Posts Tagged China

China blocks New York Times

China has blocked access to The New York Times after a lengthy expose claiming the family of Wen Jiabao has amassed assets worth $2.7 billion through a web of investments.

The report published Friday says most of Wen’s family’s wealth was accumulated after he rose to high office in 2002.
New York Times’ spokeswoman Eileen Murphy says the paper hoped access to the sites could be restored shortly.

The report is a blow to Wen’s reputation as a politician concerned with bettering the lives of ordinary Chinese.

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China’s Baidu enters mobile browser fight

China’s dominant search engine Baidu Inc rolled out a mobile browser on Monday to help secure its share in a mobile Internet market that surpasses the US population in size and to fend off smaller rivals such as Qihoo 360 Technology Co.

In China, the number of users who access the Internet from mobile phones has risen to 388 million, according to a government report in July, outstripping the number of users who access it from a desktop computer for the first time.

The Baidu Mobile Browser, which will compete with UCWeb Inc’s UC Browser, Google Inc’s Chrome and default Android browser, and Apple Inc’s Safari, is about 20 per cent faster than its rivals based on internal tests, Li Mingyuan, Baidu’s general manager of mobile and cloud computing, told reporters on Friday at a pre-launch briefing.

Baidu’s mobile browser also allows users to access a plethora of web-based mobile applications (apps) and run high-definition video through the browser without having to download apps or supporting software.

The browser, together with Baidu’s other mobile products such as its mobile operating system and cheap smartphones launched with partners, forms the core of what Baidu hopes will eventually become a source of revenue.

“Monetizing mobile is hugely important for Baidu,” said Michael Clendenin, managing director of RedTech Advisors, who added that the drive to monetize would be a medium-term concern for Baidu as its advertising clients still need to create mobile-friendly websites.

The shift to mobile could pose problems for Baidu if it can’t find a way to make money from search traffic. Baidu currently makes the bulk of its revenue from users searching from laptops and desktops.

Baidu’s goal is for 80 per cent of China’s Android handsets to have downloaded the Baidu Mobile Browser by the end of 2012, Li said.

The Baidu Mobile Browser also comes as Baidu is fending off threats on its home turf. Anti-virus software firm Qihoo 360 Technology’s entry last month into search caused Baidu’s shares to tumble 17 per cent to date.

Baidu is also moving into cloud computing, a term used to describe data storage or processing on the Web.

Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Li said on Monday the firm will invest more than 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) to set up its cloud computing centre.

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Apple will start selling iPad in China July 20

NEW YORK: Apple will start selling the iPad in China on July 20 after settling a dispute over the ownership of the tablet computer’s name.

Apple Inc. says it will begin selling its latest iPad starting at $499 and the older iPad 2 starting at $399.

The tablet computers will be sold online, at Apple stores, and through approved resellers.

Apple paid a Chinese company $60 million to gain the rights to the iPad name, a Chinese court said on July 2.

China is Apple’s second-largest market after the United States, and it is the source of much of the Cupertino, Calif., company’s sales growth.

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Apple faces new legal challenge in China

BEIJING: A Chinese technology firm has filed a legal challenge accusing US giant Apple of infringing its patented voice recognition software with its Siri function on the iPhone, the company said Saturday.

The move comes just days after Apple paid $60 million to end a dispute over who could use the iPad name in China.

Shanghai Zhizhen Network Technology Co Ltd patented its Xiao i Robot software in 2004, while Apple’s Siri, which made its debut with the release of the iPhone 4S last year, was first developed in 2007.

The Chinese company’s version operates in a similar way to Apple’s personal assistant and works on the iOS and Android operating systems.

Si Weijiang, a lawyer acting for the Shanghai-based firm, said it had tried to contact Apple two months ago over the alleged infringement but received no response.

“We sent legal notices to Apple in May, but no one contacted us. We filed the lawsuit in late June to the Shanghai number one intermediate people’s court,” Si told AFP. “Currently the case is now at the court-mediated stage.”

“We mainly ask Apple to stop infringing on our patent and cover the court costs, but once the court confirms Apple has infringed on our patent, we will propose compensation,” he added.

The company’s chairman, Yuan Hui, told the Apple Daily newspaper that the firm had 100 million users in China.

“People feel that China has no innovation, that companies here just copy. But in fact, we are leaders in our field, and we have created our own innovation,” Yuan told the paper.

It added that Apple was also facing legal action from another Chinese company for allegedly infringing its “Snow Leopard” trademark.

The High Court of the southern province of Guangdong said on Monday that Apple had paid $60 million to settle a long-running legal battle with Chinese computer maker Shenzhen Proview Technology over the iPad name.

Both Proview, based in the southern city of Shenzhen, and Apple had claimed ownership of the Chinese rights to the “iPad” trademark.

Proview’s Taiwanese affiliate registered “iPad” as a trademark in several countries including China as early as 2000 — years before Apple began selling its hugely successful tablet computer.

Analysts said the Chinese government wanted the matter resolved, wary of the damage a ruling against Apple could do for the foreign business climate in China.

Greater China — which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan — has become Apple’s fastest-growing region, with revenues second only to the United States.

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China’s software industry grows at slightly faster pace

Beijing: China’s software industry grew slightly faster in the first five months of this year, boosted by government’s preferential tax policies.

The industry’s revenues rose 27.2 per cent year-on-year to 860.8 billion yuan (USD 136.4 billion) in the January-May period, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a statement.

The growth was 1.2 percentage points higher than that in the January-April period, although it was still one percentage point slower than that of the same period of last year, the statement said.

In May, revenues increased 30.8 per cent year-on-year to 208.8 billion yuan, up 5.6 percentage points from April.

In the first five months, software exports rose 11.5 per cent to USD 13.4 billion, 1.3 percentage points faster than the growth in the first four months, Xinhua news agency reported.

Intensifying competition and weak external demand had dragged down the growth of China’s software industry before the government in May announced preferential tax policies for software and integrated circuit (IC) enterprises to spur technological innovation and industrial upgrades.

Backdated to Jan 1, 2011 and effective until Dec 31, 2017, enterprises that manufacture IC lines thinner than 0.8 microns will be approved for two-year corporate tax exemptions once they make a profit, according to a government statement issued in May.

Companies producing IC lines thinner than 0.25 microns or that have investment exceeding eight billion yuan will be taxed at a discounted rate of 15 per cent, the statement said.

China’s current corporate income tax rate is set at 25 per cent.

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China blocks Bloomberg site after report on leader

BEIJING: China blocked access to Bloomberg’s website on the mainland after the business and financial news agency published a report today detailing the multimillion-dollar assets of relatives of the man set to become the country’s next president.

The report says that the extended family of Vice President Xi Jinping holds interests that include investments in companies with total assets of $ 376 million, an 18 per cent indirect stake in a rare-earths company with $ 1.73 billion in assets and a $ 20 million holding in a tech company. The report cites public documents Bloomberg reporters compiled.

Bloomberg noted that no assets were traced to Xi, his wife, or their daughter and said in the report that there was no indication of any wrongdoing by Xi or his extended family.

Still, the move to block access to Bloomberg’s main website, on which the Xi story was the lead news item, underscores the government’s sensitivity to such exposure of wealth belonging to people linked to top leaders amid a burgeoning gap between rich and poor and rampant official corruption.

“The government has always been very careful in, on the one hand, emphasizing how they want to contain corruption but yet also worrying about how reports of this nature might galvanize public opinion against the Communist Party,” said Dali Yang, a political scientist at University of Chicago Centre in Beijing.

The outage also points to the government’s concerns about ensuring the country’s leadership transition goes smoothly. Xi is poised to take over as Communist Party leader in the fall and president next spring.

Bloomberg’s spokeswoman in Asia, Belina Tan, said the company believed the Bloomberg site was inaccessible in China because of a story that it published today. Tan did not elaborate.

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Chipmakers eye low-end smartphone mkt in China

TAIPEI: Global chipmakers are tapping booming demand for entry-level smartphones costing 1,000 yuan ($160) or less apiece in China, the world’s largest mobile phone market, by introducing chips that pack powerful performance into low-cost processors.

Chip companies such as Qualcomm Inc and Broadcom Corp hope to play the volume game selling low-cost chips on razor-thin margins, executives and analysts said during Computex Taipei, the world’s second largest PC show.

As a sign of growing demand, China’s three mobile phone carriers are aggressively subsidising affordable smartphones, such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s C8650, ZTE Corp’s U880 and Lenovo Group Ltd’s Lephone A65.

“We’re continuing to waterfall our technology down into the mass market tier,” Rob Chandhook, a senior vice president at Qualcomm, told reporters in Taipei.

The US-based chipmaker launched its Qualcomm’s Reference Design (QRD) programme last year to target vendors making low-cost handsets, a category long dominated by chips made by Taiwan’s Mediatek Inc and MStar Semiconductor Inc and China’s Spreadtrum Communications Inc. So far, Lenovo’s A780 and the Coolpad 7260 uses Qualcomm’s S4 Snapdragon chipsets, executives said.

“It’s still a very good outlook for them (sub-1,000 yuan phones) because we think there is still a large pool of feature phone users who haven’t had their first smartphones,” said TZ Chuang, Beijing-based analyst at research firm IDC.

“These phones will be the first route for these people to upgrade.”

The percentage of these sub-1,000 yuan smartphones versus total smartphone shipments in China has grown to 21 per cent in the first quarter from just 12 per cent a year earlier, IDC said.

In late February, US chipmaker Broadcom announced a series of chips and solutions targeted at smartphones priced at below $299 and running on Google’s Android 4.0 operating system.

When asked about the sub-1,000 yuan market, Broadcom executives at Computex said they were committed to the entry-level smartphones space in countries such as China using those chips.

GROWING MARKET Although Apple’s iPhone and Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy carry most cachet in China’s wealthy coastal cities, there is growing interest in targeting consumers in second and third-tier cities with cheaper smartphones.

Underlining the trend, China’s Haier Electronics Group and Alibaba Cloud Computing launched a 999-yuan smartphone on Wednesday that will run Alibaba Group’s Aliyun mobile operating system.

Last month Baidu, China’s largest search engine, said it would launch a cheap smartphone, retailing for under 1,000 yuan in conjunction with Foxconn Technology Group, Sichuan Changhong Electric Co and China Unicom.

China now has 1.02 billion mobile phone users, but only a little over 10 per cent are 3G users, with the rest low-end 2G subscribers who use call-and-text feature phones.

Analysts say China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom have been offering huge subsidies to entice subscribers to upgrade to 3G and use more data.

Last week, China Unicom said it expected its revenues from 3G services to exceed that of 2G this year, compared with a roughly 7:3 ratio last year, while China Telecom sees data revenues rising to exceed voice revenue this year.

“What’s really selling like hot cakes now is sub-1,000 yuan smartphones. It’s really popular among the younger generation, especially students and people who have just started working,” China Telecom Chairman and CEO Wang Xiaochu told a news conference last week.

As margins are low in the entry level smartphone category, vendors hope that sheer volume will ensure profits.

“The chipset landscape for low cost smartphone ICs (integrated circuits) will also be very competitive and may limit margin expansion,” said Randy Abrams, an analyst at Credit Suisse in Taipei.

Abrams said Asian chipset suppliers were shipping about 800 million units into the feature phone market last year and within a few years most of that volume would convert into smartphones.

“Even Intel is trying to move down market and has introduced handsets with Lenovo and Lava, although these are still at much higher price points so has not yet had a lot of designs in the cost sensitive entry level channel,” Abrams said.

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