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China drafts bill to curb tech transfers; Tencent funds education app Yuanfudao

TOP NEWS

* China seeks to ban forced technology transfers to Chinese partners, as part of its efforts to revamp its foreign investment law and open up its economy, Xinhua news agency reported. A draft bill to replace laws on Chinese-foreign equity joint ventures, non-equity joint ventures and wholly foreign-owned enterprises has been submitted with the National People's Congress Standing Committee. The proposed law emphasizes technological cooperation between foreign investors and China while safeguarding the intellectual property rights of foreign partners.

* Chinese online-education platform Yuanfudao secured US$300 million of capital from its latest financing round led by Tencent Holdings Ltd., TechCrunch reported. Other investors include Warburg Pincus LLC, Matrix Partners China and IDG Capital Partners. The new financing values Yuanfudao at over US$3 billion, according to DealStreetAsia.

* China decided to lower or scrap import tariffs for more than 700 products, starting Jan. 1, 2019, while removing export tariffs on 94 products, in a bid to further its initiative to open up the economy. The country will also cut the Most-Favored Nations tariff rate on 298 information technology products, starting July 1, 2019.

JAPAN

* Fuji Television Network Inc. and SoftBank Corp., the mobile arm of SoftBank Group Corp., are teaming up on a virtual reality broadcast on Jan. 11, 2019 of the RIZIN.14 international martial arts tournament. The tournament is being held on Dec. 31.

* Nintendo Co. Ltd. will add Square Enix Co. Ltd.'s "Dragon Quest 11: Echoes of an Elusive Age" game to its Switch console in 2019, Polygon reports.

SOUTH KOREA

* Smart DMB, a video platform operated by Omni Networks Co. Ltd., launched SMARTOON, a webtoon service which aims to create a synergy between its traditional video-on-demand service and web comic content, E Daily reports. The company will also start producing and servicing web drama and entertainment shows based on SMARTOON comics from January 2019.

* Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. will showcase eight artificial intelligence-powered services developed from its in-house C-Lab startup incubator program at the CES 2019 in January next year, Financial News reports. The services include an in-video virtual advertisement service for independent content makers, a personalized perfume solution, and an AI-based news trend analysis service.

* LG U+ reached data transfer speeds of over 1.33Gbps on its commercial 5G network, ZDNet Korea reports. The company plans to utilize both Long-Term Evolution and 5G networks to deliver speeds of over 2Gbps starting January 2019.

* The South Korean Ministry of Science and ICT will support the establishment of a graduate school course for artificial intelligence studies, Digital Times reports. The ministry will select three universities to open the course based on applications, with the selected schools to receive 9 billion won in funding for five years to start with.

CHINA, HONG KONG and TAIWAN

* Beijing's Radio and Television Administration will implement a new regulatory mechanism to create an outstanding list and a black list for companies in the media industry, China News Service reports. The government will provide extra administrative and financial support to companies in the outstanding list, while strictly managing the blacklisted entities.

* Tencent Holdings and Lenovo Group Ltd. formed a partnership to develop the SIoT business for the 5G era, and leverage Lenovo's smart internet of things devices and Tencent's QQ browser, Yicai reports. The two companies will also work together on games and content in the future.

* Baidu Inc.'s open-source autonomous driving platform Apollo secured 20 new licenses for testing self-driving vehicles from Beijing. According to Technode, Baidu has obtained over 50 licenses in China.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* Apple Inc. admitted to providing customer information to the Indian government. The iPhone maker provided data in 63% of cases and 85% in the cases related to financial identifiers. According to IANS, India requested Apple to provide information for 27 devices and 18 accounts, which included 34 financial identifiers and three emergency requests, in the January-June 2018 period.

* Vodafone Idea Ltd. may miss a December 2018 deadline to finalize new IT contracts, and is holding advanced discussions with International Business Machines Corp. to finalize a multi-year deal worth over US$1 billion by March 2019. According to The Economic Times (India), the process is running behind schedule due to the complexities resulting from the merger of telco giants Vodafone India Ltd. and Idea Cellular.

* In other Vodafone Idea news, the Indian telecom giant is partnering with Bangla entertainment content provider hoichoi to offer customers access to hoichoi's exclusive digital content, Television Post reports. Under the tie-up, both Vodafone and Idea customers will be able to access the content on Vodafone Play and Idea Movies and TV app, respectively.

* A top Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. executive told The Economic Times of India that the company is working with partners to launch affordable large-screen 4G smartphones.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* Indonesia's Ministry of Communication and Informatics reopened access to Tumblr Inc. for users in the country. This was done after the ministry received an official statement from Tumblr about their commitment to clean up pornographic content in the platform.

* Thailand's Administrative Court ordered local telcos True Corp. and TOT Public Co. Ltd. to pay a total of 2.5 billion baht in compensation to Total Access Communication PCL for damages incurred by interconnection charges dating back to 2011, Prachachat reports. True, which must pay 1.83 billion baht in charges, has already filed an appeal against the decision.

* Thailand's Supreme Administrative Court threw out a lawsuit filed by TOT workers' union accusing the Thai Cabinet and Ministry of Digital Economy and Society of illegally transferring state assets during the merger of TOT and CAT Telecom PCL into two new companies, Prachachat reports.

* Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission confirmed it will provide free high-speed internet to 600,000 households in 3,920 remote villages for three years, beginning May 2019, Khao Sod reports.

* Singtel appointed Gail Kelly and Bradley Horowitz as the company's new board members. Kelly, who previously served as CEO of Westpac Banking Corp., will join the Singaporean telco's executive resource and compensation committee. Horowitz, vice president of product management at Google LLC, will join Singtel's finance and investment committee and technology advisory panel.

* Indonesian digital payment platform OVO formed a partnership with Telkom Indonesia subsidiary PT. Telekomunikasi Selular, or Telkomsel, pursuant to which Telkomsel's products will be available in OVO's app, Berita Satu reports.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Vocus Group Ltd. struck a five-year extension of its mobile virtual network operator agreement with Optus Wholesale Pty. Ltd., which includes access to Singtel Optus Pty. Ltd.'s 5G network and future technologies.

FEATURED NEWS

Data Dispatch: Big deals expected to continue for cybersecurity in 2019 as sector consolidates: While 2018 brought the largest security software deal in a decade, news that another big name may be on the sales block lends support to analysts' view that cybersecurity's M&A hot streak is set to continue in 2019.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of TV & Film: Kagan box office report, week 50: The U.S. weekly box office bounced back in week 50 after two weeks of declines. Total week 50 box office was up 26.1% from $117.8 million in 2017 to $148.6 million in 2018.

Joji Sakurai, Myungran Ha, Emily Lai, Ed Eduard and Patrick Tibke contributed to this report. The Daily Dose has an editorial deadline of 7 a.m. Hong Kong time. Some external links may require a subscription. Links are current as of publication time, and we are not responsible if those links are unavailable later.