Category Archives: Tech

Visitors get a taste of Chinese online payments

Fintech Week is proving to be a global PR bonanza for Hong Kong. Local media have been buzzing for the past two days about Alipay’s decision to open its payment platform inside the Chinese mainland to foreigners, the announcement of which was clearly timed to coincide with the Hong Kong event. And Mu Changchun, the central bank’s whizzkid overseeing the imminent launch of the digital Renminbi, kept the momentum going yesterday by suggesting foreigners could use it, too.

As reported by SCMP, Mu said the central bank is working to separate the virtual currency from the banking system. “Actually it could be decoupled from traditional bank accounts,” he said during an event at Fintech Week, which is being held at the AsiaWorld-Expo. “Thus, those who don’t have bank accounts in China can still open a digital wallet and enjoy mobile payment services in China.”

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Guangdong leads in 5G rollout

China has officially entered the 5G era, with the pilot cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen firmly in the vanguard. China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom have unveiled 5G plans based on transmission speeds in both cities, where coverage is ramping up quickly. These range between RMB128 and RMB 599 a month.

Applications and handsets are expected to grow fast in both cities. Guangdong has built 21,473 5G base stations, first in the country, including 10,626 in Guangzhou and 9,504 in Shenzhen. Dongguan and Foshan also have some, and the rest of the GBA cities will be ramping up in the coming months. By the end of this year, Guangdong’s total is expected to hit 34,800.

For 5G commercial services, applications will be very different than what has come before, thanks to high speeds, low latency and wider range of connections. Much focus is being placed on ultra-high definition video, VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality) and AIOT (Artificial Intelligence Internet of Things).

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Shenzhen takes lead with smart data usage

SCMP has a great story today about Shenzhen’s use of data in governing the city. Read it yourself. Some might think this is all too Orwellian; others will applaud the innovative thinking. Here are some of the highlights:

  • It’s all about better governance
  • Although the city has an official population of 13 million, it has recorded more than 22 million “population data sets”
  • The city has only 40,000 civil servants, 25,000 of whom are police officers
  • Around 2 million cameras are in use
  • Nearly 80% of crimes are solved with the use of videos and data analysis
  • Quote: “Now we have a standardized, scientific and quantifiable method for measuring the quality of Party building.”

Shenzhen one of four AI zones

The Ministry of Science and Technology has named Hefei, Hangzhou, Shenzhen and Tianjin as the country’s four cities to build national pilot zones for “next-generation artificial intelligence”. 

Forgive us, but the announcement is full of the usual government jargon that makes little sense to an international audience but bears repeating here: Hefei is required to take full advantages of its talent and technology and strengthen the supply of artificial intelligence innovation; Hangzhou is required to strengthen the clustering effect of high-end resources and improve the level of artificial intelligence innovation and development; Tianjin is required to integrate artificial intelligence innovation resources and strengthen it’s intelligent technology industrial cluster;  Shenzhen, is required to build an artificial intelligence innovation highland with international competitiveness.

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Huawei to expand Dongguan campus

Huawei Technologies, which already has a massive R&D campus in Dongguan’s Songshan Lake district, is planning to expand its footprint in the high-tech zone and build a smart manufacturing operation.

Huawei’s application for the land conversion in the southeastern area of the zone was approved on Monday this week, according to local media. The plot covers 806 hectares and includes a parcel already earmarked by Huawei for its so-called Huawei Taiwan Park. After adjustment, the area will be integrated into a larger plot designed to build a smart manufacturing base.

The base will have a number of supporting facilities, like the rest of the Ox Horn campus, including residential, commercial, a school, and a park. It will mostly house manufacturing-related staff, and is designed for 40,300 people living and working in the area. 

The city government is now working on integrating the new plot into its masterplan for traffic, as highways are being built through the district and the Intercity Railway will eventually pass through here as well.

Read more (in Chinese).

Shenzhen launches tech missionaries

US President John F. Kennedy had the Peace Corps. Shenzhen has the Southern Young Entrepreneurs Plan.

According to a joint announcement by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation and the Shenzhen Youth Federation, the city will send out what could only be described as tech missionaries to countries in need of entrepreneurial skill development.

With a particular focus on “green tech”, the mission’s objective is to train no fewer than 10,000 people in developing countries over the next five years, equipping them with the skills they need to jump-start their countries’ scientific and technological innovation bases. 

Jorge Chedick, Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, and Chen Daixing, representative of the Shenzhen Youth Federation of China, announced the launch of the plan at the United Nations Youth Climate Summit held at UN Headquarters in New York.

Chedick said the program will provide “one-stop” support for young entrepreneurs in developing countries, improving their knowledge and skills in entrepreneurship, finance, innovation and digital technology, and supporting them to help reduce carbon emissions.

Chen Daixing said that in the past 40 years, young entrepreneurs have been the main force in Shenzhen’s transformation from a small fishing village to a technology center. He believes that Shenzhen, with the power of young entrepreneurs, can provide “Chinese wisdom” for the UN to promote sustainable development goals.

The project will conduct two training sessions in Asia and Africa this year, starting with a focus on digital payments and entrepreneurship.

Zhuhai college launches 5G center

Guangdong has put its first vocational school on a 5G network, choosing the Guangdong Science and Technology Vocational College, based in Zhuhai.

According to local media, the Guangzhou-based college’s “Campus 5G Innovation Application Experience Center” is busy implementing advanced mobile VR/AR applications, allowing students to watch high-definition video in real-time, and rolling out a series of smartphone-based artificial intelligence apps. This is believed to be the first “talent training base” for 5G-based R&D work among the province’s vocational colleges.

The project has been in the making since July, apparently. With the support of Huawei Technologies and the Zhuhai branch of China Telecom, the center is now fully 5G-enabled and plans to start offering courses for students. It will also cooperate with corporates to test and further research their ideas for 5G-related projects. The college plans to work closely with companies clustered in the Zhuhai Software Park, it said.

Shenzhen IT shopping area goes 5G

It seems only fitting that the neighbourhood of Shenzhen once renowned for knockoffs of IT gadgets is today the first to switch over to 5G. 

Huaqiangbei, which has cleaned up its piracy act in recent years, is still a must-visit place in Shenzhen for anyone wanting to see what a Chinese electronics market looks like. The place is insanely packed and carries every piece of equipment that could remotely be called electronic. Now, it is the country’s first “city block” to be fully 5G-operational, which allows it to host demonstrations of all sorts of new, high-bandwidth applications.

According to the Shenzhen Daily News, the three major telco operators have set up the main base stations in the area and are now laying indoor sub-base stations inside the major malls and shops. These include SEG, Huaqiang, Gome, Suning, Shundian, Maoye and others.

Already working are some outdoor applications around the market’s main areas, while an indoor “experience pavilion” is under way. Some of these include: VR-based interactive games, 360-degree 8K panoramic VR live broadcast, remote driving, VR-based cloud games, remote ultrasound diagnosis, 3D vision screening, AR industrial inspection, AI face recognition.

We will get across their soon and shoot a video of it. Stay tuned.

Shenzhen Metro Line goes ‘all-brush’

One-upmanship between Guangzhou and Shenzhen over AI-driven subway technology is continuing to provide reporters with fun material. Last week, Guangzhou opened two “Smart Stations” on its Metro, powered by AI algorithms. This week it is Shenzhen’s turn to promote the rollout of automated customer service kiosks and announce the entire Metro Line 11 now has “brush-face” gates.

The new customer service kiosks allow riders to register their faces for purchasing tickets, topping up their Metro cards, and other services. Initially, only those who get to ride the line for free can use them to register for “face-brushing”, but they will be upgraded soon for paid ticketing. In the meantime, everyone can use the kiosks for performing a variety of other transactions. 

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Shenzhen splashes startup cash

Shenzhen wants everyone to be an entrepreneur, it seems. The city has doubled basic allowances for “startups” and widened their definition to include, well, just about the entire population that works for itself, rather than for corporate titans such as Huawei, Tencent, and Ping An, from what we can see.

According to the Shenzhen Daily News, the basic subsidy for “start-up enterprises”, which can be individuals, has been doubled, from RMB 5,000 to RMB 10,000 yuan. In the case of “partnerships”, i.e., limited liability companies, it goes from RMB 50,000 to RMB 100,000.

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