Tesla China Refuses Delivery to Third-Party Customer

U.S.-based electric car giant Tesla, which operates through a direct sales model in China, has defended its refusal to deliver a car to a customer who claimed to have purchased a Tesla Model 3 through Chinese e-retailer Pinduoduo, online news outlet The Paper reported. 

YiAuto, a merchant on China's interactive e-commerce platform Pindoudou Inc., created a stir within the Internet community when it announced in mid-July that it was offering a limited-time Tesla discount group purchase in China. Tesla affirmed it had no interaction with either YiAuto or Pindoudou, according to a statement by Tesla China.

YiAuto is a Xiamen-based automobile supermarket claiming 200 locations in tier 3 to tier 5 cities in China. On July 21, YiAuto offered 10,000 buyers upgraded 2019 versions of Tesla China's rear-wheel drive Model 3 for CNY251,800 ($36,232), undercutting Tesla by almost CNY20,000. Some analysts at that time suggested it was a move by Tesla to meet sales targets. but Tesla immediately denied any involvement.

A consumer in Wuhan, Hubei province stated on social media that Tesla was refusing delivery of a car he claims he purchased, but Tesla China rebutted the claim and said he should seek amends from the online vendors. No order was placed in the alleged buyer's name, so any order constituted supplying false information, Tesla China said. 

Pinduoduo said on Friday that the consumer had signed a subscription agreement with Tesla for the vehicle, and intended it for personal use and not to resell it, Global Times reported. But Pinduoduo also admitted it was subsidizing the discounted rate in an apparent publicity stunt. The company expressed regret over the matter and suggested consumers should protect their rights.

But the China Consumers' Association, in an interview on China National Radio, claimed that Tesla may have violated article 49 of China's e-commerce law, which forbids e-commerce businesses to cancel a contract after a customer has made certain payments. The Beijing-based Internet Society of China weighed in that Pinduoduo's involvement was not "reselling" but merely fulfilling payment on the customer's behalf. 

Tesla claims in its sales agreements it retains the right to terminate any sale and has withstood criticism of its direct sales model in the United States, where it defended its practice in court.  

China Approves COVID-19 Vaccine Patent

China has granted its first patent for COVID-19 vaccine, which is now under development by Chen Wei of the Academy of Military Medical Sciences and Chinese biotech firm CanSino Biologics, according to the National Intellectual Property Administration.

The administration approved the patent on August 11 following the successful completion of the Phase II safety trial and the August 10 announcement of Phase III trials efficacy testing on thousands of volunteers in Saudi Arabia. The patent was submitted for application on March 18, according to the patent document.

The vaccine, called "Ad5-nCoV," is based upon a weakened common cold adenovirus containing genetic material from the novel coronavirus that is harmless but will activate the immune response to produce antibodies to fight the coronavirus. 

The Phase II clinical trial has found the vaccine safe and verified it can create an immune response, according to a study published in The Lancet. Phase III clinical trials include more participants and focus on efficacy. Based on the trial, the adenovirus vector vaccine offers safety and potency against COVID-19 and is relatively easy to mass produce. Russia and United Kingdom vaccine candidates are based on similar technology.

Further testing is required to determine dosage, duration of protection and host-specific differences, before any vaccine can be licensed.

Flooding Continues As Food Supply Concerns Grow

Following a summer of unprecedented flooding in regions across the country, on Saturday China's National Meteorological Center raised the alert condition to yellow or orange, with red being the highest, citing severe rainstorms in several regions through the weekend while the Yangtze River flooded its banks for the fourth time this year.

Torrential rainstorms hit parts of Gansu, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei, Liaoning, Yunnan, Guangxi and the Sichuan Basin throughout the weekend, the national observatory said.

The Ministry of Water Resources and the China Meteorological Administration issued an orange alert on Saturday for floods in parts of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu over the same period. 

There were several landslides reported, including one that blocked a mountain highway in Gansu, and online news site Caixin Global said there had been at least seven flood-related deaths and seven missing as flash floods and mudslides affected more than 150,000 residents in the rural area of Ya'an, in Sichuan province.

Meanwhile, heavy rains and flooding have affected crops, especially across southern China. According to data released by China's National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration, the state grain reserve system purchased 45 million tons of wheat from June 1 to July 31, indicating a 17.2 percent drop year-on-year. The agency cited a 20 percent increase in storage by farmers anticipating an increase in prices in the fall as well as outbidding by the private sector. The price for wheat offered by the government was RMB2.23 ($0.32) per kilogram while many private grain companies offered from RMB2.4 to RMB2.8 per kilogram.

Electricity Consumption Rise Indicates Soft Recovery

Domestic electricity consumption, a key indicator of economic activity, grew 2.3 percent year-on-year in July due to the resumption of business as China opens from COVID-19 lockdown, data from the National Energy Administration indicated.

During the first seven months of the year, the country's total power use decreased 0.7 percent from a year earlier to 4.04 trillion kWh, reflecting the coronavirus economic impact, especially in the first quarter.

China's total power use hit 682.4 billion kWh last month, with the agricultural sector consuming 8.5 billion kWh, up 11.6 percent from a year ago. Power consumption in secondary industries fell 0.7 percent year-on-year, while tertiary industry power consumption rose 5.3 percent. Residential power use also showed a13.8 percent year-on-year jump to 98.2 billion kWh last month. 

Meanwhile, China has continued to increase its use of sustainable energy, with renewable sources reaching 28 percent of total consumption by the end of the first quarter this year, according to industry policy advisory group the International Energy Agency.

China more than quintupled its generation of hydroelectricity, from 220.2 billion kWh in 2010 to over 1,145.5 kWh. In the same period China surged forward in wind and solar power production to become the world leader in production from renewable sources. China currently accounts for one-quarter of global wind energy generated and two-thirds of the world's solar-production capacity, according to data provider China Power.  

Mobile Phone Makers Bank on 5G in Sluggish Market

China's mobile phone shipments stood at 22.3 million units in July, a drop of 34.8 percent compared with the previous year, while 5G units increased, according to data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT).

In the first half of the year, shipments decreased 20.4 percent year-on-year to 175 million units, said the CAICT, a part of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

So far this year 256 new models have been introduced to the market, of which 119 are equipped with 5G technology. The shipment of 5G handsets topped 60 percent in the first half of 2020. Domestic brands continued to rule the phone market last month, as 20.72 million units, representing 92.9 percent of shipments, were of local brands with 17.5 million 5G units, according to CAICT.

CAICT forecasts that the country's total 5G phone shipments will rise to 180 million units by the end of 2020. Meanwhile, China's major telecoms estimate they will install 600,000 5G base stations by the end of this year. There were 198,000 5G base stations by the end of March.