Minghe Hu

Minghe Hu

Reporter, Technology

Minghe Hu is a contributor to Inkstone. She is a Beijing-based reporter for the South China Morning Post covering technology.

Location
Beijing
Language spoken
English, Mandarin
Areas of Expertise
Technology, artificial intelligence and big tech companies in China
Chinese buyers of face masks have lost $28 million in scams
Chen Xiaobai, a graphic designer from Changsha city in southern China’s Hunan province, has been running a WeChat messaging group since the beginning of February called The Victims of Online Masks Fraud. The group has attracted about 170 members, all of whom had been cheated out of money while trying to buy face masks online to protect themselves or other people from the spread of the novel coronavirus. Online fraud has a long history, but fears about the coronavirus outbreak and a shortage of masks have brought swindlers a fresh pool of potential victims among China’s 800 million internet users. With the demand for masks far exceeding the supply many have no choice but to turn to private c
Virus outbreak gives China a convenient reason to collect more data
The coronavirus outbreak has allowed Chinese authorities and companies to scoop up an ever-expanding set of data on citizens, raising questions about privacy and the protection of personal information. “I have no excuse to reject requests by the authorities to share my personal data when it is done in the name of public safety,” said Wang Junyao, a 29-year-old engineer in Shenzhen. “But what about when the virus ends? Surely the conflict between data collection and privacy will only intensify.” While real-name registration and facial recognition were commonplace in everyday life in China before the epidemic, the practices are being extended to over-the-counter purchases of medicine and all f
Fear of contact is boosting China’s robot delivery services
E-commerce companies in China are ramping up their use of robots to deliver orders in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus through human-to-human contact. Delivery app Meituan Dianping, which launched a “contactless delivery” initiative across China last month, said this week that it had started using autonomous vehicles to send groceries to customers in Shunyi district in Beijing, and was looking to launch similar robot delivery services in other districts in the capital city. The company began testing indoor delivery robots and drones for deliveries last year, but this is the first time it is deploying autonomous delivery vehicles on public roads, it said in a post on WeChat.
More people downloaded this Chinese app than Facebook
TikTok, the Chinese-owned short video platform popular among American teens, and Douyin, the domestic version of the service, became the world’s second-most downloaded app last year, according to market analyst Sensor Tower. TikTok and Douyin amassed a combined 740 million downloads last year, overtaking Facebook and Messenger, trailing only WhatsApp (which, like the Messenger app, is also owned by Facebook). As one of the rare Chinese-owned services that took off overseas, TikTok’s rise in the US has been met with pressure from lawmakers over national security concerns and alleged censorship.  The scrutiny has come at a time of mounting skepticism in Washington over China’s rising global in
How the smartphone completely transformed China in a decade
When finance industry employee Ringo Li relocated back to Beijing from Tokyo in 2010, he brought along his first smartphone – an iPhone 3G. Although one of the most advanced handsets available at the time, it was mainly used for text messages and phone calls, and occasional internet-surfing where Wi-fi was available. Life was mostly offline back then. Li would go to restaurants to order food, pay bills with cash and hail a taxi with an outstretched arm standing on the roadside. Fast forward 10 years and Li’s life has completely changed. No longer in finance, he communicates via WeChat and uses apps on his iPhone XS to order food, hail taxis, pay bills and shop. Most of the apps that permeate
Chinese internet behemoth challenges TikTok owner at home
As TikTok faces mounting pressure from US lawmakers concerned over national security issues and alleged censorship, its parent company, Bytedance, is encountering a different sort of challenge.  Tencent, China’s largest gaming and social media company, is set to invest $2 billion into Kuaishou, a rival short-video platform that competes with ByteDance-owned Douyin (the Chinese version of TikTok) in China, according to a report by The Information. Tencent and Kuaishou did not immediately respond to requests for comment. ByteDance declined to comment. Tencent is betting that Kuaishou can outcompete Douyin, which is increasingly challenging Tencent’s social media platforms in terms of user atte
Chinese artificial intelligence hopes still rely on America
Engineer Kuang Kaiming was assigned to a team developing artificial intelligence (AI) technology for a Shanghai start-up. The company went with two leading open-source software libraries, Google’s TensorFlow and Facebook’s Pytorch. The decision to adopt US core technology over Chinese alternatives was telling of China’s weakness in basic AI infrastructure.  Despite the country’s success in producing commercially successful AI companies, the open-source coding repositories used to build the technology tend to be American.  Kuang’s company, whose AI product detects abnormalities in X-rays, is by no means alone.  Nearly all small- to medium-sized Chinese AI companies rely on the US-originated o
The app leading China's growing podcast craze
When Yu Jianjun was looking to name his podcast start-up back in 2012, he looked at how Jeff Bezos chose Amazon after the great South American river and Jack Ma picked Alibaba after a character in the Middle Eastern folk tale collection One Thousand and One Nights. Both Amazon and Alibaba had universal recognition and appeal. So Yu decided to name his company, now China’s most popular podcasting platform, after the great Asian mountain range, the Himalayas, that is home to the highest peak in the world. Ximalaya FM now has about 500 million users, according to a company spokeswoman. That number easily makes it China’s top podcast platform compared with rivals Lizhi FM and Dragonfly FM, with