Tech News Chatter: Amazon Exits, Tencent Launches Steam Rival, and Big Business Defends 996

Here's a quick-fire run-through of a few key China tech stories from the past few days

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9:05 PM HKT, Thu April 18, 2019 3 mins read

Amazon Calls it Quits in China

They might dominate online shopping in the US and Europe, but Amazon has struggled to compete in China and there have been numerous reports the past two days that they will be closing their China-based marketplace. China-based customers will still be able to buy products from overseas on Amazon via the ecommerce giant’s other sites, but as China’s own etail behemoths increasingly focus attention on imported goods, they may well face difficulties in this space too.

As for their domestic business, Amazon just hasn’t been able to compete with and Alibaba’s retail arms. Ker Zheng, marketing specialist at Shenzhen-based e-commerce consultancy Azoya, told Reuters, “there’s no reason for a consumer to pick Amazon because they’re not going to be able to ship things as fast as Tmall or JD” — blunt but entirely accurate.


Tencent Launches Steam Rival WeGame X

Tencent, the world’s largest video game publisher, has finally delivered on its promise to compete globally with American rival Steam by launching its WeGame X platform — but not in China. The overseas-facing game store is now stocked with around 20 offerings: some by Chinese developers, some Tencent originals, and more international titles, with English and traditional and simplified Chinese languages available (Russian capabilities are reportedly coming soon).
tencent wegame x steam rival
With only a handful of titles and little fanfare, the “stealth launch” seems intended as a testing of the waters (and servers) for the platform, before they really take the fight to Steam. Steam themselves remain in something of a gray area in China, though reports late last year suggested they were working on a fully-licensed launch in the country.


China’s 996 Scandal Rumbles On

The fall-out from the viral 996 GitHub protest is still being felt, with the story having sparked widespread discussion in China on overtime, productivity and workers’ rights. Unsurprisingly, two of China’s best-known tech leaders have faced questions over the practice of making workers clock in from 9am-9pm 6 days a week.’s Richard Liu — who has also been in the headlines this week due to rape allegations being made against him as part of a lawsuit in the US — kicked up consternation online via a WeChat post in which he stated, “that people who “laze away” their days are not his brothers he can fight alongside with”, according to Caixin.

Alibaba’s Jack Ma also weighed in with his thoughts on the matter, suggesting that “996 is a blessing”. Ma reportedly told employees, “Many companies and people don’t even have a chance to 996. If you can’t 996 when you’re young, when can you 996? If you haven’t done 996 in your life, should you feel proud? If you don’t wish to expend extra effort, how can you achieve the success you want?”


Huawei Finds a Way Around Political Pressure on 5G: Low, Low Prices

You might’ve heard of Huawei. The Chinese tech company has been the subject of all sorts of scary-sounding headlines and stories of late — with varied amounts of justification. Some Republican lawmakers in the US, not a group known for rushing to quick judgment or making outlandish statements on issues of course, labelled Huawei a “snake” last month.

The panic has spread, and now a host of governments around the world have voiced concern over Huawei’s presence in their countries as the company looks to roll out its 5G infrastructure.

In Poland, government officials told Reuters in January,

“that the government was prepared to exclude China’s Huawei from 5G networks in the wake of the arrest of a Chinese Huawei employee and a former Polish security official on spying allegations.”

But now?

“Poland is unlikely to exclude all Huawei equipment from its next generation mobile networks, a government minister told Reuters, in part to avoid increased costs for mobile operators.”


Meanwhile in Thailand, similar deal, according to NPR:

“The Chinese company Huawei is now building and testing Thailand’s first 5G network. Thai authorities say they could not say no to Huawei’s bargain prices, despite pressure from the U.S.”


But we know what you’re thinking: what does MIA think about 5G? Welp…

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