Hello and welcome to TechCrunch’s China roundup, a digest of recent events shaping the Chinese tech landscape and what they mean to people around the world.
China’s crackdown on anti-competitive technologies continues to redefine dynamics among the country’s internet giants, leading to a collaboration between Alibaba and Tencent in the race for payments. Meanwhile, Chinese tech giants are fearlessly expanding around the world. TikTok has become the first Chinese internet company to surpass one billion overseas users, and Tesla’s battery supplier CATL is set to buy a Canadian lithium company to lock down critical battery components.
Chinese battery-making giant Contemporary Amperex Technology, known as CATL, has taken big steps to boost its supply of lithium which is essential for the production of electric cars. The company has agreed to acquire Vancouver, Canada-based Millennial Lithium in an all-equity cash transaction valued at C $ 377 million, or $ 297 million, according to an announcement by Millennial Lithium Wednesday.
The deal aims to secure critical metallic lithium for CATL, one of the world’s largest automotive battery manufacturers. Millennial Lithium’s primary exploration activity is in Argentina, which, along with Chile and Bolivia, forms the “lithium triangle” which holds most of the world’s lithium resources.
CATL has been riding the electric vehicle boom in recent years, with revenues increasing from 5.7 billion yuan ($ 880 million) in 2015 to over 50 billion yuan in 2020. It has entered into a major partnership with Tesla earlier this year to deliver lithium-ion batteries to the US electric vehicle maker from 2022 to 2025, which will undoubtedly further increase its revenue.
Millennial Investing is just one part of CATL’s massive investment empire. A few weeks ago, it was learned that it had bought 8.5% of the Australian lithium miner Pilbara Minerals. It also owns an 8% stake in another Canadian lithium company, Neo Lithium.
TikTok exceeds one billion monthly users
This is a remarkable milestone for ByteDance, and really, the Chinese tech industry as a whole. Until TikTok, no social media platform in China could compete with the global reach of Western giants like Facebook and Instagram.
TikTok had a range of hurdles to overcome as it became dominant in the world, from public relations crises around child safety concerns to threats from the Trump administration to ban the app on national security grounds. . These deterrents did not appear to dampen TikTok’s growth in the West, although the app lost a major market, India, after being banned by the local government. It’s no surprise that ByteDance is the fourth largest consumer of lobbying in the United States after Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet.
The question now is how TikTok can optimize the monetization of its 1 billion monthly users. In China, advertising and e-commerce are already major revenue drivers for Douyin, TikTok’s sister app. TikTok is trying to strengthen its content commerce business, for example, by partnering with Shopify to allow its “business” builders to easily showcase products on their in-app mini-stores.
TikTok’s buying efforts, if successful, will also be a boon for millions of Chinese small and medium e-commerce exporters. Many Chinese sellers on Amazon are diversifying sales channels amid the platform’s crackdown on black hat tactics, though they understand that for the foreseeable future no other market can match the scale. from the Seattle-based giant.
The Chinese government has pressured the country’s tech titans to dissolve their “walled gardens” and make their services more interchangeable. We wrote two weeks ago that WeChat had started allowing external web links, including those from Douyin and Alibaba, to be displayed in the messenger after the government urged apps to open.
Over the past few days, users have noticed that Alibaba-affiliated apps like food delivery platform Ele.me and video streaming site Youku have added WeChat Pay as an alternative payment option to Alipay, l Alibaba Affiliate. But Alibaba has yet to allow its rival’s payment system to enter its flagship Taobao market.
Some of the collaborative efforts between the giants appear reluctant. For example, users cannot easily make purchases when viewing a Taobao link on WeChat, which defies the goal of sharing content between apps. Inevitably, the internet giants will find new ways to keep users on their platforms under the tough new regulatory environment.