WeChat click farm in Thailand busted

Business & Technology

A summary of the top news in Chinese business and technology for June 13, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina news roundup "Anbang confirms billionaire chairman is in trouble."

A clerk counts Chinese yuan and U.S. dollar banknotes at a branch of Bank of China in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China, January 4, 2016. REUTERS/Jon Woo

Thai police arrested three Chinese men who were operating a “click farm” (刷榜工厂 shuābǎng gōngchǎng) to run up “likes” and views on WeChat to generate buzz about Chinese companies. According to iFeng.com (in Chinese), the police found 474 iPhones, 10 computers, and 347,000 unused SIM cards at the men’s home in Sa Kaeo Province, about 200 kilometers east of Bangkok. The Associated Press says the men told police that “they were paid according to how many likes and views they generated, each earning 100,000-150,000 baht ($2,950-$4,400) per month.”

Tencent’s WeChat, China’s most popular social media and messaging platform, had about 938 million monthly active users in April, CNBC reports. The app was launched in 2011 and rapidly became the most widely used communication tool in China. The app received about 29 percent of all the time spent on mobile apps in China on an average day in April, according to data in Mary Meeker’s respected 2017 Internet Trends report.

  • China puts brakes on new car production / Caixin
    State regulators announced (in Chinese) that they plan to limit construction of new auto factories “in a bid to rein in a runaway buildup that has seen capacity greatly outstrip demand.” The announcement says that new-energy vehicles “must account for a greater percentage of overall output” but does not specify if the limits on new construction will apply to electric-only vehicle plans.
  • Wentworth golf club’s Chinese owner seeks to quell dissent / Financial Times (paywall)
    Reignwood, the company behind Red Bull in China and run by Thai-Chinese tycoon Chanchai Ruayrungruang aka Yan Bin 严彬, has been in the news (paywall) for a battle with the Bangkok-based Yoovidhya family over the rights to make and distribute the energy drink in China.
    Reignwood is also engaged in a long-simmering dispute with the members of Wentworth, a golf club near London, which it acquired in 2014. One of Reignwood’s first acts after the deal was to ask members for a one-off fee of $127,000 and raise the annual fees by 75 percent to $17,000 a year. Now the Financial Times says Wentworth has issued new rules to “kick out any member whose comments ‘on social media, the internet or in any newspaper or magazine article’ are deemed by the board to be ‘injurious to the character or interest of the club.’”
  • Australian casino company employees face charges in China / NYT (paywall)
    After detaining 18 employees of Crown Resorts Limited, a casino company, in October last year, Chinese authorities have charged them with violating gambling promotion regulations according to a filing on Australia’s stock exchange from the company.
  • China’s bond link faces familiar hurdles for wary foreigners / Bloomberg
    “China is about to broaden foreign access to its $10 trillion debt market — but international investors are likely to be wary.”
  • Opinion: China’s skyscraper age is over / Bloomberg
    “As workplace habits change, supertall buildings are sitting empty.”