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Lianhe Zaobao: Tencent Plans More Layoffs

Singapore’s primary Chinese language newspaper, Lianhe Zaobao, recently reported that, in the second half of this year, Chinese Internet giant Tencent will continue to lay off staff. All business groups will reduce their staff by at least 10 percent and will start laying off more staff from the management levels. In the first half of this year, Tencent “optimized” the personnel of each business group. In the second half of the year, the whole company will continue to lay off employees on the same basis as in the first half of the year. The proportion of layoffs in the different sub-divisions of the Platform and Content Business Group will even reach 40 to 50 percent. A few business groups will face discontinuation. Tencent’s core business groups, including the WeChat Group and the Gaming Group were not touched much in the first half. However, in this upcoming new round, 10 percent or more will also see layoffs. Tencent is currently at a low point in its performance. According to Tencent’s financial report for the first quarter of this year, Tencent’s adjusted net profit fell by 23 percent year-over-year and its net profit has declined for three consecutive quarters.

Source: Lianhe Zaobao, June 23, 2022   already

China Further Tightens Online Censorship, Mandating Real Name Commenting

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), recently issued a draft version of the “Internet commenting service management regulations.” The country’s top Internet authority mandates that providers of commenting services shall authenticate the real identity of registered users and shall not provide commenting services to users who have not provided real identity information. The “comment service” refers to the Internet platforms that, by means of posting, reply, messaging and other means, provide users the ability to publish text, symbols, expressions, pictures, audio and video information.

CAC also requires service providers to establish mechanisms to review postings, conduct real-time inspections, and launch emergency responses. The online postings have to be reviewed before being published. Any “illegal and undesirable information” are to be detected, in a timely manner, processed, and reported to the Internet authorities.

CAC also proposed that the service provider establish a user grading system, which conducts a credit assessment of the user’s commenting behavior. Users with serious violations will be blacklisted, deprived of services, and prohibited from re-registering to use commenting services.

Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), June 18, 2022

Nike Announced Ending Its Running App Services in China

Shanghai-based Chinese financial news site East Money recently reported that the Nike Running Club (“NRC”), a running app owned by Nike, issued a notice to users of service suspension. The announcement stated that, due to business plan adjustments, the NRC APP will discontinue its services in China starting July 8, 2022. NRC will provide data export services for runners in need. Garmin’s sports equipment will stop synchronizing data with the NRC APP, effective immediately. Since the APP was launched, more than eight million registered users in China have run more than 100 million kilometers together. The Paper advised that, in late May, some runners also reported that the NRC APP displayed a notice on the relevant page that the service would be suspended, informing that the operation in the area where the runners were located would be stopped on June 30. Some Chinese netizens lamented that many foreign brands have withdrawn from China recently, such as Amazon Kindle and Airbnb.

Source: East Money, June 8, 2022

Oriental Daily: Amazon Halted Kindle Business in China

Popular Hong Kong newspaper Oriental Daily recently reported that global E-commerce leader Amazon said it will stop supplying Kindle e-book readers to Chinese retailers and, next year, it will close its Kindle e-book store in China. Amazon announced this decision on its official WeChat account and said the company was adjusting the strategic focus of its business and that other business lines in China would continue to operate. Amazon will cease operating its Kindle e-book China store on June 30, 2023. Customers will not be able to buy new e-books. For e-books already purchased, customers can download until June 30, 2024, and continue reading thereafter. The Kindle app in the Chinese app store will also be removed in 2024. Amazon China’s business includes cross-border e-commerce businesses that include Amazon overseas purchases, Amazon’s global store, Amazon advertising, Amazon global logistics, Amazon cloud technology, Amazon smart hardware and services, and other Amazon products. A spokesman for China’s Ministry of Commerce said earlier that he noticed that Amazon had just announced the closure of its e-book business in China. As the second largest consumer market in the world, China is rapidly developing and emphasizing its products and services. For various market entities, including foreign companies, it is a normal phenomenon in the market economy to adjust products and services accordingly.

Source: Oriental Daily, June 2, 2022

Communist China’s Propaganda Messages Lead the Search Engines’ Results

Brookings Institution and the Alliance for Securing Democracy reported in May that many of Beijing’s propaganda messages have shown up often at the top of search engine results. A report can be found:

The researchers collected search results on two topics that are critical to Beijing’s agenda: Xinjiang and the COVID-19 pandemic. They were collected from five different search engines, Google Search, Google News, Microsoft’s Bing Search, Bing News, and YouTube. The data was collected daily from Nov. 1, 2021, until Feb. 28, 2022.

Chinese state media sends a consistent stream of narratives to the web. They are free of charge and easily available to search. Beijing-backed narratives also take advantage of the algorithms in most search engines that prioritize “freshness.” These contents are also amplified by a huge number of Chinese state actors on social media. For example, they use hashtags like #covid19 and #Xinjiang.

As a result, Chinese state media content frequently appeared in top search results. If one searches for the keywords “Xinjiang,” “terrorism,” or “Xinjiang debunked” on the above platforms, Chinese state media contents appear every day on the first-page of the search results, with the exception of YouTube search, where two days out of the 120 days, it appeared on the second page of the search results.

For neutral terms, such as “kashgar,” “Urumqi,” or “Xinjiang,” ( Kashgar and Urumqi are cities in Xinjiang) Chinese state media content still appeared almost every day on news searches and YouTube searches..

The communist regime also uses influential Westerners  who have lived in China and claim themselves to be “China experts,” to defend Beijing and criticize “Western injustices and biases.”

The report also found a surprisingly large number of seemingly independent news outlets that routinely reposted CCP media reports. The top ten sources that often repost Beijing’s contents are Finland’s, the UAE’s, the USA’s, Pakistan’s and, Chad’s, India’s, Ukraine’s, Bangladesh’s, and Zambia’s

The report said that, in the early months of 2022, search engines enacted measures to limit the reach of the Russian state media. However, little has been done regarding the Chinese state media.

Source: Epoch Times, May 31, 2022

Airbnb Shutting Down Its China Domestic Business

Well-known Chinese news site Sina (NASDAQ: SINA) recently reported that Airbnb will officially close its domestic business in China. Nearly 150,000 listings and experienced businesses in China will be taken offline completely. Only the outbound international business will be retained. This is expected to be completed this summer. Airbnb’s future presence in China will be composed mainly of engineers involved in the research and development of global products and technology projects, as well as the business and customer service teams responsible for Airbnb’s Chinese users’ outbound international travel. The total staffing level will be around several hundred people. In recent years, China’s domestic listings and experience service business has accounted for less than one percent of Airbnb’s global revenue. Airbnb set up a small-scale team in China in 2014. It officially launched its business in the Chinese market in 2015. The Covid pandemic did disruptive damage to the entire travel industry, including online short-term rentals. Airbnb is essentially the last large-scale U.S. Internet business that will have left China.

Source: Sina, May 24, 2022

Microsoft Bing Performs Political Censorship on Chinese Content in the U.S. and Canada

The Citizen Lab of the Munk School on Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto, reported they consistently found that Microsoft Bing censors politically sensitive Chinese names and that, over time, their censorship has spanned multiple Chinese political topics. It consists of at least two languages, English and Chinese and applies to different world regions, including China, the United States, and Canada.

Microsoft has censored search results on its search engine Bing in China. The lab found that even in the United States and Canada, Bing censors sensitive words in Chinese on its autocomplete feature.

In 2021, Bing was found to have censored image results for the query “tank man” in the United States and elsewhere including queries about the 1989 Tiananmen Square Movement anniversary.

Source: Citizen Lab, May 20, 2022

Global Times: Canada Finally Banned Huawei and ZTE from 5G Network

Global Times recently reported that, on May 19th local time, the Canadian government banned Huawei and ZTE from participating in Canada’s 5G network construction, citing national security reasons. Huawei Canada responded by saying that the company was “obviously disappointed” by Canada’s move. The Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry announced in Ottawa the decision to ban so-called “high-risk suppliers” from participating in building Canada’s 5G network. Under the decision, Canadian telecommunications companies will not be allowed to use any products or services that include these Chinese companies in their networks, and companies that have installed the equipment will be required to stop using it and remove the equipment. The Canadian federal government has indicated that it wants to see the Canadian telecommunications industry stop procuring new 4G or 5G equipment and services from Huawei and ZTE by September 2022, end the use of any new or existing 5G equipment and services from Huawei and ZTE by June 2024, and stop using any new or existing 4G equipment and services from Huawei and ZTE by December 2027. The Canadian federal government also said it would submit some new legislation shortly to amend Canada’s Telecommunications Act. The government says the bill will support Canada’s telecommunications system against national security risks in the financial, telecommunications, energy and transportation sectors. Previously, on the issue of Huawei, Canada was the only member of the “Five Eyes” alliance that had not formally expressed its position on how to treat Huawei. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in October last year that Canada should uphold an objective and impartial attitude and independently make choices that suit its own interests.

Source: Global Times, May 20, 2022