The Chinese government should end tax breaks for gaming companies as they have grown into global firms, a state-backed newspaper said yesterday, in the latest threat to the multibillion-dollar sector to stem from state-controlled media. The online gaming industry, which made revenue of 130 billion yuan (US$20 billion) in the first half of this year, has been the subject of several menacing state media reports in the past few days, with one article calling such games “spiritual opium.” The negative headlines have fueled concerns that the sector is next in line for the regulatory axe, which has cut into large tech firms, from e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (????) to ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing Inc (????), hammering share prices. Yesterday, state-owned newspaper Securities Times said that the “gaming industry has now grown strong” on the back of preferential tax policies for the software industry and subsidies doled out to encourage development. “With these software industries having developed … the government no longer needs to continue providing industry support,” it said. “In this regard, the gaming industry should be mentally prepared,” the piece added, without citing any specific companies. Investors have grown jittery with regulators taking aim at tech corporations over monopolistic practices and data security, while more recently forcing the immense after-school tutoring sector to go non-profit. After the report published on Tuesday by the Economic Information Daily calling gaming “spiritual opium” circulated widely, the share price of sector giant Tencent Holdings Ltd (??) lost US$60 billion at one point, Bloomberg News reported. The reference was, within hours, edited out of the piece. Tencent’s share price yesterday fell 3.7 percent in Hong Kong trading, while rival NetEase Inc (??) lost 5.1 percent. Bilibili (????), which also has mobile games, was down 4.3 percent in Hong Kong. “Admittedly, China’s online gaming industry is part of the broader tech space, but this is the second government mouthpiece to take a shot at the sector this week — and you ignore the not-too-subtle warning at your peril,” Oanda Corp analyst Jeffrey Halley said. In related news, Tencent has resumed signing up users for its WeChat messaging app, days after suspending registrations for unspecified technical upgrades. WeChat, which has more than 1 billion users, last week halted signups to undergo a “security technical upgrade” to comply with regulations. At the time, the company said that it expected to resume new individual user registrations at the beginning of this month. The user suspensions coincided with a notice from the Internet industry overseer, which said that it was introducing a six-month campaign to rectify illegal behavior online, including the blocking of external links, as well as the collection and storage of data. Additional reporting by Bloomberg FURTHER TAX MEASURES NEEDED? Corporate owners accounted for almost 30 percent of empty houses, many of which are held by firms that own 10 or more properties The number of unoccupied houses nationwide totaled 876,000 units last year, or 11.94 percent of all houses, the Ministry of the Interior said in a report issued on Thursday. Almost 30 percent of empty houses were owned by companies, suggesting that many corporate property owners engage in house hoarding, the ministry said. Excluding developers and builders, companies still owned 20 percent of empty houses, it said. The report is based on housing units’ electricity use and considers properties that use less than 60 kilowatt-hours per month as unoccupied. The study contradicts Ministry of Finance reports saying that house hoarding subsided and there is no The Investment Commission has approved a plan by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, ???), the world’s largest contract chipmaker, to expand production at its plant in Nanjing, China. The plan was approved because the investment would come from the chipmaker’s earnings from the Nanjing plant and would not have an impact on its paid-in capital, the commission said. In addition, TSMC has pledged to invest NT$600 billion (US$21.43 billion) to NT$650 billion in Taiwan to create more jobs over the next three years, and has made efforts to protect intellectual property to prevent confidential business information from being leaked, it said. The ‘No SUPPLY BOTTLENECK’: Shipments would proceed as planned from the facility, which produces processors for a new line of iPhones to be launched next month Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s (TSMC, ???) shipments would not be affected by the contamination of gas used in the manufacturing process at one of its key plants in Tainan, the firm said yesterday. While some TSMC production lines in Tainan’s Southern Taiwan Science Park received gas supplies that were found to be substandard, the chipmaker continued production using gas from other sources, the company said. Local media reported that the contamination was discovered at the world’s largest contract chipmaker’s Fab 18 on Thursday night and that production would be affected during four days of cleanup work. While not confirming that the contamination JOINT VOUCHERS: A NT$14,000 package allows two guests to stay one night in a suite at either Caesar Park Kenting, Fleur de Chine Hotel or Hotel Royal Chiaohsi Taiwan’s three major hotel chains yesterday teamed up in a bid to boost business by offering limited packages aimed at attracting affluent tourists to their flagship resorts. L’Hotel de Chine Group (????), Hotel Royal Group (???????) and Caesar Park Hotels and Resorts (????) have joined forces to sell vouchers that allow tourists to spend one night at Caesar Park Kenting in Pingtung County, Fleur de Chine Hotel near Nantou County’s Sun Moon Lake (???) or Hotel Royal Chiaohsi in Yilan County for NT$14,000 to NT$38,888, depending on the number of guests. The collaboration is intended to keep the hospitality industry alive after