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.

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
The coronavirus may hasten the demise of the smartphone
We've all had those heart-stopping moments, “Where's my phone?!” Is it on the back seat of the taxi disappearing into traffic, or did I leave it at home? Maybe I haven't lost everything. For more than a decade, we have been tethered to a flat piece of metal and glass that is now central to our lives – combining communications (voice and text), photography, music, videos, news, web search and dozens of other seemingly essential apps into one indispensable device we have to carry everywhere. The smartphone hasn’t changed much since Apple revolutionized mobile telephones with a touch screen version in 2007. In fact, the decade of the 2010s saw only incremental innovations in smartphones, or gim
A $4.57 million meal with Warren Buffett was ‘priceless,’ crypto founder says
The man who spent $4.57 million to have a meal with Warren Buffett finally got to enjoy his sit-down with the legendary investor.  Chinese cryptocurrency entrepreneur Justin Sun Yuchen had to postpone the lunch with the Berkshire Hathaway chairman last year because of a kidney stones issue. When they finally met, it was for dinner.  Sun's $4.57 million bid was enough to win the opportunity at a charity auction in June last year but postponed it, first citing health issues and then apologizing to the public for overhyping the plan to dine with one of the world’s richest people. Sun thanked Buffett for his dinner, wisdom and vision. “$4.56 million for a $515.05 dinner was money well spent! Th
UK approves limited use of Huawei technology in its 5G networks
The British government approved the limited use of Huawei Technologies’ equipment in the country’s roll-out of 5G mobile infrastructure on Tuesday, opening the door to rival European telecommunications gear suppliers Ericsson and Nokia. While that action imposes a cap on Huawei’s market share in Britain, it throws a lifeline to the embattled Chinese telecoms giant amid the Trump administration’s accusations that the company’s equipment poses a national security threat. It could also serve as a model for other European governments, including Germany, as they prepare to make similar decisions over their deployment of 5G – the next-generation mobile technology that will help power advances such
Chinese tech boss won’t hand out cash gifts amid coronavirus concerns
Many Chinese workers can expect their bosses handing them a red packet stuffed with cash during the Lunar New Year celebrations. But this year, employees at Tencent, one of China’s biggest tech companies, won’t be getting the packets directly from company founder Pony Ma. It will be the first time in nearly two decades that this has happened at the company, as China deals with the spread of a deadly coronavirus. The virus has killed nine people in the central Chinese city where it originated and infected 440 others across the country. Tencent, based in the southern Chinese megacity of Shenzhen, has canceled the handout of these red packets, also known as hongbao or laisee, on the first worki
‘Star scientist’ says his coding language was made in China. It wasn’t
China faces another embarrassment in its drive to build home-grown technology after one of the country’s leading research institutes suspended a senior computer scientist for making false claims. The prestigious Institute of Computing Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing said it had suspended lab scientist Liu Lei after his false claim that a programming language he helped develop was made entirely in China. The school said it would investigate Liu. The scandal adds to a series of blows to China’s ambition to reduce its dependence on imported technology, including software and computer chips.  The prospect of state funding for domestic innovation has led to a number of ex