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Tencent Picks Singapore as Asia Hub After India, U.S. Bans

Further strengthening of Singapore's position as SE Asia's tech hub today with the news from Tencent;

Tencent Holdings Ltd. has picked Singapore as its beachhead for Asia, joining rivals Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and ByteDance Ltd. in the race to build up their presence closer to home after setbacks in the U.S. and India.

Management at China’s largest social media and gaming company had been discussing Singapore as a potential regional hub and geopolitical tensions accelerated its plans, according to people familiar with the matter. Tencent has been considering the shift of some business operations -- including international game publishing -- out of its home country, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations.

China’s tech behemoths are increasingly turning to Southeast Asia in the face of growing hostility from the U.S. and other major markets, setting up the region -- with its 650 million increasingly smartphone-savvy population -- as a key battleground. President Donald Trump has banned U.S. entities from dealing with Tencent’s super-app WeChat from Sept. 20, while the company’s hit games PUBG Mobile and Arena of Valor are banned in India.

Tencent said in a statement that it will open a new office in Singapore to “support our growing business in Southeast Asia and beyond,” in addition to current ones in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. It’s recruiting for various positions including tech and business development, the company said, without offering details. Tencent currently has dozens of job openings in Singapore for businesses including cross-border commerce, cloud computing and esports, according to its hiring site.

Singapore in particular is attracting attention as a regional base for both Western and Chinese corporations because of its advanced financial and legal system, and as Beijing tightens its grip on the city of Hong Kong. The city-state of under 6 million people has been careful not to take sides in the standoff between the world’s two superpowers, with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong pledging last year to remain “good friends” with both the U.S. and China.

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