China says chips for devices using Beidou navigation system in mass production

8:40:00 PM


(Reuters) China said on Monday that 28-nanometre chips that enable mobile devices to receive signals from the Beidou navigation system are in mass production and mass manufacturing of high-precision 22-nanometre positioning chips will soon kick off.


China will build a complete industrial chain of chips, modules, boards, terminals, operation services for Beidou, Ran Chengqi, director general of the China Satellite Navigation Office, said at a press conference.


In the past decade, the total output value of China’s satellite navigation and location services industry has been growing at an average annual rate of more than 20%, reaching 345 billion yuan ($49.47 billion) in 2019 and is expected to exceed 400 billion yuan in 2020, Ran said.


In June, China successfully put into orbit its final Beidou satellite, completing a navigation network years in the making and setting the stage to challenge the U.S.-owned Global Positioning System (GPS).


Many countries using Beidou services are involved in the Belt and Road initiative spearheaded by China to create a modern-day Silk Road of trade and investment.


Beidou-related services such as smart port and land mapping have been exported to about 120 countries, including those in ASEAN, South Asia, Eastern Europe, West Asia and Africa, Ran said.


Source: Reuters; Reporting by Ryan Woo and Liangping Gao; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Michael Perry

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TikTok sued by rival Triller for patent infringement

11:06:00 PM


(Reuters) TikTok, the popular short-form video app, has been sued by rival Triller, which accused it of infringing its patent for stitching together multiple music videos with a single audio track.


Triller said in a complaint filed on Wednesday that TikTok and its Chinese-owned parent ByteDance Ltd willfully infringed the June 2017 patent by importing and selling its app for iPhones and Android-based smartphones.


The complaint was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, which includes Austin. It focuses on “Green Screen Video,” a feature TikTok rolled out last December that lets users shoot multiple videos and synchronize them with an audio track.


Triller is based in Los Angeles, and became known for its focus on hip-hop music.


It is seeking an injunction against further infringements plus unspecified damages from TikTok, which has offices in Austin.


TikTok did not immediately respond on Thursday to requests for comment.


TikTok’s Chinese ownership has drawn attention from the White House and U.S. lawmakers, raising privacy and national security concerns including whether user data might be shared with the Chinese government.


The company has said it has never given user data to China, and would not if asked.


TikTok downloads have surpassed 2 billion worldwide.


The case is Triller Inc v ByteDance Ltd et al, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, No. 20-00693.


Source: Reuters; Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Tom Brown 

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Exclusive: TikTok's Chinese owner offers to forego stake to clinch U.S. deal - sources

8:06:00 PM


(Reuters) China’s ByteDance has agreed to divest the U.S. operations of TikTok completely in a bid to save a deal with the White House, after President Donald Trump said on Friday he had decided to ban the popular short-video app, two people familiar with the matter said on Saturday. 


U.S. officials have said TikTok under its Chinese parent poses a national risk because of the personal data it handles. ByteDance’s concession will test whether Trump’s threat to ban TikTok is a negotiating tactic, or whether he is intent on cracking down on a social media app that boasts it has 100 million users in the United States.


Trump told reporters onboard Air Force One late on Friday that he would issue an order for TikTok to be banned in the United States as early as Saturday. “Not the deal that you have been hearing about, that they are going to buy and sell… We are not an M&A (mergers and acquisitions) country,” Trump said.


Late on Saturday, Peter Navarro, director of the White House’s office of trade and manufacturing policy, told Fox News that Trump would be taking action on TikTok on Sunday or Monday.


ByteDance was previously seeking to keep a minority stake in the U.S. business of TikTok, which the White House had rejected. Under the new proposed deal, ByteDance would exit completely and Microsoft Corp would take over TikTok in the United States, the sources said.


Some ByteDance investors that are based in the United States may be given the opportunity to take minority stakes in the business, the sources added. About 70% of ByteDance’s outside investors come from the United States.


“The administration has very serious national security concerns over TikTok. We continue to evaluate future policy,” the White House said in a statement, declining to comment on whether Trump would accept ByteDance’s concession. ByteDance in Beijing did not respond to a request for comment.


“We are here for the long run. Continue to share your voice here and let’s stand for TikTok,” TikTok U.S. general manager Vanessa Pappas said in a video published on the app on Saturday.


Under ByteDance’s new proposal, Microsoft, which also owns professional social media network LinkedIn, will be in charge of protecting all of TikTok’s U.S. user data, the sources said. The plan allows for a U.S. company other than Microsoft to take over TikTok in the United States, the sources added.


“What’s the right answer? Have an American company like Microsoft take over TikTok. Win-win. Keeps competition alive and data out of the hands of the Chinese Communist Party,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham wrote on Twitter on Saturday.


Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment.


As relations between the United States and China deteriorate over trade, Hong Kong’s autonomy, cyber security and the spread of the novel coronavirus, TikTok has emerged as a flashpoint in the dispute between the world’s two largest economies.


ByteDance has been considering a range of options for TikTok amid U.S. pressure to relinquish control of the app, which allows users to create short videos with special effects and has become wildly popular with U.S. teenagers.


ByteDance had received a proposal from some of its investors, including Sequoia and General Atlantic, to transfer majority ownership of TikTok to them, Reuters reported on Wednesday. The proposal valued TikTok at about $50 billion, but some ByteDance executives believe the app is worth more than that.


ByteDance acquired Shanghai-based video app Musical.ly in a $1 billion deal in 2017 and relaunched it as TikTok the following year. ByteDance did not seek approval for the acquisition from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews deals for potential national security risks. Reuters reported last year that CFIUS had opened an investigation into TikTok.



APP SCRUTINY 


The United States has been increasingly scrutinizing app developers over the personal data they handle, especially if some of it involves U.S. military or intelligence personnel. Ordering the divestment of TikTok would not be the first time the White House has taken action over such concerns.


Earlier this year, Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd sold Grindr LLC, a popular gay dating app it bought in 2016, for $620 million after being ordered by CFIUS to divest.


In 2018, CFIUS forced China’s Ant Financial to scrap plans to buy MoneyGram International Inc over concerns about the safety of data that could identify U.S. citizens.


ByteDance was valued at as much as $140 billion earlier this year when one of its shareholders, Cheetah Mobile, sold a small stake in a private deal, Reuters has reported. The startup’s investors include Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp.


The bulk of ByteDance’s revenue comes from advertising on apps under its Chinese operations including Douyin – a Chinese version of TikTok – and news aggregator app Jinri Toutiao, as well as video-streaming app Xigua and Pipixia, an app for jokes and humorous videos.


Source: Reuters; Reporting by Echo Wang in New York and Alexandra Alper and David Shepardson in Washington, D.C.; Editing by Diane Craft and Daniel Wallis 

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Uber Abandons Plan to Move Regional Headquarters to Hong Kong

1:58:00 PM


(Caixin) Uber has abandoned a plan to relocate its Asian-Pacific headquarters to Hong Kong from Singapore because of its inability to persuade the Hong Kong government to enact legislation for the ride-hailing industry.


In a statement issued Thursday, the U.S. company said that it will keep Singapore as a regional hub for the medium term and will continue with its efforts to seek legislation to regulate the ride-hailing business in Hong Kong.


The announcement comes a month after Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong, a move that has dampened some tech firms’ confidence in the city’s future as a hub for international business.


In May, Uber announced that it was ready to move its regional headquarters from Singapore to Hong Kong and planned to build an innovation and engineering hub in the former British colony on condition that the Hong Kong government removed regulatory hurdles.


Since entering Hong Kong six years ago, Uber has faced strong resistance from local policy stipulating that drivers must obtain a hire-car permit before using their private vehicles to transport passengers for profit.


According to a report by Nikkei Asian Review, such permits cost HK$5 million ($645,157) each at open auction as the Hong Kong government has not issued new permits since 1998 to reduce traffic and air pollution.


In addition, Uber has also encountered boycotts from drivers working for taxi companies.


Currently, Uber, which sold its Chinese mainland business to local rival Didi Chuxing in 2016, operates across the Asian-Pacific region in Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.


Source: Caixin by Ding Yi / Jul 31, 2020 07:01 PM 

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Chinese electric vehicle maker Xpeng raises another $300 million, sources say

10:57:00 AM


(Reuters) Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker Xpeng Motors has raised an additional $300 million from investors including Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, people familiar with the matter said.


As enthusiasm builds for EVs, shares of their makers such as Tesla Inc and Nio Inc have surged in recent months and automakers are looking to the markets for funds.


Six-year-old Xpeng, which is backed by Alibaba Group Holding, said earlier in July it had raised around $500 million from investors including Aspex, Coatue, Hillhouse and Sequoia Capital China.


It has now raised an additional $300 million from new investors including the Qatar Investment Authority, the sources said, adding the company might further expand the fundraising.


Funds will go towards research in areas such as intelligent vehicle technologies, the sources said, without giving any further details.


The latest fundraising takes the total amount raised so far in the company’s so-called C+ round to more than $800 million. The company has filed for a U.S. initial public offering (IPO), the sources, who declined to be named as discussions are private, said.


Xpeng, which had delivered 19,376 G3 SUVs as of June, declined to comment. Qatar Investment Authority could not immediately be reached for comment. CNBC earlier reported the funding on Friday.


China’s sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs) fell for a 12th straight month in June. NEVs include battery-powered electric, plug-in petrol-electric hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.


Last November, Xpeng raised $400 million from investors including Xiaomi Corp. Sources told Reuters at the time that investors valued the company at nearly $4 billion.


Shares in Xpeng’s rival Li Auto Inc LI.O soared more than 50% following its debut on Nasdaq on Thursday, after the Chinese automaker sold shares to investors in its $1.1 billion IPO.


Source: Reuters; Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh; Editing by David Holmes 

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Apple removes thousands of game apps from China store: research firm

7:49:00 AM


(Reuters) Apple Inc removed 29,800 apps from its Chinese app store on Saturday, including more than 26,000 games, according to data from research firm Qimai.


The takedowns come amid a crackdown on unlicensed games by Chinese authorities.


Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Earlier this year Apple gave game publishers an end-of-June deadline to submit a government-issued license number enabling users to make in-app purchases.


China’s Android app stores have long complied with those regulations. It is not clear why Apple is enforcing them strictly this year.


The smartphone maker removed more than 2,500 titles from its app store over the first week of July. Games affected by the sweep included titles from Zynga and Supercell, research firm SensorTower reported at the time.


The Chinese government has long sought to enforce stricter regulations on its gaming industry to remove sensitive content.


The approval process for games looking to enable in-app purchases is long and complicated, hurting all but the largest game developers, industry insiders say.


“This affects small- and mid-sized developers’ incomes the most, but due to the difficulties of acquiring a business license, it’s devastating to the whole iOS game industry in China,” said Todd Kuhns, marketing manager for AppInChina, a firm that helps overseas companies distribute their apps.


Source: Reuters; Reporting by Josh Horwitz and Brenda Goh in Shanghai, and Pei Li in Hong Kong; Editing by Stephen Coates

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