3. Hundreds of Baidu employees are working around the clock and borrowing computer chips from other departments to get ready for the launch of Ernie Bot, Baidu’s answer to ChatGPT, this coming Thursday. (Wall Street Journal $)
4. Shou Zi Chew, TikTok’s CEO, has sought closed-door meetings with at least half a dozen lawmakers in Washington, DC. He is scheduled to appear before a congressional hearing regarding privacy and national security concerns about TikTok later this month. (Forbes $)
5. China may control 32% of the world’s lithium mining capacity by 2025, the investment bank UBS AG estimates. (Bloomberg $)
6. China reappointed Yi Gang as the head of the central bank, signaling continuity in its monetary policies. (AP)
7. The “996” overwork culture in China, embraced by tech companies a few years ago, is not going away easily. An executive at a Chinese auto company recently asked its legal department to figure out “how to avoid legal risks” in asking employees to work on Saturdays. (Sixth Tone)
Lost in translation
In central China, a young entrepreneur is reimagining retirement homes by teaching the senior residents how to play e-sports. As Chinese gaming publication ChuApp reports, Fan Jinlin, a 25-year-old in Henan province, took over his family’s retirement home business after college. He started creating video content about the lives of the residents and quickly attracted millions of followers on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.
In February 2022, he began building an e-sports room in his fifth retirement home and recruiting seniors who are interested in video games. Zhang Fengqin, a 68-year-old retired bank clerk, is one of them. She saw the news on Douyin and applied. Soon, she grew from someone who didn’t even know how to use a mouse to a proficient player of Teamfight Tactics, a popular game that doesn’t require quick reflexes as much as strategic thinking. Ultimately, Fan wants to build a professional team to play in tournaments, but to achieve that, he would need at least seven participants like Zhang. Right now he only has three.
One more thing
The number 2,952 has disappeared from China’s social media platform Weibo. Why? Because President Xi Jinping extended his rule for another five years last week, having received 2,952 votes approving the extension—with zero opposed and zero abstaining—in China’s ceremonial legislative body, the National People’s Congress. While everyone knew Xi would get a third term, the fact that there was not a single opposition vote still got people talking about how pointless the procedure was. Just a few days later, Weibo blocked search results on the number.