China technology

China technology

Latest news, features and opinion on China’s technology industry, including AI, the US-China tech war, 5G, smartphone makers and apps, and issues surrounding China’s Great Firewall.

How a Chinese short-video app took the world by storm
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. TikTok is one of the world’s most popular apps, allowing some 800 million users worldwide to make and watch addictive short videos. It is the international version of the Chinese app Douyin, which was launched by Beijing-based tech conglomerate ByteDance in 2016. But with its explosive popularity has come accusations of content censorship – something that Douyin routinely does in the Chinese market – and concerns of data security. As US-China tensions have worsened, some American lawmakers have expressed skepticism over the relationship between TikTok and
China completes satellite navigation system
China’s final BeiDou-3 satellite for its global navigation system was launched on June 23, 2020, at 9.43am, from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in the southwest province of Sichuan. A Long March 3B rocket carried the satellite into orbit, completing the third-generation network for the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System. BeiDou is the fourth major global satellite navigation system, following GPS built by the US, Russia's Glosnass and the European Union's Galileo.
Takeout troubles for Chinese food delivery apps
For Mike Wong, the owner of a restaurant called Hong Kong Grassroots Canteen with two branches in Beijing, takeout service has long been something of a headache. In China, the delivery app Meituan Dianping and its rival Ele.me dominate meal delivery services. (Ele.me is owned by Alibaba Group, the parent company of Inkstone). Users log on to the apps and order from the restaurants listed. Wong says Meituan charges a minimum of 20% commission on each order – a significant amount for a small business. “My profit margin is only 10% to 15%. So for a takeaway order, all my profits have to be given to Meituan.” Wong says many people order takeout for items as simple as a cup of noodles or a glas
US semiconductor giant scraps its only China factory
An American technology giant has closed its semiconductor factory in China, dealing a potential blow to China’s bid to own a bigger slice of the market of a technology crucial to its global ambitions. The US chip giant GlobalFoundries confirmed that it has halted operations of the facility and placed employees on an “employee optimization plan,” a commonly-used euphemism for lay-offs.  The facility was GlobalFoundries’s only factory in China. While its closure has little to do with the US-China rivalry –  it never managed to get off the ground – the announcement comes amid an escalating tech war with the United States. The symbolism is rich. China is struggling in its efforts to boost its d
Kidnapped toddler reunited with family after 32 years
A man who was kidnapped as a child has been reunited with his parents after 32 years, bringing an end to one of China’s most notorious abduction cases. Mao Yin was two in 1988 when he disappeared in Xian, the capital of the northern province of Shaanxi, and was sold to another family who raised him as their own son. Mao, who was renamed Gu Ningning by his adoptive parents, was reunited with his mother and father – Li Jingzhi and Mao Zhenjing – on Monday at a press conference organized by the police and shown live on the state broadcaster CCTV. Mao, who now runs a home decoration business, was tracked down in early May by Xian police. They used facial recognition technology to analyze old ch
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
‘Big data’ segregates millions in China’s coronavirus fight
On Valentine’s Day, a 36-year-old lawyer in eastern China discovered he had been coded “red.” The lawyer, Matt Ma, was effectively put in chains. The color, displayed in a payment app on his smartphone, indicated that he needed to be quarantined at home even though he was not sick.  Without a green light from the system, he could not travel from his home village to the eastern city of Hangzhou, or make it past the checkpoints that have sprung up across the city as a measure to contain the new coronavirus.  Ma is one of the millions of people whose movements are being choreographed by the government through software that feeds on troves of data and spits out orders that effectively dictate wh
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.
Homebound and bored, millions of Chinese are tuning into live streams
Live-streaming, already a booming industry in China, is experiencing a new wave of popularity with many cities locked down and millions staying home to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 2,000 people in the country as of Wednesday. While the outbreak has hit China’s economy overall, a strong move from offline to online activity from those confined to their homes has boosted the fortunes of some tech companies, including those with live-streaming platforms. Short video platforms with live-streaming features saw a sharp increase in user activity since the outbreak was first reported in late December, according to a QuestMobile report this week. Over the re