1. The Munich Motor Show witnessed the emergence of Chinese-made cars
On 4th September 2023, the IAA MOBILITY 2023 commenced. The Munich Motor Show has traditionally been the domain of European auto industry leaders like Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, but this year saw the emergence of an influential “new force” – an alliance of Chinese new energy brands such as BYD, Avita, Zero Run, Xiaopeng, Sailis, MG and others. In Hall B3, BYD’s booth even surpassed the Mercedes-Benz booth in the same hall.
The Munich Motor Show, which was formerly known as the Frankfurt Motor Show, was established in 1897 and was one of the earliest global motor shows, being conducted every two years.
This is the second Munich Motor Show, and the involvement of Chinese automobile brands has noticeably increased in comparison to the previous one. During the inaugural Munich Motor Show in 2021, only Great Wall’s WEY brand attended in-person, whereas Xiaopeng and Zero Run were virtual exhibitors. However, in the last couple of years, Chinese automotive companies have expanded overseas considerably, and an increasing number of enterprises are eager to showcase their prowess at the Munich Motor Show.
The Chinese companies’ participation in this year’s Munich Motor Show comprised not only the aforementioned OEMs but also various parts and components firms, including Ningde Times, YWL, Xinwangda, and Zhongxin Innovation Hangzhou. All of these firms are significant players in the EV battery arena, as well as smart car hardware and software providers like Horizon, YigaTong, Lightboat Zhihang, and Yuanrong Qixing. According to statistics, almost 50 Chinese firms displayed their products at this year’s Munich Motor Show, constituting about 7.4% of the overall number of exhibitors (675).
According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), China’s car exports rose by 76.9% YoY to 2.341 million units in H1 2023, making it one of the world’s largest auto exporters, surpassing Japan for the first time. China’s EVs have done notably well in the European market.
Chinese EV industry chain firms have established or intend to establish factories in numerous European nations, including Germany, France, Hungary, the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, among others. Notably, Hungary has emerged as one of the most sought-after investment destinations. During H1 2023, a range of listed companies, such as YWL Lithium, Huayou Cobalt, Ningde Times, and Xinwanda, disclosed the advancement of their factory construction plans in Hungary.
2. Chinese fintech giant Ant Group unveils own AI large language model in push to expand presence in financial sector
Ant Group has launched its own large language model (LLM) – the technology used to train chatbots like ChatGPT – and a new Web3 brand targeting Hong Kong and overseas markets, as the Chinese fintech giant boosts its capabilities in generative artificial intelligence (AI) for the financial services industry.
The Hangzhou-based company on 8th September unveiled its self-developed “financial LLM” at the “Inclusion Conference on the Bund” event in Shanghai, along with two applications powered by the group’s AI model.
“We have built computing power at a level of 10,000 GPUs (graphics processing units),” Ant vice-president Wang Xiaohang said at the conference. “On this basis, Ant’s entire financial business has quickly switched to the LLM paradigm.”
Ant’s financial LLM was used to upgrade Zhixiaobao, the firm’s consumer-facing “intelligent financial assistant” for wealth management and insurance, to help users in various scenarios including generating asset-management plans. It also helped build Zhixiaozhu, an application that can assist finance practitioners in areas including investment research, insurance and marketing.
The upgraded Zhixiaobao will be available to users when it receives regulatory approval, while Zhixiaozhu is undergoing additional closed tests by Ant and industry partners, according to the company.
One month after China announced its provisional measures to oversee generative artificial intelligence, the country has granted approval to the first batch of large language model-empowered services for public use by the end of August.
Eight generative AI applications have registered with China’s cyberspace authority, following is the complete list: Baidu’s Ernie Bot (文心一言), ByteDance’s Doubao, Tsinghua University Computer Science Department’s Zhipu AI / ChatGLM, Chinese Academy of Sciences’s MindSpore, Sougou founder’s Baichuan, Sensetime’s SenseNova, Minimax’s ABAB, Shanghai Artificial Intelligence Laboratory’s Intern.
3. China’s top economic planner is creating a new department, the private economy development bureau, to help private businesses
The private economy development bureau will be responsible for tracking and analysing the state of the industry, along with coordinating and drafting policies to promote its growth, the National Development and Reform Commission announced on 4th September. Private firms are major employers in the economy and contribute to more than half of the nation’s fixed-asset investment. Concerns about private enterprise are acute this year as the economy struggles to combat a laundry list of challenges from the property crisis and falling exports to deflationary pressures.
The new bureau will also regularly talk to companies and help them resolve their main problems, as well as support their attempts to improve international competitiveness, said NDRC official Zhang Shixin at a Monday briefing.
In July, the government pledged to treat private companies the same as state-owned enterprises a move seen by investors at the time as a framework for future support.
4. World’s largest iPhone factory ramps up hiring efforts in China ahead of Apple’s launch of new handset
The world’s largest iPhone factory is continuing to expand its workforce ahead of the release of the iPhone 15, with Apple hoping to avoid last year’s supply chain woes at the plant in China as it aims for a successful launch amid geopolitical tensions and fresh competition from Huawei Technologies.
Foxconn Technology Group’s plant in Zhengzhou, capital of central Henan province, is offering peak season signing bonuses of 6,480 yuan (US$880) per person at the company’s Product Enclosure Business Group, which is responsible for producing mechanical parts for the iPhone, according to a job posting on Monday.
The new workers are expected to help the factory meet demand for Apple’s new products, including its highly-anticipated iPhone 15, which will be unveiled during a launch event on Tuesday morning in California.
The continued hiring spree in Zhengzhou, however, underlines the case that China remains a key manufacturing base for Apple, even as the company and its suppliers diversify iPhone production to places like Vietnam and India.
However, while Apple’s past high-end models such as the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max have been top performers in the country, the iPhone 15 is coming to market amid a new set of challenges in one of the world’s largest phone markets.
Even though iPhone 15 Pro models are expected to come equipped with Apple’s first iPhone chip based on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s first-generation 3-nm process, the handset will have to overcome a patriotic wave in China spurred by Huawei’s apparent success in overcoming US sanctions.
The iPhone 15 launch also comes after Apple’s products were banned for use by government agencies and state-owned enterprises in China, seen by some analysts as evidence of worsening US-Sino tech relations.
US-sanctioned Huawei unveiled the foldable Mate X5 and the Mate 60 Pro+ on 8th September, following the launch of the 5G capable Mate 60 Pro at the end of August, which arrived with a powerful chip despite tough US restrictions. The new Huawei device could cut into the market share of other premium phone brands such as the iPhone, which accounted for over 75 per cent of phones sold over the US$800 price point in China in the first half compared with Huawei’s 12 per cent.
5. India imposes anti-dumping duty on some Chinese steel for 5 years
On September 4, India’s steel secretary, Nagendra Nath Sinha, said New Delhi was monitoring the steel imports situation after the steel industry raised concerns over potential dumping by Chinese sellers.
From April to July, China was the second biggest steel exporter to India, after South Korea, selling 0.6 million metric tons, up 62 per cent from the same period a year earlier. China, the world’s top steel producer, exported mostly cold-rolled coil or sheets to India.
In all, India imported 2 million metric tons of finished steel in the period, the highest since 2020 and up 23 per cent from a year earlier