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China is competing fiercely to develop the autonomous driving technology that is set to change the automobile industry.   © Illustration by Michael Tsang
Business Spotlight

China guides its self-driving startups into the fast lane

Shifts in the regulatory landscape are a boost for a key tech sector

NIKKI SUN, Nikkei staff writer | China

HONG KONG/ PALO ALTO, U.S. -- When AutoX said in December that it had become the first Chinese company to test fully self-driving vehicles on open roads in the country, the result took a back seat to the fact that the test took place at all.

The boast of 4-year-old Auto X about its test in Shenzhen -- no other Chinese company has removed the backup driver and remote controller during road tests -- shows how quickly the regulatory ground on autonomous driving is changing as Beijing does its best to put its foot to the floor on development of a key technology.

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