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In early May a 13,000-word essay titled "Has Tencent Lost Its Dream?", published on a website owned by the company, sparked heated debate across China about the future of the country’s most valuable company and its most valuable brand. The company, said the authors, had become hugely wealthy by abandoning the original innovation that had driven its early growth in the late 1990s and was now nothing more than a hi-tech investment company buying other people’s ideas. It had created nothing innovative in the past eight years and had lost its creative mojo, said the authors, intimating this would eventually take its toll. More significant than the truth or otherwise of the argument was that within hours more than 100,000 people had read the essay, and many had expressed strong views on it. The heated response to the controversial article reflected, yet again, that Tencent is more than just an eye-poppingly valuable company — it is a Chinese institution. Its products dominate the country...

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