Rita Liao

Rita covers China for TechCrunch, with a special interest in how tech shapes people – especially their minds.

Previously, she wrote for Tech in Asia and TechNode and oversaw communications for SOSV’s Asia accelerators. At one point, she worked at a film productions company in Maine and a mindfulness retreat center in the Berkshires.

She studied political science and arts at Bowdoin College and is now back in her native Shenzhen, often called the Silicon Valley of hardware.

Disclosures: None

The Latest from Rita Liao

New policy puts revenue squeeze on China’s payments giants

The era that saw China’s mobile payments providers making handsome interest returns on client money has officially ended. Starting this week, non-bank payments companies must place 100 percent o

EVs and online marketplaces thrive despite slump in Chinese car sales

China’s massive auto market hit the brakes last year as trade tensions and a softening economy dampened consumer confidence, but one segment soared on account of increasing internet penetration

TikTok is giving China a video chat alternative to WeChat

ByteDance, the world’s most-valued startup, just launched a new social media product under its Douyin brand in what many people see as a serious attempt to challenge WeChat. Tencent has long do

WeChat is quietly ranking user behavior to play catch-up with Alibaba

More than one billion people leave behind trails of information on WeChat every day as they use the messenger to chat, read, shop, hail rides, rent umbrellas and run many other errands. And the Tencen

Apple HomePod comes to China at $400 amid iPhone sales woes

Apple is finally launching HomePod in China, but the timing is tricky as the premium device will have to wrestle with local competitors and a slowing economy. The firm said over the weekend that its

Xiaomi’s five-year plan is a $1.5 billion bet on smart homes

Xiaomi, the Chinese company best known for budget phones, is betting big on a future of connected homes. It plans to plough at least 100 billion yuan, or $1.48 billion, into the so-called “AIoT&

World’s most valuable AI startup SenseTime unveils self-driving center in Japan

The world’s highest-valued artificial intelligence startup SenseTime has set foot in Japan. The Beijing-based firm announced on Friday that it just opened a self-driving facility in Joso, a hist

The next phase of WeChat

Thousands of people gathered Wednesday night in a southern Chinese city to hear Zhang Xiaolong, Tencent’s low-key executive who built WeChat eight years ago. It’s no longer adequate to cal

LinkedIn now requires phone number verification for all users in China

LinkedIn’s China site looks and functions just like LinkedIn everywhere else, except now it asks users in the country to verify their identities through phone numbers. The American company is re

China’s Nreal raises $15M to shrink augmented headsets to size of sunglasses

A former Magic Leap engineer believes the problem with most consumer-facing augmented headsets on the market is their bulky size. “You wouldn’t want to wear them for more than one hour,&#8

China’s Baidu says its answer to Alexa is now on 200M devices

A Chinese voice assistant has been rapidly gaining ground in recent months. DuerOS, Baidu’s answer to Amazon’s Alexa, reached over 200 million devices, China’s top search engine anno

In major TV push, China’s Xiaomi buys 0.5% stake in TCL

A veteran TV maker just got a notable refresh as it enters the age of connected devices. Xiaomi, the Beijing-based firm best known for budget smartphones, has bought 65.2 million shares, or 0.48 per

First buses, now Shenzhen has turned its taxis electric in green push

Roads in a Chinese city have gotten much quieter in recent years. Shenzhen, widely called the Silicon Valley of hardware, has been expending resources to phase out rattling diesel vehicles chugging th

Singapore activist found guilty of hosting ‘illegal assembly’ via Skype

An ongoing case in Singapore is testing the legal boundaries of virtual conferences. A court in the Southeast Asian city-state this week convicted human rights activist Jolovan Wham of organizing a pu

Money is no object: China’s Luckin sets sights on rivaling Starbucks

A one-year-old Chinese startup called Luckin is busy waging war against Starbucks as the new year unfolds. At an event on Thursday, Luckin announced that it aims to be the largest coffee chain in Chin

Tencent AI Lab loses key executive

Chinese internet giant Tencent just lost a leading artificial intelligence figure. Zhang Tong, who previously worked at Yahoo, IBM and Baidu, has stepped down after directing Tencent’s AI Lab fo

FCC greenlights Soli, Google’s radar-based gesture tech

Google has won U.S. regulatory approval to go ahead with a radar-based motion sensor that could make touchscreens look obsolete in the coming years. Known as the Soli Project, the initiative began in

The end of China’s ridesharing gig

Over the last few years, millions of Chinese workers managed to earn extra money by being ride-hailing drivers. Many picked the gig because of its flexible schedule. For those who could not otherwise

Tencent left out as China approves the release of 80 new video games

Chinese internet giant Tencent has been excluded from the first batch of video game license approvals issued by the state-run government since March. China regulators approved Saturday the released o

Alibaba-backed Hellobike bags new funds as it marches into ride-hailing

2018 has been a rough year for China’s bike-sharing giants: Alibaba-backed Ofo pulled out of dozens of international cities as it fought with a severe cash crunch; Tencent-backed Mobike put the
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