This Week in Asia #7: Reusable Rockets & Solid-State Batteries in China & Indonesia Presidential Elections

This Week in Asia #7: Reusable Rockets & Solid-State Batteries in China & Indonesia Presidential Elections
Here are the key stories in week 7 of 2024: China's equivalent of SpaceX: Galactic Energy coming of age, Indian government tells tech firms to deal with deepfakes and Crypto's unrealized opportunity in Asia.

We are releasing our 7th issue earlier on Friday and also the day of the Human in the Chinese lunar calendar for the Year of the Dragon. For this week, we have China's equivalent of SpaceX: Galactic Energy coming of age to showcase their reusable rocket landing, the race for solid-state battery breakthroughs in EVs, and the most consequential election in Southeast Asia: the Indonesian Presidential election. Last but not least, we end with our recommendations with Backscoop, a smart brevity newsletter in Southeast Asia and Jeremy Au's podcast, BraveSEA.

What we are reading this week:


  • Chinese start-up Galactic Energy plans reusable rocket debut this year by Ling Xin from South China Morning Post. Our Take: Chinese launch start-up Galactic Energy is emulating SpaceX led by Elon Musk to debut its reusable rocket technology within the year. Pallas-1 will lift off on the southern island of Hainan with the reusable rocket using the following specifications: 49-metre (160-foot) kerosene-liquid oxygen rocket and can be used up to 50 times. The company has successfully launched 9 straight flights prior with a small solid-fuel rocket and secured 1.1 billion yuan (US$153.5 million) in funding (in comparison to Elon's first funding of SpaceX at US$100 million).
  • CATL, BYD, others unite in China for solid-state battery breakthrough by Shunsuke Tabeta from Nikkei Asia Review. Our Take: The formation of the China All-Solid-State Battery Collaborative Innovation Platform (CASIP) marks a step in China's ambition to lead the global electric vehicle (EV) market through solid-state battery technology. This consortium, supported by the Chinese government, unites key industry players including CATL and BYD, showcasing a national commitment to revolutionizing EV batteries. The aim is to develop and manufacture competitive solid-state batteries by 2030. It is important to note that solid-state batteries are safer than the current lithium-ion batteries and represent the next step of evolution for electric cars. China positions itself as a potential leader in next-generation battery technology, poised to challenge established players in Japan, Europe, and the U.S.
  • Wang Chuanfu: A Name Everyone in the West Should Know by Kevin Xu of Interconnected Blog — a well-written profile on the founder of BYD. Even the NY Times has profiled BYD this week.


East Asia: Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan

  • Japan’s Renesas to Buy Software Firm Altium for $6 Billion by Harry Brumpton from Bloomberg. Toyota is lowering its reliance on automotive chips with this purchase.
  • Toyota home ground becomes base for drone and space start-ups by Sayumi Take from Nikkei Asia Review. Our Take: The Aichi prefecture is poised to be where the hardware startups in Japan will be based. Station Ai, a facility, built and operated by SoftBank can accommodate about 1,000 start-ups. Combined with the engineering talent from Toyota, it will be a place to watch for the next-generation Japanese tech companies.
  • Crypto Has an Unrealized Opportunity in Asia by Abel Siow as a commentary in Coindesk. Our Take: The article highlights the increasing institutional interest in cryptocurrencies across Asia. For example, significant investments in bitcoin mining in Bhutan and increasing allocations to digital assets by institutional investors in Singapore are noted. Major financial institutions in the region, such as DBS Bank in Singapore and Hana Bank in South Korea, are taking proactive steps towards embracing cryptocurrencies. In essence, the article emphasizes the unrealized opportunities for cryptocurrency in Asia, highlighting institutional adoption, practical retail usage, regulatory advancements, the potential influence of Hong Kong's crypto initiatives, and the overarching impact on financial inclusion and economic growth.

Southeast Asia

  • Indonesia Presidential Elections and what you need to know from Nikkei Asia Review. Our Take: The current administration under Jokowi has been friendly to the tech sector, specifically forcing TikTok to buy a majority stake in Tokopedia for the Chinese company to expand into the market recently. The outcome of the elections may impact the tech sector specifically on the policies.
  • Singapore’s Qoo10 widens ecommerce reach with $173m Wish buy by Lokesh Choudhary from Tech In Asia. Our Take: For Wish, under the holding company, Context Logic, it is a good time to sell given the ferocious competition from Temu and Shein. But for Qoo10, what is the game plan? Is it to have a beachhead in the US?
  • Singtel Innov8 sells Vizzio stake to embattled founder Lee by Mars W. Mosqueda Jr. from Deal Street Asia. Our Take: FOMO can go both ways and in this case, it is heading a negative direction with Singtel Innov8 dissociating itself from the startup after its founder, Lee Seng Fook own up to lying about his credentials.

Our Recommendations

  • Brave SEA podcast by Jeremy Au: A podcast dedicated to entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and business operators in Southeast Asia.
  • Backscoop by Amanda Cua: A smart brevity-style newsletter about news in Southeast Asia.

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