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New drone to have 20-ton payload

Part of the daily SupChina newsletter.

Popular Science reports that Chengdu-based Tengoen Technology (腾盾科技 téngdùn kējì), a company founded in 2016, is “already at work building an eight-engine drone with a wingspan of more than 137 feet to carry a payload of 20 tons payload up to 4,660 miles.”

  • An armed drone, the TB-001 Scorpion, which has a range of more than 3,700 miles, and can carry two 220-pound missiles, is already in production.
  • Chinese delivery firm SF Express partnered with Tengoen to build a version of the TB-001 for cargo delivery. In December 2017, “the modified TB-011 showed off its capability by para-dropping supplies to a Huawei repair crew fixing a cell tower in the mountainous Yunnan Province.”
  • More than 110 companies manufacture drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)  manufacturers in Chengdu.
  • For more photos of Tengoen drones, see also the People’s Daily’s earlier report.

First skirmishes in a trade war?

The New York Times reports (paywall) that American president Trump has “slapped steep tariffs on imports of washing machines and solar energy cells and panels,” perhaps the first move in his long-promised campaign to eliminate cheap imports.

  • “Both China and South Korea harshly criticized the move, with both suggesting they could take their complaints to the World Trade Organization,” says the Times.
  • The solar tariffs “will rattle an industry that drew in $161 billion of investment globally last year and is dominated by companies in China,” according to Bloomberg.
  • Some Chinese companies may be happy about the news: China Money Network says  that Suniva, “which widely advertises its products as ‘made in America,’ was one of two U.S.-based solar panel makers to successfully petition the Trump administration to impose the tariffs.” Suniva is 63 percent owned by Chinese conglomerate Shunfeng International Clean Energy.
  • Not all American solar companies are happy: one U.S. solar executive tweeted: “We are devastated to learn Trump has imposed a 30% tariff on solar panels virtually killing the solar industry. Solar employs more people than coal and oil combined. Today’s decision will cause the loss of roughly 23,000 American jobs this year.”
  • China has plenty of options to retaliate” against Trump’s tariffs, says Bloomberg, namechecking Boeing, Apple, and soybean imports.
  • The soybean market is already jittery after the tariff announcement, per Bloomberg. China’s is the hungriest buyer of American soybeans.
  • There has been a “communication breakdown” between American and Chinese officials, which “risks escalating” the trade row, according to the South China Morning Post, however the article says the Davos summit this week may offer “a chance for the two sides to find common ground.”

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Jeremy Goldkorn

Jeremy Goldkorn worked in China for 20 years as an editor and entrepreneur. He is editor-in-chief of SupChina, and co-founder of the Sinica Podcast.