Tesla Boosting Employee Numbers At Shanghai Gigafactory

Tesla Inc. is ramping up hiring for production in its Shanghai-based so-called Gigafactory. Last week the company started the process of hiring up to 1,000 more factory employees and an undisclosed number of designers, according to job advertisements.

It is China's first wholly foreign-owned automobile plant, which reflects China's further opening to foreign investment in traditionally more restricted sectors. Tesla broke ground on its US$2 billion manufacturing plant in early 2019 with plans to produce electric vehicles in the world's largest automobile market. 

In the third round of foreign investment in Shanghai this year from April through July 22, 54 additional foreign-invested projects have been signed, with a total investment of over US$8 billion, China Economic Weekly (CEW) reported. 

Fifteen of these projects involve new infrastructure developments such as internet technology, artificial intelligence, medical biotechnology and integrated circuits, while 10 projects involve commercial services, resources and finance sectors. The remaining three investments are by Fortune 500 firms.

This brings the total this year in Shanghai to 183 projects representing investments of US$31.9 billion. 

The United Nations Conference On Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has forecast that global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows will plunge by up to 40% in 2020, from their 2019 value of $1.54 trillion. Shanghai, however absorbed US$10.28 billion in total FDI the first half, a rise of 5.4% year-on-year.

Danfoss, a Danish multinational company that has already opened factories in China, will bring an incremental investment of US$30 million to its Shanghai headquarters, according to CEW. Additionally in July, the French software giant Dassault Systemes, announced it would establish its Asia headquarters in Shanghai. 

Producer Stakes Hopes On Heroic War Epic  

"The Eight Hundred," an epic Chinese war film delayed for "technical reasons" during the 2019 Shanghai Film Festival, will finally be released August 21 in domestic IMAX cinemas. 

Amid several Hollywood "tent pole" and domestic art-house films populating the gentle reopening of Chinese cinemas, "The Eight Hundred" will be among the first high-profile films to be screened since the authorities closed cinemas in an effort to control the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With an estimated budget of US$80 million, the film carries the hopes of one of China's largest film studios, Beijing-based Huayi Brothers Media, which reported losses of RMB3.96 billion (US$450 million) for the 2019 financial year and RMB143 million (US$20.49 million) for the first quarter of 2020. 

"The Eight Hundred" is directed by Guan Hu, whose last feature film, "Mister Six," grossed RMB$1.4 billion (US$200 million) in 2016. It focuses on the heroic sacrifices made by a group of Republic of China soldiers defending Shanghai against the Japanese invasion in 1937. The film is projected to take in over RMB1.5 billion (US$210 million) of box office revenues. 

Huaiyi Brothers Media stood at its peak market value of RMB80 billion in 2015. Its stock, which has been on decline since 2018, plunged this April to RMB4.32  (US$0.62) per share, marking a historic low. 

By the end of this April, the company planned to raise RMB2.3 billion (US$325 million) from a private placement of shares to repay debt and boost capital. By the end of this July, Huayi Brothers announced that China Merchants Bank had provided the company a general credit limit of not more than RMB1.5 billion (US$210 million.) 

As of last Saturday, 7,099 cinemas in 329 cities across China had resumed business, generating RMB39.204 million (US$5.62 million) at the box office, according to cinema data company topcdb.com.

Mars Probe Completes First Course Correction

Mars probe Tianwen-1 conducted its initial course corrections on Sunday morning with a 20-second burn of its 3000N engine on its journey to Mars. All of the Mars probe's systems are functioning normally, according to the China National Space Administration.

As of the time of the correction, Tianwen-1 had traveled about 3 million kilometers from Earth in more than 230 hours since its launch. It will undergo several orbital corrections in the more-than six-month journey to Mars before its landing on the red planet in February.

China's first fully homegrown Mars mission, Tianwen-1 is an ambitious project combining a lander, orbiter and rover in the 5,000kg spacecraft launched aboard a Long March 5 rocket from Hainan Island's Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on July 23.

Its mission includes a variety of scientific objectives including mapping morphology and geological structures of Mars and investigating its surface soil characteristics and water-ice distribution. 

Covid-19 Boosts Online Games 

The domestic game market in China saw a surge in revenue growth in the first half of the year as gamers took advantage of Covid-19 lockdowns and social distancing measures to get their online gaming fixes, according to a report on the domestic game industry by ChinaJoy2020.

The reports said revenues rose 22.34% year-on-year, with mobile games accounting for 75.04% of revenues of RMB139.493 billion (US$19.99 billion), as up to 660 million people, or nearly half of the Chinese population, played some form of online games.

Experts said the expansion in the number of online users and demand for games directly benefits the "stay-at-home economy" and online entertainment industry both domestic and internationally. 

In a new trend, more locally developed games were offered in overseas markets. According to the report, there was US$7.589 billion in overseas sales revenue during the first half, rising from the US$6.024 billion during the second half of 2019. The U.S., Japan and Korea were the key markets. 

The number of online game companies in China increased by 22,000 in the first half of the year to 250,000. Guangdong, Jiangsu and Shandong rank as the top three game development epicenters, according to company credit inquiry firm tianyancha.com.

With 5G Subscriptions Lagging, Base Stations Put Into Sleep Mode

China Unicom in Luoyang, Henan province, recently put some components of its local ZTE 5G base stations into "sleep mode" in order to reduce electricity costs because of a lack of customers, National Business Daily reported. 

The telecom has reportedly only taken this measure in Luoyang, but slower-than-anticipated growth of 5G users has been outpaced by rapid expansion in the network of 5G infrastructure. China's overall 5G subscriber rate topped 100 million in July, up from 65 million in May.

Among ZTE's 600 5G high- and low-frequency active array units (AAU) in Luoyang, some stations have been set to full-time AAU deep sleep mode, while others enter sleep mode during off-peak hours from 9pm to 9am. 

Applying full-time sleep mode can save about RMB3,125 (US$447.91) per day in electricity fees.  

Being in sleep mode allows the base station to resume operations at any time. Experts said that 5G network operations face issues of high energy consumption, with each individual 5G basis station consuming two to three times more electricity than comparable 4G stations.

As of this June, over 400,000 5G base stations have been brought online in China by the three major telecommunication operators – China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. An average of about 15,000 basis stations have been iinstalled each week, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.