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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Ant Group saga

Beijing interviews Jack Ma over $37bn Ant IPO | Financial Times – Ant Group founder and shareholder Mr Ma last month gave a speech in Shanghai criticising regulators in China and abroad. He felt that Ant Group shouldn’t suffer their excessive regulation of banking and financial technology.

That didn’t go down that well with Chinese financial regulators and then Shanghai’s stock market operator calls a halt on Ant Group’s imminent listing, citing changes in regulatory environment | South China Morning Post which resulted in Ant to refund US$167.7 billion to 1.55 million Hong Kong investors in two batches after IPO is suspended | South China Morning Post

Ant Group aggregates large loans from banks and doles out the money as high interest small loans to young Chinese. Think Wonga or similar payday loan businesses that have sprung up since the 1990s. Ant also have savings and investment products that they get from other firms and act as an agent to sell. The huge IPO valuation of Ant Group already felt like hubris before Jack Ma criticised the financial regulators. More on China related stories here.

Everything else

MERICS China Industries Briefing – October 2020 | MericsThe laws have significant ramifications for Europe. Vague wording in both the Export Control Law and the draft Personal Information Protection Law open the door to sweeping retaliation measures against foreign companies and countries. The former cites harm done to China’s “national security and interests,” while the latter cites “discriminatory” measures taken against China concerning personal data as examples of legislative violations that warrant retaliation. On a more practical level, European firms with extensive operations in China, especially in R&D, will likely face additional compliance hurdles. These could include novel license requirements and security review procedures related to exporting goods, technologies and services, as well as collecting, processing and transferring personal information

Battle at Arm China threatens $40bn Nvidia deal | Financial TimesMr Wu also has backing in some corners of the Shenzhen government. In September, for example, Mr Wu was named on a high-level reform committee in the city, alongside other high-profile business figures such as Merlin Swire and Zhang Lei, founder of Hillhouse Capital, according to a document seen by the FT. Both the Shenzhen government and Beijing have a keen interest in the outcome of the battle, since Arm’s intellectual property underpins almost every mobile phone chip designed in the country. – what a mess

Stanley Black & Decker shuts Shenzhen plant amid US-China trade war | Apple NewsChinese media also report that most of the workers have already been recruited by other factories and obtained employment on the same day. Middle management and executives were snapped up by other firms. Staff from a neighboring electronic factory claimed they hired up to 200 former employees of Stanley Black and Decker. Kevin Tsui, an associate professor of the Department of Economics at Clemson University, casted doubt on the authenticity of these reports. While the Chinese economy has shown steady recovery, it is unlikely for firms to be able to take over unemployed workers on such a large scale. Stories of the generous compensations were published to stabilize public sentiment and prevent people from panicking as more and more foreign investors are pulling out, he added. Veteran news commentator Johnny Lau said the growing production costs in China, as well as new labor law restrictions, have prompted firms to move to South East Asian countries, which are more welcoming to foreign investors – fascinating reading on how globalisation is affecting China from a negative perspective

Key Takeaways | ChinaFile – reading this a topline report, it reminds me a lot of the UK’s disparate CCTV operations

In Hunt for Coronavirus Source, W.H.O. Let China Take Charge – The New York Timesit is hardly the only international body bending to China’s might. But even many of its supporters have been frustrated by the organization’s secrecy, its public praise for China and its quiet concessions. Those decisions have indirectly helped Beijing to whitewash its early failures in handling the outbreak.

Burberry announces partnership with Tencent Games’ blockbuster title Honour of Kings – BurberryAs interactive digital content is increasingly becoming a source of inspiration in luxury fashion, games offer another opportunity for consumers to connect with Burberry’s products online. Younger consumers are redefining community spaces, choosing to connect with each other and with brands in digital environments, such as sharing experiences through online games. Chinese luxury consumers’ offline and online lives increasingly intertwine, with more demand for a seamless connection between the two. Adding virtual products into existing online games environments offers a bespoke experience that aligns with the consumer’s existing lifestyle. – only a decade or more behind sports apparel…

Inside Apple’s Eroding Partnership With Foxconn — The InformationFoxconn has tried a variety of tactics to enhance its margins, all previously unreported, such as using Apple-owned equipment when doing work for Apple’s rivals and taking shortcuts on component and product testing, ex-employees said. In turn, Apple has tried to step up its monitoring and tracking of Foxconn employees and of Apple’s own equipment that resides in Foxconn facilities. Meanwhile, the relationship between the two companies is changing, as described by interviews with more than two dozen former Apple and Foxconn employees, including some senior managers. Apple, like its rivals Samsung, Nintendo and speaker design firm Sonos, is diversifying its manufacturing sites in an effort to hedge its bets. These companies are aiming to expand the number of manufacturers they work with and the countries where they operate in response to growing geopolitical risks such as the U.S.-China trade war. As a result, Foxconn’s bright satellite in Apple’s orbit has lost some shine. – This looks like a slow car crash

30 female engineers from India ask Silicon Valley to do better on caste discrimination – The Washington PostThe legacy of discrimination from the Indian caste system is rarely discussed as a factor in Silicon Valley’s persistent diversity problems. Decades of tech industry labor practices, such as recruiting candidates from a small cohort of top schools or relying on the H-1B visa system for highly skilled workers, have shaped the racial demographics of its technical workforce. Despite that fact, Dalit engineers and advocates say that tech companies don’t understand caste bias and have not explicitly prohibited caste-based discrimination. A new lawsuit shines a light on caste discrimination in the U.S. and around the world. In recent years, however, the Dalit rights movement has grown increasingly global, including advocating for change in corporate America. In June, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a landmark suit against Cisco and two of its former engineering managers, both upper-caste Indians, for discriminating against a Dalit engineer

Tory group in push for watchdog to counter Chinese interference | Financial Timesand so it starts, I have been expecting this for a while

How Borat 2 reveals the playbook for the streaming movie blockbusterit had exactly four weeks to generate word of mouth. In Hollywood marketing terms, a four-week movie campaign is unheard of, ludicrous—or, as Borat would say, “Very nice—not!” Yet Amazon pulled it off by leaning on Baron Cohen’s relentless energy and creative salesmanship. There were Borat stunts galore both online and IRL, which helped create a burning sense of immediacy and helped the film explode into the cultural consciousness, as opposed to being slowly fed to audiences by an IV-drip marketing campaign over the course of lumbering months – I also imagine this was due to legal scrutiny of the film content

Three actionable insights with… Sir Martin Sorrell | The Drum”Marketeers have surrendered control. Too few marketeers are CEOs of companies. There are probably too many CFOs who are CEOs of companies and I can say that as an ex-CFO. I think this started in 2008 after the Great Recession. Then there’s a huge pressure in 2009. It rebounded in 2010, but ever since then and up to 2018 there’s been a relentless pressure on cost. It‘s nonsense that it‘s Google and Facebook that are putting pressure on the holding companies. The simple fact of the matter is the clients have been so focused on cost, they put pressure on the agency middlemen or middle women, and they push them. Remember the chat around ‘non-working’ costs around advertising — basically on production costs. But you know this phrase ‘non-working’ and the implication that a lot of what the agencies did wasn‘t working or it wasn‘t working well enough, so you had to get rid of it. This is huge pressure. So, instead of asking media owners for 60-day credit or 90-day credit, they asked the agencies. – Sir Martin Sorrell is as much sinner, as sinned against but this rings true

Breakingviews – China’s latest five-year plan girds for battle | ReutersThe message from China’s leadership seems to be that things will get worse before they get better. It elevated the status of technological self-reliance to be a “strategic support” for national development as a shield from overseas restrictions on imports. That will translate into greater R&D funding and subsidies, and diversion of funds to high-end manufacturing from property markets. There are early signs the approach is working: new registrations for semiconductor makers have jumped by a third this year, according to local media reports – the move away from overheated property markets is a good thing

The FT – Huawei develops plan for chip plant to help beat US sanctions and a good analysis on the challenges that will be faced on Radio Free Mobile – Huawei – Nowhere to run pt. XXIV. – these will be way behind the curve, it makes more sense if Huawei partners with other Chinese chipmakers

The resource curse and Hong Kong: Why the city has stagnated |Dr Michael Lawson | Apple Dailyin many ways Hong Kong is now suffering in the grip of a resource curse, where the opportunities from catering for finance and tourism for mainland China have crowded out almost all other areas of the economy. It has often been said that Hong Kong is a very bureaucratic place, where trying to do anything new is almost impossible without multiple government approvals. This can be seen from the lag in adopting electric buses, the ban on electric bikes that is unique in the world, and the strange rule prohibiting tandem paragliding. This is because due to easy access to income sources which require little innovation, there has been no pressure to let anything change or develop in the Hong Kong economy. Like the rulers of other resources cursed countries, the nettle of economic reform is not grasped and vested interests are allowed to divide up the spoils. In fact, it is noticeable that the decline of the film and manufacturing sectors of the Hong Kong economy has neatly coincided with the rise of China as an economic powerhouse, with many of the established industries in Hong Kong willingly moving their operations there before being overtaken or taken over by more nimble mainland firms – pretty succinct analysis of the current economic problems facing Hong Kong

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Hidden cameras and secret trackers reveal where Amazon returns end up | CBC News – interesting aspect of Amazon’s business model. It does make me wonder how much of a drag is returns on Amazon’s business? Retail returns are usually running at 10 percent of products bought. With e-tailing; this rate is thought to be as high as 40 percent according to the programme. That sounds like an extremely high rate of returns. Back when I was in college 25 percent was quoted as a returns rate for catalogue businesses.

Inside Palantir, Silicon Valley’s Most Secretive Unicorn“Where you get into trouble is when the software gets so complicated that you have to send people in to manage it,” said one former CIA official who is complimentary of Palantir. “The moment you introduce an expensive IT engineer into the process, you’ve cut your profits.” Palantir, it turns out, has run headlong into the problem plaguing many tech firms engaged in the quest for total information awareness: Real-world data is often too messy and complex for computers to translate without lots of help from humans – to be fair enterprise software companies have always sold a good deal of smoke and mirrors in terms of over-exaggerated claims – sounds a lot like IBM’s Watson in this respect

Apple’s New 5G IPhones May Be Left on the Shelf | Yahoo! Finance – 5G lacks a killer app for consumers

Exposure to TV ads up 15% during height of lockdown – Even children were watching more broadcast TV and exposed to a greater volume of advertising in the weeks following the lockdown in March.

Alibaba Group – investors day presentations – some interesting insight into Chinese e-tailing, retailing and internationalisation of these models

Blockbuster Chinese games said to boycott Huawei and Xiaomi app stores over revenue tax | South China Morning Posttwo Chinese gaming startups, Lilith Games and miHoYo, said they won’t sell their would-be autumn hits via app stores pre-installed on smartphones made by Huawei and Xiaomi. Instead, they’ve opted for stores charging smaller fees or none at all—including Apple’s App Store, which levies the same 30% charge in China as it does everywhere else. While the duo didn’t say outright they were unhappy about the 50% rule set by the Chinese Android stores, many gamers and developers see them as the good guys stepping up against tech’s behemoths

How to Monitor Facebook Pages – Meltwater Help Center – now allows users to monitor Facebook pages that they’re in charge of. The limit is 50 specific Facebook pages. It pulls out the Facebook analytics data into a Meltwater interface

European Semiconductor Sales Drop, Global Sales Rise – EE Times Europe – not surprising given the disruptions to manufacturing

Google Chrome remains China’s most popular web browser, even with Google search and other apps blocked | South China Morning Postconsumer backlash against some domestic browsers can be attributed to their aggressive user acquisition tactics, such as being deliberately difficult to uninstall. But he said that a shift in consumer tastes might also play a role. When Chinese internet companies first started designing websites and applications in the late 90s, the minimalist aesthetic was unpopular, he said a friend told him at the time. “Chinese consumers wanted stores where all the merchandise was crammed onto the shelves at maximum capacity, with narrow aisles where people were just bumping into one another,” he said. “It felt like plenitude.” “Those early design preferences endured for a surprisingly long time online, and I think there’s still a much higher tolerance for it than we’d see in the US or other Western countries,” he added. “I think as consumers get more sophisticated, though, they’re looking for a retail experience that doesn’t feel like a fire sale all the time.”

Opinion: How Can Luxury Brands Successfully Price In The Post-COVID World?In these challenging times of lockdowns and demand contraction, luxury brands have increased – even more than usual – the prices of their bestselling products to offset part of the compression of margins due to the pandemic. Take for instance, Chanel which earlier this year confirmed it had brought the prices up of its iconic handbags (11.12, 2.55, Boy, Gabrielle) ranging between 5 and 17 percent in euros and Louis Vuitton which also raised the prices of some of its products in March and May. It is not a surprise that brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Dior, whose handbags are products that are considered iconic and perceived by consumers as investment pieces, can be more bold in increasing prices to protect their margin. But not all companies have such strong brand positioning and therefore cannot raise their prices so easily.

Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin: “Millennials Don’t Want Formal Luxury.” | Luxury Society – I suspect that this is across age cohorts but the blend of streetwear and luxury is a key sign of it

Is online advertising subprime? Contagious – interesting thought experiment

South Korean Activists Accuse China of Using Huawei to Hack Their Election | Daily Beast – of course Samsung is looking to pick up 5G smartphone and infrastructure sales from Huawei….

New info about Facebook-Instagram deal delays antitrust report: source | CNBC – it will be interesting to see what comes out

Axios China – Top German official hushed up report on China’s influence – not terribly surprising when you read books like Hidden Hand. More China related posts here.

The end of the American internet — Benedict Evans – more precisely. The end of Americans being the dominant users and culture on the internet

Brussels drafts rules to force Big Tech to share data | Financial Times – grab the popcorn

State of AI Report 2020 – interesting report on the hype

The great uncoupling: one supply chain for China, one for everywhere else | Financial TimesUntangling supply chains that have built up over a generation is a complex and difficult task and the multinational companies which sell into the Chinese market will stay and even expand. But if companies that once used the mainland to make goods for export do decide to depart in significant numbers, it will represent a major reversal of five decades of economic integration between the US and China

中国 | china | 중국 传播媒体 | media | 미디어 信息安全 |security | 정보 보안 在线 | online | 온라인으로 工艺学 | technology | 기술 法 | legal | 법률학

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Exclusive: China preparing an antitrust investigation into Google – sources | Reuters – it would be interesting to see how a Chinese antitrust investigation into Google would play out. I could understand an antitrust investigation being put on the table of the politburo, I am less sure how it would work. Chinese companies need Google advertising, whereas Google is shut out of the Chinese market already. Google could turn around and tell them to do one; it would lose one R&D centre. A bigger issue might be the forced rejigging of its Google Home | Nest product supply chain. I suspect an antitrust investigation into Google is more likely to happen in the US than China

Behind China’s Decade of European Deals, State Investors Evade Notice – WSJ – the EU needs to wise up

Are Luxury Brands Losing The Battle Against Alibaba’s Counterfeiters? | Jing Daily – of course Alibaba can’t be trusted (and neither can Amazon)

The perils of life in Beijing’s backyard | Financial Timeswhile it is all too easy to stereotype China and its companies as pantomime villains, Hiebert is skilled at teasing out the nuances and ambiguities, including local elites who have welcomed Chinese money, sometimes under corrupt circumstances. For south-east Asian countries, Beijing has proved a more predictable partner than the US, continuing business as usual with Myanmar when it faced isolation under its former military dictatorship, then more recently when it faced international condemnation for the military crackdown on the Rohingya. Beijing continued military sales to Thailand after the most recent coup in 2014

American Engagement Advocates Sold a Dream of Changing Chinaefforts to downplay the missionary impulse of engagement with China amount to historical gaslighting, an attempt to retcon the record to conceal the extent of failure. During the Cold War, American leaders justified engagement with China as reining in China’s revolutionary foreign policy, establishing a stable bilateral relationship, and countering the Soviet threat—all reasonable goals. But for the first 20 years of the post-Cold War era, American leaders, backed by their advisors and strategists, unambiguously sold engagement with China on the basis of fostering a democratic and responsible government in Beijing

Daring Fireball: Apple Is Removing Feed Readers From Chinese App Store – this doesn’t surprise me in the least. I used to use an RSS reader app when I would go to China. It’s interesting that RSS is now undergoing that much of a focus in China though as the audience will be distinctly niche. More on my RSS adventures in China here.

When coffee makers are demanding a ransom, you know IoT is screwed | Ars TechnicaSecurity problems with Smarter products first came to light in 2015, when researchers at London-based security firm Pen Test partners found that they could recover a Wi-Fi encryption key used in the first version of the Smarter iKettle. The same researchers found that version 2 of the iKettle and the then-current version of the Smarter coffee maker had additional problems, including no firmware signing and no trusted enclave inside the ESP8266, the chipset that formed the brains of the devices. The result: the researchers showed a hacker could probably replace the factory firmware with a malicious one. The researcher EvilSocket also performed a complete reverse engineering of the device protocol, allowing remote control of the device. Two years ago, Smarter released the iKettle version 3 and the Coffee Maker version 2, said Ken Munro, a researcher who worked for Pen Test Partners at the time. The updated products used a new chipset that fixed the problems. He said that Smarter never issued a CVE vulnerability designation, and it didn’t publicly warn customers not to use the old one. Data from the Wigle network search engine shows the older coffee makers are still in use – the bit I don’t understand is why you would need these appliances connected to the internet in the first place

Apple vs Epic may go to jury; Google finally speaks on Fortnite banWhile Judge Rogers merely upheld her previous position, and didn’t dismiss Epic’s case outright, she was very obviously skeptical of their claims. Actually, that might be an understatement — she outright said that Epic lied, and, regarding the separate payment apparatus Epic insists on calling a “hotfix,” she said, “Lots of people use hotfixes. That’s not the issue. The issue is that you were told, and you knew explicitly because of your contractual relations, that you could not have that, and you did. It’s really pretty simple.” She was also rather unimpressed with Epic’s repeated claims that they were being denied access to large market of gamers who play Fortnite only on iOS, saying there are many other avenues through which those players can access the game.”

Ai Weiwei: ‘Too late’ to curb China’s global influence – BBC News“The West should really have worried about China decades ago. Now it’s already a bit too late, because the West has built its strong system in China and to simply cut it off, it will hurt deeply. That’s why China is very arrogant.”

China’s Leaders Can’t Be Trusted by Chris Patten – Project Syndicate – interesting read. It gives you a sense of the uphill battle China now faces with political elites

China under Xi Jinping feels increasingly like North Korea – The Washington Postacross China, it has become extremely difficult to have conversations with ordinary folk. People are afraid to speak at all, critically or otherwise. Students and professors, supermarket workers and taxi drivers, parents and motorists have all waved me away this year

Wong Kar-wai is back making films: here are some of his best | Dazed – great summary of Wong Kar-wai’s work

Fashion brands design ‘waist-up’ clothing for video calls – BBC News – this makes a lot of sense