Form 20-F
52007-03-05falseFY0001372920--05-31Retrospectively restated for the effect of stock split. (Note 16)In July 2018, Education Industry Fund was established with the total committed capital of US$224,000. There are two general partners in the fund, which include an entity invested by Mr. Yu and an unrelated third party. The Group participates in the Education Industry Fund as a limited partner and invested US$86,512 in the Education Industry Fund as of May 31, 2021. The Group accounts for the investment under the equity method in accordance with ASC 323, Equity Method of Accounting (“ASC 323”) because the Group is a limited partner and owns 36.3% interest in the Education Industry Fund. In June 2019, VM EDU Fund I, LP, a market-driven investment entity, was established with a total committed capital of US$100,000. The Group participates in the VM EDU Fund I, LP as a limited partner and invested US$77,727 in VM EDU Fund I, LP as of May 31, 2021. The Group accounts for the investment under the equity method in accordance with ASC 323 because the Group is a limited partner and owns 49.69% interest in the VM EDU Fund I, LP. In August 2019, the Group invested 6.42% equity interests in Happy Seed, a company engaged in cultivating logical thinking skill. In September 2020, the Group further subscribed additional 1.57% equity interests. The Group accounts for the investment as available-for-sale investments since the investee’s preferred shares held are redeemable and determined to be debt securities and measured at fair value. Others primarily included prepaid maintenance fees, other receivables and other miscellaneous prepayments.Staff advances were provided to staff for travelling and business related use and are expensed as incurred.Prepaid rents represent the prepayment of rent related to leases less than 12 months.Other available-for-sale investments represent several insignificant individual investments classified as available-for-sale investments as of May 31, 2019, 2020 and 2021. Realized gains of US$3,283, US$407 and US$3,535 were recorded in realized gain from long-term investments for the years ended May 31, 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively. The Group recorded US$5,919, US$22,654 and US$27,675 impairment loss on these investments during the years ended May 31, 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively. In May 2015, the Group invested in Uhozz, a company providing oversea rental agency services, for a 10% equity interests with redemption and liquidation preferences. In March 2018, the Group further subscribed to 15.18% series B preferred shares. The Group accounted for the investment as available-for-sale investments since the investee’s preferred shares held are redeemable and determined to be debt securities and measured them at fair value. In April 2015, the Group invested 9.75% equity interests in Golden Finance, a company engaged in training programs business associated with finance and business management. In November 2015, the Group further subscribed 9.75% equity interests. During the year ended May 31, 2019, the Group disposed of 7.2% equity interests in Golden Finance with total consideration of US$33,156, and the remaining shares were diluted to 12.3%. Gain of US$23,096 was recognized as realized gain from long-term investments in the consolidated statements of operations for the year ended May 31, 2019. The Group accounts for the investment as available-for-sale investments since the investee’s preferred shares held are redeemable and determined to be debt securities and measured at fair value. As of May 31, 2021, the fair value of total available-for-sale investments amounted to US$224,315, with original cost of US$123,079 and unrealized gain of US$101,236. As of May 31, 2020, the fair value of total available-for-sale investments amounted to US$201,815, with original cost of US$126,147 and unrealized gain of US$75,668. Amounts reimbursable to employees include travelling and the business related expenses.Refundable fees received from students represent (1) the miscellaneous expenses other than tuition fees received from students which will be paid out on their behalf; and (2) tuition fees refundable to students for classes withdrawn.Refundable deposits represent student deposits for dormitory or other fees that will be refunded upon graduation and student security deposits refunded upon completion of the study tour.Royalty fees payable relate to payments to content providers for on-line learning programs and those to counterparties for copyrights and resource sharing.Others primarily include transportation expenses, utility fees, property management fees and other miscellaneous expenses payable.As of May 31, 2020 and 2021, the transactions in “others” included the revenue and cost from long-term investees. Starting in April 2010, the Group began renting a large portion of a building owned by Metropolis for office space. In March 2012, Metropolis was acquired by a company wholly-owned by Mr. Yu, the Group’s executive chairman. As a result, Metropolis became a related party of the Group. As of May 31, 2020 and 2021, the current amounts due from Metropolis were US$1,951 and US$914, respectively and the non-current amounts due from Metropolis were US$1,550 and US$3,623, respectively. Those represented prepaid rent related to a short-term lease and deposit for the building. As of May 31, 2020 and 2021, the ROU assets related to the leases rented from Metropolis were US$15,828 and US$19,158, respectively, and the relevant lease liabilities were US$15,475 and US$18,965, respectively. During the year ended May 31, 2021, the Group provided the loans in aggregate of US$10,486 to Beijing MaxEn, an equity method investee of the Group. As of May 31, 2021, the outstanding balance of the loans was US$5,497, which was fully impaired. In April 2016, the Group sold 51% of the equity interest of its fully-owned subsidiary Dianshi Jingwei and Dianshi Jingwei became an equity method investee of the Group. As of May 31, 2020, amounts due from Dianshi Jingwei included five outstanding loans provided by the Group with no interest accrued. During the year ended of May 31, 2021, Dianshi Jingwei fully repaid the loan balance amounting to US$21,024. In December 2018, the Group invested 5% equity interests in Tibet Tianli, a company engaged in developing educational products. In April 2020 and December 2020, the Group further subscribed 5% and 11% equity interests, respectively. The Group accounted for the investment as equity securities without readily determinable fair value as Tibet Tianli is a private company without readily determinable fair value. As of May 31, 2021 the Group holds 20.75% of the total equity interests in Tibet Tianli. For the years ended May 31, 2019, 2020 and 2021, no impairment loss was recorded from this investment. In April 2017, the Group acquired 10% equity interests in EEO, a company engaged in the business of developing on-line classroom product. The Group accounted an equity security without readily determinable fair value and used the measure alternative for the equity investments when the equity method is not applicable and there is no readily determinable fair value for the investments. For the years ended May 31, 2019, 2020 and 2021, no impairment loss was recorded from this investment. The Group holds several insignificant investments in third-party private companies and has no ability to exercise significant influence over the investees, which were accounted using the measurement alternative when cost method is not applicable and there is no readily determinable fair value for the investments. The Group recorded US$ 9,096 and nil impairment loss on these investment during the years ended May 31, 2020 and 2021, respectively.The refund liability is recognized for variable amount of the considerations received from the customers and recorded as refund liability as described in Note 2. In January 2016, the Group invested US$12,310 in Sunlands, a company engaged in online education specific to vocational qualification training, for subscribing the convertible bonds. In July 2016, the Group converted all of the convertible bonds into redeemable preferred shares of Sunlands for a 4.9% equity interests. Additionally, the Group also invested an additional US$12,205 redeemable preferred shares for another 4.9% equity interests in Sunlands during July 2016. Subsequent to the additional investment, the Group holds 9.8% equity interest in Sunlands. On March 23, 2018, Sunlands was listed in the New York Stock Exchange Market. All of the preferred shares were converted to 529,426 Class A ordinary shares immediately upon the completion of the listing. Subsequent to the listing, the Group invested an additional US$10,000 and obtained 34,783 Class A ordinary shares in April 2018 and held 8% aggregate equity interests in Sunlands. Losses of US$96,621, US$16,362 and US$5,501 were recorded in loss from fair value change of long-term investments for the years ended May 31, 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively, on the Group’s consolidated statements of operations.In April 2015, the Group acquired 18% equity interests in Beijing ROBOROBO Technology Co., Ltd. (“ROBOROBO”) for a cash consideration of US$4,356. ROBOROBO is a company applying various robots build training course for kids with different ages. In February 2017, the Group disposed all of its ownership in ROBOROBO, in exchange for 1.87% common shares issued by Shengtong, which is a listed A-share company in China. Realized gain of US$7,086 was recognized during the year ended May 31, 2017. The equity interests acquired in Shengtong were classified as equity security with readily determinable fair value. Loss of US$1,605, US$1,079 and gain of US$763 were recorded in loss from fair value change of long-term investments for the years ended May 31, 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively. In March 2014, the Group invested US$13,500 in Tarena, a NASDAQ listed company that provides IT professional education services in China, for 3% equity interests. In July 2017, the Group sold 1% equity interest in Tarena to third parties and the realized gain of US$4,545 was recognized in investment income for the year ended May 31, 2018. Loss of US$6,410, US$1,010 and gain of US$1,460 were recorded in loss from fair value change of long-term investments for the years ended May 31, 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively. During the year ended May 31, 2021, the Group provided the loans in aggregate of US$10,486 to Beijing MaxEn, an equity method investee of the Group. 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Table of Contents
 
 
UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
 
 
FORM
20-F
 
 
(Mark One)
REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(B) OR 12(G) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
OR
 
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(D) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended May 31, 2021.
OR
 
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(D) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
OR
 
SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(D) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Date of event requiring this shell company report
                    
For the transition period from
                    
to
                    
Commission file number:
001-32993
 
 
NEW ORIENTAL EDUCATION & TECHNOLOGY GROUP INC.
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
 
 
N/A
(Translation of Registrant’s name into English)
Cayman Islands
(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
No. 6 Hai Dian Zhong Street
Haidian District, Beijing 100080
People’s Republic of China
(Address of principal executive offices)
Zhihui Yang, Executive President and Chief Financial Officer
Tel: +(86 106090-8000
E-mail:
yangzhihui@xdf.cn
Fax: +(86 10) 6260-5511
No. 6 Hai Dian Zhong Street
Haidian District, Beijing 100080
People’s Republic of China
(Name, Telephone,
E-mail
and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)
 
 
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
 
Title of Each Class
 
Trading Symbol(s)
 
Name of Exchange on Which Registered
American depositary shares, each representing one common share*
 
EDU
 
New York Stock Exchange
Common shares, par value US$0.001 per share**
 
9901
 
The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited
 
*
Effective on August 18, 2011, the ratio of ADSs to our common shares was changed from one ADS representing four common shares to one ADS representing one common share.
**
Effective on March 10, 2021, we implemented a
one-for-ten
share split, in which each common share of par value of US$0.01 each were subdivided into ten common shares, with a par value of US$0.001 each.
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
None
(Title of Class)
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act:
None
(Title of Class)
 
 
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the Issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report. 1,690,082,150 common shares, par value US$0.001 per share, as of May 31, 2021.
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes  ☒    No  ☐
If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15 (d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.    Yes  ☐    No  ☒
Note — Checking the box above will not relieve any registrant required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 from their obligations under those Sections.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes  ☒    No  ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation
S-T
(§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes  ☒    No  ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a
non-accelerated
filer, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule
12b-2
of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
 
Large accelerated filer      Accelerated filer     
Non-accelerated filer
 
           
                 
Emerging growth company 
 
If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards† provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.  ☐
† The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.  
Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:
 
U.S. GAAP  ☒
          International Financial Reporting Standards as issued        Other  ☐
            by the International Accounting Standards Board       
If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.    Item 17  ☐    Item 18  ☐
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule
12b-2
of the Exchange Act).    Yes  ☐    No  
(APPLICABLE ONLY TO ISSUERS INVOLVED IN BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS DURING THE PAST FIVE YEARS)
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports required to be filed by Sections 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court.    Yes ☐    No ☐
 
 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
  
 
1
 
  
 
2
 
  
 
3
 
 
 
ITEM 1.
  
  
 
3
 
 
 
ITEM 2.
  
  
 
3
 
 
 
ITEM 3.
  
  
 
3
 
 
 
ITEM 4.
  
  
 
50
 
 
 
ITEM 4A.
  
  
 
93
 
 
 
ITEM 5.
  
  
 
93
 
 
 
ITEM 6.
  
  
 
119
 
 
 
ITEM 7.
  
  
 
127
 
 
 
ITEM 8.
  
  
 
129
 
 
 
ITEM 9.
  
  
 
131
 
 
 
ITEM 10.
  
  
 
131
 
 
 
ITEM 11.
  
  
 
144
 
 
 
ITEM 12.
  
  
 
144
 
  
 
149
 
 
 
ITEM 13.
  
  
 
149
 
 
 
ITEM 14.
  
  
 
149
 
 
 
ITEM 15.
  
  
 
149
 
 
 
ITEM 16A.
  
  
 
151
 
 
 
ITEM 16B.
  
  
 
151
 
 
 
ITEM 16C.
  
  
 
151
 
 
 
ITEM 16D.
  
  
 
152
 
 
 
ITEM 16E.
  
  
 
152
 
 
 
ITEM 16F.
  
  
 
152
 
 
 
ITEM 16G.
  
  
 
152
 
 
 
ITEM 16H.
  
  
 
153
 
 
 
ITEM 17.
  
  
 
153
 
 
 
ITEM 18.
  
  
 
153
 
 
 
ITEM 19.
  
  
 
153
 
 
 
  
 
  
 
158
 
 
i
INTRODUCTION
Unless otherwise indicated and except where the context otherwise requires, references in this annual report on Form
20-F
to:
 
   
“we,” “us,” “our company” or “our” refers to New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc., its predecessor entities and subsidiaries and, in the context of describing our operations and consolidated financial data, also includes New Oriental China (as defined below);
 
   
“CCASS” are to the Central Clearing and Settlement System established and operated by Hong Kong Securities Clearing Company Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong Exchange and Clearing Limited;
 
   
“China” or “PRC” refers to People’s Republic of China, and for the purpose of this annual report, excludes Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau;
 
   
“Companies (WUMP) Ordinance” are to the Companies (Winding Up and Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance (Chapter 32 of the Laws of Hong Kong), as amended or supplemented from time to time;
 
   
“HK$” or “Hong Kong dollars” or “HK dollars” are to Hong Kong dollars, the lawful currency of Hong Kong;
 
   
“Hong Kong” or “HK” or “Hong Kong S.A.R.” are to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the PRC;
 
   
“Hong Kong Listing Rules” are to the Rules Governing the Listing of Securities on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited, as amended or supplemented from time to time;
 
   
“Hong Kong Share Registrar” are to Computershare Hong Kong Investor Services Limited;
 
   
“Hong Kong Stock Exchange” are to The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited;
 
   
“Main Board” are to the stock market (excluding the option market) operated by the Hong Kong Stock Exchange which is independent from and operated in parallel with the Growth Enterprise Market of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange;
 
   
“New Oriental China” refers to New Oriental Education & Technology Group Co., Ltd., formerly known as Beijing New Oriental Education & Technology (Group) Co., Ltd., which is a domestic PRC company and our variable interest entity whose financial results are consolidated into our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP;
 
   
“SFC” are to the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong;
 
   
“SFO” are to the Securities and Futures Ordinance (Chapter 571 of the Laws of Hong Kong), as amended or supplemented from time to time;
 
   
“student enrollments” refers to the cumulative total number of courses enrolled in and paid for by our students, including multiple courses enrolled in and paid for by the same student but excluding students enrolled in our kindergarten, primary and secondary schools;
 
   
“shares” or “common shares” refers to our common shares, par value US$0.001 per share. Except as otherwise indicated, all share and per share data in this annual report give retroactive effect to the
one-for-ten
share split that became effective on March 10, 2021;
 
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“ADSs” refers to our American depositary shares. Prior to August 18, 2011, each of our ADSs represented four common shares. On August 18, 2011, we effected a change in the ratio of our ADSs to common shares from one ADS representing four common shares to one ADS representing one common share. Except as otherwise noted, this change in our ADS to common share ratio has been retroactively reflected in this annual report on Form
20-F;
and
 
   
“RMB” or “Renminbi” refers to the legal currency of China and “$,” “dollars,” “US$” or “U.S. dollars” refers to the legal currency of the United States.
We refer to our teaching facilities in this annual report as either “schools” or “learning centers,” based primarily on a facility’s functions. Generally, our schools consist of classrooms and administrative facilities with student and administrative services, while our learning centers consist primarily of classroom facilities. Each of our schools, including kindergartens, has received a Permit for Operating a Private School from the relevant local government authority.
Our financial statements are expressed in U.S. dollars, which is our reporting currency. Certain of our financial data in this annual report on Form
20-F
is translated into U.S. dollars solely for the reader’s convenience. Unless otherwise noted, all convenient translations from Renminbi and Hong Kong dollars to U.S. dollars in this annual report on Form
20-F
were made at a rate of RMB6.3674 to US$1.00 and HK$7.7610 to US$1.00, the respective exchange rate set forth in the H.10 statistical release of the Federal Reserve Board on May 28, 2021. We make no representation that any Renminbi, Hong Kong dollars or U.S. dollar amounts could have been, or could be, converted into U.S. dollars, Hong Kong dollars or Renminbi, as the case may be, at any particular rate, at the rate stated above, or at all.
Glossary of Major Admissions and Assessment Tests
 
ACT    American College Test (US)
BEC    Business English Certificate (US)
CET 4    College English Test Level 4 (PRC)
CET 6    College English Test Level 6 (PRC)
GMAT    Graduate Management Admission Test (US)
GRE    Graduate Record Examination (US)
IELTS    International English Language Testing System (Commonwealth countries)
LSAT    Law School Admission Test (US)
PETS    Public English Test System (PRC)
SAT    SAT College Entrance Test (US)
TOEFL    Test of English as a Foreign Language (US)
TOEIC    Test of English for International Communication (US)
TSE    Test of Spoken English (US)
FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This annual report contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. All statements other than statements of historical facts are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are made under the “safe harbor” provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements.
You can identify these forward-looking statements by words or phrases such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “is expected to,” “anticipate,” “aim,” “estimate,” “intend,” “plan,” “believe,” “is/are likely to” or other similar expressions. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to:
 
   
our anticipated growth strategies;
 
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our future business development, results of operations and financial condition;
 
   
expected changes in our revenues and certain cost and expense items;
 
   
competition in each type of educational program, service and product we provide;
 
   
risks associated with our offering of new educational programs, services and products;
 
   
the expected increase in expenditures on education in China; and
 
   
PRC laws, regulations and policies relating to private education and providers of private educational services.
You should read thoroughly this annual report and the documents that we refer to herein with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from and/or worse than what we expect. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements. Other sections of this annual report include additional factors which could adversely impact our business and financial performance. Moreover, we operate in an evolving environment. New risk factors emerge from time to time and it is not possible for our management to predict all risk factors, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements.
You should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. The forward-looking statements made in this annual report relate only to events or information as of the date on which the statements are made in this annual report. We undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by applicable law.
PART I
 
ITEM 1.
IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS
Not applicable.
 
ITEM 2.
OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE
Not applicable.
 
ITEM 3.
KEY INFORMATION
 
A.
Selected Financial Data
Our Selected Consolidated Financial Data
The following tables present the selected consolidated financial data of our company. The selected consolidated statement of operations data for the fiscal years ended May 31, 2019, 2020 and 2021 and the consolidated balance sheet data as of May 31, 2020 and 2021 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements, which are included in this annual report beginning on page
F-1.
The selected consolidated statement of operations data for the fiscal years ended May 31, 2017 and 2018 and the selected consolidated balance sheet data as of May 31, 2017, 2018 and 2019 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements for the fiscal years ended May 31, 2017, 2018 and 2019, which are not included in this annual report. Our historical results do not necessarily indicate results expected for any future periods. The selected consolidated financial data should be read in conjunction with, and are qualified in their entirety by reference to, our audited consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this annual report and “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—A. Operating Results.” Our audited consolidated financial statements are prepared and presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States, or U.S. GAAP.
 
 
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For the Years Ended May 31,
 
(in thousands of US$ except share and per share data)
  
2017
   
2018
   
2019
   
2020
   
2021
 
Selected Consolidated Statement of Operations Data:
          
Net revenues:
          
Educational programs and services
     1,608,954       2,165,152       2,785,254       3,230,378       3,936,969  
Books and other services
     190,555       282,278       311,237       348,304       339,570  
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Total net revenues
  
 
1,799,509
 
 
 
2,447,430
 
 
 
3,096,491
 
 
 
3,578,682
 
 
 
4,276,539
 
Operating cost and expenses:
(1)
          
Cost of revenues
     (749,586     (1,065,740     (1,376,269     (1,588,899     (2,036,875
Selling and marketing
     (232,826     (324,249     (384,287     (445,259     (600,778
General and administrative
     (554,948     (794,482     (1,028,783     (1,145,521     (1,489,826
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Impairment loss on intangible assets and goodwill
     —         —         (5,245     —         (31,794
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Total operating cost and expenses
  
 
(1,537,360
 
 
(2,184,471
 
 
(2,794,584
 
 
(3,179,679
 
 
(4,159,273
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Gain on disposal of a subsidiary
     —         —         3,627       —         —    
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Operating income
  
 
262,149
 
 
 
262,959
 
 
 
305,534
 
 
 
399,003
 
 
 
117,266
 
Other income, net:
          
Interest income
     61,445       84,838       97,530       116,117       141,511  
Interest expense
     —         —         (1,615     (4,627     (6,747
Realized gain from long-term investments
     7,086       7,366       26,379       407       3,535  
Impairment loss from long-term investments
     (2,338     (980     (5,919     (31,750     (40,207
Loss from fair value change of long-term investments
     —         —         (104,636     (18,451     (3,824
Miscellaneous income (loss), net
     2,367       2,841       (1,424     27,137       103,443  
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Provision for income taxes:
          
Current
     (51,142     (72,785     (103,031     (142,992     (127,313
Deferred
     518       13,377       17,317       8,630       43,725  
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Provision for income taxes
  
 
(50,624
 
 
(59,408
 
 
(85,714
 
 
(134,362
 
 
(83,588
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
(Loss) gain from equity method investments
  
 
(3,289
 
 
(379
 
 
(2,289
 
 
1,385
 
 
 
(1,368
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Net income
  
 
276,796
 
 
 
297,237
 
 
 
227,846
 
 
 
354,859
 
 
 
230,021
 
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Less: Net income (loss) attributable to noncontrolling interests
  
 
2,339
 
 
 
1,107
 
 
 
(10,219
 
 
(58,474
 
 
(104,393
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Net income attributable to New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc.’s shareholders
     274,457       296,130       238,065       413,333       334,414  
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Net income per common share attributable to shareholders of New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc.
(2)
 
(3)
          
-Basic
     0.17       0.19       0.15       0.26       0.20  
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
-Diluted
     0.17       0.19       0.15       0.26       0.20  
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Weighted average shares used in calculating basic net income per common share
(3)
     1,575,513,200       1,581,687,940       1,582,938,900       1,584,295,760       1,645,463,440  
Weighted average shares used in calculating diluted net income per common share
(3)
     1,579,863,940       1,585,565,000       1,590,393,450       1,595,368,900       1,651,982,384  
 
 
(1)
Share-based compensation expenses are included in our operating cost and expenses as follows:
(2)
Each ADS represents one common share.
(3)
For the years ended May 31, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, the number of shares used in calculating basic and diluted net income per common share have been retrospectively adjusted to reflect the
1-for-10
share split that became effective on March 10, 2021.
 
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For the Years Ended May 31,
 
(in thousands of US$)
  
2017
    
2018
    
2019
    
2020
    
2021
 
Cost of revenues
     —          —          134        2,224        6,698  
Selling and marketing
     —          —          1,205        4,227        6,922  
General and administrative
     20,287        57,443        69,997        55,606        55,260  
  
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
 
Total
     20,287        57,443        71,336        62,057        68,880  
  
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
 
The following table presents our selected consolidated balance sheet data as of May 31, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021:
 
    
As of May 31,
 
(in thousands of US$)
  
2017
    
2018
    
2019
    
2020
    
2021
 
Selected Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:
              
Cash and cash equivalents
     641,018        983,319        1,414,171        915,057        1,612,211  
Total assets
     2,924,979        3,977,712        4,646,559        6,556,885        10,151,053  
Total current liabilities
     1,202,681        1,750,884        2,006,224        2,479,364        3,471,445  
Total liabilities
     1,204,901        1,763,017        2,121,462        3,687,074        5,132,877  
Total mezzanine equity
     —          206,624        —          —          —    
Total New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. shareholders’ equity
     1,680,948        1,991,589        2,360,686        2,733,295        4,913,275  
Noncontrolling interests
     39,130        16,482        164,411        136,516        104,901  
Total equity
     1,720,078        2,008,071        2,525,097        2,869,811        5,018,176  
 
B.
Capitalization and Indebtedness
Not applicable.
 
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C.
Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds
Not applicable.
 
D.
Risk Factors
Summary of Risk Factors
Investing in our common shares and/or ADSs involves significant risks. You should carefully consider all of the information in this annual report before making an investment in our common shares and/or ADSs. The following list summarizes some, but not all, of these risks.
Risks Related to Our Business
 
   
Significant uncertainties exist in relation to the interpretation and implementation of, or proposed changes to, the PRC laws, regulations and policies regarding the private education industry. In particular, our compliance with the Opinions on Further Alleviating the Burden of Homework and After-School Tutoring for Students in Compulsory Education and the implementation measures issued thereunder by the relevant PRC government authorities has materially and adversely affected and will materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospect.
 
   
If we are not able to attract students to enroll in our courses without a significant decrease in course fees, our revenues may decline and we may not be able to maintain profitability.
 
   
Our business depends on our “New Oriental” brand, and if we are not able to maintain and enhance our brand, our business and operating results may be harmed.
 
   
We depend on our dedicated and capable faculty, and if we are not able to maintain consistent teaching quality throughout our school network, our brand, business and operating results may be materially and adversely affected.
 
   
Failure to effectively and efficiently manage changes of our existing business may materially and adversely affect our ability to capitalize on new business opportunities.
Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure
 
   
We are a Cayman Islands holding company with no equity ownership in our variable interest entities and we conduct our operations in China primarily through (i) our PRC subsidiaries and (ii) our variable interest entities, with which we have maintained contractual arrangements. Investors in our ADSs and/or common shares thus are not purchasing equity interest in our operating entities in China but instead are purchasing equity interest in a Cayman Islands holding company. If the PRC government finds that the agreements that establish the structure for operating our business do not comply with the PRC laws and regulations, or if these regulations or their interpretations change in the future, we could be subject to severe penalties or be forced to relinquish our interests in those operations. Our holding company, our PRC subsidiaries, our variable interest entities, and investors of our company face uncertainty about potential future actions by the PRC government that could affect the enforceability of the contractual arrangements with our variable interest entities and, consequently, significantly affect the financial performance of our variable interest entities and our company as a whole.
 
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Risks Related to Doing Business in China
 
   
Changes in China’s economic, political or social conditions or government policies could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial conditions and results of operations.
 
   
PRC government’s significant authority in regulating our operations and its oversight and control over securities offerings conducted overseas by, and foreign investment in, China-based issuers could significantly limit or completely hinder our ability to offer or continue to offer securities to investors. Implementation of industry-wide regulations in this nature may cause the value of such securities to significantly decline. For more details, see “The PRC governmental authorities’ significant oversight and discretion over our business operation could result in a material adverse change in our operations and the value of our ADSs.”
 
   
Risks and uncertainties arising from the legal system in China, including risks and uncertainties regarding the enforcement of laws and quickly evolving rules and regulations in China, could result in a material adverse change in our operations and the value of our ADSs. For more details, see “Uncertainties with respect to the PRC legal system could adversely affect us.”
 
   
Our business, financial condition and results of operations, as well as our ability to obtain financing, may be adversely affected by the downturn in the global or PRC economy.
 
   
Our auditor is currently not subject to inspections by the PCAOB. Our ADSs may be delisted under the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act if the PCAOB is unable to inspect auditors which are located in China. The delisting of our ADSs, or the threat of their being delisted, may materially and adversely affect the value of your investment.
Risks Related to Our ADSs and Common Shares
 
   
We adopt different practices as to certain matters as compared with many other companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
 
   
The trading prices of our ADSs and common shares have been and are likely to continue to be volatile, which could result in substantial losses to holders of our common shares and/or ADSs.
 
   
If securities or industry analysts publish negative reports about our business, the price and trading volume of our common shares and/or ADSs securities could decline.
 
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Risks Related to Our Business
Significant uncertainties exist in relation to the interpretation and implementation of, or proposed changes to, the PRC laws, regulations and policies regarding the private education industry. In particular, our compliance with the Opinions on Further Alleviating the Burden of Homework and After-School Tutoring for Students in Compulsory Education and the implementation measures issued thereunder by the relevant PRC government authorities has materially and adversely affected and will materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospect.
The PRC private education industry, especially the after-school tutoring sector, has experienced intense scrutiny and has been subject to significant regulatory changes recently. In particular, the Opinions on Further Alleviating the Burden of Homework and After-School Tutoring for Students in Compulsory Education jointly promulgated by the General Office of State Council and the General Office of Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on July 24, 2021, or the Alleviating Burden Opinion, sets out a series of operating requirements on after-school tutoring institutions, including, among other things, (i) local government authorities shall no longer approve any new after-school tutoring institutions providing tutoring services on academic subjects for students in compulsory education, or the Academic AST Institutions, and all the existing Academic AST Institutions shall be registered as
non-profit,
and local government authorities shall no longer approve any new after-school tutoring institutions providing tutoring services on academic subjects for
pre-school-age
children and students in grade ten to twelve; (ii) online Academic AST Institutions that have filed with the local education administration authorities will be subject to review and
re-approval
procedures by competent government authorities, and any failure to obtain such approval will result in the cancellation of its previous filing and ICP license; (iii) Academic AST Institutions are prohibited from raising funds by listing on stock markets or conducting any capitalization activities and listed companies are prohibited from investing in Academic AST Institutions through capital markets fund raising activities, or acquiring assets of Academic AST Institutions by paying cash or issuing securities; (iv) foreign capital is prohibited from controlling or participating in any Academic AST Institutions through mergers and acquisitions, entrusted operation, joining franchise or variable interest entities; (v) after-school tutoring institutions shall not provide tutoring services on academic subjects during national holidays, weekends and school breaks; (vi) no advertisements for after-school tutoring shall be published or broadcasted in the network platforms and billboards displayed in the mainstream media, new media, public place and residential areas; (vii) fees charged for academic subjects tutoring in compulsory education will need to follow the guidelines from the government to prevent any excessive charging or excessive profit-seeking activity; (viii) government authorities will implement risk management and control for the
pre-collection
of fees by after-school tutoring institutions with requirements such as setting up third-party custodians and risk reserves, and strengthen supervision over loans regarding tutoring services; and (ix) online tutoring for
preschool-age
children is prohibited, and offline academic subjects (including foreign language) tutoring services for
preschool-age
children is also strictly prohibited. The Alleviating Burden Opinion further provides that administration and supervision over academic subjects tutoring institutions for students on grade ten to twelve shall be implemented by reference to the relevant provisions of the Alleviating Burden Opinion. It remains uncertain as to how and to what extent the administration over academic subjects tutoring institutions for students in grade ten to twelve will be implemented by reference of the Alleviating Burden Opinion. Furthermore, on August 18, 2021, the Beijing Municipality Government and the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China jointly published the full text of the Beijing Municipality’s Measures to Further Reduce the Burden of Homework and After-School Tutoring on Students in Compulsory Education in Beijing, or the Beijing Measures, to implement the Alleviating Burden Opinion.
See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Regulations on Private Education—Regulations on After-School Tutoring” for more details.
To implement the Alleviating Burden Opinion, on September 7, 2021, the Chinese Ministry of Education, or the MOE, published on its official website that the MOE, together with two other government authorities, issued a circular requiring all Academic AST Institutions to complete registration as
non-profit
by the end of 2021, and all Academic AST Institutions shall, before completing such registration, suspend enrollment of students and charging fees. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Regulations on Private Education—Regulations on After-School Tutoring” for more details.
Our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospect have been and will be materially and adversely affected by the actions we have taken to date and consider taking to be in compliance with the Alleviating Burden Opinion and its implementation measures. We are closely monitoring the evolving regulatory environment and are making efforts to seek guidance from and cooperate with the government authorities to comply with the Alleviating Burden Opinion and its implementation measures. Among other things, we have ceased providing and will not provide tutoring services on academic subjects during national holidays, weekends and school breaks, and we may take further actions regarding our tutoring services on academic subjects for students in compulsory education in the near future to be in compliance, including closing of some of our learning centers and employee layoffs where necessary to maintain our continued operations. Due to the complexity and substantial uncertainty of the regulatory environment, we cannot assure you that our operations would be in full compliance with applicable laws, regulations and policies, including the Alleviating Burden Opinion and its implementation measures, in a timely manner, or at all. We may become subject to fines or other penalties or be required to terminate certain operations, in which case our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected further. In addition, we may incur material impairment and severance charges resulting from termination of leases, dismissal of employees and other actions we take in light of the latest regulatory developments, which may have material adverse impact on our financial condition, results of operations and prospect.
 
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On November 7, 2016, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress amended the Private Education Law, or the Amended Private Education Law, which took effect on September 1, 2017. Under the Amended Private Education Law, on April 7, 2021, the State Council promulgated the Amended Implementation Rules for the Private Education Law, or the Amended Implementation Rules, which became effective on September 1, 2021. The Amended Implementation Rules prohibit social organizations and individuals from controlling a private school that provides compulsory education or a
non-profit
private school that provides
pre-school
education through mergers and acquisitions and control agreements, and a private school providing compulsory education is prohibited from conducting transactions with its related party. Relevant government authorities will enhance the supervision on the agreements entered into between
non-profit
private schools and its related party and shall review such transaction on an annual basis. In addition, online education activities using internet technology are encouraged by the regulatory authorities and shall comply with laws and regulations related to internet management. A private school engaging in online education activities using internet technology shall obtain the relevant private school operating permit. It shall also establish and implement internet security management systems and take technical security measures. Upon discovery of any information whose release or transmission is prohibited by applicable laws or regulations, the private school engaged in online education activities shall immediately cease the transmission of that information and take further remedial actions, such as deleting that information, to prevent it from spreading. Records pertaining to the situation shall be kept and reported to the appropriate authorities. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Regulations on Private Education—Amended Implementation Rules” for more details.
Further, the PRC government authorities have issued several regulations aiming to strength its regulation of after-school tutoring institutions, including State Council Circular 80. These regulations and implementation rules provide a series of requirements in the operation of after-school tutoring business, which include, among others: (1) key course information, including subjects, course schedules and course syllabi, for school academic subjects courses, shall be filed with the local education administration authorities and made publicly available, and the progress of the courses shall not surpass the progress of local primary schools and secondary schools for the same period; (2) training classes shall not be scheduled in conflict with the regular school time in local primary schools and secondary schools; (3) after-school tutoring activities shall end no later than 8:30 p.m.; (4) no homework shall be arranged in any form; (5) scored examination, competition or ranking in connection with the courses of primary schools or secondary schools shall not be arranged; (6) tuition fees for a period spanning more than three months should not be collected at one time; (7) no fees, other than those that have been made public, and no compulsory fundraising in any name, may be made to students; (8) student safety insurance shall be purchased by the after-school tutoring institutions; (9) teaching staff who teach Chinese, mathematics, foreign language, physics, chemistry and other subjects in the compulsory education system as well as academic subjects related to the entering of higher education and their extension training shall have requisite teacher qualifications; and (10) public school teachers shall not be employed by after-school tutoring institutions. In addition, the PRC government authorities have issued regulations on online after-school tutoring activities that restate certain requirements that apply to all after-school tutoring institutions and further provide certain specific requirements for online after-school tutoring institutions. See “ Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation” for more information. We are continuously making efforts to comply with the requirements under these regulations and implementations. However, we cannot assure you that we will be able to comply with such requirements in a timely manner, or at all. If we fail to comply with these requirements and any other applicable regulatory requirements, we may be subject to fines, regulatory orders to suspend our operations or other regulatory and disciplinary sanctions, which may materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations.
If we are not able to attract students to enroll in our courses without a significant decrease in course fees, our revenues may decline and we may not be able to maintain profitability.
The success of our business depends primarily on the number of student enrollments in our courses and the amount of course fees that our students are willing to pay. Therefore, our ability to attract students to enroll in our courses without a significant decrease in course fees is critical to the continued success and growth of our business. This in turn will depend on several factors, including our ability to develop new programs and enhance existing programs to respond to regulatory developments, changes in market trends and student demands, maintain the consistency of our teaching quality, effectively market our programs to a broader base of prospective students, develop and license additional high-quality educational content and respond to competitive pressures. If we are unable to attract students to enroll in our courses without a significant decrease in course fees, our revenue may decline and we may not be able to maintain profitability.
Our business depends on our “New Oriental” brand, and if we are not able to maintain and enhance our brand, our business and operating results may be harmed.
We believe that market awareness of our “New Oriental” brand has contributed significantly to the success of our business. We also believe that maintaining and enhancing the “New Oriental” brand is critical to maintaining our competitive advantage. We offer a diverse set of programs, services and products to student populations of all ages across China. We are considering our future business strategy in light of recent regulatory developments in China and may develop new program, service and product offerings and extend our reach to new areas, which may make it more difficult to maintain quality and consistency.
We have mainly relied on word-of-mouth referrals to attract prospective students. We also use various marketing and promotion activities, such as online demo courses, social media promotions and outdoor advertising campaigns to promote our brand and course offerings. We cannot, however, assure you that these or our other marketing efforts will be successful in promoting our brand to remain competitive. If we are unable to further enhance our brand recognition and increase awareness of our programs, services and products, or if we incur excessive marketing and promotion expenses, our business and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. In addition, any negative publicity relating to our company or our programs and services, regardless of its veracity, could harm our brand image and in turn materially and adversely affect our business and operating results.
 
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We depend on our dedicated and capable faculty, and if we are not able to maintain consistent teaching quality throughout our school network and our brand, business and operating results may be materially and adversely affected.
Our teachers are critical to maintaining the quality of our programs, services and products and maintaining our brand and reputation. It is critical for us to continue to attract qualified teachers who have a strong command of the subject areas to be taught and meet our qualification. We also need to hire teachers who are capable of delivering innovative and inspirational instruction. We must also provide continuous training to our teachers so that they can stay up to date with changes in student demands, admissions and assessment tests, admissions standards, school curriculum, and other key trends necessary to effectively teach their respective courses. We may not be able to hire, train and retain enough qualified teachers to keep pace with our anticipated development while maintaining consistent teaching quality across our education services. In addition, PRC laws and regulations may require our teachers to have requisite licenses. For example, the State Council Circular 80 and the Online Tutoring Opinion further require teachers in training schools to apply for teacher licenses, if they teach certain academic subjects in the primary and secondary education stage. After the promulgation of the State Council Circular 80 and the Online Tutoring Opinion, we have urged all teachers without teacher licenses to register for teacher license examinations. As of the date of this annual report, the vast majority of our teachers teaching academic subjects in the primary and secondary education stage have obtained the requisite teacher licenses. However, there are still a small number of our teachers that have not yet obtained their teacher licenses due to various reasons, such as the time gap between the recruitment and the newly-recruited teachers taking the exam and ultimately obtaining the teacher license. If some of our teachers, due to various reasons, are unable to apply for and obtain the requisite teaching licenses on a timely basis, or at all, we may be required to rectify such
non-compliance
and may not be able to continue to retain such teachers. Shortages of qualified teachers or decreases in the quality of our instruction, whether actual or perceived, in one or more of our markets may have a material and adverse effect on our business.
Failure to effectively and efficiently manage changes of our existing business may materially and adversely affect our ability to capitalize on new business opportunities.
We increased the number of our schools in China from 25 as of May 31, 2006 to 122 as of May 31, 2021, and the number of our learning centers in China from 86 as of May 31, 2006 to 1,547 as of May 31, 2021. In light of recent regulatory developments in China, we have made and will continue to make changes to our existing business, including ceasing to provide tutoring services during public holidays, weekends and school breaks and closing of some of our learning centers, while executing on any new growth strategy we decide to pursue. We may continue to operate in different geographic locations in China, which has resulted, and will continue to result, in substantial demands on our management, faculty and operational, technological and other resources. Our continued nationwide operations will also place significant demands on us to maintain the consistency of our teaching quality and our culture to ensure that our brand does not suffer as a result of any decreases, whether actual or perceived, in our teaching quality. To manage and support changes in our business and our future growth strategy, we must continue to improve our existing operational, administrative and technological systems and our financial and management controls, and recruit, train and retain additional qualified teachers, management personnel and other administrative and sales and marketing personnel, particularly as we enter into new areas. We cannot assure you that we will be able to effectively and efficiently manage our operations, recruit and retain qualified teachers and management personnel and integrate new businesses into our operations. Any failure to effectively and efficiently manage changes of our business may materially and adversely affect our ability to capitalize on new business opportunities, which in turn may have a material adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations.
 
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If we fail to successfully execute our business strategies, we may not be able to continue to attract students to enroll in our courses without a significant decrease in course fees, and our business and prospects may be materially and adversely affected.
Our business strategies include expanding our program, service and product offerings to new areas, updating and expanding the content of our programs, services and products in a cost-effective and timely manner, as well as maintaining and continuing to establish strategic relationships with complementary businesses. The expansion of our programs, services and products in terms of types of offerings may not succeed due to competition, failure to effectively market our new programs, services and products and maintain their quality and consistency, or other factors. In addition, we may be unable to identify new cities with sufficient growth potential to expand our network, and we may fail to attract students and increase student enrollments or recruit, train and retain qualified teachers for our new programs. Demand for our programs, services and products may not increase as rapidly as we expect. Furthermore, we may be unable to develop or license additional content on commercially reasonable terms and in a timely manner, or at all, to keep pace with changes in market demands. If we fail to successfully execute our business strategies, we may not be able to continue to attract students to enroll in our courses without a significant decrease in course fees, and our business and prospects may be materially and adversely affected.
We may not be able to achieve the benefits we expect from recent and future acquisitions, and recent and future acquisitions may have an adverse effect on our ability to manage our business.
As part of our business strategy, we have pursued and intend to continue to pursue selective strategic acquisitions of businesses that complement our existing businesses. Acquisitions expose us to potential risks, including risks associated with the diversion of resources from our existing businesses, difficulties in successfully integrating the acquired businesses, failure to achieve expected growth by the acquired businesses and an inability to generate sufficient revenue to offset the costs and expenses of acquisitions. If the revenue and cost synergies that we expect to achieve from our acquisitions do not materialize, we may have to recognize impairment charges.
If any one or more of the aforementioned risks associated with acquisitions materialize, our acquisitions may not be beneficial to us and may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Third parties have in the past brought intellectual property infringement claims against us based on the content of the books and other teaching or marketing materials that we or our teachers authored and/or distributed and may bring similar claims against us in the future.
We may be subject to claims by educational institutions and organizations, content providers and publishers, competitors and others on the ground of intellectual property rights infringement, defamation, negligence or other legal theories based on the content of the materials that we or our teachers author and/or distribute as course materials. These types of claims have been brought, sometimes successfully, against print publications and educational institutions in the past, including ourselves. For example, in January 2001, the Graduate Management Admission Council, or GMAC, and Educational Testing Service, or ETS, filed three separate lawsuits against us in the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court, alleging that we had violated the copyrights and trademarks relating to the GMAT test owned by GMAC and relating to the GRE and TOEFL tests owned by ETS by duplicating, selling and distributing their test materials without their authorization. In September 2003, the trial court found that we had violated GMAC’s and ETS’ respective copyrights and trademarks in connection with those admissions tests. The trial court’s judgment was partially affirmed in a final judgment issued by the Beijing Higher People’s Court in December 2004. The Beijing Higher People’s Court held that we had not misused the trademarks of GMAC or ETS. However, it also found that the TOEFL and GRE tests were the original works of ETS and the GMAT test was the original work of GMAC, all of which are protected under the PRC Copyright Law. The Beijing Higher People’s Court held that our duplication, sale and distribution of the test materials relating to these tests without ETS’ and GMAC’s prior permission were not a “reasonable use” of the test materials under the PRC Copyright Law, and that we, therefore, had infringed upon ETS’ and GMAC’s respective copyrights. We were ordered to pay damages in an aggregate of approximately RMB6.5 million, cease all infringing activities and destroy all copyright-infringing materials in our possession, all of which we have done. Since the Beijing Higher People’s Court issued the final judgment in 2004, we have endeavored to comply with the court order and applicable PRC laws and regulations relating to intellectual property, and we have adopted policies and procedures to prohibit our employees and contractors from engaging in any copyright, trademark or trade name infringing activities. However, we cannot assure you that every teacher or other personnel will strictly comply with these policies at our schools, learning centers or other locations or media through which we provide our programs, services and products.
 
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In order to develop, improve, promote and deliver new products and services, we cooperate with various leading international education content providers and are required to obtain licenses from others from time to time. For example, we have worked with Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Educational Testing Service, Cengage Learning and other education content providers in distributing their education material in China. With access to such high-quality education content, we further develop localized products that best serve the needs for millions of students and families in the China market. There can be no assurance that we will be able to continue to obtain licenses on commercially reasonable terms or at all or that rights granted under any licenses will be valid and enforceable.
We have been involved in other claims and legal proceedings against us relating to infringement of third parties’ copyrights in materials distributed by us and the unauthorized use of a third party’s name in connection with the marketing and promotion of our programs, and may be subject to further claims in the future, particularly in light of the uncertainties in the interpretation and application of intellectual property laws and regulations. Furthermore, if printed publications or other materials that we or our teachers author and/or distribute contain materials that government authorities find objectionable, these publications may have to be recalled, which could result in increased expenses, loss in revenues and adverse publicity. Any claims against us, with or without merit, could be time-consuming and costly to defend or litigate, divert our management’s attention and resources or result in the loss of goodwill associated with our brand. If a lawsuit against us is successful, we may be required to pay substantial damages and/or enter into royalty or license agreements that may not be based upon commercially reasonable terms, or we may be unable to enter into such agreements at all. We may also lose, or be limited in, the rights to offer some of our programs, services and products or be required to make changes to our course materials or websites. As a result, the scope of our course materials could be reduced, which could adversely affect the effectiveness of our teaching, limit our ability to attract new students, harm our reputation and have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial position.
We may lose our competitive advantage and our reputation, brand and operations may suffer if we fail to prevent the loss or misappropriation of, or disputes over, our intellectual property rights.
We consider our trademarks and trade name invaluable to our ability to continue to develop and enhance our brand recognition. We have spent over 20 years building our “New Oriental” brand by emphasizing quality and consistency and building trust among students and parents. From time to time, our trademarks and trade name have been used by third parties for or as part of other branded programs, services and products unrelated to us. We have sent cease and desist letters to such third parties in the past and will continue to do so in the future. However, preventing trademark and trade name infringement, particularly in China, is difficult, costly and time-consuming and continued unauthorized use of our trademarks and trade name by unrelated third parties may damage our reputation and brand. In addition, we have spent significant time and expense developing or licensing and localizing the content of our educational materials to enrich our product offerings and meet students’ needs. There can be no assurance that competitors will not independently develop similar intellectual property. If others are able to copy and use our programs and services, we may not be able to maintain our competitive position. The measures we take to protect our trademarks, copyrights and other intellectual property rights, which presently are based upon a combination of trademark, copyright and trade secret laws, may not be adequate to prevent unauthorized use by third parties. Furthermore, the application of laws governing intellectual property rights in China and abroad is uncertain and evolving, and could involve substantial risks to us. If we are unable to adequately protect our trademarks, copyrights and other intellectual property rights, we may lose these rights, our brand name may be harmed, and our business may suffer materially.
We face significant competition in each major program we offer and each geographic market in which we operate, and if we fail to compete effectively, we may lose our market share and our profitability may be adversely affected.
The private education sector in China is highly fragmented and competitive. We face competition in each major program we offer and each geographic market in which we operate. For example, we face competition from companies that focus on test preparation and language training services in China.
 
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Our student enrollments may decrease due to intense competition. Some of our competitors may have more resources and experiences than we do. These competitors may be able to devote greater resources than we can to the development, promotion and sale of their programs, services and products and respond more quickly than we can to changes in student needs, testing materials, admissions standards, school curricula or new technologies. In addition, we face competition from many different smaller sized organizations that focus on some of our targeted markets, and they may be able to respond more promptly to changes in student preferences in these markets. We also face competition from online educational service providers that offer online test preparation and language training courses. These online education service providers use advanced technologies such as online live broadcasting technologies, to offer their programs, services and products quickly and cost-effectively to a large number of students. We may have to reduce course fees or increase spending in response to competition in order to retain or attract students or pursue new market opportunities, which could result in a decrease of our revenues and profitability. We cannot assure you that we will be able to compete successfully and grow our business. If we are unable to maintain our competitive position or otherwise respond to competitive pressures effectively, we may lose our market share and our profitability may be adversely affected.
Our business, financial condition and results of operations have been and are likely to continue to be materially and adversely affected by the outbreak of
COVID-19.
Since the beginning of 2020, there has been an outbreak of
COVID-19
in China and other countries. The severity of the outbreak has resulted in the temporary closure of schools, learning centers, and many corporate offices across China. From the end of January 2020, we stopped the operation of all learning centers nationwide and moved our offline classes to small size online live broadcasting classes through the
in-house
developed OMO (online-merge-offline) system, which has played a fundamental role in reducing the impact of
COVID-19
outbreak on our services and operation. However, we still experienced challenges in acquiring new students in the fiscal year of 2021. We have gradually resumed our offline operations from June 2020 and our student enrollments have since experienced recovery in growth. In addition,
COVID-19
pandemic has had a material and adverse impact, both economically and socially, in other countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and other study-abroad destinations popular among Chinese students. The duration and intensity of disruptions resulting from
COVID-19
outbreak in these countries, the extent and severity of new waves of outbreak in these countries, the development and progress of distribution of
COVID-19
vaccine and other medical treatment and the effectiveness of such vaccine and other medical treatment, remain uncertain. As a result, Chinese students may be discouraged from pursuing study-abroad in the near future, if not longer, which in turn may negatively affect the demand for our overseas test preparation courses, English language training courses, and overseas consulting services. Our business and financial performance have been adversely affected by the outbreak of
COVID-19
in China and other countries since the beginning of 2020, and this is likely to continue throughout the current year and beyond.
We face risks related to health epidemics and other outbreaks, which could result in reduced attendance or temporary closure of our schools, learning centers and bookstores.
In addition to the impact of
COVID-19,
our business could also be materially and adversely affected by other health epidemics, such as H1N1 swine influenza, H7N9 bird flu, avian influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Ebola or other disease. For example, the influenza A (H1N1) outbreak from 2009 to 2010 adversely affected our business and results of operations in the first and second fiscal quarters of 2010 as we experienced slower-than-usual student enrollment growth and large numbers of cancelations and deferments in enrollments from registered students. In addition, we had to cancel classes whenever an enrolled student was diagnosed with influenza A (H1N1), as required by applicable health regulations. Any future outbreak of adverse public health developments in China may have a material and adverse effect on our business operations. These occurrences could cause cancelations or deferments of student enrollments and require the temporary closure of our schools, learning centers and bookstores while we remain obligated to pay rent and other expenses for these facilities, thus severely disrupting our business operations and materially and adversely affecting our liquidity, financial condition and results of operations.
 
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Failure to adequately and promptly respond to changes in testing materials, admissions standards and PRC laws and regulations on school curriculum could cause our programs, services and products to be less attractive to students, or subject us to rectification measures.
On August 25, 2021, the General Office of MOE issued the Administrative Measures for After-School Tutoring Materials for Primary and Secondary School Students (for Trial Implementation), which provide that, among others, (i) after-school tutoring materials for primary and secondary school students and staff preparing such tutoring materials shall meet certain requirements specified in such measures, which include, among others, tutoring materials shall follow the national curriculum standard and shall not provide contents in advance of the school curriculum; (ii) after-school tutoring institutions shall establish internal management system for the tutoring materials and the staff preparing such tutoring materials; (iii) after-school tutoring institutions shall conduct internal review of the tutoring materials and the local education administrations shall conduct external review of the tutoring materials; (iv) after-school tutoring institutions may only use tutoring materials that have been internally and externally reviewed or if the materials have been officially published; (v) after school tutoring institutions shall file with the relevant education administrations the tutoring materials and the staff preparing such materials; (vi) after-school tutoring institutions in violation of the measures will be subject to rectification and shall not use the relevant tutoring materials during the rectification period; if the after-school tutoring institution refuses to rectify within the time limit or if the violation is severe, its private school operating permit may be revoked by the local education administration. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Regulations on Private Education—Regulations on After-School Tutoring.” The above measures are newly promulgated and subject to further implementation and interpretation by local education administrations. There can be no assurance that we are able to or we will comply with all such requirements, and any inability to comply with any of the requirements in a timely manner, or at all, may subject us to rectification measures, suspension of using tutoring materials or even revocation of our private school operating permit, which may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Admissions and assessment tests undergo continuous change, in terms of the focus of the subjects and questions tested, the format of the tests and the manner in which the tests are administered. These changes require us to continually update and enhance our course materials and our teaching methods. For example, on September 18, 2016, the MOE promulgated the Guidance Opinions on Further Promoting the Reform of Exams and Entrance System for High Schools which promotes that the secondary school students shall participate the Secondary School Academic Proficiency Test, instead of participating in both the secondary school graduation exams and high school entrance exams, and the scores of students for certain subjects obtained in this Secondary School Academic Proficiency Test shall be taken into consideration for high school enrollment. In January 2017, the MOE promulgated new curriculum standards for the subject of science in primary schools, which took effect in the fall semester of 2017. In December 2017, the MOE issued the 2017 Curriculum Schemes and Curriculum Standards for Senior Secondary Schools, which was furthered amended in May 2020, and further issued the Opinions on the Implementing Work of the New Curriculums and the New Textbooks of Senior Secondary Schools in August 2018, both of which provides that the MOE developed a new nationwide senior secondary school curriculum system and organized the compilation of a group of new textbooks based on the new curriculum system, which shall be adopted in certain provinces from September 2019 and gradually expand to all other provinces by September 2022. We will adapt our tutoring programs and materials to new curriculum requirements promulgated from time to time. Any inability to track and respond to these changes in a timely and cost-effective manner would make our programs, services and products less attractive to students, which may materially and adversely affect our reputation and ability to continue to attract students without a significant decrease in course fees.
If colleges, universities and other higher education institutions reduce their reliance on admissions and assessment tests, we may experience a decrease in demand for our services and products and our business may be materially and adversely affected.
The success of our business depends on the continued use of admissions and assessment tests as a requirement for admission or graduation. However, the use of admissions tests in China may decline or fall out of favor with educational institutions and government authorities. For example, educational institutions and government authorities in China have recently initiated discussions and conducted early experiments in China on school admissions. Generally, these discussions and experiments exhibit a trend of admission decisions based less on entrance exam scores and more on a combination of other factors, such as past academic record, extracurricular activities and comprehensive aptitude evaluations. There have also been certain changes in some geographic areas in the way the high school entrance exam is administered. If the use of admissions tests in China declines or falls out of favor with educational institutions and government authorities and if we fail to respond to these changes, the demand for certain of our services may decline, and our business may be materially and adversely affected.
 
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In the United States, there has been a continuing debate regarding the usefulness of admissions and assessment tests to assess qualifications of applicants and many people have criticized the use of admissions and assessment tests as unfairly discriminating against certain test takers. If a large number of educational institutions abandon the use of existing admissions and assessment tests as a requirement for admission, without replacing them with other admissions and assessment tests, we may experience a decrease in demand for our overseas test preparation courses and our business may be adversely affected.
We experienced and may continue to experience a decrease in our margins.
Many factors may cause our gross and net margins to decline. The recent regulatory developments regarding Academic AST Institutions’ after-school tutoring business may cause our gross and net margin to decline. In addition, new businesses may not have the same margins as we had in the past, and new investments and acquisitions may cause our margins to decline before we successfully integrate the acquired businesses into our operations and realize the full benefits of these investments and acquisitions. It is possible that our margins could continue to decline in the future due to these factors.
New programs, services and products that we develop may compete with our current offerings.
We are constantly developing new programs, services and products to meet changes in student demands and respond to changes in testing materials, admissions standards, market needs and trends and technological changes. While some of the programs, services and products that we develop will expand our current offerings and increase student enrollments, others may compete with or render obsolete our existing offerings without increasing our total student enrollments. For example, our online courses may attract students away from our existing classroom-based courses, and our new schools and learning centers may attract students away from our existing schools and learning centers. If we are unable to expand our program, service and product offerings while increasing our total student enrollments and profitability, our business and growth may be adversely affected.
Our business is subject to fluctuations caused by seasonality or other factors beyond our control, which may cause our operating results to fluctuate from quarter to quarter. This may result in volatility and adversely affect the price of our common shares and ADSs.
We have experienced, and expect to continue to experience, seasonal fluctuations in our revenues and results of operations, primarily due to seasonal changes in student enrollments. Historically, our test preparation courses tend to have the highest revenue in our first fiscal quarter, which runs from June 1 to August 31 of each year, primarily because a significant number of students enroll in our courses during summer vacation to prepare for admissions and assessment tests. In addition, we have generally experienced higher revenue in our third fiscal quarter, which runs from December 1 to February 28 of each year, primarily because many students enroll in our test preparation courses during the winter school holidays. However, our expenses vary, and certain of our expenses do not necessarily correspond with changes in our student enrollments and revenues. For example, we make investments in marketing and promotion, teacher recruitment and training, and product development throughout the year and we pay rent for our facilities based on the terms of the lease agreements. In addition, other factors beyond our control, including health epidemics and special events that take place during a quarter when our student enrollment would normally be high, may have a negative impact on our student enrollments. For example, the
COVID-19
pandemic since the beginning of 2020 had adversely affected our financial and operating results in the third and fourth fiscal quarters of 2020. We expect quarterly fluctuations in our revenues and results of operations to continue. These fluctuations could result in volatility and adversely affect the price of our common shares and/or ADSs. As our revenues grow, these seasonal fluctuations may become more pronounced.
 
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Our reputation, results of operations, financial condition and the trading price of our ADSs and/or common shares may be negatively affected by adverse publicity or other detrimental conduct against us.
Adverse publicity concerning our failure or perceived failure to comply with legal and regulatory requirements, alleged accounting or financial reporting irregularities, regulatory scrutiny and further regulatory action or litigation could harm our reputation, result in our incurrence of substantial costs and distract our management’s attention and cause the trading price of our ADSs and common shares to decline and fluctuate significantly. For example, after we issued a press release on July 17, 2012 disclosing that we were subject to the investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, and Muddy Waters LLC, an entity unrelated to us, which issued a report containing various allegations about us on July 18, 2012, the trading price of our ADSs declined sharply and we were inundated by numerous investor inquiries. In late 2016, there was negative media coverage referencing our small overseas study consulting division. The negative publicity and the resulting decline of the trading price of our ADSs also led to the filing of shareholder class action lawsuits against us and some of our senior executive officers. On July 24, 2021, China’s official state media, including Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television, announced the Alleviating Burden Opinion, issued by the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the General Office of the State Council. The Alleviating Burden Opinion contains high-level directives about requirements and restrictions related to after-school tutoring services. The trading price of our ADSs and common shares declined sharply before and after the Alleviating Burden Opinion was issued. In addition, certain of our directors are subject to class actions due to their current or previous directorships in other listed companies. Our directors and executive officers may also face litigation or proceedings (including alleged or future securities class action) unrelated to their respective capacity as a director or executive officer of our company, and such litigation or proceedings may adversely affect our public image and reputation.
We may continue to be the target of adverse publicity and other detrimental conduct against us. Such conduct includes complaints, anonymous or otherwise, to regulatory agencies regarding our operations, accounting, revenues and regulatory compliance. Additionally, allegations against us may be posted on the internet by any person or entity which identifies itself or on an anonymous basis. We may be subject to government or regulatory investigation or inquiries as a result of such third-party conduct and may be required to incur significant time and substantial costs to defend ourselves, and there is no assurance that we will be able to conclusively refute each of the allegations within a reasonable period of time, or at all. Our reputation may also be negatively affected as a result of the public dissemination of allegations or malicious statements about us, which in turn may materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition and the trading price of our ADSs and common shares.
Our historical financial and operating results are not indicative of our future performance; and our financial and operating results are difficult to forecast.
Our financial and operating results may not meet the expectations of public market analysts or investors, which could cause the price of our common shares and/or ADSs to decline. In addition to the fluctuations described above, our revenues, expenses and operating results may vary from quarter to quarter and from year to year in response to a variety of other factors beyond our control, including:
 
   
general economic conditions;
 
   
regulations or actions pertaining to the provision of private educational services in China;
 
   
detrimental negative publicity about us, our competitors or our industry;
 
   
changes in consumers’ spending patterns; and
 
   
non-recurring
charges incurred in connection with acquisitions or other extraordinary transactions or unexpected circumstances.
Due to these and other factors, we believe that period-to-period comparisons of our operating results may not be indicative of our future performance, and therefore you should not rely on them to predict the future performance of our common shares and/or ADSs. In addition, our past results may not be indicative of future performance because of new businesses developed or acquired by us.
 
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We might not be able to fulfil our obligation in respect of deferred revenue, which might have impact on our cash/ liquidity position.
Our recognition of deferred revenue is subject to future performance obligations and may not be representative of revenues for future periods. Tuition for our educational programs and services is generally collected in advance and is initially recorded as deferred revenue, which will be recognized when the services are delivered. Due to potential future changes in customer preferences and future changes in regulations and the need for us to satisfactorily perform product support and other services, deferred revenue at any particular date may not be representative of actual revenue for any current or future period. Any failure to fulfil the obligations in respect of deferred revenue may have an adverse impact on our results of operations and liquidity.
We may be required to recognize impairment losses with regard to intangible assets and goodwill.
We carry goodwill and other intangible assets on our consolidated balance sheet. As a result, we may be required to recognize impairment losses with regard to intangible assets and goodwill. In accordance with ASC 350, Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets, the recorded goodwill amounts are not amortized, but rather are tested for impairment annually or more frequently if there are indicators of impairment present. Any impairment losses for intangible assets and goodwill will adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition. We recorded US$5.2 million, nil and US$28.9 million goodwill impairment losses for the years ended May 31, 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively and recorded US$2.9 million intangible assets impairment losses for the year ended May 31, 2021.
We are subject to fair value change for long-term investments and short-term investments and uncertainty due to the use of unobservable inputs.
Fluctuations in the fair value of long-term investments and short-term investments, due to market conditions or other reasons, may have an adverse impact on our results of operations. For example, we recorded a loss from fair value change of long-term investments in the fiscal year ended May 31, 2021 of US$3.8 million, US$5.5 million of which was from our investment in Sunlands, a company engaged in online education specific to vocational qualification training.
We may use significant unobservable inputs, such as investee’s historical earning, discount of lack of marketability, investee’s time to initial public offering as well as related volatility in valuing our long-term investments. The assumptions are inherently uncertain and subjective, requiring us to make significant estimates, which may be subject to material changes, and therefore inherently involves a certain degree of uncertainty. Changes in any unobservable inputs may have a significant impact on the fair values.
Our business is difficult to evaluate because we have limited experience generating net income from some of our new services.
Historically, our core businesses have been English language training for adults and test preparation courses for college and graduate students. We have expanded our offerings through internal development and external investments. Some of these operations have not generated significant or any profit to date, and we have less experience responding quickly to changes, competing successfully and maintaining and expanding our brand in these areas without jeopardizing our brand in other areas. Consequently, there is limited operating history on which you can base your evaluation of the business and prospects of these relatively more recent operations.
 
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The continuing efforts of our senior management team and other key personnel are important to our success, and our business may be harmed if we lose their services.
It is important for us to have the continuing services of our senior management team, in particular, Mr. Michael Minhong Yu, our founder and executive chairman, who has been our leader since our inception in 1993. If one or more of our senior executives or other key personnel are unable or unwilling to continue in their present positions, we may not be able to replace them easily, and our business may be disrupted. Competition for experienced management personnel in the private education sector is intense, the pool of qualified candidates is very limited, and we may not be able to retain the services of our senior executives or key personnel, or attract and retain high-quality senior executives or key personnel in the future. In addition, if any member of our senior management team or any of our other key personnel joins a competitor or forms a competing company, we may lose teachers, students, key professionals and staff members. Each of our executive officers and key employees is subject to the duty of confidentiality and
non-competition
restrictions. However, if any disputes arise between any of our senior executives or key personnel and us, it may be difficult to successfully pursue legal actions against these individuals because of the uncertainties of China’s legal systems.
We generate a significant portion of our revenues from certain cities in China. Any event negatively affecting the private education industry in these cities could have a material adverse effect on our overall business and results of operations.
We derived a significant portion of our total net revenues for the fiscal year ended May 31, 2021 from our operations in Beijing, Hangzhou, Xi’an, and Nanjing, and we expect these cities to continue to constitute important sources of our revenues. If any of these cities experiences an event negatively affecting its private education industry, such as a serious economic downturn, a natural disaster or an outbreak of contagious disease, or if any of these cities adopts regulations relating to private education that place additional restrictions or burdens on us, our overall business and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. For example, the outbreak of
COVID-19
since the beginning of 2020 adversely affected our financial results and operations in the third and fourth fiscal quarter of 2020, see “Risks Related to Our Business—Our business, financial condition and results of operations have been and are likely to continue to be materially and adversely affected by the outbreak of
COVID-19.”
If we are not able to continually enhance our online programs, services and products and online education systems and adapt them to rapid technological changes and student needs, we may lose market share and our business could be adversely affected.
The market for online educational programs, services and products is characterized by rapid technological changes and innovation, such as artificial intelligence, as well as unpredictable product life cycles and user preferences. We must quickly modify our programs, services and products to adapt to changing student needs and preferences, technological advances and evolving internet practices to compete successfully in the online education market. Ongoing enhancement of our online offerings and related technology may entail significant expense and technical risk. We may fail to use new technologies effectively or adapt our online products or services and related technology on a timely and cost-effective basis. In addition, we developed the OMO standardized digital classroom teaching system in 2014, which has since evolved into an online education system that complements and supports students’ offline learning activities. We have applied the OMO system across our comprehensive educational service offerings. If our improvements to our online offerings and online education systems and the related technology are delayed, result in systems interruptions or are not aligned with market expectations or preferences, we may lose market share and our business could be adversely affected.
Failure to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 could have a material and adverse effect on the trading price of our common shares and/or ADSs.
We are subject to the reporting obligations under the U.S. securities laws. The SEC, as required under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, adopted rules requiring every public company to include a management report on such company’s internal control over financial reporting in its annual report, which contains management’s assessment of the effectiveness of the company’s internal control over financial reporting. In addition, an independent registered public accounting firm must attest to and report on the effectiveness of the company’s internal control over financial reporting. Although our management concluded, and our independent registered public accounting firm reported, that we maintained effective internal control over financial reporting as of May 31, 2021, we cannot assure you that we will maintain effective internal control over financial reporting on an ongoing basis. If we fail to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting, we will not be able to conclude and our independent registered public accounting firm will not be able to report that we have effective internal control over financial reporting in accordance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 in our future annual report on Form
20-F
covering the fiscal year in which this failure occurs. Effective internal control over financial reporting is necessary for us to produce reliable financial reports. Any failure to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting could result in the loss of investor confidence in the reliability of our financial statements, which in turn could have a material and adverse effect on the trading price of our common shares and/or ADSs. Furthermore, we may need to incur additional costs and use additional management and other resources as our business and operations further expand or in an effort to remediate any significant control deficiencies that may be identified in the future.
 
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We do not have liability or business disruption insurance in some of our teaching facilities, and a liability claim against us due to injuries suffered by our students or other people at our facilities could adversely affect our reputation and our financial results.
We could be held liable for accidents that occur at our schools, learning centers and other facilities, including indoor facilities where we organize certain summer camp activities and temporary housing facilities that we lease for our students from time to time. In the event of
on-site
food poisoning, personal injuries, fires or other accidents suffered by students or other people, we could face claims alleging that we were negligent, provided inadequate supervision or were otherwise liable for the injuries. We currently do not have liability insurance or business disruption insurance in some of our teaching facilities. A successful liability claim against us due to injuries suffered by our students or other people at our facilities could adversely affect our reputation and our financial results. Even if unsuccessful, such a claim could cause unfavorable publicity, require substantial cost to defend and divert the time and attention of our management from the operation of our business.
Capacity constraints or system disruptions to our computer systems or websites, any cybersecurity incidents, or a leak of student data could damage our reputation, limit our ability to retain students and increase student enrollments and require us to expend significant resources.
The performance and reliability of our online program infrastructure is critical to our reputation and ability to retain students and increase student enrollments. Any system error or failure, or a sudden and significant increase in traffic, could result in the difficulty of accessing our websites by our students or unavailability of our online programs. Although we use elastic cloud computing with an aim to timely expand our online program infrastructure to meet demand for such programs, we cannot assure you this will be sufficient to meet the increasing demands of our students as our business continues to grow. Our computer systems and operations could be vulnerable to interruption or malfunction due to events beyond our control, including natural disasters and telecommunications failures. We use various cloud data centers which enable us to restore service quickly in case of significant damage to our
on-site
computer center.
Although we have built a backup system that runs on different servers for our operating data, we may still lose important student data or suffer disruption to our operations if there is a failure of the database system or the backup system. To ensure the confidentiality and integrity of our data, including confidential student, parent and teaching staff information, we have taken security measures and adopted internal policies to protect such data. However, our computer networks may be vulnerable to unauthorized access, hacking, computer viruses and other security problems. Computer hackers may attempt to penetrate our network security and our website. We have in the past experienced several computer attacks, although they did not materially affect our operations. Unauthorized access to our proprietary business information or customer data may be obtained through
break-ins,
sabotage, breach of our secure network by an unauthorized party, computer viruses, computer
denial-of-service
attacks, employee theft or misuse, breach of the security of the networks of our third party providers, or other misconduct. Because the techniques used by computer programmers who may attempt to penetrate and sabotage our network security or our website change frequently and may not be recognized until launched against a target, we may be unable to anticipate these techniques. A user who circumvents security measures could misappropriate proprietary information or cause interruptions or malfunctions in operations. We could suffer economic and reputational damages and even bear legal liabilities if a technical failure of our systems or a security breach compromises student data, including identification or contact information, although there has not been any material compromise in the past. Any interruption to our computer systems or operations could have a material adverse effect on our ability to retain students and increase student enrollments.
 
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We may be required to expend significant resources to protect against the threat of security breaches or to alleviate problems caused by these breaches, which would increase the cost of our business and eventually have adverse effect on our financial conditions and results of operations.
Failure to comply with governmental regulation and other legal obligations concerning data protection and cybersecurity may materially and adversely affect our business, as we routinely collect, store and use data during our business.
We routinely collect, store and use data during our operations. We are subject to PRC laws and regulations governing the collecting, storing, sharing, using, processing, disclosure and protection of data on the Internet and mobile platforms as well as cybersecurity. On April 13, 2020, the Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission and ten other government authorities jointly promulgated the Measures for Cybersecurity Reviews, effective from June 1, 2020, which provide that critical information infrastructure operators purchasing network products and services, which affects or may affect national security, shall apply for cybersecurity review to the cyberspace administrations in accordance with the provisions thereunder. On July 10, 2021, the Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission published for public comment the Draft Amended Measures for Cybersecurity Reviews, which, when formally promulgated and come into effect, will repeal the current effective Measures for Cybersecurity Reviews. The Draft Amended Measures for Cybersecurity Reviews provide that critical information infrastructure operators purchasing network products and services and data processors carrying out data processing activities, which affect or may affect national security, shall apply for cybersecurity review to the cyberspace administrations in accordance with the provisions thereunder. The Draft Amended Measures for Cybersecurity Reviews were released for public comment only and the final version and effective date of such Draft Amended Measures for Cybersecurity Reviews may be subject to change with substantial uncertainty. On August 17, 2021, the state council promulgated the Regulations on Protection of Critical Information Infrastructure, which became effective on September 1, 2021. Pursuant to the Regulations on Protection of Critical Information Infrastructure, critical information infrastructure shall mean any important network facilities or information systems of the important industry or field such as public communication and information service, energy, communications, water conservation, finance, public services,
e-government
affairs and national defense science, which may endanger national security, people’s livelihood and public interest in case of damage, function loss or data leakage. In addition, relevant administration departments of each critical industry and sector, or Protection Departments, shall be responsible to formulate eligibility criteria and determine the critical information infrastructure operator in the respective industry or sector. The operators shall be informed about the final determination as to whether they are categorized as critical information infrastructure operators. As of the date of this annual report, no detailed rules or implementation has been issue by any Protection Departments and we have not been informed as a critical information infrastructure operator by any governmental authorities. Furthermore, since the final version of Draft Amended Measures for Cybersecurity Reviews is subject to significant uncertainty, there is the possibility that the PRC government authorities may require us to apply for the cybersecurity review. We will closely monitor the rule-making process and will assess and determine whether we are required to apply for the cybersecurity review when and once the Draft Amended Measures for Cybersecurity Reviews are formally promulgated. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Regulation Related to Internet Information Security and Privacy Protection.”
On August 20, 2021, the SCNPC promulgated the Personal Information Protection Law, which will take effect on November 1, 2021. The Personal Information Protection Law aims at protecting the personal information rights and interests, regulating the processing of personal information, ensuring the orderly and free flow of personal information in accordance with the law, and promoting the reasonable use of personal information. According to the Personal Information Protection Law, personal information includes all kinds of identified or identifiable information related to natural persons recorded by electronic or other means, but excludes
de-identified
information. The Personal Information Protection Law also specified the rules for handling sensitive personal information, which includes biometrics, religious beliefs, specific identities, medical health, financial accounts, trails and locations, and personal information of teenagers under fourteen years old and other personal information, which, upon leakage or illegal usage, may easily infringe the personal dignity or harm of safety of livelihood and property. Personal information handlers shall bear responsibility for their personal information handling activities, and adopt necessary measures to safeguard the security of the personal information they handle. Otherwise, the personal information handlers will be ordered for rectification or suspension or termination of provision of services, confiscation of illegal income, subject to fines or other penalties. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Regulation Related to Internet Information Security and Privacy Protection.”
 
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The scope of these laws and regulations is evolving and further detailed implementation rules and interpretations may be promulgated. We expect the regulations over data protection and privacy in the PRC to become increasingly more stringent. We cannot assure you that we can adapt our operations to the requirements promptly. We also cannot assure you that our employees would not violate any PRC laws and regulations regarding the protection of personal information. If we or any of our employees fail to comply with these laws and regulations, we may be penalized by the relevant authorities and be subject to litigation against us by consumer advocacy groups or others, criminal allegations or negative publicity, and we may be forced to terminate certain of our operations, and our operations or reputation could therefore be materially and adversely affected.
Our advertising content may subject us to penalties and other administrative actions.
Under PRC advertising laws and regulations, we are obligated to monitor our advertising content to ensure that such content is true and accurate and in full compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Violation of these laws and regulations may subject us to penalties, including fines, confiscation of our advertising income, orders to cease dissemination of the advertisements and orders to publish an announcement correcting the misleading information. In circumstances involving serious violations by us, PRC governmental authorities may force us to terminate our advertising operations or revoke our licenses. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Regulations Relating to Advertising and Promotion.”
While we have made significant efforts to ensure that our advertisements are in full compliance with applicable PRC laws and regulations, we cannot assure you that all the content contained in such advertisements is in compliance with relevant laws, regulations and regulatory requirements, especially given the tightened regulation by the government authorities in this regard. Our failure to comply with the existing and future laws, regulations and regulatory requirements may subject us to fines, penalties, rectifications and other regulatory measures.
Terrorist attacks, geopolitical uncertainty, economic slowdown and international conflicts involving the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere may discourage more students from studying in the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere outside of China, which could cause declines in the student enrollments for our courses.
Terrorist attacks, geopolitical uncertainty, economic slowdown and international conflicts involving the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere, such as the attacks on September 11, 2001, the Boston marathon bombings on April 15, 2013, and the announcement of Brexit in June 2016, could have an adverse effect on our overseas test preparation courses and English language training courses. Recently, there have been heightened tensions in relations between the United States and China. The U.S. government has imposed, and may continue to impose, restrictions to limit the entry of certain Chinese students to pursue academic studies in the United States. Such events may discourage students from studying in the United States and elsewhere outside of China and may also make it more difficult for Chinese students to obtain visas to study abroad. While we do not believe that the U.S.-China geopolitical tension will likely cause a material adverse impact on our business in the short term, further developments in the longer term could cause declines in the student enrollments for our overseas test preparation and English language training courses and overseas studies consulting services and could have an adverse effect on our overall business and results of operations.
 
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We may be subject to legal proceedings in the ordinary course of our business. If the outcomes of these proceedings are adverse to us, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, and financial condition.
We may be subject to legal proceedings from time to time in the ordinary course of our business, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, and financial condition. Claims arising out of actual or alleged violations of law could be asserted against us by our customers, our competitors, or other entities. These claims could be asserted under a variety of laws, including but not limited to intellectual property laws, labor and employment laws, securities laws, contract laws, property laws, and employee benefit laws. As a publicly-listed company, we may also face additional exposure to claims and lawsuits inside and outside China, including securities law class actions. See “Risk Factors— Risks Related to Our Business—We and certain of our directors and officers have been named as a defendant in a putative shareholder class action lawsuit that could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and reputation.” There is no guarantee that we will be successful in defending ourselves in legal and administrative actions or in asserting our rights under various laws. Even if we are successful in our attempt to defend ourselves in legal and administrative actions or to assert our rights under various laws, enforcing our rights against the various parties involved may be expensive, time-consuming, and ultimately futile. These actions could expose us to negative publicity and to substantial monetary damages and legal defense costs, injunctive relief, and criminal, civil, and administrative fines and penalties.
We and certain of our directors and officers have been named as a defendant in a putative shareholder class action lawsuit that could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and reputation.
We will have to defend against putative shareholder class action lawsuits described in “Item 8. Financial Information—A. Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information—Legal and Administrative Proceedings,” including any appeals of such lawsuits should our initial defenses be unsuccessful. We are currently unable to estimate the possible outcome or loss or possible range of loss, if any, associated with the resolution of the lawsuit. In the event that our initial defense of the lawsuit is unsuccessful, there can be no assurance that we will prevail in any appeal. Any adverse outcome, including any plaintiff’s appeal of a judgment in the lawsuit, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and reputation. In addition, there can be no assurance that our insurance carriers will cover all or part of the defense costs, or any liabilities that may arise from these matters. The litigation process may utilize a significant portion of our resources and divert management’s attention from the
day-to-day
operations of our company, all of which could harm our business. We also may be subject to claims for indemnification related to these matters, and we cannot predict the impact that indemnification claims may have on our business or financial results.
We may need additional capital, and financing may not be available on terms acceptable to us, or at all.
We believe that our current cash and cash equivalents and anticipated cash flow from operations will be sufficient to meet our anticipated cash needs for the near future. We may, however, require additional cash resources to finance our future developments, including any investments or acquisitions we may decide to pursue. The amount and timing of such additional financing needs will vary principally depending on the timing of new business developments, investments and/or acquisitions, and the amount of cash flow from our operations. If our existing cash resources are insufficient to satisfy our cash requirements, we may seek to sell additional equity or debt securities or obtain a credit facility. The sale of additional equity securities could result in additional dilution to our shareholders. The incurrence of indebtedness would result in increased debt service obligations and could result in operating and financing covenants that would restrict our operations.
Our ability to obtain additional capital on acceptable terms is subject to a variety of uncertainties, including:
 
   
investors’ perception of, and demand for, securities of educational service providers;
 
   
conditions of the U.S. and other capital markets in which we may seek to raise funds;
 
   
our future results of operations, financial condition and cash flows;
 
   
PRC governmental regulation of foreign investment in education in China;
 
   
economic, political and other conditions in China; and
 
   
PRC governmental policies relating to foreign currency borrowings.
We cannot assure you that financing will be available in amounts or on terms acceptable to us, if at all, especially in the event of a severe and prolonged economic recession globally or in the jurisdictions where we operate. If we fail to raise additional funds, we may need to reduce our growth to a level that can be supported by our cash flow. Without additional capital, we may not be able to develop and grow new businesses, acquire necessary technologies, products or businesses, hire, train and retain teachers and other employees, market our programs, services and products, or respond to competitive pressures or unanticipated capital requirements.
 
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If we are unable to comply with the restrictions and covenants in the trust deed in connection with the 2025 Notes, or our current or future debt and other agreements, our cash flow and liquidity could be adversely affected.
In July 2020, we completed an offering of US$300 million aggregate principal amount of 2.125% notes due 2025, or the 2025 Notes. If we are unable to comply with the restrictions and covenants in the trust deed in connection with the 2025 Notes, or our current or future debt and other agreements, there could be a default under the terms of these agreements. In the event of a default under these agreements, the holders of the debt could terminate their commitments to lend to us, accelerate the debt and declare all amounts borrowed due and payable or terminate the agreements, as the case may be. Furthermore, some of our debt agreements, including the trust deed in connection with the 2025 Notes, contain cross-acceleration or cross-default provisions. As a result, our default under one debt agreement may cause the acceleration of debt, including the 2025 Notes, or result in a default under our other debt agreements, including the trust deed in connection with the 2025 Notes. If any of these events occur, we cannot assure you that our assets and cash flow would be sufficient to repay in full all of our indebtedness, or that we would be able to find alternative financing. Even if we could obtain alternative financing, we cannot assure you that it would be on terms that are favorable or acceptable to us. The occurrence of these events may have a material adverse effect on our cash flow and liquidity.
Failure to control rental costs, obtain leases at desired locations at reasonable prices or protect our leasehold interests could materially and adversely affect our business.
Our office, schools and learning centers are mainly located on leased premises. The lease term generally ranges from three to fifteen years and the lease agreements are renewable upon mutual consent at the end of the applicable lease period. We may not be able to obtain new leases at desirable locations or renew our existing leases on acceptable terms or at all, which could adversely affect our business. We may have to relocate our operations for various other reasons, including increasing rentals, failure in passing the fire inspection in certain locations, the violation of the prescribed usage of the properties we use, and the early termination of our lease agreements under applicable PRC laws and regulations.
In addition, a few of our lessors have not been able to provide us with copies of title certificates or other evidentiary documents to prove that they have authorization to lease the properties to us. Our business and legal teams follow an internal procedure to identify and assess risks when leasing properties in the normal course of business, and a final business decision would be made after our analysis of the likely impact of the defects on the leasehold interests and the value of the properties to our expansion plan. However, there is no assurance that our decision would always lead to the favorable outcome we expected to achieve. If any of our leases are terminated as a result of challenges by third parties or government authorities for lack of title certificates or proof of authorization to lease, we do not expect to be subject to any fines or penalties but we may be forced to relocate the affected learning centers and incur additional expenses relating to such relocation. Furthermore, a few of our lessors have mortgaged the properties that we are renting. In the event that these properties are foreclosed on due to the lessors’ failure to perform their obligations to the creditors, we may not be able to continue to use such leased properties and may incur additional expenses for relocation.
In addition, we have not registered some of our lease agreements with the relevant PRC governmental authorities as required by relevant PRC law. While the lack of registration would not affect the validity and enforceability of the lease agreements in practice, we may be required by the relevant governmental authorities to complete such registration, or otherwise be subject to fines ranging from RMB1,000 to RMB10,000 for each lease agreement that has not been registered.
According to the PRC fire safety laws and regulations, construction and renovation of buildings are subject to fire control approvals or fire control filings except for certain statutory exemptions. A portion of the properties we use do not fully comply with the fire control approval or fire control filing requirements primarily because our Group consists of a colossal network of schools and subsidiaries and different local authorities may have different practices in enforcing the regulatory requirements. We also cannot assure you that the properties we lease in the future would fully comply with the relevant fire control laws and regulations. If our use of the properties is challenged by relevant government authorities for lack of fire control procedures, we may be subject to fines and may need to relocate our operations to other locations, which would incur additional expenses. If we fail to find suitable replacement sites in a timely manner or on terms acceptable to us, our business and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected. As of the date of this annual report, we were not asked to relocate by any competent authority for lack of fire control procedures. To prevent the reoccurrence of such
non-compliances,
we have formulated management measures on property leasing which require our schools to investigate the fire control procedure status of a property and evaluate its fire control risk before leasing it, and complete the subsequent fire control procedures if required. For existing leased properties lacking fire control procedures, we also encourage our schools to voluntarily relocate when condition permits to reduce our compliant risk.
 
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Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure
If the PRC government finds that the agreements that establish the structure for operating some of our China business do not comply with applicable PRC laws and regulations relating to the relevant industries, or if these regulations or the interpretation of existing regulations change in the future, we could be subject to severe penalties or be forced to relinquish our interests in those operations.
PRC laws and regulations currently require any foreign entity that invests in the education business in China to be an educational institution with relevant experience in providing educational services outside China. Our offshore holding companies are not educational institutions and do not provide educational services outside China. In addition, in the PRC, foreign ownership of high schools for students in grade ten to twelve is restricted and foreign ownership of primary and middle schools for students in grades one to nine is prohibited. As a result, our offshore holding companies are not allowed to directly own and operate schools in China.
We are a Cayman Islands exempted company with no equity ownership in our variable interest entities. We conduct substantially all of our education business in China through a series of contractual arrangements with New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries and New Oriental China’s shareholder. These contractual arrangements enable us to (1) have power to direct the activities that most significantly affect the economic performance of New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries; (2) receive substantially all of the economic benefits from New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries in consideration for the services provided by our wholly-owned subsidiaries in China; and (3) have an exclusive option to purchase all or part of the equity interests in New Oriental China, when and to the extent permitted by PRC law, or request any existing shareholder of New Oriental China to transfer all or part of the equity interest in New Oriental China to another PRC person or entity designated by us at any time in our discretion. For a description of these contractual arrangements, see “ Item 4. Information on the Company—C. Organizational Structure— Contractual Arrangements with New Oriental China, Its Schools and Subsidiaries and Its Shareholder.”
In addition, foreign ownership in entities that provided value-added telecommunication services, with a few exceptions, is subject to restrictions under the current PRC laws and regulations. Specifically, foreign ownership of an internet information service provider may not exceed 50%, and the major foreign investor is required to have a record of good performance and operating experience in managing value-added telecommunication business. To ensure compliance with the PRC laws and regulations, our online education business is operated by our majority-owned subsidiary, Koolearn Technology Holding Limited, or Koolearn, through a series of contractual arrangements with Beijing New Oriental Xuncheng Network Technology Co., Ltd., or Beijing Xuncheng, and its subsidiaries and shareholders. These contractual arrangements enable Koolearn to (1) have power to direct the activities that most significantly affect the economic performance of Beijing Xuncheng and its subsidiaries; (2) receive substantially all of the economic benefits from Beijing Xuncheng and its subsidiaries in consideration for the services provided by Koolearn’s wholly-owned subsidiaries in China; and (3) have an exclusive option to purchase all or part of the equity interests in Beijing Xuncheng, when and to the extent permitted by PRC law, or request any existing shareholder of Beijing Xuncheng to transfer all or part of the equity interest in Beijing Xuncheng to another PRC person or entity designated by us at any time in our discretion. For a description of these contractual arrangements, see “ Item 4. Information on the Company—C. Organizational Structure—Contractual Arrangements with Beijing Xuncheng, Its Subsidiaries and Shareholders.” In this annual report, we refer to New Oriental China and Beijing Xuncheng as our variable interest entities, and to New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries as well as Beijing Xuncheng and its subsidiaries as our consolidated affiliated entities. Investors in our common shares or the ADSs thus are not purchasing equity interest in the variable interest entities in China but instead are purchasing equity interest in a Cayman Islands holding company. If the PRC government deems that our contractual arrangements with the variable interest entities do not comply with PRC regulatory restrictions on foreign investment in the relevant industries, or if these regulations or the interpretation of existing regulations change or are interpreted differently in the future, we could be subject to severe penalties or be forced to relinquish our interests in those operations and our shares may decline in value or if we are unable to assert our contractual control rights over the assets of our PRC subsidiaries that conduct all or substantially all of our operations. Our holding company in the Cayman Islands, our variable interest entities, and investors of our company face uncertainty about potential future actions by the PRC government that could affect the enforceability of the contractual arrangements with our variable interest entities and, consequently, significantly affect the financial performance of our variable interest entities and our company as a group.
 
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On July 24, 2021, the General Office of State Council and the General Office of Central Committee of the Communist Party of China jointly promulgated the Alleviating Burden Opinion, which provides, among others, that (i) Academic AST Institutions are prohibited from raising funds by listing on stock markets or conducting any capitalization activities; (ii) foreign capital is prohibited from controlling or participating in any Academic AST Institutions through mergers and acquisitions, entrusted operation, joining franchise or variable interest entities; (iii) online tutoring for
preschool-age
children is prohibited, and offline academic subjects (including foreign language) tutoring services for
preschool-age
children is also strictly prohibited. The Alleviating Burden Opinion provides that any violation of the foregoing shall be rectified. The Alleviating Burden Opinion further states that the administration and supervision over academic subjects tutoring institutions for students on grade ten to twelve shall be implemented by reference to the relevant provisions of the Alleviating Burden Opinion. It remains uncertain as to how and to what extent the administration over academic subjects tutoring institutions for students on grade ten to twelve will be implemented by reference of the Alleviating Burden Opinion.
On April 7, 2021, the State Council promulgated the Amended Implementation Rules for the Private Education Law, which became effective on September 1, 2021, or the Amended Implementation Rules. The Amended Implementation Rules provide that a private school providing compulsory education is prohibited from conducting transactions with its related party. Relevant government authorities shall enhance the supervision on the agreements entered into between
non-profit
private schools and its related party and shall review such transaction on an annual basis. New Oriental China has two private schools providing compulsory education, Beijing Changping New Oriental Bilingual School and Beijing New Oriental Yangzhou Foreign Language School. As a result of the effectiveness of the Amended Implementation Rules from September 1, 2021, we shall not conduct any related party transaction, including the related party transaction under our contractual arrangements with these two compulsory education schools. One of our wholly-owned subsidiaries, Beijing Pioneer, has entered into a master exclusive service agreement on September 19, 2014, as amended, with New Oriental China. In accordance with the Amended Implementation Rules, the master exclusive service agreement was further amended and effective from September 1, 2021,
to exclude Beijing Changping New Oriental Bilingual School and Beijing New Oriental Yangzhou Foreign Language School from such agreement. We may take further necessary measures to comply with the Amended Implementation Rules. The contribution of Beijing Changping New Oriental Bilingual School and Beijing New Oriental Yangzhou Foreign Language School have been immaterial to our business, we derived less than 1% of our total net revenues from these two schools for each of the fiscal years ended May 31, 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Tian Yuan Law Firm, our PRC legal counsel, is of the opinion that, as of May 31, 2021:
 
   
(i) the corporate structure of New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries and our wholly-owned subsidiaries in China, and (ii) the corporate structure of Beijing Xuncheng and its subsidiaries and the wholly-owned subsidiaries of Koolearn in China are not in violation of existing PRC laws and regulations as of May 31, 2021; and
 
   
(i) the contractual arrangements among our wholly-owned subsidiaries in China, New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries and the shareholder of New Oriental China, and (ii) the contractual arrangements among Koolearn’s wholly-owned subsidiaries in China, Beijing Xuncheng and its subsidiaries and shareholders are valid, binding and enforceable under, and do not violate, PRC laws or regulations in effect as of May 31, 2021.
 
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The Amended Implementation Rules, effective from September 1, 2021, also provide that social organizations and individuals are prohibited from controlling a private school that provide compulsory education or a
non-profit
private school that provide
pre-school
education through mergers and acquisitions or control agreements. It is unclear whether the above provisions have any retrospective effect for control agreements over private compulsory education schools and
non-profit
pre-school
education schools existing before September 1, 2021. In the event that competent governmental authorities make any retrospective interpretation of the aforesaid provisions in the future, we will need to rescind the contractual arrangements with existing
non-profit
pre-school
education schools. As of the date of this annual report, no government authorities have informed us that the above provisions are retrospective and we have not been requested by competent government authorities to unwind the contractual arrangements over our existing
non-profit
pre-school
education schools.
On November 7, 2018, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council issued the Opinions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and State Council on Deepening Reform in Preschool Education, or Preschool Opinions. The Preschool Opinions provide that
non-state
capital is prohibited from controlling
non-profit
kindergartens through contractual arrangements. In January 2019, the General Office of the State Council issued the Circular on Initiating the Rectification of Kindergartens Affiliated to the Residential Communities in Urban Areas, pursuant to which the community-affiliated kindergartens can only be registered as
non-profit
kindergartens. As of the date of this annual report, we have not been requested by competent government authorities to unwind the contractual arrangements over our kindergartens.
The Preschool Opinions also provide that private kindergartens are prohibited from listing as public companies by themselves or through packaging with other assets; and listed companies are prohibited from investing in
for-profit
kindergartens using funds from the capital market and acquiring
for-profit
kindergarten assets with stock or cash consideration. As advised by our PRC legal counsel, Tian Yuan Law Firm, the prohibition of private kindergartens from listing as public companies shall not have retrospective effect on private kindergartens that are already operated by a listed company prior to the promulgation of the Preschool Opinions, and as we have been a public company since 2006, our kindergartens do not fall within “listing as public companies by themselves or through packaging with other assets.” After the promulgation of the Preschool Opinions, we did not make any investment in
for-profit
kindergartens using funds from the capital market or acquire any
for-profit
kindergartens assets with stock or cash consideration in order to comply with the Preschool Opinions. The contribution of kindergartens have been immaterial to our business, we derived less than 1% of our total net revenues from our kindergartens for each of the fiscal years ended May 31, 2019, 2020 and 2021. Based on the foregoing, our PRC legal counsel is of the view that the restrictions of the Preschool Opinions on the investment in or acquisition of
for-profit
kindergartens would not materially and negatively impact our business and operations.
We have been advised by our PRC legal counsel, however, that there are substantial uncertainties regarding the interpretation and application of current and future PRC laws and regulations. Accordingly, there can be no assurance that the PRC regulatory authorities will not in the future take a view that is contrary to the above opinion of our PRC legal counsel. For example, if the relevant government authorities take a different view from ours on the Preschool Opinions and determine that our
for-profit
and/or
non-profit
kindergartens shall be excluded from our company, we may be requested to unwind the contractual arrangements for some or all of our kindergartens.
It is uncertain whether any new PRC laws, rules or regulations relating to variable interest entity structures will be adopted or if adopted, what they would provide. In particular, whether and how the Foreign Investment Law promulgated in March 2019, which came into effect on January 1, 2020, will impact the viability of our current corporate structure, corporate governance and business operations. See “Risks Related to Doing Business in China — Uncertainties exist with respect to the interpretation and implementation of the Foreign Investment Law and how it may impact the viability of our current corporate structure, corporate governance, business, financial condition and results of operations.”
 
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We have been further advised by our PRC legal counsel that if we and/or any of our PRC subsidiaries or consolidated affiliated entities are found to be in violation of any existing or future PRC laws or regulations or fail to obtain or maintain any of the required permits or approvals, the relevant PRC regulatory authorities, including the Ministry of Education, which regulates the education industry, would have broad discretion in dealing with such violations, including:
 
   
revoking the business and operating licenses of our PRC subsidiaries or consolidated affiliated entities;
 
   
confiscating any of our income that they deem to be obtained through illegal operations;
 
   
discontinuing or restricting the operations of any related-party transactions among our PRC subsidiaries and our consolidated affiliated entities;
 
   
restricting our right to collect revenues or limiting our business expansion in China by way of entering into contractual arrangements;
 
   
imposing fines or other requirements with which we may not be able to comply;
 
   
requiring us to restructure our corporate structure or operations;
 
   
restricting or prohibiting our use of the proceeds of our future offering to finance our business and operations in China; or
 
   
taking other regulatory or enforcement actions that could be harmful to our business.
The imposition of any of these penalties could result in a material and adverse effect on our ability to conduct our business and on our results of operations. If any of these penalties results in our inability to direct the activities of our consolidated affiliated entities that most significantly impact their economic performance, and/or our failure to receive the economic benefits from our consolidated affiliated entities, we may not be able to consolidate our consolidated affiliated entities in our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP. However, we do not believe that such actions would result in the liquidation or dissolution of our company.
We rely on contractual arrangements for our operations in China, which may not be as effective in providing operational control as direct ownership.
We have relied and expect to continue to rely on contractual arrangements with our variable interest entities, their respective schools and/or subsidiaries and their respective shareholders to operate substantially all of our education business. These contractual arrangements may not be as effective in providing us with control over our variable interest entities as direct ownership. From the legal perspective, if our variable interest entities, any of their schools and/or subsidiaries or their shareholders fails to perform its respective obligations under the contractual arrangements, we may have to incur substantial costs and spend other resources to enforce such arrangements, and rely on legal remedies under PRC law, including seeking specific performance or injunctive relief and claiming damages. For example, if Beijing Century Friendship Education Investment Co., Ltd., or Century Friendship, the sole shareholder of New Oriental China, were to refuse to transfer its equity interest in New Oriental China to us or our designee when we exercise the call option pursuant to the option agreement, or if it otherwise acts in bad faith toward us, then we may have to take legal action to compel it to fulfill its contractual obligations, which could be time consuming and costly.
These contractual arrangements are governed by PRC law and provide for the resolution of disputes through arbitration in the PRC or through the PRC courts. The legal environment in the PRC is not as developed as in some other jurisdictions, such as the United States. As a result, uncertainties in the PRC legal system could limit our ability to enforce these contractual arrangements. In the fiscal years ended May 31, 2019, 2020 and 2021, our consolidated affiliated entities contributed in aggregate 98.7%, 96.5% and 99.9%, respectively, of our total net revenues. In the event we are unable to enforce these contractual arrangements, we may not be able to have the power to direct the activities that most significantly affect the economic performance of our consolidated affiliated entities, and our ability to conduct our business may be negatively affected, and we may not be able to consolidate the financial results of our consolidated affiliated entities into our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP.
 
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Our ability to enforce the equity pledge agreements between us and the shareholders of our variable interest entities may be subject to limitations based on PRC laws and regulations.
Pursuant to the equity pledge agreements among our subsidiaries in China, each of our variable interest entities and their respective shareholders, each shareholder of our variable interest entities agrees to pledge its equity interests in the variable interest entity to our subsidiaries to secure the performance by themselves and by our consolidated affiliated entities of their obligations under the relevant contractual arrangements. The equity pledges of shareholders of our variable interest entities under these equity pledge agreements have been registered with the relevant local branch of the SAMR. According to the PRC Property Law and PRC Guarantee Law, the pledgee and the pledgor are prohibited from making an agreement prior to the expiration of the debt performance period to transfer the ownership of the pledged equity to the pledgee. However, under the PRC Property Law, when an obligor fails to pay its debt when due, the pledgee may choose to either conclude an agreement with the pledgor to obtain the pledged equity or seek payments from the proceeds of the auction or
sell-off
of the pledged equity. If any of our consolidated affiliated entities or any of the shareholders of our variable interest entities fails to perform its obligations secured by the pledges under the equity pledge agreements, one remedy in the event of default under the agreements is to require the pledgor to sell the equity interests of our variable interest entity in an auction or private sale and remit the proceeds to our subsidiaries in China, net of related taxes and expenses. Such an auction or private sale may not result in our receipt of the full value of the equity interests in the variable interest entity. We consider it very unlikely that the public auction process would be undertaken since, in an event of default, our preferred approach is to ask our PRC subsidiary, a party to the option agreement with the shareholder of our variable interest entities, to designate another PRC person or entity to replace the shareholder pursuant to the direct transfer option we have under the option agreement.
In addition, for New Oriental China, the amount of registered equity interests pledged to our wholly-owned subsidiaries in the registration forms of the local branch of the SAMR was stated as RMB3,000,000, RMB18,500,000, RMB9,500,000, RMB14,000,000 and RMB5,000,000, respectively, which in aggregate represent 100% of the registered capital of New Oriental China. The equity pledge agreements with New Oriental China’s shareholder provide that the pledged equity interest shall constitute continuing security for any and all of the indebtedness, obligations and liabilities under all of the principal service agreements and the scope of pledge shall not be limited by the amount of the registered capital of New Oriental China. However, it is possible that a PRC court may take the position that the amount listed on the equity pledge registration forms represents the full amount of the collateral that has been registered and perfected. If this is the case, the obligations that are supposed to be secured in the equity pledge agreements in excess of the amount listed on the equity pledge registration forms could be determined by the PRC court as unsecured debt, which takes last priority among creditors and often does not have to be paid back at all. We do not have agreements that pledge the assets of New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries for the benefit of us or our wholly-owned subsidiaries.
The controlling shareholder of Century Friendship, which is the sole shareholder of New Oriental China, may have potential conflicts of interest with us, and if any such conflicts of interest are not resolved in our favor, our business may be materially and adversely affected.
New Oriental China is the majority shareholder of Beijing Xuncheng, holding 74.494% of Beijing Xuncheng as of May 31, 2021. New Oriental China is wholly owned by Century Friendship, a PRC domestic company which is controlled by Mr. Michael Minhong Yu, our founder and executive chairman. The interests of Mr. Yu as the controlling shareholder of the entity which owns New Oriental China may differ from the interests of our company as a whole, since Mr. Yu is only one of the beneficial owners of our company, holding 11.6% of our total common shares issued and outstanding as of September 17, 2021. We cannot assure you that when conflicts of interest arise, Mr. Yu will act in the best interests of our company or that conflicts of interests will be resolved in our favor. In addition, Mr. Yu may breach or cause New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries to breach or cause Beijing Xuncheng and its subsidiaries to breach or refuse to renew the existing contractual arrangements with us. Currently, we do not have existing arrangements to address potential conflicts of interest Mr. Yu may encounter in his capacity as a beneficial owner and director of New Oriental China, on the one hand, and as a beneficial owner and director of our company, on the other hand; provided that we could, at all times, exercise our option under the option agreement with Century Friendship to cause it to transfer all of its equity ownership in New Oriental China to a PRC entity or individual designated by us, and this new shareholder of New Oriental China could then appoint a new director of New Oriental China to replace Mr. Yu. In addition, if such conflicts of interest arise, Beijing Pioneer could also, in the capacity of Century Friendship’s
attorney-in-fact
as provided under the proxy agreement and power of attorney, directly appoint a new director of New Oriental China to replace Mr. Yu. We rely on Century Friendship and Mr. Yu to comply with the laws of China, which protect contracts, including the contractual arrangements New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries and its shareholder have entered into with us, which provide that directors and executive officers owe a duty of loyalty to our company and require them to avoid conflicts of interest and not to take advantage of their positions for personal gains. We also rely on Mr. Yu to abide by the laws of the Cayman Islands, which provide that directors have a duty of care and a duty of loyalty to act honestly in good faith with a view to our best interests. However, the legal frameworks of China and the Cayman Islands do not provide guidance on resolving conflicts in the event of a conflict with another corporate governance regime. If we cannot resolve any conflicts of interest or disputes between us and Century Friendship and Mr. Yu, we would have to rely on legal proceedings, which could result in disruption of our business and subject us to substantial uncertainty as to the outcome of any such legal proceedings.
 
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If the custodians or authorized users of our controlling
non-tangible
assets, including chops and seals, fail to fulfill their responsibilities, or misappropriate or misuse these assets, our business and operations could be materially and adversely affected.
Under PRC law, legal documents for corporate transactions, including agreements and contracts such as the leases and sales contracts that our business relies on, are executed using the chop or seal of the signing entity or with the signature of a legal representative whose designation is registered and filed with the relevant local branch of the SAMR. We generally execute legal documents by affixing chops or seals, rather than having the designated legal representatives sign the documents.
We have three major types of chops — corporate chops, contract chops and finance chops. We use corporate chops generally for documents to be submitted to government agencies, such as applications for changing business scope, directors or company name, and for legal letters. We use contract chops for executing leases and commercial, contracts. We use finance chops generally for making and collecting payments, including, but not limited to issuing invoices. Use of corporate chops and contract chops must be approved by our legal department and administrative department, and use of finance chops must be approved by our finance department. The chops of our subsidiaries and our consolidated affiliated entities are generally held by the relevant entities so that documents can be executed locally. Although we usually utilize chops to execute contracts, the registered legal representatives of our PRC subsidiaries and our consolidated affiliated entities have the apparent authority to enter into contracts on behalf of such entities without chops. All designated legal representatives of our PRC subsidiaries and our consolidated affiliated entities are members of our or the respective entity’s senior management who have signed employment agreements with us under which they agree to abide by duties they owe to us.
In order to maintain the physical security of our chops, we generally have them stored in secured locations accessible only to the department heads of the legal, administrative or finance departments. Our designated legal representatives generally do not have access to the chops. Although we monitor our employees, including the designated legal representatives of our PRC subsidiaries and our consolidated affiliated entities, the procedures may not be sufficient to prevent all instances of abuse or negligence. There is a risk that our employees or designated legal representatives could abuse their authority, for example, by binding the relevant subsidiary or consolidated affiliated entity with contracts against our interests, as we would be obligated to honor these contracts if the other contracting party acts in good faith in reliance on the apparent authority of our chops or signatures of our legal representatives. If any designated legal representative obtains control of the chop in an effort to obtain control over the relevant entity, we would need to have a shareholder or board resolution to designate a new legal representative and to take legal action to seek the return of the chop, apply for a new chop with the relevant authorities, or otherwise seek legal remedies for the legal representative’s misconduct. If any of the designated legal representatives obtains and misuses or misappropriates our chops and seals or other controlling intangible assets for whatever reason, we could experience disruption to our normal business operations. We may have to take corporate or legal action, which could involve significant time and resources to resolve while distracting management from our operations.
Our ability to operate private schools may be subject to significant limitations or may otherwise be materially and adversely affected by changes in PRC laws, regulations and policies.
Laws, regulations and policies governing PRC private education are subject to ongoing changes, which may materially affect our ability to operate private schools. For example, the Amended Implementation Rules and Alleviating Burden Opinion have brought and will continuously bring significant impact on our operation. See “—Significant uncertainties exist in relation to the interpretation and implementation of, or proposed changes to, the PRC laws, regulations and policies regarding the private education industry. In particular, our compliance with the Opinions on Further Alleviating the Burden of Homework and After-School Tutoring for Students in Compulsory Education and the implementation measures issued thereunder by the relevant PRC government authorities has materially and adversely affected and will materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospect.” In November 2018, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council issued the Preschool Opinions. In January 2019, the General Office of the State Council issued the Circular on Initiating the Rectification. It is uncertain as to how the Preschool Opinions and the Circular on Initiating the Rectification will be interpreted and implemented. To the extent that we are not able to fully comply with these requirements, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected. See “— If the PRC government finds that the agreements that establish the structure for operating some of our China business do not comply with applicable PRC laws and regulations relating to the relevant industries, or if these regulations or the interpretation of existing regulations change in the future, we could be subject to severe penalties or be forced to relinquish our interests in those operations.”
 
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In addition, under PRC laws and regulations, arrangements and transactions among related parties may be subject to audit or challenge by the PRC tax authorities. The contractual arrangements with our consolidated affiliated entities may be subject to scrutiny by the PRC tax authorities, and a finding that we owe additional taxes could substantially reduce our consolidated net income and the value of your investment. We could face material and adverse tax consequences if the PRC tax authorities determine that the contractual arrangements among our subsidiaries in China and our consolidated affiliated entities, do not represent an
arm’s-length
price and adjust our consolidated affiliated entities’ income in the form of a transfer pricing adjustment. A transfer pricing adjustment could, among other things, result in a reduction, for PRC tax purposes, of expense deductions recorded by our consolidated affiliated entities, which could in turn increase their tax liabilities. In addition, the PRC tax authorities may impose late payment fees and other penalties to our consolidated affiliated entities for under-paid taxes. Our consolidated net income may be materially and adversely affected if our tax liabilities increase or if we are found to be subject to late payment fees or other penalties.
We may rely on dividends and other distributions on equity paid by our wholly-owned subsidiaries to fund any cash and financing requirements we may have, and any limitation on the ability of our subsidiaries or New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries to make payments to us could have a material adverse effect on our ability to conduct our business.
We are a holding company, and we may rely on dividends from our wholly-owned subsidiaries in China and service, license and other fees paid to our wholly-owned subsidiaries by New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries for our cash requirements, including any debt we may incur. Current PRC regulations permit our subsidiaries to pay dividends to us only out of their accumulated profits, if any, determined in accordance with Chinese accounting standards and regulations. In addition, each of our subsidiaries and New Oriental China and its subsidiaries in China is required to set aside at least 10% of its
after-tax
profits each year, if any, to fund a statutory reserve until such reserve reaches 50% of its registered capital, and each of our subsidiaries is required to further set aside a portion of its
after-tax
profits to fund the employee welfare fund at the discretion of its board of directors. These reserves are not distributable as cash dividends. Furthermore, if our subsidiaries and New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries in China incur debt on their own behalf in the future, the instruments governing the debt may restrict their ability to pay dividends or make other payments to us. In addition, the PRC tax authorities may require us to adjust our taxable income under the contractual arrangements we currently have in place in a manner that would materially and adversely affect our subsidiaries’ ability to pay dividends and other distributions to us. Moreover, at the end of each fiscal year, every private school in China is required to allocate a certain amount to its development fund for the construction or maintenance of the school or procurement or upgrade of educational equipment. In the case of a private school that requires reasonable returns, this amount shall be no less than 25% of the annual net income of the school, while in the case of a private school that does not require reasonable returns, this amount shall be equivalent to no less than 25% of the annual increase in the net assets of the school, if any. Any limitation on the ability of our subsidiaries to distribute dividends to us or on the ability of New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries to make payments to us could materially and adversely limit our ability to grow, make investments or acquisitions that could be beneficial to our businesses, pay dividends, or otherwise fund and conduct our business.
 
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PRC regulation of loans to, and direct investment in, PRC entities by offshore holding companies and governmental control of currency conversion may restrict or prevent us from making loans to our PRC subsidiaries or New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries or making additional capital contributions to our PRC subsidiaries, which could materially and adversely affect our liquidity and our ability to fund and expand our business.
We are an offshore holding company conducting our operations in China through our PRC subsidiaries and New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries. We may need to make loans to our PRC subsidiaries or New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries, or we may make additional capital contributions to our PRC subsidiaries.
Any loans to our PRC subsidiaries or New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries are subject to PRC regulations. For example, loans by us to our wholly-owned subsidiaries in China, each of which is a foreign-invested enterprise, to finance their activities cannot exceed statutory limits and must be registered with the PRC State Administration of Foreign Exchange, or SAFE, or its local counterparts. Loans by us to New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries, which are domestic PRC entities, must be approved by the relevant government authorities and must also be registered with SAFE or its local counterparts.
We may also decide to finance our PRC subsidiaries by means of capital contributions. These capital contributions must be filing and reporting to the PRC Ministry of Commerce or its local counterparts. We are unlikely, however, to finance the activities of New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries by means of capital contributions due to regulatory issues related to foreign investment in domestic PRC entities, as well as the licensing and other regulatory issues. SAFE promulgated the Notice of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange on Reforming the Administration of Foreign Exchange Settlement of Capital of Foreign-invested Enterprises, or SAFE Circular 19, effective in June 2015, in replacement of former regulations. According to SAFE Circular 19, the flow and use of the RMB capital converted from foreign currency-denominated registered capital of a foreign-invested company is regulated such that RMB capital may not be used for the issuance of RMB entrusted loans, the repayment of inter-enterprise loans or the repayment of bank loans that have been transferred to a third-party. Although SAFE Circular 19 allows RMB capital converted from foreign currency-denominated registered capital of a foreign-invested enterprise to be used for equity investments within China, it also reiterates the principle that RMB converted from the foreign currency-denominated capital of a foreign-invested company may not be directly or indirectly used for purposes beyond its business scope. Thus, it is unclear whether in practice SAFE will permit such capital to be used for equity investments in China. SAFE promulgated the Notice of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange on Reforming and Standardizing the Foreign Exchange Settlement Management Policy of Capital Account, or SAFE Circular 16, effective on June 9, 2016, which reiterates some of the rules set forth in SAFE Circular 19, but changes the limitation on the use of RMB capital converted from foreign currency-denominated registered capital of a foreign-invested company from prohibiting using such capital to issue RMB entrusted loans to prohibiting using such capital to issue loans to
non-associated
enterprises. Violations of SAFE Circular 19 and SAFE Circular 16 could result in administrative penalties. SAFE Circular 19 and SAFE Circular 16 may, significantly limit our ability to transfer any foreign currency we hold, which may adversely affect our liquidity and our ability to fund and expand our business in China. On October 23, 2019, SAFE promulgated the Notice for Further Advancing the Facilitation of Cross-border Trade and Investment, or the SAFE Circular 28, which, among other things, allows all foreign-invested companies to use RMB converted from foreign currency-denominated capital for equity investments in China, for so long as there is a truthful equity investment, and such equity investment does not violate applicable laws and complies with the negative list on foreign investment. See also “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation.”
 
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We expect that PRC laws and regulations may continue to limit our use of proceeds from offshore offerings. There are no costs associated with registering loans or capital contributions with relevant PRC government authorities, other than nominal processing charges. We cannot assure you that we will be able to obtain these government registrations or approvals on a timely basis, if at all. If we fail to receive such registrations or approvals, our ability to capitalize our PRC operations may be negatively affected, which could adversely affect our liquidity and our ability to fund and expand our business.
If any of New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries becomes the subject of a bankruptcy or liquidation proceeding, we may lose the ability to use and enjoy their assets, which could reduce the size of our operations and materially and adversely affect our business, ability to generate revenue and the market price of our common shares and/or ADSs.
To comply with PRC laws and regulations relating to foreign ownership restrictions in the education business, we currently conduct substantially all of our operations in China through contractual arrangements with New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries as well as its shareholder. As part of these arrangements, New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries hold assets that are important to the operation of our business.
We do not have priority pledges and liens against New Oriental China’s assets. As a contractual and property right matter, this lack of priority pledges and liens has remote risks. If New Oriental China undergoes an involuntary liquidation proceeding, third-party creditors may claim rights to some or all of its assets and we may not have priority against such third-party creditors on New Oriental China’s assets. If New Oriental China liquidates, we may take part in the liquidation procedures as a general creditor under the PRC Enterprise Bankruptcy Law and recover any outstanding liabilities owed by New Oriental China to our PRC subsidiaries under the applicable service agreements. To ameliorate the risks of an involuntary liquidation proceeding initiated by a third-party creditor, we closely monitor the operations and finances of New Oriental China through carefully designed budgetary and internal controls to ensure that New Oriental China is well capitalized and is highly unlikely to trigger any third party monetary claims in excess of its assets and cash resources. Furthermore, our PRC subsidiaries have the ability, if necessary, to inject capital in Renminbi into New Oriental China to prevent such an involuntary liquidation.
If the shareholder of New Oriental China were to attempt to voluntarily liquidate New Oriental China without obtaining our prior consent, we could effectively prevent such unauthorized voluntary liquidation by exercising our right to request New Oriental China’s shareholder to transfer all of its equity ownership interest to a PRC entity or individual designated by us in accordance with the option agreement with the New Oriental China shareholder. In addition, under the equity pledge agreements signed by the shareholder of New Oriental China and the PRC Property Law, the shareholder of New Oriental China does not have the right to issue dividends to itself or otherwise distribute the retained earnings or other assets of New Oriental China without our consent. Also, under the proxy agreement and power of attorney, the shareholder of New Oriental China undertakes to Beijing Pioneer, our wholly-owned PRC subsidiary, that if it receives, among other things, any dividends, residual assets upon liquidation or proceeds from the transfer of its equity interest in New Oriental China, it will, to the extent permitted under applicable law, remit all such dividends, residual assets and proceeds to Beijing Pioneer without any compensation or other consideration. In the event that the shareholder of New Oriental China initiates a voluntary liquidation proceeding without our authorization or attempts to distribute the retained earnings or assets of New Oriental China without our prior consent, we may need to resort to legal proceedings to enforce the terms of the contractual agreements. Any such litigation may be costly and may divert our management’s time and attention away from the operation of our business, and the outcome of such litigation would be uncertain.
 
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Risks Related to Doing Business in China
Changes in China’s economic, political or social conditions or government policies could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial conditions and results of operations.
Substantially all of our business operations are conducted in China. Accordingly, our results of operations, financial condition and prospects are subject to a significant degree by political, economic and social conditions in China generally and by continued economic growth in China as a whole.
The Chinese economy differs from the economies of most developed countries in many respects, including the amount of government involvement, level of development, growth rate, control of foreign exchange and allocation of resources. Although the Chinese government has implemented measures emphasizing the utilization of market forces for economic reform, the reduction of state ownership of productive assets and the establishment of improved corporate governance in business enterprises, a substantial portion of productive assets in China are still owned by the government. In addition, the Chinese government continues to play a significant role in regulating industry development by imposing industrial policies. The Chinese government also exercises significant control over China’s economic growth through allocating resources, controlling payment of foreign currency-denominated obligations, setting monetary policy and providing preferential treatment to particular industries or companies.
While the Chinese economy has experienced significant growth over the past decades, growth has been uneven, both geographically and among various sectors of the economy. The Chinese government has implemented various measures to encourage economic growth and guide the allocation of resources. Some of these measures may benefit the overall Chinese economy, but may have a negative effect on us. For example, our financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected by government control over capital investments or changes in tax regulations. The growth rate of the Chinese economy has gradually slowed since 2010, and
COVID-19
may continue to have adverse impact on the Chinese economy in 2021. Any prolonged slowdown in the Chinese economy may reduce the demand for our products and services and materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations.
The PRC governmental authorities’ significant oversight and discretion over our business operation could result in a material adverse change in our operations and the value of our ADSs.
We conduct our business primarily through our PRC subsidiaries and variable interest entities. Our operations in China are governed by PRC laws and regulations. The PRC government has significant oversight and discretion over the conduct of our business, and it may influence our operations, which could result in a material adverse change in our operation and/or the value of our ADSs. Also, the PRC government has recently indicated an intent to exert more oversight and control over offerings that are conducted overseas and/or foreign investment in China-based issuers. Any such action could significantly limit or completely hinder our ability to offer or continue to offer securities to investors. In addition, implementation of additional industry-wide regulations directly targeting our operations could cause the value of our securities to significantly decline. Therefore, investors of our company and our business face potential uncertainty from actions taken by the PRC government affecting our business.
 
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Our business, financial condition and results of operations, as well as our ability to obtain financing, may be adversely affected by the downturn in the global or PRC economy.
COVID-19
has a severe and negative impact on the Chinese and the global economy. Whether this will lead to a prolonged downturn in the economy is still unknown. Even before the outbreak of the
COVID-19,
the global macroeconomic environment was facing numerous challenges. The growth of the Chinese economy had already been slowing since 2010. There is considerable uncertainty over the long-term effects of the expansionary monetary and fiscal policies which had been adopted by the central banks and financial authorities of some of the world’s leading economies, including the United States and China, even before 2020. Unrest, terrorist threats and the potential for war in the Middle East and elsewhere may increase market volatility across the globe. There have also been concerns about the relationship between China and other countries, including the surrounding Asian countries, which may potentially have economic effects. In particular, there is significant uncertainty about the future relationship between the United States and China with respect to trade policies, treaties, government regulations and tariffs. Economic conditions in China are sensitive to global economic conditions, as well as changes in domestic economic and political policies and the expected or perceived overall economic growth rate in China.
Economic conditions in China are sensitive to global economic conditions and also have their own challenges, and our business, results of operations and financial condition are sensitive to PRC and global economic conditions. Any prolonged slowdown in the PRC or global economy may have a negative impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition, and continued turbulence in the international markets may adversely affect our ability to access the capital markets to meet liquidity needs.
Uncertainties with respect to the PRC legal system could adversely affect us.
Our operations in China are governed by PRC laws and regulations. Our subsidiaries are generally subject to laws and regulations applicable to foreign investments in China and, in particular, laws applicable to wholly foreign-owned enterprises. The PRC legal system is based on written statutes. Prior court decisions may be cited for reference but have limited precedential value. China has not developed a fully integrated legal system and recently enacted laws and regulations may not sufficiently cover all aspects of economic activities in China. In particular, because many of these laws and regulations are relatively new, and because of the limited volume of published decisions and their nonbinding nature, the interpretation and enforcement of these laws and regulations involve uncertainties. In addition, the PRC legal system is based in part on government policies and internal rules and interpretations (some of which are not published on a timely basis or at all) that may have a retroactive effect. As a result, we may not be fully compliant with these policies, rules and interpretations. In addition, any litigation in China may be protracted and may result in substantial costs and diversion of resources and management attention from the operation of our business.
Uncertainties exist with respect to the interpretation and implementation of the Foreign Investment Law and how it may impact the viability of our current corporate structure, corporate governance, business, financial condition and results of operations.
On March 15, 2019, the National People’s Congress promulgated the Foreign Investment Law, which came into effect on January 1, 2020 and replaced the Sino-foreign Equity Joint Venture Enterprise Law, the Sino-foreign Cooperative Joint Venture Enterprise Law and the Wholly Foreign-invested Enterprise Law, together with their implementation rules and ancillary regulations.
As it is relatively new, uncertainties still exist in relation to its interpretation and implementation, and failure to take timely and appropriate measures to comply with the Foreign Investment Law and relevant rules could result in material and adverse effects on us. For instance, although the Foreign Investment Law does not explicitly classify contractual arrangements as a form of foreign investment, it contains a
catch-all
provision under the definition of “foreign investment,” which includes investments made by foreign investors in China through means stipulated by laws or administrative regulations or other methods prescribed by the State Council. Therefore, it still leaves leeway for future laws, administrative regulations or provisions to be promulgated by the State Council to provide for contractual arrangements as a form of foreign investment, at which time it will be uncertain whether our contractual arrangements will be deemed to be in violation of the market access requirements for foreign investment in the PRC and, if so, how our contractual arrangements will be dealt with. In addition, if future laws, administrative regulations or provisions to be prescribed by the State Council mandate further actions to be taken by companies with respect to existing contractual arrangements, we may face substantial uncertainties as to whether we can complete such actions in a timely manner, or at all. In the worst case scenario, we may be required to unwind our existing contractual arrangements and/or dispose of the relevant business operations, which could have a material and adverse effect on our current corporate structure, corporate governance, business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
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Regulation and censorship of information disseminated over the internet in China may adversely affect our business and reputation and subject us to liability for information displayed on our websites.
The PRC government has adopted regulations governing internet access and the distribution of news and other information over the internet. Under these regulations, internet content providers and internet publishers are prohibited from posting or displaying over the internet content that, among other things, violates PRC laws and regulations, impairs the national dignity of China, or is reactionary, obscene, superstitious, fraudulent or defamatory. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in the revocation of licenses to provide internet content and other relevant licenses, and the closure of the concerned websites. In the past, failure to comply with such requirements has resulted in the closure of certain websites. The website operator may also be held liable for such censored information displayed on or linked to the websites. If any of our websites, including those used for our online education business, are found to be in violation of any such requirements, we may be penalized by relevant authorities, and our operations or reputation could be adversely affected.
We are required to obtain various operating licenses and permits and to make registrations and filings for our business operations in China; failure to comply with these requirements may materially adversely affect our business and results of operations.
Under PRC laws and regulations, training schools are required to obtain a number of licenses, permits and approvals from, and make filings or complete registrations with, relevant government authorities in order to provide tutoring services. Pursuant to the Amended Private Education Law and the Amended Implementation Rules, training schools, in particular those providing
K-12
after school tutoring services, shall obtain the private school operation permit. The State Council Circular 80 further requires the learning centers of a training school providing
K-12
after school tutoring services to make filings with the relevant education authorities.
Our business is also subject to various health, safety and other regulations that affect various aspects of our business and we must obtain various licenses and permits under these regulations for our operations. We have been making efforts to ensure compliance with applicable rules and regulations in all material respects. In addition, we follow internal guidelines to make necessary registrations and filings and obtain necessary licenses and permits on a timely basis. However, we may not be able to obtain and maintain all requisite licenses, permits, approvals and filings or pass all requisite assessments. There is also no assurance that such permits will be renewed on a timely basis, or at all. If we fail to comply with applicable legal requirements, we may be subject to fines, confiscation of the gains derived from our noncompliant operations or the suspension of our noncompliant operations, which may materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations.
PRC regulations relating to the establishment of offshore special purpose companies by PRC residents may subject our PRC resident shareholders to personal liability and limit our ability to inject capital into our PRC subsidiaries, limit our PRC subsidiaries’ ability to distribute profits to us or otherwise adversely affect us.
SAFE issued a notice in July 2014, which replaced the previous notice issued in October 2005. The 2014 SAFE notice requires PRC domestic residents, including both PRC domestic institutions and PRC domestic individual residents, to register with the local SAFE branch, currently with local bank according to Notice of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange on Further Simplifying and Improving Policies for the Foreign Exchange Administration of Direct Investment issued by SAFE on February 13, 2015, before establishing or controlling any company outside of China with the domestic or overseas assets or equity they legally hold for the purpose of investment, financing or conducting roundtrip investment. Such a company located outside of China is referred to in the notice as an “offshore special purpose company.” The failure of our current and future PRC resident beneficial owners to timely file or amend their SAFE registrations, if required, may subject such beneficial owners to fines and legal sanctions and may also limit our ability to contribute additional capital into our PRC subsidiaries, limit our PRC subsidiaries’ ability to distribute dividends or repay loans in foreign exchange to our company or otherwise adversely affect our business.
 
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We face regulatory uncertainties in China concerning our employees’ participation in our share incentive plan.
In February 2012, SAFE issued the Notices on Issues Concerning the Foreign Exchange Administration for Domestic Individuals Participating in a Stock Incentive Plan of an Overseas Publicly-Listed Company, or Circular 7. According to Circular 7, if “PRC individuals” (meaning both PRC residents and
non-PRC
residents who reside in the PRC for a continuous period of not less than one year, excluding the foreign diplomatic personnel and representatives of international organizations) participate in any share incentive plan of an overseas listed company, a qualified PRC domestic agent, which could be the PRC subsidiaries of such overseas listed company, shall, among other things, file, on behalf of such individuals, an application with SAFE to conduct the SAFE registration with respect to such share incentive plan, and obtain approval for an annual allowance with respect to the purchase of foreign exchange in connection with the share purchase or share option exercise. Such PRC individuals’ foreign exchange income received from the sale of shares and dividends distributed by the overseas listed company and any other income shall be fully remitted into a collective foreign currency account in the PRC opened and managed by the PRC domestic agent before distribution to such individuals. In addition, such PRC individuals must also retain an overseas entrusted institution to handle matters in connection with the exercise of their share options and their purchase and sale of shares.
According to Circular 7, from time to time, we need to make applications or update our registration with SAFE or its local branches on behalf of our employees who are affected by our new share incentive plan or material changes in our current share incentive plan. We are in the process of making an application on behalf of the PRC individuals who participate in our company’s share incentive plans with SAFE in compliance with Circular 7; however, we cannot assure you that such application will be successful. If we or the participants of our share incentive plans who are PRC citizens fail to comply with Circular 7, we and/or such participants of our share incentive plans may be subject to fines and legal sanctions. In addition, there may be additional restrictions on the ability of such participants to exercise their stock options or remit proceeds gained from sale of their stock into China, and we may be prevented from further granting share incentive awards under our share incentive plans to our employees who are PRC citizens. Such events could adversely affect our ability to retain talented employees.
The M&A rules and certain other PRC regulations establish complex procedures for some acquisitions of Chinese companies by foreign investors, and the NDRC Circular 11 establish certain procedures for our offshore investing activities, which could make it more difficult for us to pursue growth through acquisitions in and outside China.
In August 2006, the Ministry of Commerce, the State Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, the State Administration of Taxation, or the SAT, the SAMR, the China Securities Regulatory Commission, or the CSRC, and SAFE, jointly adopted the Regulations on Mergers and Acquisitions of Domestic Enterprises by Foreign Investors, commonly referred to as the M&A Rules, which was amended on June 22, 2009. The M&A Rules establish procedures and requirements that could make some acquisitions of Chinese companies by foreign investors more time-consuming and complex, including requirements in some instances that the Ministry of Commerce be notified in advance of any
change-of-control
transaction in which a foreign investor takes control of a Chinese domestic enterprise. In addition, the Anti-Monopoly Law requires that the PRC Ministry of Commerce be notified in advance of any concentration of undertaking if certain thresholds are triggered. Moreover, the Rules of the Ministry of Commerce on Implementation of Security Review System of Mergers and Acquisitions of Domestic Enterprises by Foreign Investors promulgated in 2011 specify that mergers and acquisitions by foreign investors that raise “national defense and security” concerns and mergers and acquisitions through which foreign investors may acquire de facto control over domestic enterprises that raise “national security” concerns are subject to strict review by the PRC Ministry of Commerce, and prohibit any attempt to bypass a security review, including by structuring the transaction through a proxy or contractual control arrangement. See “ Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Regulations Relating to Anti-Monopoly” for more details. We may expand our business in part by acquiring complementary businesses. Complying with the requirements of the M&A Rules and Anti-Monopoly Law and related regulations to complete such transactions could be time-consuming, and any required approval processes, including obtaining approval from the Ministry of Commerce, may delay or inhibit our ability to complete such transactions, which could affect our ability to expand our business or maintain our market share.
 
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Further, pursuant to the Circular 11 issued by the NDRC, outbound investment via the overseas enterprises controlled by PRC residents are subject to verification and approval, record-filing and reporting requirements to the NDRC. According to Circular 11, sensitive projects, such as outbound investment in real estate, hotels, news media, cinemas or sports club, carried out by overseas enterprises controlled by PRC residents shall obtain verification and approval from the NDRC prior to the implementation of the project. The
non-sensitive
projects carried out by the overseas enterprise directly controlled by PRC residents, including by means of making asset or equity investment by companies established for financing and investing, such as fund institutions, or providing financing or guarantee, shall complete record-filing with the competent authority prior to the implementation of such project. The
non-sensitive
projects carried out by the overseas enterprise indirectly controlled by PRC residents with the investment amount over US$300 million shall be reported to the NDRC of relevant information by submitting an information reporting form for large-amount
non-sensitive
projects. See “ Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation— Administrative Measures for Outbound Investment by Enterprises” for more details on Circular 11. If we fail to comply with rules in Circular 11, we may be subject to warnings, project to be suspended for implementation or rectification within a specified time limit.
Increases in labor costs and enforcement of labor laws and regulations in the PRC may adversely affect our business, profitability and results of operations.
The economy of China has been experiencing increases in labor costs in recent years and the average wage in the PRC is expected to continue to grow. The average wage level for our employees has also increased in recent years. We expect that our labor costs, including wages and employee benefits, will continue to increase. Unless we are able to pass on these increased labor costs to our students by increasing prices for our services, our profitability and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.
In addition, we are required under PRC laws and regulations to participate in various government sponsored employee benefit plans, including certain social insurance and housing funds, and contribute to the plans in amounts equal to certain percentages of salaries, including bonuses and allowances, of our employees up to a maximum amount specified by the local government from time to time at locations where we operate our businesses. We have required all of our PRC operating entities to participate in employee benefit plans and make employee benefit payments for our employees pursuant to applicable laws and regulations. As of the date of this annual report, we have not received any incompliance notification from any local government regarding employee benefit payments, nor have we been sanctioned for such matters. However, we cannot assure you that we will be able to make adequate employee benefit payments for every employee in a timely manner. If we fail to make adequate employee benefit payments, we may be subject to fines, late fees and legal sanctions, and our business, financial conditions and results of operations may be adversely affected.
Governmental control of currency conversion may affect the value of your investment.
The PRC government imposes controls on the convertibility between the RMB and foreign currencies and, in certain cases, the remittance of currency out of China. We receive substantially all of our revenues in RMB. Under our current corporate structure, our income at the holding company level may be primarily derived from dividend payments from our PRC subsidiaries. Shortages in the availability of foreign currency may restrict the ability of our PRC subsidiaries and New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries to remit sufficient foreign currency to pay dividends or other payments to us, or otherwise satisfy their foreign currency denominated obligations. Under existing PRC foreign exchange regulations, payments of current account items, including profit distributions, interest payments and expenditures from trade-related transactions, can be made in foreign currencies without prior approval from SAFE by complying with certain procedural requirements. However, approval from appropriate government authorities is required where RMB is to be converted into foreign currency and remitted out of China to pay capital expenses such as direct investments, repayments of loans or investments in securities outside the PRC. The PRC government may also at its discretion restrict access in the future to foreign currencies for current account transactions. If the foreign exchange control system prevents us from obtaining sufficient foreign currency to satisfy our currency demands, we may not be able to pay dividends in foreign currencies to our shareholders, including holders of our ADSs.
Fluctuation in the value of the RMB may have a material adverse effect on your investment.
The conversion of Renminbi into foreign currencies, including U.S. dollars, is based on rates set by the People’s Bank of China. The Renminbi has fluctuated against the U.S. dollar, at times significantly and unpredictably. The value of Renminbi against the U.S. dollar and other currencies is affected by changes in China’s political and economic conditions and by China’s foreign exchange policies, among other things. We cannot assure you that Renminbi will not appreciate or depreciate significantly in value against the U.S. dollar in the future. It is difficult to predict how market forces or PRC or U.S. government policy may impact the exchange rate between Renminbi and the U.S. dollar in the future.
 
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Our revenues and costs are mostly denominated in the RMB, and a significant portion of our financial assets are also denominated in RMB. We may rely entirely on dividends and/or other fees paid to us by our subsidiaries and New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries in China. Any significant appreciation or depreciation of Renminbi may materially and adversely affect our revenues, earnings and financial position, and the value of, and any dividends payable on, our common shares and/or ADSs. For example, a further appreciation of the RMB against the U.S. dollar would make any new
RMB-denominated
investments or expenditures more costly to us, to the extent that we need to convert U.S. dollars into the RMB for such purposes. Conversely, a significant depreciation of the RMB against the U.S. dollar may significantly reduce our reported earnings in U.S. dollars, which in turn could adversely affect the price of our common shares and/or ADSs.
Very limited hedging options are available in China to reduce our exposure to exchange rate fluctuations. To date, we have not entered into any hedging transactions in an effort to reduce our exposure to foreign currency exchange risk. While we may decide to enter into hedging transactions in the future, the availability and effectiveness of these hedges may be limited and we may not be able to adequately hedge our exposure or at all. In addition, our currency exchange losses may be magnified by PRC exchange control regulations that restrict our ability to convert Renminbi into foreign currency. As a result, fluctuations in exchange rates may have a material adverse effect on your investment.
The discontinuation of any preferential tax treatments currently available to us could materially and adversely affect our results of operations.
In March 2007, the National People’s Congress passed the Enterprise Income Tax Law, or the EIT Law, which took effect in January 2008 and was most recently amended in December 2018. The EIT Law applies a uniform 25% enterprise income tax rate to both foreign-invested enterprises and domestic enterprises. The EIT Law provides that preferential tax treatments will be granted to industries and projects that are strongly supported and encouraged by the state, and that enterprises otherwise classified as “high and new technology enterprises strongly supported by the state” will be entitled to a preferential enterprise income tax rate. The implementation rules of the EIT Law promulgated by the State Council in December 2007, which was amended in April 2019, and other supplemental rules promulgated by the Ministry of Science and Technology, the MOF and the SAT, in April 2008 and July 2008 which were amended in January 2016 and June 2016, respectively, have stipulated new criteria for such “high and new technology enterprises,” and all enterprises which had been granted such status before the effectiveness of the EIT Law are required to be
re-examined
according to such new rules before they can continue to be entitled to such preferential tax treatments.
A “high and new technology enterprise” is entitled to a favorable enterprise income tax rate of 15% and such qualification is reassessed by relevant governmental authorities every three years. Six of our wholly-owned subsidiaries in China, including Beijing Smart Wood Co., Ltd., or Beijing Smart Wood, Beijing Decision Education & Consulting Co., Ltd., or Beijing Decision and four other subsidiaries, are qualified as “high and new technology enterprises.” Beijing Pioneer Technology Co., Ltd., or Beijing Pioneer, Beijing Shenghe Technology Co., Ltd., or Beijing Shenghe, Beijing New Oriental Dogwood Cultural Communications Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of our variable interest entity New Oriental China, and Kuxue Huisi Network Technology Co., Ltd, a subsidiary of our variable interest entity Beijing Xuncheng are in the process of renewing their qualification of “high and new technology enterprises.” Once the renewals are completed, these subsidiaries will be eligible for a favorable enterprise income tax rate of 15% starting from January 1, 2021. Beijing Xuncheng, our variable interest entity, has obtained renewal of its qualification of “high and new technology enterprises.” Beijing Xuncheng is currently eligible for a favorable enterprise income tax rate of 15%. An enterprise that qualifies as a “software enterprise” is exempt from enterprise income tax for the two years beginning in the enterprise’s first profitable year and then is entitled to a reduced tax rate of 12.5% for the succeeding three years. Four of our wholly-owned subsidiaries in China, Beijing Jinghong Software Technology Company Limited or Beijing Jinghong, Beijing Zhiyuan Hangcheng Technology Company Limited or Beijing Zhiyuan Hangcheng, and other two subsidiaries are qualified as “software enterprises.” See “ Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—A. Operating Results—Taxation—PRC.”
 
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Before September 1, 2017, under the Private Education Law and its Implementation Rules, private schools that do not require reasonable returns enjoy the same preferential tax treatment as public schools, while the preferential tax treatment policies applicable to private schools requiring reasonable returns shall be separately formulated by the relevant authorities under the State Council. To date, no regulations have been promulgated by the relevant authorities with regard to the preferential income tax treatment applicable to private schools requiring reasonable returns. As of May 31, 2021, 11 of our schools elected as schools not requiring reasonable returns, 31 of our schools elected as schools requiring reasonable returns and the remaining schools were not classified or registered as companies.
The Amended Private Education Law, which became effective on September 1, 2017 and was further amended on December 29, 2018, no longer uses the term “reasonable return.” Instead, under the Amended Private Education Law, sponsors of private schools may choose to establish
non-profit
or
for-profit
private schools at their own discretion, except that private schools in compulsory education area can only be registered as
non-profit
private schools, and after-school tutoring institutions providing tutoring services on academic subjects can only be registered as
non-profit
private schools under the Alleviating Burden Opinion. Pursuant to the Amended Private Education Law,
non-profit
private schools will be entitled to the same tax benefits as public schools, while tax policies for
for-profit
private schools are unclear and may be subject to PRC enterprise income tax at the rate of 25% and other taxes as if they were enterprises.
Currently, tax treatments for private schools vary across different cities in China. Private schools in certain cities are subject to a 25% standard enterprise income tax, while in other cities, private schools are subject to a fixed amount of enterprise income tax each year as determined by the local tax authority in lieu of the 25% standard enterprise income tax or are not required to pay enterprise income tax at all. The effective income tax rates were 26.96%, 27.46% and 26.53% in the fiscal years ended May 31, 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively.
Preferential tax treatments granted to us by governmental authorities are subject to review and may be adjusted or revoked at any time in the future. The discontinuation of any preferential tax treatments currently available to us, especially to those schools in major cities, will cause our effective tax rate to increase, which will increase our income tax expenses and in turn decrease our net income.
We may be treated as a resident enterprise for PRC tax purposes under the EIT Law, which may subject us to PRC income tax for our global income and withholding for any dividends we pay to our
non-PRC
shareholders and ADS holders.
Under the EIT Law, enterprises established outside of China whose “de facto management bodies” are located in China are considered “resident enterprises,” and will generally be subject to the uniform 25% enterprise income tax rate for their global income. Although the term “de facto management bodies” is defined as “management bodies which has substantial and overall management and control power on the operation, human resources, accounting and assets of the enterprise,” the circumstances under which an enterprise’s “de facto management body” would be considered to be located in China are currently unclear. The SAT has issued a circular providing that a foreign enterprise controlled by a PRC company or a PRC company group will be classified as a “resident enterprise” with its “de facto management bodies” located within China if the following requirements are satisfied: (1) the senior management and core management departments in charge of its daily operations function mainly in the PRC; (2) its financial and human resources decisions are subject to determination or approval by persons or bodies in the PRC; (3) its major assets, accounting books, company seals, and minutes and files of its board and shareholders’ meetings are located or kept in the PRC; and (4) at least half of the enterprise’s directors or senior management with voting rights reside in the PRC.
In addition, the SAT issued a bulletin to provide more guidance on the implementation of the above circular. The bulletin clarified certain matters relating to resident status determination, post determination administration and competent tax authorities. It also specifies that when provided with a copy of a PRC tax resident determination certificate from a resident
PRC-controlled
offshore incorporated enterprise, the payer should not withhold 10% income tax when paying the
PRC-sourced
dividends, interest and royalties to the
PRC-controlled
offshore incorporated enterprise. Moreover, the SAT issued a bulletin in January 2014, to provide more guidance on the implementation of the above circular. This bulletin further provided that, among other things, an entity that is classified as a “resident enterprise” in accordance with the circular shall file the application for classifying its status of residential enterprise with the local tax authorities where its main domestic investors registered. From the year in which the entity is determined as a “resident enterprise,” any dividend, profit and other equity investment gain shall be taxed in accordance with the Article 26 of EIT law and the Article 17 and Article 83 of its implementation rules. Although both the circular and the bulletin only apply to offshore enterprises controlled by PRC enterprises and not those by PRC individuals, the determination criteria set forth in the circular and administration clarification made in the bulletin may reflect the SAT’s general position on how the “de facto management body” test should be applied in determining the tax residency status of offshore enterprises and how the administration measures should be implemented, regardless of whether they are controlled by PRC enterprises or PRC individuals.
 
 
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Most members of our management team are based in China and are expected to remain in China. Although our offshore holding companies are not controlled by any PRC company or company group, we cannot assure you that we will not be deemed to be a PRC resident enterprise under the EIT Law and its implementation rules. If we are deemed to be a PRC resident enterprise, we will be subject to PRC enterprise income tax at the rate of 25% on our global income. In that case, however, dividend income we receive from our PRC subsidiaries may be exempt from PRC enterprise income tax because the EIT Law and its implementation rules generally provide that dividends received by a PRC resident enterprise from its directly invested entity that is also a PRC resident enterprise is exempt from enterprise income tax. Accordingly, if we are deemed to be a PRC resident enterprise and earn income other than dividends from our PRC subsidiaries, a 25% enterprise income tax on our global income could significantly increase our tax burden and materially and adversely affect our cash flow and profitability.
In addition, if we are deemed to be a PRC resident enterprise, dividends distributed to our
non-PRC
entity investors by us, or the gain our
non-PRC
entity investors may realize from the transfer of our common shares or ADSs, may be treated as
PRC-sourced
income and therefore be subject to a 10% PRC withholding tax pursuant to the EIT Law. This could increase our and our shareholders’ effective income tax rates and may require us to deduct withholding tax from any dividends we pay to our
non-PRC
shareholders.
Dividends we receive from our subsidiaries located in the PRC are subject to the PRC withholding tax.
The EIT Law provides that a maximum income tax rate of 20% may apply to dividends payable to
non-PRC
investors that are
“non-resident
enterprises,” to the extent such dividends are derived from sources within the PRC. The State Council has reduced such rate to 10%, in the absence of any applicable tax treaties that may reduce such rate. We are a Cayman Islands holding company and may derive our income from dividends we receive from our operating subsidiaries located in the PRC. If we are required under the EIT Law to pay income tax for any dividends we receive from our PRC subsidiaries, the amount of dividends, if any, we may pay to our shareholders and ADS holders may be materially and adversely affected.
According to the Arrangement between the PRC and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income, or the Double Taxation Arrangement (Hong Kong), which became effective in January 2007, dividends paid to enterprises incorporated in Hong Kong are subject to a withholding tax of 5% provided that a Hong Kong resident enterprise owns over 25% of the PRC enterprise distributing the dividend and can be considered as a “beneficial owner” and entitled to treaty benefits under the Double Taxation Arrangement (Hong Kong). Elite Concept Holdings Limited, Winner Park Limited and Smart Shine International Limited, our Hong Kong wholly-owned subsidiaries, own 100% of some of our PRC subsidiaries. Thus, dividends paid by our PRC subsidiaries to us through our Hong Kong wholly-owned subsidiaries may be subject to the 5% withholding tax if we and our Hong Kong subsidiaries are considered as
“non-resident
enterprises” under the EIT Law and our Hong Kong subsidiaries are considered as “beneficial owners” and entitled to treaty benefits under the Double Taxation Arrangement (Hong Kong). If our Hong Kong subsidiaries are not regarded as the beneficial owners of any such dividends, they will not be entitled to the treaty benefits under the Double Taxation Arrangement (Hong Kong). As a result, such dividends would be subject to regular withholding tax of 10% as provided by the PRC domestic law rather than the favorable rate of 5% applicable under the Double Taxation Arrangement (Hong Kong).
 
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We face uncertainties with respect to indirect transfers of equity interests in PRC resident enterprises by their
non-PRC
holding companies.
In February 2015, the SAT issued the Bulletin on Issues of Enterprise Income Tax on Indirect Transfers of Assets by
Non-PRC
Resident Enterprises, or Bulletin 7. Pursuant to Bulletin 7, an “indirect transfer” of PRC assets, including a transfer of equity interests in an unlisted
non-PRC
holding company of a PRC resident enterprise, by
non-PRC
resident enterprises may be
re-characterized
and treated as a direct transfer of the underlying PRC assets, if such arrangement does not have a reasonable commercial purpose and was established for the purpose of avoiding payment of PRC enterprise income tax. As a result, gains derived from such indirect transfer may be subject to PRC enterprise income tax, and the transferee or other person who is obligated to pay for the transfer is obligated to withhold the applicable taxes, currently at a rate of 10% for the transfer of equity interests in a PRC resident enterprise. Bulletin 7 does not apply to transactions of sale of shares by investors through a public stock exchange where such shares were acquired from a transaction through a public stock exchange.
According to Bulletin 7, where a
non-PRC
resident enterprise transfers its equity interests in a PRC resident enterprise to its related parties at a price lower than the fair market value, the competent tax authority has the power to make a reasonable adjustment to the taxable income of the transaction. On October 17, 2017, the SAT issued the Announcement of the State Administration of Taxation on Issues Concerning the Withholding of
Non-resident
Enterprise Income Tax at Source, or Bulletin 37, which came into effect and superseded Circular 698 on December 1, 2017. The Bulletin 37 further clarifies the practice and procedure of the withholding of
non-resident
enterprise income tax.
There is uncertainty as to the application of Bulletin 7 and Bulletin 37. As a result, we and our
non-resident
investors may have the risk of being taxed under Bulletin 7 and Bulletin 37 and may be required to spend valuable resources to comply with Bulletin 7 and Bulletin 37 or to establish that we or our
non-resident
investors should not be taxed under Bulletin 7 and Bulletin 37, which may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations or such
non-resident
investors’ investments in us.
If we fail to obtain and maintain the licenses and approvals required for online education in China, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.
The relevant laws and regulations in China related to the online education industry are relatively new and still evolving, and their interpretation and enforcement involve significant uncertainty and ambiguity. As a result, in certain circumstances it may be difficult to determine whether a certain license requirement applies to us and what actions or omissions may be deemed to be in violation of applicable laws and regulations. For example, according to the Administrative Provisions on Internet Audio-Visual Program Service, the dissemination of “Audio-visual Programs” through internet is subject to the specific license. However, due to the ambiguity of the definition of “Audio-visual Programs”, there is uncertainty as to whether our online courses fall within the definition of “Audio-visual Programs” and whether we are required to obtain the License for Online Transmission of Audio-Visual Programs. On January 20, 2020, in the Q&A section of its website, the Beijing Radio and Television Bureau confirmed that online education is not subject to the License for Online Transmission of Audio-Visual Programs. In addition, pursuant to the Administrative Measures on the Production and Operation of Radio and Television Programs, the production of “Radio and Television Programs” requires the Permit for Production and Operation of Radio and TV Programs. Due to the ambiguity of the definition of “Radio and Television Programs,” there is uncertainty as to whether our online courses fall within such definition.
However, we cannot assure that the competent PRC government authorities will not subsequently take a contrary view, especially in light of new regulatory developments. If the government authorities determine that our online tutoring services fall within the scope of business operations that require the above-mentioned licenses or other licenses or permits, we may not be able to obtain such licenses or permits on reasonable terms or in a timely manner or at all, and failure to obtain such licenses or permits may subject us to fines, legal sanctions or an order to suspend our online tutoring services.
 
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Our ADSs may be delisted under the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act if the PCAOB is unable to inspect auditors who are located in China. The delisting of our ADSs, or the threat of their being delisted, may materially and adversely affect the value of your investment. Additionally, the inability of the PCAOB to conduct inspections deprives our investors with the benefits of such inspections.
The Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, or the HFCA Act, was enacted on December 18, 2020. The HFCA Act states if the SEC determines that we have filed audit reports issued by a registered public accounting firm that has not been subject to inspection by the PCAOB for three consecutive years beginning in 2021, the SEC shall prohibit our shares or ADSs from being traded on a national securities exchange or in the over the counter trading market in the U.S.
Our auditor, the independent registered public accounting firm that issues the audit report included in our annual reports, as an auditor of companies that are traded publicly in the United States and a firm registered with the PCAOB, is subject to laws in the United States pursuant to which the PCAOB conducts regular inspections to assess its compliance with the applicable professional standards. Since our auditor is located in China, a jurisdiction where the PCAOB has been unable to conduct inspections without the approval of the Chinese authorities, our auditor is currently not inspected by the PCAOB.
On March 24, 2021, the SEC adopted interim final rules relating to the implementation of certain disclosure and documentation requirements of the HFCA Act. We will be required to comply with these rules if the SEC identifies us as having a
“non-inspection”
year under a process to be subsequently established by the SEC. The SEC is assessing how to implement other requirements of the HFCA Act, including the listing and trading prohibition requirements described above.
On June 22, 2021, the U.S. Senate passed a bill which, if passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and signed into law, would reduce the number of consecutive
non-inspection
years required for triggering the prohibitions under the HFCA Act from three years to two.
The SEC has announced that the SEC staff is preparing a consolidated proposal for the rules regarding the implementation of the HFCA Act. It is unclear when the SEC will complete its rulemaking and when such rules will become effective. The implications of this possible regulation in addition to the requirements of the HFCA Act are uncertain. Such uncertainty could cause the market price of our ADSs to be materially and adversely affected, and our securities could be delisted or prohibited from being traded
“over-the-counter”
earlier than would be required by the HFCA Act. If our securities are unable to be listed on another securities exchange by then, such a delisting would substantially impair your ability to sell or purchase our ADSs when you wish to do so, and the risk and uncertainty associated with a potential delisting would have a negative impact on the price of our ADSs.
The PCAOB’s inability to conduct inspections in China prevents it from fully evaluating the audits and quality control procedures of our independent registered public accounting firm. As a result, we and investors in our ordinary shares are deprived of the benefits of such PCAOB inspections. The inability of the PCAOB to conduct inspections of auditors in China makes it more difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of our independent registered public accounting firm’s audit procedures or quality control procedures as compared to auditors outside of China that are subject to the PCAOB inspections, which could cause investors and potential investors in our stock to lose confidence in our audit procedures and reported financial information and the quality of our financial statements.
 
 
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In May 2013, the PCAOB announced that it had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding on Enforcement Cooperation with the CSRC and the PRC Ministry of Finance, which establishes a cooperative framework between the parties for the production and exchange of audit documents relevant to investigations undertaken by the PCAOB in the PRC or by the CSRC or the PRC Ministry of Finance in the United States. The PCAOB continues to be in discussions with the CSRC and the PRC Ministry of Finance to permit joint inspections in the PRC of audit firms that are registered with the PCAOB and audit Chinese companies that trade on U.S. exchanges.
Proceedings instituted by the SEC against
PRC-based
“big four” accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, could result in financial statements being determined to not be in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act.
Starting in 2011 the
PRC-based
“big four” accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, were affected by a conflict between U.S. and Chinese law. Specifically, for certain U.S.-listed companies operating and audited in mainland China, the SEC and the PCAOB sought to obtain from the Chinese firms access to their audit work papers and related documents. The firms were, however, advised and directed that under Chinese law, they could not respond directly to the U.S. regulators on those requests, and that requests by foreign regulators for access to such papers in China had to be channeled through the CSRC.
In late 2012, this impasse led the SEC to commence administrative proceedings under Rule 102(e) of its Rules of Practice and also under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 against the Chinese accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm. A first instance trial of the proceedings in July 2013 in the SEC’s internal administrative court resulted in an adverse judgment against the firms. The administrative law judge proposed penalties on the firms including a temporary suspension of their right to practice before the SEC, although that proposed penalty did not take effect pending review by the Commissioners of the SEC. On February 6, 2015, before a review by the Commissioner had taken place, the firms reached a settlement with the SEC. Under the settlement, the SEC accepts that future requests by the SEC for the production of documents will normally be made to the CSRC. The firms will receive matching Section 106 requests, and are required to abide by a detailed set of procedures with respect to such requests, which in substance require them to facilitate production via the CSRC. If they fail to meet specified criteria, the SEC retains authority to impose a variety of additional remedial measures on the firms depending on the nature of the failure. Remedies for any future noncompliance could include, as appropriate, an automatic
six-month
bar on a single firm’s performance of certain audit work, commencement of a new proceeding against a firm, or, in extreme cases, the resumption of the current proceeding against all four firms. If additional remedial measures are imposed on the
PRC-based
“big four” accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, in administrative proceedings brought by the SEC alleging the firms’ failure to meet specific criteria set by the SEC with respect to requests for the production of documents, we could be unable to timely file future financial statements in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act.
In the event that the SEC restarts the administrative proceedings, depending upon the final outcome, listed companies in the United States with major PRC operations may find it difficult or impossible to retain auditors in respect of their operations in the PRC, which could result in financial statements being determined not to be in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act, including possible delisting. Moreover, any negative news about any such future proceedings against these audit firms may cause investor uncertainty regarding China-based, U.S.-listed companies and the market price of our ADSs may be adversely affected.
If our independent registered public accounting firm was denied, even temporarily, the ability to practice before the SEC and we were unable to timely find another registered public accounting firm to audit and issue an opinion on our financial statements, our financial statements could be determined to be not in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act. Such a determination could ultimately lead to the delisting of the ADSs or deregistration from the SEC, or both, which would substantially reduce or effectively terminate the trading of the ADSs in the United States.
It may be difficult for overseas regulators to conduct investigations or collect evidence within China.
Shareholder claims or regulatory investigation that are common in the United States generally are difficult to pursue as a matter of law or practicality in China. For example, in China, there are significant legal and other obstacles to providing information needed for regulatory investigations or litigation initiated outside China. Although the authorities in China may establish a regulatory cooperation mechanism with the securities regulatory authorities of another country or region to implement cross-border supervision and administration, such cooperation with the securities regulatory authorities in the Unities States may not be efficient in the absence of mutual and practical cooperation mechanism. Furthermore, according to Article 177 of the PRC Securities Law, or Article 177, which became effective in March 2020, no overseas securities regulator is allowed to directly conduct investigation or evidence collection activities within the territory of the PRC. While detailed interpretation of or implementation rules under Article 177 have yet to be promulgated, the inability for an overseas securities regulator to directly conduct investigations or evidence collection activities within China may further increase difficulties faced by our shareholders in protecting their interests.
 
 
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Furthermore, on July 6, 2021, the relevant PRC governmental authorities promulgated the Opinions on Strictly Scrutinizing Illegal Securities Activities, among which, it is mentioned that the administration and supervision of overseas-listed China-based companies will be strengthened, and the special provisions of the State Council on overseas issuance and listing of shares by such companies will be revised, clarifying the responsibilities of domestic industry competent authorities and regulatory authorities. However, the Opinions on Strictly Scrutinizing Illegal Securities Activities were only issued recently, leaving uncertainties regarding the interpretation and implementation of these opinions. It is possible that any new rules or regulations may impose additional requirements on us.
Risks Related to Our ADSs and Common Shares
We adopt different practices as to certain matters as compared with many other companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
We completed our public offering in Hong Kong in November 2020 and the trading of our common shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange commenced on November 9, 2020 under the stock code “9901.” As a company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange pursuant to Chapter 19C of the Hong Kong Listing Rules, we are not subject to certain provisions of the Hong Kong Listing Rules pursuant to Rule 19C.11, including, among others, rules on notifiable transactions, connected transactions, share option schemes, publication of interim and annual results announcements, content of interim and annual reports as well as certain other continuing obligations. In addition, in connection with the listing of our common shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, we obtained a number of waivers and/or exemptions from strict compliance with the Hong Kong Listing Rules, the Companies (Winding Up and Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance, the Takeovers Codes and the SFO. As a result, we adopt different practices as to those matters as compared with other companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that do not enjoy those exemptions or waivers.
Our articles of association are specific to us and include certain provisions that may be different from the requirements under the Hong Kong Listing Rules and common practices in Hong Kong. For example, Rule 19C.07(7) of the Hong Kong Listing Rules provides that the minimum stake required to convene an extraordinary general meeting and add resolutions to a meeting agenda must not be higher than 10% of the voting rights, on a one vote per share basis, in the share capital of a qualifying issuer (the “
10% Requisition Right
”), but our articles of association provide that at least
one-third
of the aggregate voting power of our company is required to convene an extraordinary general meeting. In March 2021, we revised our articles of association to comply with Rule 19C.07(7) of the Hong Kong Listing Rules, including adding the 10% Requisition Right in our articles of association.
Furthermore, if 55% or more of the total worldwide trading volume, by dollar value, of our common shares and ADSs over our most recent fiscal year takes place on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange will regard us as having a dual primary listing in Hong Kong and we will no longer enjoy certain exemptions or waivers from strict compliance with the requirements under the Hong Kong Listing Rules, the Companies (Winding Up and Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance, the Takeovers Codes and the SFO, which could result in us having to amend our corporate structure and articles of association and our incurring of incremental compliance costs.
 
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The trading prices of our ADSs and common shares have been and are likely to continue to be volatile, which could result in substantial losses to holders of our common shares and/or ADSs.
The market prices of our ADSs and common shares have been and are likely to continue to be volatile and could fluctuate widely in response to a variety of factors, many of which are beyond our control. For example, the high and low closing prices of our ADSs on NYSE from June 1, 2020 to September 23, 2021 were US$1.70 and US$19.68, respectively. Likewise, the high and low closing prices on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange since our listing in November 2020 to September 23, 2021 were HK$13.50 and HK$154.10, respectively. The market price of our ADSs and/or our common shares is likely to be highly volatile and subject to wide fluctuations in response to factors such as:
 
   
actual or anticipated fluctuations in our operating results,
 
   
announcements and implementations of new regulations and policies related to our business,
 
   
changes in financial estimates by securities research analysts,
 
   
changes in the economic performance or market valuation of other education companies,
 
   
announcements by us or our competitors of material acquisitions, strategic partnerships, joint ventures or capital commitments,
 
   
addition or departure of our executive officers,
 
   
detrimental negative publicity about us, our competitors or our industry,
 
   
regulatory investigation or other governmental proceedings against us,
 
   
substantial sales or perception of sales of our ADSs and/or common shares in the public market, and
 
   
general economic, regulatory or political conditions in China and the U.S.
In addition, the performance and fluctuation of the market prices of other companies with business operations located mainly in China that have listed their securities in Hong Kong and/or the United States may affect the volatility in the prices of and trading volumes of our common shares and/or ADSs. The securities of some of these companies have experienced significant volatility since their initial public offerings, including, in some cases, substantial price declines in trading prices. The trading performance of other Chinese companies’ securities after their offerings, including private education companies, may affect the attitudes of investors toward Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong and/or the United States, which consequently may impact the trading performance of our common shares and/or ADSs, regardless of our actual operating performance. In addition, any negative news or perceptions about inadequate corporate governance practices or fraudulent accounting, corporate structure or matters of other Chinese companies may also negatively affect the attitudes of investors towards Chinese companies in general, including us, regardless of whether we have conducted any inappropriate activities. Furthermore, securities markets may from time to time experience significant price and volume fluctuations that are not related to our operating performance, such as the large decline in share prices in the United States, China, and other jurisdictions in early 2020 and in 2021, which may have a material and adverse effect on the trading price of our common shares and/or ADSs.
If securities or industry analysts publish negative reports about our business, the price and trading volume of our common shares and/or ADSs securities could decline.
The trading market for our common shares and/or ADSs will be influenced by the research reports and ratings that securities or industry analysts or ratings agencies publish about us, our business and the private education market in China in general. We do not have any control over these analysts or agencies. If one or more of the analysts or agencies who cover us downgrades us or our securities, the price of our common shares and/or ADSs may decline. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of our company or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which could cause the price of our common shares and/or ADSs or trading volume to decline.
 
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Holders of our ADSs may have fewer rights than holders of our common shares and must act through the depositary to exercise those rights.
Holders of ADSs do not have the same rights of our shareholders and may only exercise the voting rights with respect to the underlying shares represented by the ADSs in accordance with the provisions of the deposit agreement. Under our memorandum and articles of association, the minimum notice period required to convene a general meeting is 14 days for as long as our shares remain listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, or otherwise at least seven days. When a general meeting is convened, holders of ADSs may not receive sufficient notice of a shareholders’ meeting to permit withdrawal of the underlying shares represented by their ADSs to allow them to cast their votes with respect to any specific matter. In addition, the depositary and its agents may not be able to send voting instructions to holders of ADSs or carry out your voting instructions in a timely manner. We will make all reasonable efforts to cause the depositary to extend voting rights to holders of ADSs in a timely manner, but we cannot assure that holders of ADSs will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that they can instruct the depositary to vote their ADSs. Furthermore, the depositary and its agents will not be responsible for any failure to carry out any instructions to vote, for the manner in which any vote is cast or for the effect of any such vote. As a result, holders of ADSs may not be able to exercise their right to vote and may lack recourse if the common shares underlying their ADSs are not voted as they requested. In addition, holders of ADSs will not be able to call a shareholders’ meeting.
The right of our ADS holders to participate in any future rights offerings may be limited, which may cause dilution to holdings of our ADS holders.
We may from time to time distribute rights to our shareholders, including rights to acquire our securities. However, we cannot make rights available to holders of our ADSs in the United States unless we register both the rights and the securities to which the rights relate under the Securities Act or an exemption from the registration requirements is available. Under the deposit agreement for the ADSs, the depositary will not offer those rights to ADS holders unless both the rights and the underlying securities to be distributed to ADS holders are either registered under the Securities Act, or exempt from registration under the Securities Act with respect to all holders of ADSs. We are under no obligation to file a registration statement with respect to any such rights or underlying securities or to endeavor to cause such a registration statement to be declared effective. In addition, we may not be able to take advantage of any exemptions from registration under the Securities Act. Accordingly, holders of our ADSs may be unable to participate in our rights offerings and may experience dilution in their holdings as a result.
Holders of our ADSs may be subject to limitations on transfer of their ADSs.
Our ADSs are transferable on the books of the depositary. However, the depositary may close its transfer books at any time or from time to time when it deems expedient in connection with the performance of its duties. In addition, the depositary may refuse to deliver, transfer or register transfers of ADSs generally when our books or the books of the depositary are closed, or at any time if we or the depositary deems it advisable to do so because of any requirement of law or of any government or governmental body, or under any provision of the deposit agreement, or for any other reason.
Certain judgments obtained against us by our shareholders may not be enforceable.
We are continued and registered in the Cayman Islands and conduct substantially all of our operations in China. Substantially all of our assets are located in China. All of our executive officers reside in China and some or all of the assets of those persons are located within China. As a result, it may be difficult for shareholders to effect service of process within the United States or Hong Kong in the event that they believe that their rights have been infringed under the U.S. federal securities laws, Hong Kong laws or otherwise. Even if shareholders are successful in bringing an action of this kind, the laws of the Cayman Islands and of the PRC may render shareholders unable to enforce a judgment against our assets or the assets of our directors and officers. There is no statutory enforcement in the Cayman Islands of judgments obtained in the Hong Kong courts or federal or state courts of the United States (and the Cayman Islands are not a party to any treaties for the reciprocal enforcement or recognition of such judgments).
 
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The recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments are provided for under the PRC Civil Procedures Law. PRC courts may recognize and enforce foreign judgments in accordance with the requirements of the PRC Civil Procedures Law based either on treaties between China and the country where the judgment is made or on principles of reciprocity between jurisdictions. China does not have any treaties or other forms of reciprocity with the United States that provide for the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. In addition, according to the PRC Civil Procedures Law, the PRC courts will not enforce a foreign judgment against us or our director and officers if they decide that the judgment violates the basic principles of PRC laws or national sovereignty, security or public interest. As a result, it is uncertain whether and on what basis a PRC court would enforce a judgment rendered by a court in the United States.
Since we are a Cayman Islands exempted company, the rights of our shareholders may be more limited than those of shareholders of a company organized in the United States or Hong Kong.
Our corporate affairs are governed by our memorandum and articles of association and by the Cayman Companies Act and the common law of the Cayman Islands. The rights of shareholders to take legal action against our directors and us, actions by minority shareholders and the fiduciary responsibilities of our directors to us under Cayman Islands law are to a large extent governed by the common law of the Cayman Islands. The common law of the Cayman Islands is derived in part from comparatively limited judicial precedents in the Cayman Islands as well as from English common law, which has persuasive, but not binding, authority on a court in the Cayman Islands. The rights of our shareholders and the fiduciary responsibilities of our directors under Cayman Islands law are not as clearly established as they would be under statutes or judicial precedents in the United States or in Hong Kong. In particular, the Cayman Islands has a less developed body of securities laws as compared to the United States or Hong Kong, and provides significantly less protection to investors. In addition, Cayman Islands companies may not have standing to initiate a shareholder derivative action before the federal courts of the United States or a Hong Kong court.
As a result of all of the above, our shareholders may have more difficulties in protecting their interests through actions against our management, directors or major shareholders than would shareholders of a corporation incorporated in a jurisdiction in the United States or Hong Kong.
Our articles of association contain anti-takeover provisions that could have a material adverse effect on the rights of holders of our common shares and ADSs.
Our articles of association contain provisions that limit the ability of others to acquire control of our company or cause us to engage in
change-of-control
transactions. These provisions could have the effect of depriving our shareholders of an opportunity to sell their shares at a premium over prevailing market prices by discouraging third parties from seeking to obtain control of our company in a tender offer or similar transaction. For example, our board of directors has the authority, without further action by our shareholders, to issue preferred shares in one or more series and to fix their designations, powers, preferences, privileges, and relative participating, optional or special rights and the qualifications, limitations or restrictions, including dividend rights, conversion rights, voting rights, terms of redemption and liquidation preferences, any or all of which may be greater than the rights associated with our common shares, in the form of ADS or otherwise. Preferred shares could be issued quickly with terms calculated to delay or prevent a change in control of our company or make removal of management more difficult. If our board of directors decides to issue preferred shares, the price of our common shares and/or ADSs may fall and the voting and other rights of the holders of our common shares and/or ADSs may be materially and adversely affected.
We may be classified as a “passive foreign investment company,” which could result in adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. holders of our ADSs or common shares.
A
non-U.S.
corporation, such as our company, will be a “passive foreign investment company,” or PFIC, for U.S. federal income tax purposes for any taxable year if either, (1) 75% or more of its gross income for such year consists of certain types of “passive” income or (2) 50% or more of the value of its assets (generally determined on the basis of a quarterly average) during such year is attributable to assets that produce passive income or are held for the production of passive income.
 
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Although the law in this regard is unclear, we treat our VIEs (including their subsidiaries) as being owned by us for U.S. federal income tax purposes, not only because we control their management decisions but also because we are entitled to substantially all of the economic benefits associated with these entities, and, as a result, we consolidate these entities’ operating results in our combined financial statements. If it were determined, however, that we are not the owner of our VIEs (including their subsidiaries) for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we may be or become a PFIC. Assuming that we are the owner of our VIEs (including their subsidiaries) for U.S. federal income tax purposes, and based upon the company’s current income and assets, including goodwill and other unbooked intangibles, we do not believe that we were a PFIC for our taxable year ended May 31, 2021 and we do not presently expect to be a PFIC for the current taxable year or the foreseeable future. Because the value of our assets for purposes of the PFIC test will generally be determined by reference to the market value of our ADSs and common shares, the determination of whether we will be or become a PFIC will depend in large part upon the market value of our ADSs and common shares, of which we cannot control. Accordingly, fluctuations in the market price of our ADSs and/or common shares may cause us to become a PFIC for the current taxable year or future taxable years. The determination of whether we will be or become a PFIC will also depend, in part, upon the nature of our income and assets over time, which are subject to change from year to year. Because PFIC status is a fact-intensive determination made on an annual basis, no assurance can be given that we are not or will not become classified as a PFIC.
If we were to be classified as a PFIC in any taxable year, a U.S. Holder (as defined in “Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—U.S. Federal Income Taxation”) in our ADSs and/or common shares may incur significantly increased U.S. income tax on gain recognized on the sale or other disposition of the ADSs or common shares and on the receipt of distributions on the ADSs or common shares to the extent such gain or distribution is treated as an “excess distribution” under U.S. federal income tax rules. Further, if we are classified as a PFIC for any year during which a U.S. Holder holds our ADSs or common shares, we will generally continue to be treated as a PFIC for all succeeding years during which such U.S. Holder holds our ADSs or common shares. U.S. Holders of our ADSs or common shares are urged to consult their tax advisors concerning the United States federal income tax consequences if we are or become classified as a PFIC. See “Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—U.S. Federal Income Taxation—Passive Foreign Investment Company Rules.”
The different characteristics of the capital markets in Hong Kong and the U.S. may negatively affect the trading prices of our common shares and/or ADSs.
As dual-listed company, we are subject to Hong Kong and NYSE listing and regulatory requirements concurrently. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange and NYSE have different trading hours, trading characteristics (including trading volume and liquidity), trading and listing rules, and investor bases (including different levels of retail and institutional participation). As a result of these differences, the trading prices of our common shares and our ADSs may not be the same, even allowing for currency differences. Fluctuations in the price of our ADSs due to circumstances peculiar to the U.S. capital markets could materially and adversely affect the price of our common shares, or vice versa. Certain events having significant negative impact specifically on the U.S. capital markets may result in a decline in the trading price of our common shares notwithstanding that such event may not impact the trading prices of securities listed in Hong Kong generally or to the same extent, or vice versa.
Exchange between our common shares and our ADSs may adversely affect the liquidity and/or trading price of each other.
Our ADSs are currently traded on the NYSE. Subject to compliance with U.S. securities law and the terms of the deposit agreement, holders of our common shares may deposit common shares with the depositary in exchange for the issuance of our ADSs. Any holder of ADSs may also withdraw the underlying common shares represented by the ADSs pursuant to the terms of the deposit agreement for trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. In the event that a substantial number of common shares are deposited with the depositary in exchange for ADSs or vice versa, the liquidity and trading price of our common shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and our ADSs on the NYSE may be adversely affected.
The time required for the exchange between common shares and ADSs might be longer than expected and investors might not be able to settle or effect any sale of their securities during this period, and the exchange of common shares into ADSs involves costs.
There is no direct trading or settlement between the NYSE and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on which our ADSs and our common shares are respectively traded. In addition, the time differences between Hong Kong and New York, unforeseen market circumstances or other factors may delay the deposit of common shares in exchange of ADSs or the withdrawal of common shares underlying the ADSs. Investors will be prevented from settling or effecting the sale of their securities during such periods of delay. In addition, there is no assurance that any exchange of common shares into ADSs (and vice versa) will be completed in accordance with the timelines that investors may anticipate.
 
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Furthermore, the depositary for the ADSs is entitled to charge holders fees for various services including for the issuance of ADSs upon deposit of common shares, cancelation of ADSs, distributions of cash dividends or other cash distributions, distributions of ADSs pursuant to share dividends or other free share distributions, distributions of securities other than ADSs and annual service fees. As a result, shareholders who exchange common shares into ADSs, and vice versa, may not achieve the level of economic return the shareholders may anticipate.
An active trading market for our common shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange might not develop or be sustained and trading prices of our common shares might fluctuate significantly.
Since the listing of our common shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, we have maintained a certain level of liquidity in the trading of our common shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. However, we cannot assure you that that this level of liquidity will be sustained. The trading price or liquidity for our ADSs on the NYSE might not be indicative of those of our common shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. If an active trading market of our common shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange is not sustained, the market price and liquidity of our common shares could be materially and adversely affected.
In 2014, the Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges collaborated to create an inter-exchange trading mechanism called Stock Connect that allows international and mainland Chinese investors to trade eligible equity securities listed in each other’s markets through the trading and clearing facilities of their home exchange. Stock Connect currently covers over 2,000 equity securities trading in the Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen markets. Stock Connect allows mainland Chinese investors to trade directly in eligible equity securities listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, known as Southbound Trading; without Stock Connect, mainland Chinese investors would not otherwise have a direct and established means of engaging in Southbound Trading. However, it is unclear whether and when the common shares of our Company, with a secondary listing in Hong Kong upon the Listing, will be eligible to be traded through Stock Connect, if at all. The ineligibility or any delay of our common shares for trading through Stock Connect will affect mainland Chinese investors’ ability to trade our common shares and therefore may limit the liquidity of the trading of our common shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
There is uncertainty as to whether Hong Kong stamp duty will apply to the trading or conversion of our ADSs.
In connection with our initial public offering of common shares in Hong Kong, or the Hong Kong IPO, we have established a branch register of members in Hong Kong, or the Hong Kong share register. Our common shares that are traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, including those to be issued in the Hong Kong IPO and those that may be converted from ADSs, are registered on the Hong Kong share register, and the trading of these common shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange will be subject to the Hong Kong stamp duty. To facilitate
ADS-common
share conversion and trading between the NYSE and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, we also moved a portion of our issued common shares from our register of members maintained in the Cayman Islands to our Hong Kong share register.
Under the Hong Kong Stamp Duty Ordinance, any person who effects any sale or purchase of Hong Kong stock, defined as stock the transfer of which is required to be registered in Hong Kong, is required to pay Hong Kong stamp duty. The stamp duty is currently set at a total rate of 0.2% of the greater of the consideration for, or the value of, shares transferred, with 0.1% payable by each of the buyer and the seller.
To the best of our knowledge, Hong Kong stamp duty has not been levied in practice on the trading or conversion of ADSs of companies that are listed in both the United States and Hong Kong and that have maintained all or a portion of their common shares, including common shares underlying ADSs, in their Hong Kong share registers. However, it is unclear whether, as a matter of Hong Kong law, the trading or conversion of ADSs of these dual-listed companies constitutes a sale or purchase of the underlying Hong Kong-registered common shares that is subject to Hong Kong stamp duty. We advise investors to consult their own tax advisors on this matter. If Hong Kong stamp duty is determined by the competent authority to apply to the trading or conversion of our ADSs, the trading price and the value of your investment in our common shares and/or ADSs may be affected.
 
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ITEM 4.
INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY
 
A.
History and Development of the Company
Our first school was established by Mr. Michael Minhong Yu, our executive chairman, in Beijing, China in 1993 to offer TOEFL test preparation courses to college students. We established New Oriental China in 2001 as a domestic holding company to act as the sponsor of our schools and hold some operating subsidiaries. Since our inception, we have grown rapidly and transformed ourselves from primarily a language training and test preparation company to the largest provider of private educational services in China offering a wide range of educational programs, services and products to a varied student population throughout China.
In order to facilitate foreign investment in our company, we established our offshore holding company, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc., in the British Virgin Islands in August 2004. On January 23, 2006, our shareholders approved the change of our offshore holding company’s corporate domicile to the Cayman Islands, and upon completion of registration by way of continuation with the Registrar of Companies of the Cayman Islands on March 16, 2006 we are now a Cayman Islands company. Since December 2007, we have established three wholly-owned subsidiaries in Hong Kong, which now directly own our wholly-owned subsidiaries in China.
We and certain selling shareholders of our company completed an initial public offering and listed our ADSs on the NYSE under the symbol “EDU” in September 2006. In February 2007, we and certain selling shareholders of our company completed an additional public offering of ADSs. On August 18, 2011, we effected a change in the ratio of our ADSs to common shares from one ADS representing four common shares to one ADS representing one common share.
Beijing Xuncheng, a then majority-owned subsidiary of New Oriental China, which operates our several online education platforms together with its subsidiaries, one of which is koolearn.com, listed its shares on the National Equities Exchange and Quotations in China for trading from March 21, 2017 to February 14, 2018 whereby it completed a voluntary delisting from the National Equities Exchange and Quotations. Subsequent to its delisting, Beijing Xuncheng went through a series of restructuring transactions and became a variable interest entity controlled by Koolearn Technology Holding Limited, or Koolearn, a majority-owned subsidiary of our offshore holding company. On March 28, 2019, Koolearn completed its initial public offering and the listing of its shares on the Main Board of The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited.
In October 2018, we announced a share repurchase program, pursuant to which we were authorized to repurchase our own common shares or ADSs with an aggregate value of up to US$200 million during the period from October 29, 2018 through May 31, 2019. Under such share repurchase program, we repurchased an aggregate of 952,000 ADSs for US$56.0 million on the open market at a weighted average purchase price of US$58.78 per ADS.
In July 2020, we completed an offering of US$300 million aggregate principal amount of 2.125% notes due 2025, or the 2025 Notes. We received net proceeds from the offering of the 2025 Notes of approximately US$297.1 million, after deducting joint bookrunners’ commissions and estimated offering expenses.
On November 9, 2020, our common shares commenced trading on the Main Board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange under the stock code “9901.” We raised from our listing in Hong Kong approximately US$1.48 billion in net proceeds after deducting underwriting commissions, share issuance costs and the offering expenses.
On March 10, 2021, we implemented a
one-for-ten
share split. Except as otherwise indicated, all information in this annual report concerning share and per share data gives retroactive effect to the
one-for-ten
share split.
 
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Our principal executive offices are located at No. 6 Hai Dian Zhong Street, Haidian District, Beijing 100080, People’s Republic of China. Our telephone number at this address is +(8610) 6090-8000. Our registered office in the Cayman Islands is located at Conyers Trust Company (Cayman) Limited, Cricket Square, Hutchins Drive, P.O. Box 2681, Grand Cayman
KY1-1111,
Cayman Islands. We have branch offices in 108 cities in China.
The SEC maintains an internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC at www.sec.gov. You can also find information on our website at http://investor.neworiental.org. The information contained on our website is not a part of this annual report.
 
B.
Business Overview
Our Network
We deliver our comprehensive educational programs, services and products to students across China through our nationwide physical network of schools, learning centers and bookstores, as well as our pure-play online learning platforms. As of May 31, 2021, we had a physical network of 122 schools and 1,547 learning centers in 108 cities and approximately 54,200 teachers. We deliver online courses through our online learning platforms, including
Koolearn.com
, our comprehensive online education services platform; DFUB, our live interactive
K-12
tutoring service tailored to students in lower-tier cities; and Donut, our online live English classroom courses for preschoolers. Powered by our OMO system, we have combined our offline network with online technologies and adopted different business models tailored to students in different locations to facilitate our operational efficiency. For example, for students in tier 1 cities, we primarily deliver courses in offline classroom settings, supported with interactive online learning components. For students in lower tier cities, we have adopted a dual-teacher model, where we broadcast courses delivered by well-known teachers from
top-tier
cities through our OMO system and have local assistant lecturers monitor and provide
in-person
guidance and interactions with students onsite. The dual-teacher model provides students in lower tier cities with access to top quality teachers in other cities with greater flexibility in terms of course schedule.
We distribute and sell books and other educational materials developed or licensed by us through our distribution channels, which consist of bookstores operated by us and third-party distributors. As of May 31, 2021, we had 11 bookstores operated by us, and 181 third-party distributors, who provided us with access to a nationwide network of online and offline bookstores. In addition, we have an extensive network of students and alumni, who we believe have been essential in helping us promote our brand and our programs, services and products by
word-of-mouth
referrals.
Almost all of our schools, learning centers and self-operated bookstores are operated under our “New Oriental” brand. Our schools in major cities consist of classrooms and administrative facilities with full student and administrative services, while our schools in satellite cities and our learning centers consist primarily of classroom facilities and limited course registration and management capabilities. We select new locations for our schools and learning centers based on various factors, including demographics, the number of schools or colleges in, and the economic condition of, the particular region. We have opened bookstores in some of our established schools to sell educational materials relating to our courses and also sell self-help,
know-how,
inspirational and other books.
 
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The following table sets forth information about the locations of our schools, learning centers and bookstores as of May 31, 2021. We plan to close certain learning centers in our fiscal year 2022 in light of the latest regulatory developments.
 
City
  
Number of Schools
    
Number of learning centers
    
Number of bookstores
 
Beijing
     6        120        1  
Shanghai
     1        82        1  
Guangzhou
     1        60        1  
Wuhan
     1        47        1  
Yangzhou
     3        3        —    
Tianjin
     1        45        —    
Xi’an
     2        54        1  
Nanjing
     3        65        —    
Shenyang
     1        20        —    
Chongqing
     1        30        1  
Chengdu
     1        49        —    
Shenzhen
     1        23        —    
Xiangyang
     1        18        —    
Taiyuan
     1        31        —    
Haerbin
     1        21        1  
Changsha
     1        38        —    
Jinan
     1        43        —    
Zhengzhou
     1        42        —    
Hangzhou
     1        93        —    
Changchun
     3        27        1  
Shijiazhuang
     1        19        —    
Suzhou
     2        69        1  
Zhuzhou
     1        2        —    
Anshan
     1        —          —    
Hefei
     1        67        —    
Kunming
     1        12        —    
Wuxi
     1        24        —    
Foshan
     1        14        —    
Fuzhou
     1        37        —    
Yichang
     1        5        —    
Nanchang
     1        46        —    
Jingzhou
     1        3        —    
Dalian
     1        6        1  
Lanzhou
     1        14        1  
Huangshi
     1        3        —    
Ningbo
     1        9        —    
Xiamen
     1        30        —    
Qingdao
     2        32        —    
Nanning
     1        20        —    
Xuzhou
     1        6        —    
Zhenjiang
     1        8        —    
Xiangtan
     1        3        —    
Luoyang
     1        16        —    
Nantong
     1        8        —    
Hohhot
     1        14        —    
Jilin
     1        9        —    
Guiyang
     1        6        —    
Tangshan
     1        16        —    
Urumqi
     1        10        —    
Shiyan
     1        4        —    
Quanzhou
     1        4        —    
Wenzhou
     1        12        —    
Weifang
     1        6        —    
Zhuhai
     1        5        —    
Jinzhou
     1        7        —    
Baoding
     1        6        —    
 
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