles about celebrities and the cash she gets from reading them.

A red packet giving out free cash for new users is seen on the news aggregator app Qutoutiao, on a mobile phone next to a Qutoutiao logo in this illustration picture taken November 26, 2018. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration

Logging on during breaks at work and sometimes at night when she can’t sleep, the 63-year old has earned a few hundred yuan ($ 30-$ 40) over several months, which she says is useful to supplement her income.

With its unusual pay-your-user strategy, Tencent-backed Qutoutiao Inc (QTT.O) – pronounced “chew-tow-ti-ow” – has drawn in 20 million daily readers. A leaderboard shows the top-earning user has raked in more than $ 50,000.

Digital gold coins are earned by playing games that involve reading stories or by convincing others to join up. The current exchange rate is 1,600 coins for 1 yuan, with strong players receiving the title of ‘master’.

The payments are an extreme example of financial incentives from discounts to coupons employed by a new generation of Chinese internet firms as they seek to establish themselves in a market dominated by much bigger players.

“Acquiring new users if you’re competing with Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent and traditional mobile players, you need to come up with something new,” said Zhang Chenhao, Shanghai-based managing partner at technology-focused Prometheus Fund.

On one hand, it has worked. The news aggregator, which listed in the United States in September, tripled its number of daily users over the last year. Third-quarter revenue – nearly all of it from advertising – jumped more than six times from the same period a year earlier to just under 1 billion yuan ($ 145 million).

THE EYEBALL ECONOMY

But the strategy doesn’t come cheap, even if individual amounts paid to users are ‘trivial’ – a word it used to describe the payments in its IPO prospectus.

Qutoutiao spent over 1 billion yuan on marketing in the last quarter – more than its revenue, nearly the amount of its net loss and over seven times what it spent in the same period a year ago.

“It is getting more and more expensive to get traffic,” Chief Financial Officer Wang Jingbo told Reuters in an interview, but said the cash giveaways were a key hook and a long-term strategy.

“It’s the eyeball economy. Previously, people had to spend money to see content, but with the changing internet they no longer have to pay…Not only are they not paying – users now need to earn something as well.”

Since surging on its trading debut, its shares have lost three-quarters of their market value, hurt by a wider economic chill that has hit Chinese stocks and disappointing earnings. It is now worth around $ 1.3 billion.

Industry experts question how long firms like Qutoutiao can sustain cash-burning habits and how they will become profitable.

“It’s very messy. If you lower the amount of money, users will lose interest. But if you raise it, the cost is too high,” said Wei Wuhui, an academic and managing partner at tech-focused venture capital fund SkyChee Ventures.

More broadly, concerns are growing about how some Chinese tech firms, including household names, are generously using discounts and other means to subsidize customers while also taking on other costs in the pursuit of market share.

Meituan Dianping (3690.HK) – a ‘super-app’ whose services include food delivery, restaurant reservations and ride-hailing – saw its stock plunge last month after quarterly operating losses tripled amid a bruising price war with its main rival.

Prometheus Fund’s Zhang noted venture capital funding was tightening due to the slowing economy, pressuring a key funding channel for tech firms.

“This (stage) is purely cash-burning to create a foundation. But in the end you have to deliver value and be profitable. If you don’t make profits, no-one will subsidize you and finance you forever.”

COPYCAT BELIEVERS

Qutoutiao – whose name means “fun headlines” – targets smaller cities and rural areas with content that ranges from cooking tips to videos on how to dance.

CFO Wang said he hopes to have 200 million monthly users at some point, getting towards the estimated 250 million currently commanded by rival news aggregator Jinri Toutiao. Qutoutiao had 49 million monthly active users as of July.

Bytedance-owned Jinri Toutiao recently launched a lite version of its app targeting rural markets and users with smaller phones that includes cash games, a sign it’s taking Qutoutiao’s threat seriously. It even offers 25 yuan for persuading another user to join, trumping Qutoutiao’s 8 yuan.

Several Qutoutiao users said their main interest in the app was the money, but complained it was becoming harder to earn.

Zhai Liyun, 45, a temp worker who lives on the outskirts of Beijing, said she read “clickbait” stories before bed but so far had only earned 20 yuan because most of her friends were already on the platform.

Cai, the janitor, said she was cutting back after her eyesight suffered and she lost weight from going on the app too much – prompting an intervention from her husband and daughter.

“I’ll play in the evening if I can’t sleep but I won’t lose sleep over Qutoutiao. I try not to think about it too much now,” she said.

($ 1 = 6.9437 Chinese yuan)

Reporting by Pei Li in Bejing and Adam Jourdan in Shanghai; Additional reporting by Shanghai newsroom, Sankalp Phartiyal and Euan Rocha in Mumbai; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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China Can't Stop Falling: Tencent Is Still A Conviction Buy
October 15, 2018 12:01 am|Comments (0)

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Charts For Markets In Japan And China Show What Can Happen When The Nasdaq Bubble Pops
September 3, 2018 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

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China fines Alipay for violating payment services regulations
August 6, 2018 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

BEIJING (Reuters) – The Shanghai head office of China’s central bank has levied a fine of 4.12 million yuan ($ 601,846) on Alipay, the online payment platform of Ant Financial, for violating regulations on payment services, the regulator said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: An Alipay logo is seen at a cashier in Shanghai, China January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

It gave no other details.

Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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Facebook plans innovation hub in China despite tightening censorship
July 25, 2018 12:00 am|Comments (0)

BEIJING (Reuters) – Facebook has set up a subsidiary in China and plans to create an “innovation hub” to support local start-ups and developers, the social media company said on Tuesday, ramping up its presence in the restrictive market where its social media sites remain blocked.

FILE PHOTO: A Facebook panel is seen during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, in Cannes, France, June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

The subsidiary is registered in Hangzhou, home of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, according to a filing approved on China’s National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System last week and seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

“We are interested in setting up an innovation hub in Zhejiang to support Chinese developers, innovators and start-ups,” a Facebook representative said via email, referring to the Chinese province where Hangzhou is located. Facebook has created similar hubs in France, Brazil, India and Korea to focus on training and workshops, the spokesperson said.

Facebook’s website remains banned in China, which strictly censors foreign news outlets, search engines and social media including content from Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google.

FILE PHOTO: Facebook logo is seen at a start-up companies gathering at Paris’ Station F in Paris, France on January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo

Setting up a company-owned enterprise in China does not mean Facebook is changing its approach in the country, the company said, adding that it was still learning what it takes to be in China.

Last year Facebook’s messaging app WhatsApp was blocked in the run up to the country’s twice-a-decade congress, and it has remained mostly unavailable since.

The filing listed only one shareholder of the new entity, Facebook Hongkong Ltd.

While censorship controls have hardened under Xi Jinping, who was formally appointed president in 2013, U.S. tech firms with blocked content are increasingly looking for new ways to enter the market without drawing the ire of regulators.

Google has several hundred staff in China and recently launched its own artificial intelligence (AI) lab. It has also tentatively launched several apps for the Chinese market in recent months, including an AI drawing game and file management app.

Apple Inc has also heavily modified its app stores to fit Chinese censorship restrictions in the past year, removing hundreds of apps at the request of regulators.

Reporting by Cate Cadell, Lusha Zhang, Se Young Lee and Jonathan Weber; additional writing by Peter Henderson; Editing by Kirsten Donovan, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Cynthia Osterman

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China auto firms to set up ride-sharing platform
July 14, 2018 6:50 pm|Comments (0)

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese firms FAW Group, Dongfeng Automobile and Chongqing Changan Automobile have set up a venture to establish a ride-sharing platform, Changan said on Saturday, creating the kind of service pioneered by Uber.

“The three major car companies have joined forces to enter the field of shared travel, which provides an opportunity to transform traditional car enterprises,” a notice posted by Changan on its Wechat social media account said.

The new venture, called T3 Mobile Travel Services, would introduce partners from other industries to build the service and seek to make use of the development of driverless cars to offer safer and more efficient travel services to customers.

The three firms signed a cooperation agreement in December.

China’s ride sharing market is now dominated by Didi Chuxing, which is valued at $ 50 billion and counts Japan’s SoftBank Group as one of its major investors.

Reporting by David Stanway

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