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Breakfast Briefing: Chinese Censorship, the Samsung S9 & Alibaba

BMW and Toyota Back Startup

The two carmakers led a $11.5m investment in May Mobility, an autonomous vehicle company.

Editor’s Remarks: BMW and Toyota are two companies very much at the forefront of driverless innovation but this has not meant they are resting on their laurels. Just days after Toyota declared its commitment to a driverless partnership with Uber, the company has joined rival BMW in funding May Mobility. The startup is shunning the high-profile autonomous driving tests favoured by Tesla and Google’s Waymo. Instead, May is developing electric shuttles that run on a short 1km track and gathering as much data as possible to eventually facilitate a move towards total vehicle autonomy.

Read more on Carmakers:

China Censors Anti-Xi Messages

China has silenced protestors who are angry at Xi Jinping’s scrapping of the two-term limit.

Editor’s Remarks: The famous Chinese censorship machine has been working away in the aftermath of the Communist party’s planned abolition of the two-term presidential limit. The government has banned countless phrases that might be used to convey criticism of Xi Jinping, whom many believe is setting himself up to be at the helm of the country for life. Censorship agencies have gone as far as banning the words “I disagree” and “migration” on popular social media site Weibo and Baidu. With the spectre of Mao firmly in their minds, many Chinese fear a return to the past.

Read more on China:

Samsung Releases S9

Samsung has responded to Apple’s iPhone X with its own S9 smartphone.

Editor’s Remarks: The South Korean tech giant is hoping that the S9’s upgraded camera and stereo speakers will be able to dethrone the iPhone X as the world’s pre-eminent smartphone. The phone’s release is a challenge for Samsung’s Vice-President Jay Y. Lee, who was recently released from prison, and is firmly in the public spotlight. While the phone does boast some technologically impressive features, including augmented reality emojis, there are concerns that these are not especially practical nor do they push the envelope in a meaningful direction.

Read more on Samsung:

Alibaba Buys out Baidu

Jack Ma’s conglomerate agreed to buy out Baidu’s stake in Chinese startup Ele.me.

Editor’s Remarks: The acquisition would grant Alibaba the lion’s share of China’s online food delivery market, and place the company is in direct competition with Tencent-backed Meituan Dianping. Ele operates a fleet of motorbike deliverymen and has just under a 50% market share. Commentators reckon that the Ele deal could give Alibaba an edge in its efforts to develop its own native delivery service and end reliance on third-party companies. Baidu’s shares rose 1.7% on the news – a vindication that its shareholders believe the company should refocus its strategy on its AI and search businesses.

Read more on Chinese Technology:

Corbyn Backs Customs Union

The Labour leader has publicly supported the continuation of the nation’s membership in the customs union. 

Editor’s Remarks: Speaking in Coventry yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn urged Conservative MPs to overcome party politics and vote alongside Labour in the upcoming parliamentary vote on whether the UK should remain in the EU customs union. He added that future UK trade deals with China and the US – the world’s two largest economies – might drag down the nation and cause “lasting damage to jobs, rights and living standards”. Remaining in the customs union would mean no new tariffs are imposed on EU trade but would inevitably come with reduced sovereignty over immigration and legislation.

Read more on Brexit:

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