India restricts consumer tech imports
Apple forced to remove AI apps in China and a $3B semiconductor listing
This week is dominated by protectionism, or at least Big Government moves.
In India, the powers that be plan to stimulate the local economy by restricting imports of consumer tech devices.
In China, Apple was (seemingly) forced to remove more than 100 AI apps from its App Store to comply with new rules that aim to control how AI is used, and developed, in the country. Also in China, one of the country’s biggest weapons to making its tech sector self-reliant, went public in a float that raised more than $3 billion US dollars.
All of that, and much more in this (slightly delayed) Monday newsletter.
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The Big 3
India restricts consumer tech imports
The Indian government plans to restrict the import of laptops, tables and other consumer electronic devices in a move that looks aimed at stimulating local manufacturing.
It will impose licensing requirements on imports, although there will be an initial transition period to delay the impact, but already Apple, Samsung, HP and other have frozen imports in line with the development.
Laptop makers had reportedly been bracing for some government measures aimed at reducing reliance on imports and boosting local production, but the sudden licensing imposition caught the industry off-guard.
Apple removes hundreds of AI apps from Chinese App Store
App Store censorship is one way China polices the internet, and already the concept is taking off in AI after Apple removed more than 100 ChatGPT-style apps from China in line with the country’s introduction of tighter rules round artificial intelligence services
Semiconductor firm raises $3B in listing
Hua Hong, China’s second-largest semiconductor maker, raised nearly $3B after listing in Shanghai’s tech-focused Star Market. The secondary sale—HH is listed in Hong Kong—saw shares 10% in an early pop. The deal is tipped to be Asia’s largest listing, and there’s particular intrigue given China’s efforts to develop its own semiconductor ecosystem without reliance on other markets, following the devastating impact of US sanctions on tech firms like Huawei.
China plans to limit children to two hours a day on their phones link
China's cyberspace regulator said on Wednesday children under the age of 18 should be limited to a maximum of two hours a day on their smartphones, sending shares in tech companies tumbling.
The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said it wanted providers of smart devices to introduce so-called minor mode programmes that would bar users under 18 from accessing the internet on mobile devices from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Desperate Chinese parents are joining dating apps to marry off their adult children link
TikTok has announced users in the EU will “soon” be able to switch off its content-selection algorithm as it prepares to comply with the bloc’s updated digital rulebook. link
Toyota plans to mass produce robotaxis in China, setting up a venture this year which will build cars that employ the startup's autonomous driving technology and ride-hailing services link
Crypto remains illegal in China but Binance still does $90B in monthly trades from the country link
Bloomberg looks at how video gaming went from enemy of the state, to focus of the state in Vietnam, where gaming is big business and a crucial part of its emerging technology sector link
Streaming subscriptions have reportedly stalled in Southeast Asia, where services added just 7,000 net subscriptions in the first half of 2023, a big slowdown from 7M in the second half of last year link
The report from Media Partners Asia suggests the growth of TikTok has eaten into streaming with the short video app “increasingly a major driver of viewership growth on mobile and web platforms, responsible for over 70% of growth in streaming minutes over the past two years”
Global SIM and roaming service Airalo, based in Singapore, raised $60M in a Series B at $280M post-money valuation link
Infineon will invest a further €5B in additional production capacity in Malaysia, as the German chipmaker makes a larger bet on the car industry’s switch to electric vehicles link
TikTok in talks to gain Indonesian payments licence link
Foxconn will invest $600M in Karnataka for iPhone components and chip-making tools projects link
Ola founder Bhavish Aggarwal set up an AI startup to develop a large language model—it is in talks to raise $50M and and is currently scouting two U.S.-headquartered AI startups for a potential acquisition link
Investor Vanguard cut Ola’s valuation by 52% link
Fidelity slashed the estimated worth of its holding in SaaS startup Gupshup by over 20% in a month and by more than 50% since the original investment in the latest brutal markdown across private markets link
But, in one Big Tech India success: Zomato broke a $10B market cap mark after announcing profitability for the first time link
As Tesla examines building a plant in India, officials have asked the company to emulate Apple in finding local firms to partner with any Chinese suppliers involved link
India has resurrected its data privacy bill following abrupt pullback last year link
Payment enabler Rapyd acquired the global business of PayU (excluding India, Turkey and Southeast Asia) from Prosus for $610M to scale its fintech-as-a-service platform link
Logistics startup Shadowfax nears $60M funding led by TPG NewQuest link
Byju’s missed the target to amend terms of a key $1.2B loan link
Binance reportedly plans to first list 34 tokens in Japan as it re-enters the market link
SoftBank launched an ‘OpenAI for Japan’ in partnership with Microsoft to develop a homegrown Large Language Models (LLM) specialized for the Japanese language and other related services link
HashKey and OSL receive Hong Kong’s first approvals to operate crypto exchanges for retail investors link
Streaming service Viu ramps up its Asia expansion following investment from Canal+ link
At 92, Morris Chang, the founder of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, can no longer stay in the shadows. link
TSMC Chairman Mark Liu says the company will maintain its roots in Taiwan link
Finda, which operates a fintech comparison site, bagged a $37M Series C round link
Digital lender Toss Bank in advanced talks to close $150M funding at a valuation of $2.1B link
Finally: latest US-China news
China’s tech sector is showing the strain from last year’s sweeping US export restrictions, which seek to stall Beijing’s ambitions in cutting-edge industries such as artificial intelligence and supercomputing link
But China is fighting to have its own system: US-sanctioned chip maker Jingjia Micro will develop GPUs in Wuxi in latest sign of China’s self-sufficiency push link
Then there’s Intel’s new Chinese chip innovation centre, which is a collaboration with a Shenzhen district and will deepen the US firm’s ties to China despite scrutiny from Washington link
Meanwhile, Chinese media has played up the possibility that the country could deliver its first home-grown 28-nanometre lithography machine by the end of this year, in what would be a breakthrough in Beijing’s drive towards technological self-sufficiency link
However: US and European officials are growing increasingly concerned about China’s accelerated push into the production of older-generation semiconductors and are debating new strategies to contain the country’s expansion. link
China is curbing exports of drone equipment—a focus on military use of unmanned drones—in latest response to US tech tension link
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