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.

Chinese work culture tries to find its Zen
China’s grueling 72-hour work week has become a defining feature of its rise into a modern tech powerhouse. But now, young entrepreneurs are hoping an older tradition can provide a guiding light. Known as “Buddhist entrepreneurs,” they are thumbing their noses at China’s controversial “996” work culture – which stands for working 9am to 9pm six days a week. Among those embracing the philosophy are Su Hua, the CEO of TikTok-like short video app Kuaishou, and Chen Rui, the chairman of one of China’s most popular video platforms Bilibili. They espouse a more chilled-out approach when it comes to work, choosing when, where and how many hours they work. But many entrepreneurs and investors are s
Chinese companies can create the next Clubhouse, just not in China
The surging popularity of Clubhouse has many people asking if it will take the mantle as the next up-and-coming startup, and Chinese companies see an opportunity to take advantage of the business model.  Just not in China.  Macro Lai Jinnan, the founder and CEO of Lizhi, a Chinese podcasting app, said in an interview with the  South China Morning Post that Clubhouse-like apps are unlikely to succeed in China because of the country’s strict content regulations, but he believes Chinese companies are still well-positioned to capitalize the new social audio app craze in other countries. “It will be very difficult to create a Clubhouse-like app in China. The form of Clubhouse will most likely be
35 may be too old to find work in China
Is 35 suddenly becoming “over the hill” in China? It certainly feels that way to some workers.  As the competition for jobs becomes more fierce among a pandemic-related economic slowdown, a growing number of employment ads are posting age limits of 35 for fresh applicants.  The problem is so widespread that state media has even branded it the “age 35 phenomenon.” In his forties, David Huang is one of the scores of Chinese workers above 35 feeling increasingly vulnerable.  After the small clothing factory he owned in the southern province of Guangdong closed last year, he now roams between wet markets and roadside stalls, trying to sell his remaining inventory of about 10,000 garments. “I’m
Clubhouse in China is a party that knows the cops are coming
UPDATE: Multiple media outlets are reporting that Clubhouse went offline in China on the evening of February 8.  Clubhouse, the hottest new social media app from Silicon Valley, is the talk of the town in mainland China because it has emerged as a rare space to discuss sensitive topics freely.  On China’s largest e-commerce platform, Taobao, a search using the keywords “clubhouse invitation” in Chinese generated more than two dozen results. An online shop in Shanghai, boldly calling itself “clubhouse invitation code,” has sold more than 200 invitations in the last month, with codes priced up to US$50. For users in mainland China, the app, which doesn’t support text or video, has offered a fr
Nobody really knows who owns data in China
Data is the new oil, or at least that is what technologists will have you believe. And much like battles over natural resources, there is a virulent debate about who owns the information.  Two of China’s largest tech companies – TikTok owner ByteDance and Tencent –  are locked in a legal fight about who owns the data created by their users. On Monday, the case was accepted by a court in Beijing, a move that experts said could become a “landmark” case as authorities ramp up antitrust efforts. Bytedance is accusing Tencent of blocking links to Douyin, its Chinese-version of TikTok, on WeChat and QQ, saying they are owners of the data their users create.  Tencent has vowed to countersue, accus
Chinese city lockdown exposed reliance on food delivery apps
In January, a northern Chinese city lockdown created a temporary humanitarian crisis when 300,000 residents suddenly could not access food and medical supplies.  The outpouring of criticism also had a complaint unique to modern times: the suspension of delivery and e-commerce services like Meituan and Ele.me caused major problems in Tonghua, a rust-belt town near North Korea.  While Tonghua is not well-known for being a tech-driven metropolis, the adverse reaction to the sudden withdrawal of convenient internet services shows just how essential they have become to everyday life in China. “Where are those food delivery and online grocery apps when you need them most?” said Kevin Li, a 32-yea
Chinese people are fed up with widespread use of facial recognition technology
A vast network of cameras across China records the movements of its residents via facial recognition technology. From schools to shopping centers, public transport, concert venues and education campuses, surveillance cameras equipped with facial recognition are omnipresent, even being used to shame jaywalkers and prevent toilet paper theft. It’s also now a fact of life for many Chinese employees who clock into work using biometric technology. But Chinese people are growing increasingly concerned about its use in public spaces.  A survey of 1,515 anonymous Chinese residents by Beijing News Think Tank on Tuesday found that 87.46% of respondents oppose the use of facial recognition technology
Chinese tech giants were winners during the pandemic
The global coronavirus pandemic may have been a disaster for the global economy, but it was a boon for China’s largest technology companies.  Tencent Holdings, the Chinese gaming giant and owner of WeChat, is flirting with a market value of US$1 trillion and has made its founder, Pony Ma Huateng, the second richest man in China.  The brand value of Alibaba, Tencent’s rival company, jumped by 108% to US$39.2 billion as the world’s second-fastest-growing brand, behind only Tesla’s 158% increase, according to a 2021 report by Brand Finance, a British consultant. “Alibaba.com has benefited from the unprecedented surge in demand, as consumers turned to online shopping during the pandemic,” Brand
Regulate big tech like tobacco or alcohol, says top expert
Tech giants should join the ranks of big tobacco and alcohol corporations in being forced to mitigate the damage done to users, says a New York University professor. Adam Alter, an author and professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business, believes that modern technology has never been so “efficient and addictive.” He warned that tech companies’ ability to prey on “behavioral addiction” could have devastating long-term effects on the relationships and mental health of users and called out for their protection by making those companies legally responsible. As tobacco and alcohol companies are bound in many countries to warn consumers about the dangers of consuming a
Deaths at e-commerce giant cause ‘996’ controversy
China is a global leader in the technology industry, and tech companies have grown to become dominant forces in Chinese society. But it also has a dark side.  The death of two employees at the social commerce giant Pinduoduo has placed the spotlight on a culture of high-stress jobs and overwork. Called “996” (meaning working from 9am to 9pm for 6 days per week), many fear the infamous culture has become worse and not better due to pressure from the pandemic. On December 29, 2020, a 22-year-old woman surnamed Zhang, who was working at a new business unit in Urumqi, died. On January 4, another young worker, surnamed Tan, jumped to his death in his hometown of Changsha. Public anger at Pinduod