2024 Calendar Week 18

Posted on April 29, 2024

1.China’s First Sora-Class Video Mega-Model Vidu Launched

On April 27, 2024, during the Zhongguancun Forum Annual Conference’s Future Artificial Intelligence Pioneers Forum, Tsinghua University, in collaboration with Bioscience Technologies, officially launched Vidu, China’s the first long-duration, high-consistency, and highly dynamic video mega-model. The model features innovative architecture named U-ViT that integrates Diffusion and Transformer technologies, enabling the generation of up to 16 seconds of 1080p high-definition video with just one click.

Vidu is capable not only of simulating the real physical world but also of displaying rich imagination, featuring multi-camera generation and high spatio-temporal consistency. For example, Vidu transcends traditional camera movements like zooms and pans, offering an array of complex dynamic shots that include long shots, focus pulls, and seamless scene transitions all within a single sequence.

Additionally, Vidu not only replicates the real world with remarkable accuracy but is also capable of creating imaginary scenes that do not exist. When depicting real-world scenarios, it crafts detailed scenes that conform to the laws of physics, featuring authentic lighting effects and detailed human expressions.

As a domestically developed mega-model, Vidu also has a deep understanding of Chinese cultural elements, capable of generating distinctive Chinese symbols such as pandas and dragons.

2.Hotels in Several Regions of China Cancel Facial Recognition Check-ins

On April 22, the news that numerous hotels throughout China have stopped requiring facial recognition for guest check-ins has surged in popularity on search engines.

State media, including CCTV, has commented that “compulsory or disguised face scanning, as a practice of excessive personal information collection, should indeed be prohibited.”

The Paper.cn reports that the Shanghai Public Security Bureau has banned mandatory facial scans for guests who present their ID cards and has introduced a “Guest Accommodation Registration Inquiry Flowchart.” This flowchart mandates that hotels must secure the consent of guests before gathering facial recognition data.

Additionally, Shanghai recently issued a directive that outright bans compulsory facial recognition checks for guests who have shown valid identity documents. This policy shift is not limited to Shanghai; various regions nationwide are revising similar policies. In cities such as Shenzhen, Hangzhou, and Suzhou, several hotels have clearly stated that they will no longer enforce mandatory facial scanning, and that guest registration with an ID card is sufficient.

3.2024 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition: 117 Global Vehicle Debuts

The 18th Beijing International Automotive Exhibition was held from April 25 to May 4, 2024, at Beijing’s China International Exhibition Center in Shunyi, covering an expansive area of 230,000 square meters. The showcase included 117 global vehicle debuts, of which 30 were from multinational companies, alongside 41 concept cars and 278 new energy vehicles—marking a substantial increase from the 160 featured at the 2020 edition.

Various new energy vehicles, including range extenders, plug-in hybrids, fully electric, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, were prominently displayed. Leading manufacturers like Great Wall Motors, FAW Hongqi, Lynk & Co, and Changan exhibited their latest models. Notably, brands such as BYD, Dongfeng Yipai, and iCAR introduced their high-speed NOA capabilities for the first time at the show. Under the trend of intelligent driving and lightweight designs, several models like Li Auto L6 Max, JiDU L6, and Xiaomi SU7 Pro and Max featured urban/high-speed NOA. Additionally, smart cockpit technologies were highlighted, with models like Leapmotor C16 and Zeekr MIX equipped with the Snapdragon 8295 chip, featuring multi-screens and AR-HUD displays.

As technological advancements and globalization continue to evolve, the smart automotive industry is increasingly recognized for its investment potential and market impact.

Prestigious German automakers BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi also impressed visitors: BMW presented the all-new electric BMW i4 and MINI’s first all-electric crossover;Mercedes-Benz introduced one global debut, seven China debuts, and other eight models which including the all-new Mercedes-Maybach EQS electric SUV; Audi displayed the Audi Q6L e-tron, Audi Q5 e-tron with RS package, Audi SQ6 e-tron, and the Q6L e-tron.

4.Biden Has Signed Tiktok Ban in the U.S., TikTok to Appeal in Court

On April 24th, President Joe Biden of the United States enacted legislation targeting TikTok restrictions. The legislation bans Tiktok if its controlling entity remains backed by Chinese capital. This situation may evolve in three possible directions: (1) the operating company wins the lawsuit, (2) the American business segment is sold off, or (3) the app ceases its services. Simultaneously, TikTok disseminated a two-minute video featuring CEO Shou Zi Chew, who declared, “This is a ban. A ban on TikTok, on you, and your voice,” and noted, “While this is certainly a disheartening moment, it is not necessarily a decisive one.”

Chew highlighted that the law would disrupt the community and connections enjoyed by 170 million American TikTok users. He disclosed that the platform hosts over 7 million business vendors. Chew encouraged users to share their personal experiences with TikTok and emphasized the company’s ongoing commitment to innovation and security, notably securing user data with a dedication unmatched by competitors.

TikTok has allocated billions to safeguard its data in the U.S. In response to the legislation, the company has opted for legal action to protect its rights in the American market. TikTok will contest the law under the U.S. Constitution, specifically citing the First Amendment, and has urged users to continue sharing how TikTok has positively influenced their lives.

This TikTok controversy is likely to lead to a unprecedented legal battle.

5.Nongfu Spring Will Probably Launch Purified Water, Initial Shipments to Reach Tens of Millions of Bottles

According to a report by The Paper on April 25th, Nongfu Spring is set to relaunch its purified water product, priced at CNY 2 per 550ml bottle, reentering the purified water market and competing with brands like Wahaha and C’estbon. However, on April 22nd, C’estbon’s parent company, Nongfu’s rival, filed for an IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange’s main board. The prospectus revealed that in 2023, C’estbon dominated the purified water segment in 2023 with retail sales amounting to CNY 39.5 billion, positioning it as the top brand in China’s purified water market.

Founded in 1996, Nongfu Spring is among China’s top 20 beverage companies and a leader in the domestic market. The company originally produced purified water in 1999 but shifted to natural water in 2000. At the inauguration ceremony of the Chun’an water plant in April 2000, Nongfu Spring’s founder, Zhong Shanshan, criticized purified water for lacking minerals and therefore being unbeneficial to health. Concurrently, Nongfu Spring initiated a bold advertising offensive against purified water, employing comparisons involving daffodils and animals in TV commercials. Despite the increasingly competitive market for packaged drinking water, Nongfu Spring continues to be a major player. A 2023 report by Haitong International indicated that packaged water and ready-to-drink tea constituted 35.6% and 18.7% of the soft drink market share, respectively, with Nongfu Spring, C’estbon, and Jingtian leading, and Wahaha ranking fourth.

In 2023, Nongfu Spring achieved a total revenue of CNY 42.667 billion, a year-on-year increase of 28.4%; profit attributable to shareholders was CNY 12.079 billion, up 42.2% year-on-year; and basic earnings per share were CNY 1.07, up 40.8%. Beverage sales, including tea, functional drinks, and fruit juices, accounted for 51.7% of total revenue, surpassing water sales for the first time and showing strong growth. The revenue from packaged drinking water was about CNY 20.262 billion, accounting for 47.5% of the company’s total revenue, a decrease from 54.9% in 2022.

As the Hong Kong stock market closed on the 25th, Nongfu Spring’s stock rose by 0.45%, trading at CNY 41.47 per share, with a total market value of CNY 466.40 billion(HKD/CNY=0.91).


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