Your semi-weekly dose of China's tech
April 27, 2022
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"Currently, Chinese companies are trying to increase their market share by mainly making medium- to low-priced products, while Korean companies are leading premium products such as curved displays and low-power-consuming displays."

Kim Hyun-suk, senior general manager at Korea Display Industry Association, on the incoming Yoon Suk-yeol administration to counter China's tech advances
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TechNode stories

What's going on at TechNode

1. A guide teaching programmers “to live longer” goes viral on GitHub among Chinese tech workers
A Chinese-language guide on GitHub entitled “HowToLiveLonger” is trending within the Chinese tech community. 

Despite its serious and scientific tone, the new “guide” appears to be a pointed joke, taking aim at ongoing overwork practices in China’s tech industry and their impact on employees’ mental and physical well-being. Its popular reception in Chinese tech circles reflects the community’s current mood. 

2. BYD sees first-quarter sales jump 180% while Covid hits other Chinese automakers
BYD reported an impressive increase in sales in the first quarter while extended Covid-19 lockdowns in eastern and northern Chinese regions hit other automakers hard, according to the latest official figures released on Monday.

The sales figures highlight China’s accelerated shift from petrol and diesel engines to electric vehicles (EVs) and clean energy. It also showed the continued impact of supply chain disruption on the auto industry, worsened by the Russia-Ukraine war and Chinese authorities’ lockdown measures in controlling the coronavirus outbreaks.

3. Meituan halts community group buying service in Beijing
On Tuesday, Meituan suspended the Beijing operations of Meituan Select as the Chinese food delivery and local life service giant joins local peers in scaling back community group buying businesses.

Meituan and Pinduoduo led China’s community group-buy craze that took off two years ago. Meituan Select’s withdrawal from Beijing has raised market speculations about the company’s further retreat from the cooling market. 

4. Chinese online grocers increase stock to calm panic-buyer in Beijing as the city organizes mass Covid tests
Major Chinese online grocery platforms are increasing their product supplies in Beijing as residents rush to stock up on food and daily supplies after the capital city announced a surge of local Covid cases. 

Beijing health authority said on April 24 that the city found a local Covid outbreak has spread for a week, with more than 40 local cases since April 22, prompting locals to worry about facing lockdowns and supply shortages like Shanghai. 

5. Drive I/O | Nio, Xpeng, and Li Auto face more challenges after a mixed 2021 (paywall)
Although Nio, Xpeng Motors, and Li Auto recorded explosive growth in 2021, the US-listed share prices of the Chinese EV trio still trade much lower than their all-time highs. As the poster children of China’s electric vehicle revolution, the three automakers reported in March mixed results for 2021, with record revenue and significant losses. 

All three EV makers have seen doubled revenues and deliveries surge in their home market. And yet, having lost a total of nearly $10 billion in just 2021 alone, the US-listed EV trio is still struggling to make money. The share prices of Nio and Xpeng have slumped to under $30, falling over 60% from their respective highs two years ago, as they show no signs of turning a profit any time soon while facing risks of delisting from US exchanges.

News feed

Bite-sized news updates on China’s tech world

Monday, April 25
  • Kuaigou Dache, the logistics platform operated by Chinese classifieds giant, on April 24 reported a widening loss for 2021 despite record revenues as it struggles to secure a bigger market share. The carrier, which also operates in Hong Kong as GoGoX, posted a RMB 873 million ($133 million) loss in 2021, an increase of 32.7% from the previous year, while revenues grew 24.6% to RMB 661 million, according to an updated IPO prospectus issued by the firm. In contrast, rival Full Truck Alliance made a profit of RMB 450 million last year while revenues jumped 80.4% to RMB 4.7 billion. [Kuaigou prospectus, in Chinese]

Tuesday, April 26
  • ByteDance has hired Julie Gao, a prominent name in the legal sector, as its new chief financial officer, filling a role that had been vacant for months after the TikTok owner put its IPO plan on hold last year. The appointment of a new CFO has revived market speculation about a potential ByteDance IPO, although a spokesperson for the company denied any imminent listing plans when Bloomberg inquired about the matter. Gao, former head of the China practice at international law firm Skadden, led the IPOs of internet giants including JD, Baidu, and Didi. She also worked with ByteDance for its acquisition of TikTok predecessor and game developer Moonton. She will work out of ByteDance’s offices in Hong Kong and Singapore, according to the company. [Bloomberg]
  • Nio has resumed operations at its research and development center on the outskirts of Shanghai after a month-long shutdown due to the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown in the city, according to a report by Shanghai Oriental Television on Monday. The electric vehicle maker has called back 26 out of around 100 workers to the Shanghai research facility, where engineers work remotely on production planning for its manufacturing plant in Hefei in Eastern China. On Tuesday, the company also announced that its 200,000th vehicle rolled off the assembly line at its Hefei plant. [Shanghai Oriental Television, in Chinese]
  • US auto chipmaker Onsemi is preparing to restart operations at its distribution center in Shanghai after a weeks-long suspension due to the city’s Covid-19 lockdown measures, Chinese media outlet Caixin reported on Tuesday. The Arizona-based chip powerhouse has secured a permit for business resumption from the Shanghai government, a spokesperson said, while also confirming that the company had transferred resources to its two other delivery centers in Singapore and the Philippines during the lockdown. [Caixin, in Chinese]
Wednesday, April 27
  • NetEase Cloud Music released a statement on Wednesday accusing Tencent of unfair competition, including imitating features, copying user interface design, and pirating songs. NetEase said it has filed formal charges against Tencent Music Entertainment Group (TME), urging the latter to “stop all unfair competition practices.” It’s not the first time the two rivals have tussled over music streaming. In February 2021, NetEase accused Tencent-owned Kugou Music of imitating its features, while in 2014, Tencent sued NetEase for allegedly infringing on streaming rights. [NetEase statement, in Chinese]
  • Chinese drone maker DJI said that the company will temporarily suspend all business activities in Russia and Ukraine as it reassesses “compliance efforts in light of current hostilities” in a Tuesday announcement. The company is also engaging with affected customers, partners, and stakeholders. DJI and some of its retailers were flooded with negative comments on social media after Mykhailo Fedorov, the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, said Russian troops were “using DJI products in order to navigate their missile” in a March 16 Twitter post. German consumer electronics retail brand MediaMarktSaturn stopped selling DJI’s products a week later. [DJI press release]
  • The amount of venture capital funding invested in Chinese tech companies dropped by 76.7% year-on-year to $3.5 billion in the first quarter of 2022, according to a Tuesday report from a government-backed think tank, China Academy of Information and Communication Technology. In addition, the amount of venture capital funding in the first quarter of this year decreased by 42.6% from the fourth quarter of 2021. Enterprise services, e-commerce, and medical healthcare are the most popular categories, representing more than half of the funding cases in the reporting period. The drop in tech venture funding comes amid a more complicated business environment due to regulatory crackdowns and coronavirus outbreaks. [CAICT, in Chinese]

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