TikTok Hits VR Firm With Harsh Reality

TikTok has announced the termination of all its partnership with HashVR Studio, a Hangzhou-based virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) content production company, whose parent company, Wuxi Boton Technology, had just trumpeted a deeper working relationship with TikTok one day earlier, thepaper.cn reported.

TikTok said on Wednesday, after the Wuxi Boton press release, that HashVR Studio had broken their nondisclosure agreement by not only revealing but also exaggerating its "exclusive collaboration of various AR games with TikTok." 

On Tuesday, Wuxi Boton Technology had said that HashVR Studio would continue working with Huawei and TikTok to further develop AR and VR content, in response to investors' questions on the interactive platform of the Shenzhen Exchange Stock. 

The next day the company said that HashAR Studio was the first AR game company working with TikTok to develop content. Two AR games were planned to be rolled out later this August, according to Securities Daily. The announcement immediately triggered Wuxi Boton Technology stock to skyrocket, ending at RMB29.28 (US$4.19) per share on Wednesday. 

But after TikTok announced it was terminating the partnership, Wuxi Boton Technology stock dropped to RMB26.35 (US3.77) per share on Thursday. Its official website shows the company was established in 2000 with registered capital of RMB396.76 million (US$56.76 million.) 

Online Education Scams On The Increase 

Online English-teaching education company WinKey is facing up to 145 court cases related to contract disputes involving unreturned funds to students, according to company credit inquiry platform qixin.com.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has boosted many online education platforms, some have faced economic challenges from customer refund requests. 

WinKey in Februray posted an apology letter to the public, saying the company was facing "cash flow" problems. Students have been chasing the company, seeking refunds of RMB11,888 ($1,703) each for lesson prepayments for English-language courses, Chinese Business Network reported. 

Education institutions outside the normal school system are not allowed to charge fees larger than three months' enrollment. Consumers have the right to ask for refunds for uncompleted courses, according State Council regulations.

Though advance payment schemes are fairly common in the education industry, beauty and cosmetics industry, and for gym memberships, there is a high risk for consumers, because such enterprises sometimes simply take the funds and run, said a source from Duan & Duan law firm in Shanghai. 

As of this year, there are about 250,000 online education enterprises across China, with up to 25,000 of them established in the first half of this year. This means there were about 120 online education outlets registered each day, according to qixin.com.

Hainan Getting International Internet Channel

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has approved Hainan Island's plan to construct an international internet channel specifically for Hainan Free Trade Port, covering nine clusters and districts mainly consisting of export-oriented enterprises, Hainan Daily reported on Thursday. 

The internet channel will directly connect to communication infrastructure for international channels in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, and is aimed at upgrading users' experience and supporting cross-border video conferencing and large-file data transfer. 

Analysts said the new channel would bolster digital infrastructure development in Hainan, China Business Network reported. 

During the first half of the year, 203 foreign-invested enterprises were established in Hainan, a rise of 24.54% year-on-year, while Hainan absorbed total foreign direct investment of US$319 million, a rise of 98.69% year-on-year, according to the Department of Commerce of Hainan Province.

Programs Offer Migrant Workers New Hope 

China is introducing a series of measures to help migrant workers find employment and develop entrepreneurial skills during the Covid-19 pandemic, including a law that employers raise migrant workers' salaries.

Employers will, however, see some benefits, as over the next two years roughly seven million migrant workers will be offered vocational training, according to a plan by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. 

For fresh graduates and migrant workers who intend to be self-employed or start their own businesses, the government will offer secured loans and preferential taxes. Some state-invested incubator bases will also provide free work spaces for entrepreneurs during the startup phase.  

As of 2019, there were 290.77 million migrant workers among China's labor force of 774.71 million employed workers. While unemployment in China peaked at 6.2% in February, the June rate in cities and towns was 5.7%, according to the National Statistics Bureau.

Crackdown on Food Product Labeling 

Domestic food producers will soon face stricter regulations in advertising their products, with the intention of eliminating misleading labeling. 

The State Administration of Market Supervision on Thursday issued a draft regulation on food labeling and advertisements, aimed to collect public opinions before a law on the matter comes into force.

Under the proposed legislation, "zero additives", "non-genetically modified" and other catch-phrases which can mislead consumers about product quality will not be allowed on food product labels. Labels on food products should also not indicate disease prevention or curative functions. Genetically modified food must be clearly identified on the label as "genetically modified".

Additionally, non-food dietary supplements must not be allowed to advertise any medical or health care claims. Food producers will be also banned from using any name related to registered medical products, said the authority.