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China iPhone app

WeChat is not banned, at least not yet

Reading Time: 2 minutes

(Update 09-20-2020) It looks like the 9th court temporarily blocked the WeChat ban (NPR). The TikTok ban became irrelevant because there is the new deal with Oracle / Walmart (theverge).

(Original 09-18-2020)

CNN: US will ban WeChat and TikTok downloads on Sunday. Quote: “The only real change as of Sunday night will be [TikTok users] won’t have access to improved apps, updated apps, upgraded apps or maintenance,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Friday morning on Fox Business. || Also, quote: “The restrictions targeting WeChat are more extensive. Beginning Sunday, it will be illegal to host or transfer internet traffic associated with WeChat, the Department said in a release. The same will be true for TikTok as of Nov. 12, it said.” I don’t know if this part is doable (again not sure if it’s legal) in the US. Also this part seems contradicts with Wilbur Ross’s comments. Btw, Wilbur Ross made most of his money from coal industry (and coal miners’ pension or healthcare): this part is similar to how his boss got rich…

(Earlier) TechCrunch: Justice Department says WeChat users won’t be penalized under Trump’s executive order : the normal chat / group chat function will continue to work after Sunday September 20. It does seem impact the WeChat pay (financial transaction) as well as the App / Google Play store (workaround later). Also refer to this Ars Technica article.

The workaround for the App store is to change your country / region, for example, change from the US to Canada. You may create a new user if needed. One thing I found out is if I have app store credit on account, I cannot switch. This applies to TikTok users as well.

Workaround

  1. There are ways to download apps even if the apps are no longer available in the US App Store or Google Play Store. The trick is to pick another country / region in the store setting. There is a limit though: if you have balance (credit, money) in the App Store, you cannot switch (have to spend it first). In this case you may have to create another app store id solely for the purpose to download apps (for example, in addition to wechat, there are some other apps only available in China app store).
  2. If the administration decide to block the web traffic (app traffic is a part of web traffic, it’s usually at the http level). One may use VPN service to get around that. This is nothing new.
  3. There is also desktop app (Mac, Windows) and web app on WeChat web site. You may install the desktop app, or use the web app (essentially it’s like a website). Note WeChat still needs the phone app for sign in for those.

Here is a link to the US WeChat User Alliance. They are suing the US government for the unreasonable action (likely illegal as well).

Last but not least, this is mostly a last ditch effort from the current administration to save the re-election (this part if proven, it’s illegal too). Because, in the US the political campaign and governing are separate.

Categories
Business China iPhone app

Alipay wechat Pay

Reading Time: 2 minutesIMG_8760

I was travelling in China for 9, 10 days recently, and I can see those two payments method everywhere. From the small food stall to KFC, one of those two methods are widely accepted, and in many cases cash transactions are very rare. I noticed this trend about 1.5 years ago during my China trip too, at that time I saw some promotions around those new payment methods. This time I saw many promotions too, such as discount to points (reward) system.

Just use my own shopping experience as an example. I purposefully did not get a local mobile phone number this time, which in other words, this disqualified me from using those new payment methods. I did not want the hassle of getting a new mobile phone number, with or without data plan, and then have to give up the number later. Because my trip is really a 9 day trip. I noticed in most “free” or public wifi hotspots, the setup is such that they send a validation code to the mobile phone. For me I can live without because my phone has international data roaming, in other words, I still get to wechat on the go. But I cannot get to those free public wifi hotspots, at a bookstore when I tried to sign up to be their member via wechat, I realized my lack of local phone number is preventing me from doing that, or getting the discount. Same thing in KFC. I did noticed some China Unionpay (flash pay, or its own contactless payment methods, like masterpass or visa checkout, if you will) promotion along with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, but it’s very obvious they are not in the same magnitude as Alipay or wechat pay. There is news saying that China central bank is regulating Alipay and wechat pay, such as limit the amount of transaction. It will be interesting to observe though, we know Unionpay is very much state owned, while the other 2 are in theory private owned. But all in all, this is a very difficult market for Mastercard and Visa to crack.

Fully disclosure: as of this writing, yours truly works for Mastercard. And this article is just my personal opinion, not my employer’s.

PS, in order to get a local mobile phone number, one usually needs a local identification card. I am not sure how foreigners can get one, via their passport. I assume there is a legal/legit way to get that.

Last but not least, my friend in Ningbo, used Alipay app to rent a car (I assume it’s similar to Uber), to pick me up at Ningbo railway station. He said he even sold his car recently, due to the convenience of car-rent app, public transportation, and the desire to walk/cycle (again bike sharing here, needs a phone and app) more instead of trying to finding a parking spot for his car (and the cost of maintain a car). When we got off the car, the payment is automatic just like Uber.

Categories
China IPO

Ag Bank of China IPO: bull case, bear case

Reading Time: < 1 minuteBusiness week: Summary Box: China’s AgBank IPO nabs $19.2 billion.

Wiki; Official web site of Ag Bank China’s (ABC, 中国农业银行股份有限公司).


(source: ForeignHR)

Bear case
Ag bank of China primarily serves the less-developed regions and people in China: the rural areas, the villages, the farmers and peasants, the agriculture related business. Since the founding of People’s Republic (and Ag bank shortly after), farm produce price has been kept artificially low by the central government (in a way subsidize other industries), and since 1978 the reform of economy, the situation has improved, but the economy gap between rural and urban has increased in last 30 years.

Bull case

Categories
China

That special day

Reading Time: < 1 minuteI felt I have to say a few words about that day. After all, some friends back home have already express that in various means.

Today marks the twentieth anniversary of that day, a lot good things have happened to my home country in last 20 years. The giant US corporations are making money in China, left and right. Chinese company has bailed out the General Motor in a small way yesterday. So everything looks like “ok dokey” again. But we should not forget the history. From psychological point of view, getting over denial is one of the most difficult and important thing. So let me roll back the clock.

Twenty years ago, I was a graduating senior in high school, at the time I was thinking this Culture Revolution thing is deja vu all over again. Things are quite chaotic at that time, esp. in the capital. Then things happened on that evening (morning). As we all went back to classroom, preparing for the Gao Kao (College Entrance Exam, the black July, July 7 to 9), I have one thought: life is the most precious thing in the world, taking innocent life is not right, for whatever excuse one may claim.

Twenty years later, I am sitting here, I think I still have the same thought.

Categories
China

Who is Sichuan Tengzhong?

Reading Time: 2 minutes四川腾中重工(in Chinese, Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Machinery) The little known Chinese Co. who bought Hummer brand from GM yesterday (News: Bloomberg; Reuters; Tengzhong web site). Quote Reuters:

Tengzhong, formed in 2005 through several mergers, makes special-use vehicles such as dump trucks and fuel tankers, as well as construction machinery, energy equipment, and structural components for highways and bridges.

It has 4,800 employees, according to its website, about the same as Changfeng. The site does not disclose any financial data.

Special Vehical made by Sichuan Tengzhong
(Special Vehical made by Sichuan Tengzhong, full size pic here. From the pic it appears Tengzhong is OEM maker for SinoTruk 中国重汽)

Why Tengzhong bought Hummer?

Categories
China video

Huntsman named new US ambassador to China

Reading Time: < 1 minuteI knew about Huntsman (the company) because of last year’s private equity back out from announced acquisition. And I knew Jon Huntsman Sr. found Huntsman Cancer Institute, besides founding the Huntsman chemical company. I didn’t know Jon Huntsman Jr. is a moderate (pragmatic) republican, and he and his wife has adopted a baby girl from China.

A good sign for China and US relationship.

Video from AP (via YouTube)

Categories
China

Baidu: got a bit evil?

Reading Time: < 1 minuteOn Nov 17, Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU), China largest web search company got a huge blow in the market as the news of “Baidu placed “faked doctors and drug ad” broke (see BW for more details). This reminds me of the Focus Media (Naqdaq: FMCN) Spam text messaging story about 7 months ago. In both cases the news was broke in CCTV, Chinese national TV channel and a part of offical Chinese media. Some people may not know CCTV has large market share in the TV Ad market. Some people may sympathize with Baidu and call for “buy” the BIDU stock amid this temporary weakness.

Before this news about Baidu, actually there were reports that Baidu was guilty of “intensionally hiding the China San’lu milk powder scandal” during August this year (Olympics time). Luckily to them, local goverment officials did the exact same thing to keep the big party on. But this time they got caught. Some financial analysts naively think those Ad. made up a small portion of the Ad. revenue. This maybe true. But I don’t the problem is that simple.

Categories
China Economy

GM, China giant stimulus package

Reading Time: < 1 minuteMy initial thought
China announced a giant $586 billion economy stimulus package a few days ago. My first response was not warm to it: I always think the Chinese goverment should invest in “Education and healthcare”. Infrustructure? Did not China already get really good infrustructures in the coastal areas including Beijing? China’s economy problem is more serious than US (on the surface it’s not), because it solely relied on foreign trade (export) for economy growth in last 30 years.

I can appreciate the goverment intention here is solving the “excess migrant labor workers”, and lack of middle class problems in China. They should act from tax policy, business regulations, etc. But I guess the Chinese goverment is for the business, by the business and of the business, just like the US gov.

My second thought

Categories
China

China Mobile Group got robbed

Reading Time: 2 minutesAccording to Chinese news, China Mobile’s ultimate parent, the China State Asset Management Co. (CSAM), took 50 billion Chinese Yuan (about 7.30 billion USD) from China Mobile Group (the parent of China Mobile Limited, NYSE: CHL; HKSE:0941), and gave it to China Telecom. For CSAM, this is merely put money from left pocket to right pocket, because both China Mobile and China Telecom are majority owned by CSAM. But for CHL shareholder like me, this is merely another highway robbery, orchestrated in the name of “balance of power in China telecom industry”.

China Mobile Limited CHL

Categories
China

Ross Perot: why China will succeed

Reading Time: < 1 minuteRoss Perot is a fun guy. He was known for founding the IT service giant EDS, sending in team to rescue EDS employee kidnapped in Iran, and his presidential bid in 1992, among other things. Here is his Wiki entry.

I found his opinion on China economy growth when I searched “Ross Perot McCain” and found this article on Newsweek. The China quote is in page 3.