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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 December 31, 2020

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: 001-34602

DAQO NEW ENERGY CORP.

(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)

Unit 29, Huadu Mansion, 838 Zhangyang Road,

Shanghai, 200122

The People’s Republic of China

(Address of principal executive offices)

Ming Yang, Chief Financial Officer

Tel: +86-21 5075-2918

mingyang@daqo.com

Unit 29, Huadu Mansion, 838 Zhangyang Road, Shanghai, 200122, The People’s Republic of China

(Name, Telephone, E-mail 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 Each Exchange on Which Registered

American depositary shares, each representing
5 ordinary shares
Ordinary shares, par value US$0.0001 per share*

 

DQ

New York Stock Exchange

*      Not for trading, but only in connection with the listing on New York Stock Exchange of the American depositary shares.

Table of Contents

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 class the period covered by the annual report 365,235,402 ordinary shares, par value US$0.0001 per share, as of December 31, 2020.

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 definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

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 by the International Accounting Standards Board  

Other

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

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

1

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

2

Part I

4

ITEM 1.

IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS

4

ITEM 2.

OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE

4

ITEM 3.

KEY INFORMATION

4

ITEM 4.

INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY

42

ITEM 4A.

UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

60

ITEM 5.

OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS

61

ITEM 6.

DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES

82

ITEM 7.

MAJOR SHAREHOLDERS AND RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS

94

ITEM 8.

FINANCIAL INFORMATION

96

ITEM 9.

THE OFFER AND LISTING

97

ITEM 10.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

98

ITEM 11.

QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK

107

ITEM 12.

DESCRIPTION OF SECURITIES OTHER THAN EQUITY SECURITIES

107

Part II

109

ITEM 13.

DEFAULTS, DIVIDEND ARREARAGES AND DELINQUENCIES

109

ITEM 14.

MATERIAL MODIFICATIONS TO THE RIGHTS OF SECURITY HOLDERS AND USE OF PROCEEDS

109

ITEM 15.

CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES

110

ITEM 16A.

AUDIT COMMITTEE FINANCIAL EXPERT

110

ITEM 16B.

CODE OF ETHICS

111

ITEM 16C.

PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTANT FEES AND SERVICES

111

ITEM 16D.

EXEMPTIONS FROM THE LISTING STANDARDS FOR AUDIT COMMITTEES

111

ITEM 16E.

PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES BY THE ISSUER AND AFFILIATED PURCHASERS

111

ITEM 16F.

CHANGE IN REGISTRANT’S CERTIFYING ACCOUNTANT

111

ITEM 16G.

CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

112

ITEM 16H.

MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURE

112

Part III

112

ITEM 17.

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

112

ITEM 18.

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

113

ITEM 19.

EXHIBITS

116

SIGNATURES

116

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INTRODUCTION

Except where the context otherwise requires:

“we,” “us,” “our company,” “our” or “Daqo Cayman” refers to Daqo New Energy Corp., its subsidiaries and, until December 30, 2013, its consolidated variable interest entity;
“ADSs” refers to our American depositary shares, each of which represents five ordinary shares. On November 17, 2020, we effected a change of the ADS to ordinary share ratio from one ADS representing 25 ordinary shares to one ADS representing five ordinary shares. The ratio change had the same effect as a 1-for-5 ADS split;
“cash cost” is calculated by the inventoriable costs relating to production of polysilicon excluding depreciation expense, divided by the production volume in the period indicated;
“China” or “PRC” refers to the People’s Republic of China, excluding, for the purpose of this annual report only, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau;
“production cost” is calculated by the inventoriable costs relating to production of polysilicon in Xinjiang divided by the production volume in the period indicated;
“PV” means photovoltaic;
“shares” or “ordinary shares” refers to our ordinary shares, par value $0.0001 per share;
“RMB” or “Renminbi” refers to the legal currency of China;
“$,” “US$,” “dollars” or “U.S. dollars” refers to the legal currency of the United States; and
“EUR” or “Euro” refers to the legal currency of the European Union.

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 are translated into U.S. dollars solely for the reader’s convenience. Unless otherwise noted, all convenience translations from Renminbi to U.S. dollars in this annual report on Form 20-F were made at a rate of RMB6.5250 to US$1.00, the exchange rate set forth in the H.10 statistical release of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on December 31, 2020. We make no representation that any Renminbi or U.S. dollar amounts could have been, or could be, converted into U.S. dollars or Renminbi, as the case may be, at any particular rate, at the rate stated above, or at all.

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FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This annual report on Form 20-F contains forward-looking statements that reflect our current expectations and views of future events. 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 some of 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, statements about:

the demand for photovoltaic products and the development of photovoltaic technologies;
global supply and demand for polysilicon;
alternative technologies in cell manufacturing;
our ability to significantly expand its polysilicon production capacity and output;
the reduction in or elimination of government subsidies and economic incentives for solar energy applications;
our ability to lower its production costs;
changes in the political and regulatory environment; and
the duration of COVID-19 outbreaks in China and many other countries and the impact of the outbreaks and the quarantines and travel restrictions instituted by relevant governments on economic and market conditions, including potentially weaker global demand for solar PV installations that could adversely affect the Company’s business and financial performance.

This annual report on Form 20-F also contains estimates, projections and statistical data related to the polysilicon markets and photovoltaic industry in several countries, including China. This market data speaks as of the date it was published and includes projections that are based on a number of assumptions and are not representations of fact. If any one or more of the assumptions underlying the market data proves to be incorrect, actual results may differ from the projections based on these assumptions. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements.

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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. Except as required by U.S. federal securities law, we undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, after the date on which the statements are made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. You should read this annual report and the documents that we reference in this annual report and have filed as exhibits to this annual report, completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect. 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. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.

3

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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

The following selected consolidated statements of operations data for our company for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020 and the consolidated balance sheet data as of December 31, 2019 and 2020 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report. Our selected consolidated statements of operations data for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2017 and our consolidated balance sheet data as of December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements, which are not included in this annual report. In September 2018, we discontinued our wafer manufacturing operations in Chongqing. Accordingly, we have reclassified the assets, liabilities, net income (loss), earnings (loss) per ordinary share and cash flows of the discontinued operations in the financial statements as of and for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. During the year ended December 31, 2019, we suspended the plan to sell the idle wafer plant and land use right and decided to first rent out the idle wafer plant and land in the next five years before selling these assets as appropriate and, accordingly, we recorded these assets as continuing operations in our financial statements beginning in the year of 2019. Certain accounts and balances in the consolidated financial statements for all periods presented have been retrospectively adjusted to reflect the effect of the discontinued operations.

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The selected consolidated financial data should be read in conjunction with, and are qualified in their entirety by reference to, our consolidated financial statements and related notes, and “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” included elsewhere in this annual report. Our consolidated financial statements are prepared and presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP. Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of results to be expected in any future period.

Year Ended December 31,

    

2016

    

2017

    

2018

    

2019

    

2020

(in thousands of US$, except share, per share and per ADS data)

Consolidated Statement of Operations Data:

Revenues

 

196,219

 

323,200

 

301,600

 

349,991

 

675,602

Cost of revenues (1)

 

(118,408)

 

(179,152)

 

(203,486)

 

(269,887)

 

(441,610)

Gross profit

 

77,811

 

144,048

 

98,114

 

80,104

 

233,992

Total operating expenses, net (1)

 

(16,946)

 

(13,236)

 

(16,910)

 

(32,619)

 

(46,137)

Income from operations

 

60,865

 

130,812

 

81,204

 

47,485

 

187,855

Income before income taxes

 

48,300

 

115,008

 

73,513

 

37,885

 

162,130

Income tax expense

 

(7,358)

 

(17,332)

 

(11,717)

 

(9,623)

 

(28,182)

Net income from continuing operations

 

40,942

 

97,676

 

61,796

 

28,262

 

133,948

Income/(loss) from discontinued operations, net of tax

 

2,982

 

(3,821)

 

(23,030)

 

1,261

 

(141)

Net income

 

43,924

 

93,855

 

38,766

 

29,523

 

133,807

Net income/(loss) attributable to non-controlling interest

 

430

 

1,014

 

641

 

(1)

 

4,612

Net income attributable to Daqo New Energy Corp. ordinary shareholders

 

43,494

 

92,841

 

38,125

 

29,524

 

129,195

Earnings/(loss) per ADS (2)

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

Continuing operations

 

0.78

 

1.84

 

0.2

 

0.42

 

1.82

Discontinued operations

 

0.06

 

(0.07)

 

(0.07)

 

0.02

 

0.00

Basic

 

0.84

 

1.77

 

0.13

 

0.44

 

1.82

Continuing operations

 

0.77

 

1.71

 

0.17

 

0.40

 

1.72

Discontinued operations

 

0.06

 

(0.07)

 

(0.06)

 

0.02

 

0.00

Diluted

 

0.83

 

1.64

 

0.11

 

0.42

 

1.72

Ordinary shares used to calculating earnings per ordinary share

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

Basic – ordinary shares

 

261,742,244

 

265,070,961

 

311,715,158

 

339,571,054

 

355,087,013

Diluted – ordinary shares

 

265,845,346

 

286,050,739

 

325,506,335

 

349,961,558

 

375,017,150

Notes:

(1)Includes share-based compensation expenses in the amount of $2.7 million, $4.2 million, $13.8 million, $17.9 million and $17.9 million for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively.

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(2)On November 17, 2020, we effected a change of the ADS-to-ordinary-share ratio from one (1) ADS representing twenty-five (25) ordinary shares to one (1) ADS representing five (5) ordinary shares. For the purposes of calculating earnings (loss) per ADS, this ADS-to-ordinary share ratio change has been retroactively reflected for all periods presented herein.

Year Ended December 31,

    

2016

    

2017

    

2018

    

2019

    

2020

Other Financial and Operating Data:

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

Polysilicon production volume (in MT)

 

13,068

 

20,200

 

23,351

 

41,556

 

77,288

Polysilicon sales volume (in MT) (1)

 

10,883

 

17,950

 

22,521

 

38,109

 

74,812

Unit cost of polysilicon sold (in $/kg) (2)

 

9.38

 

8.84

 

8.71

 

7.06

 

5.85

Notes:

(1)The polysilicon sales volume here only refers to external sales. Internal sales to our in-house wafer facilities were 1,968 MT, 1,944 MT, 459 MT, nil and nil in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. We discontinued our wafer manufacturing operations in September 2018.
(2)The unit cost here refers to the polysilicon made in Xinjiang facilities.

The following table presents a summary of our consolidated balance sheet data as of the dates set forth below:

As of December 31,

    

2016

    

2017

    

2018

    

2019

    

2020

(in thousands of US$)

Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

Cash and cash equivalents

 

13,819

 

53,803

 

65,419

 

51,840

 

76,596

Restricted cash

 

14,338

 

9,911

 

28,609

 

62,609

 

41,808

Total current assets

 

73,303

 

142,364

 

160,069

 

174,328

 

180,271

Property, plant and equipment, net

 

467,600

 

491,366

 

616,975

 

995,027

 

1,027,086

Total assets

 

656,709

 

748,783

 

854,929

 

1,201,356

 

1,239,143

Short-term bank borrowings, including current portion of long-term borrowings

 

91,581

 

73,784

 

38,206

 

128,612

 

70,431

Total current liabilities

 

249,750

 

216,513

 

149,854

 

445,148

 

284,135

Long-term bank borrowings

 

111,949

 

111,436

 

133,312

 

151,518

 

123,222

Total liabilities

 

384,979

 

354,255

 

329,797

 

634,198

 

440,228

Total shareholders’ equity

 

270,101

 

391,736

 

525,132

 

566,643

 

767,123

Non-controlling interest

 

1,629

 

2,792

 

 

515

 

31,792

Total equity

 

271,730

 

394,528

 

525,132

 

567,158

 

798,915

Total liabilities and equity

 

656,709

 

748,783

 

854,929

 

1,201,356

 

1,239,143

B.Capitalization and Indebtedness

Not applicable.

C.Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds

Not applicable.

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D.Risk Factors

Risks Related to Our Business

Our ability to maintain our growth and profitability depend on the demand for photovoltaic products and the development of photovoltaic technologies, among other things.

The solar industry is still at a relatively early stage of development, and the extent of acceptance of photovoltaic products is uncertain. The photovoltaic industry does not have data as far back as the semiconductor industry or other more established industries, for which trends can be assessed more reliably from data gathered over a longer period of time. Demand for photovoltaic products may not develop or may develop to a lesser extent than we anticipate. Many factors may affect the viability of widespread adoption of photovoltaic technology and demand for photovoltaic products, including:

decreases in government subsidies and incentives to support the development of the photovoltaic industry;
the international trade conflicts and the consequential imposed tariffs for solar photovoltaic, or PV, products, and other renewable energy sources and products;
relative cost-effectiveness, performance and reliability of photovoltaic products compared to conventional;
success of other alternative energy sources, such as wind power, hydroelectric power and biofuel;
fluctuations in economic and market conditions that affect the viability of conventional and other renewable energy sources, such as increases or decreases in the prices of oil and other fossil fuels;
the ability of photovoltaic product manufacturers to finance their business operations, expansions and other capital expenditures;
capital expenditures by end users of photovoltaic products, which tend to decrease when the economy slows down; and
deregulation or other regulatory actions affecting the electric power industry and the broader energy industry.

In the event that photovoltaic technologies do not develop in a manner that increases the demand for polysilicon or demand for solar products does not expand as we expect, average selling prices may move downward as a result, and our future growth and profitability will be materially and adversely affected.

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The imbalance between polysilicon supply and demand could cause polysilicon prices to decline and materially and adversely affect our profitability.

Our polysilicon sales prices are affected by a variety of factors, including global supply and demand conditions. Over the years, many polysilicon manufacturers have significantly increased their capacity to meet customer demand and continue to expand capacities in order to achieve economies of scale. In the first half of 2016, average selling prices of polysilicon were relatively strong due to rush orders placed before China’s solar PV feed-in tariff adjustment went effective at the end of June 2016. In the second half of 2016, average selling prices of polysilicon declined due to decreasing demand. In 2017, the solar PV demand in China grew significantly to approximately 55 GW, and thus the average selling prices of polysilicon were relatively strong during the year. In 2018, polysilicon supply capacities increased in the second half of the year, which caused the average selling prices of polysilicon to decline again. In 2019, polysilicon supply capacities continued to increase significantly, while the growth of overall global solar PV demand was relatively weak and could not cover the additional supply. The solar PV demand was weak in the first half of 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19, leading to the decline in polysilicon prices. The solar PV demand recovered quickly in the second half of 2020, which caused polysilicon prices to pick up significantly. We expect the overall solar PV demand will increase and surpass the supply of polysilicon in 2021. However, if the imbalance between polysilicon supply and demand continues to exist, it could cause polysilicon prices to decline and thus materially and adversely affect our profitability.

We may not be able to continue to receive the same level of support from Daqo Group Co., Ltd., or Daqo Group, a related party of ours, which may have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.

Since our inception, we have substantially benefited from financial support from Daqo Group, one of the largest electrical equipment manufacturers in China, and we expect to continue to benefit from Daqo Group in the foreseeable future. Please see “—We need a significant amount of cash to fund our future capital expenditure requirements and working capital needs; if we cannot obtain additional sources of liquidity when needed, our growth prospects and future profitability may be materially and adversely affected” below. In addition, Daqo Group has granted us a permanent and royalty-free license to use the “Daqo” brand (including using the brand in the trademarks owned by Daqo Group and Jiangsu Daqo), which is a well-recognized brand in the electrical industry in China. We have benefited from the strong brand recognition of “Daqo” in our business development efforts, as evidenced by our ability to secure major customers based in China within a short period after we commenced commercial production of polysilicon. We have not registered our own trademarks. If Daqo Group or Jiangsu Daqo terminates their license of the trademarks to us, our business could be disrupted, and our results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. Daqo Group has agreed in writing not to engage in the business of manufacturing, marketing or distributing polysilicon or any other solar power products anywhere in the world or compete in any manner with our businesses without our consent for an indefinite term. If Daqo Group ceases to support us, our business, results of operations and prospects may be materially and adversely affected. In addition, any negative publicity associated with Daqo Group will likely have an adverse impact on our reputation, which could materially and adversely affect our business. In the event of any disagreements with Daqo Group, we may have to resort to legal proceedings in China to enforce our rights, which could be costly, time consuming and involve uncertain outcomes.

We had a significant working capital deficit as of December 31, 2020 and may continue to do so, which poses liquidity risk to us.

We have experienced and may continue to experience a working capital deficit. As of December 31, 2020, we had a working capital deficit (being our total consolidated current liabilities less our total consolidated current assets) of $103.9 million, primarily due to an increase in our loans and notes payable to support the construction of our phase 4A expansion project. In addition, we have made and may continue to make significant capital expenditures on our expansion projects at our Xinjiang polysilicon facilities.

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Any deterioration in our operating performance, including due to any worsening of prevailing economic conditions, fall in prices or demand for our products and financial, business or other factors, many of which are beyond our control, may materially and adversely affect our liquidity, increase our working capital deficit, and result in us unable to meet our obligations as they fall due. If such as a situation were to occur, we may be required to further refinance our existing debt and obtain other sources of financing. Daqo and certain of our shareholders did not provide financial support to us for the current year. If we need any funds in excess of the amounts generated by our operating activities, we would expect to obtain such funds through accessing the capital markets. However, we may not succeed in these efforts. Even if we were successful, the terms of such refinancing or new capital may be detrimental to holders of our ADSs and shares including due to a dilution of their interests. The cost of our financing may also depend on factors such as, among other things, our performance, the costs of financing for participants in our industry generally and financial market conditions generally. Accordingly, we may not be able to obtain financing or otherwise raise funds necessary to operate our business on favorable terms, or at all, in the future. Therefore, we cannot assure you that our ability to meet our capital needs will not be harmed in the absence of financial support from Daqo Group and certain of our shareholders. Any of these factors could negatively impact our liquidity and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and the trading price of our ADSs and shares.

The reduction in or elimination of government subsidies and economic incentives for solar energy applications could cause demand for our products and our revenues to decline.

When upfront system costs are factored into cost per kilowatt hour, the current cost of solar power still exceeds the cost of traditional forms of energy in many locations. As a result, national and local governmental authorities in many countries, including China, have provided subsidies and economic incentives in the form of feed-in tariffs, rebates, tax credits and other incentives to distributors, system integrators and manufacturers of photovoltaic products to promote the use of solar energy and to reduce dependency on other forms of energy. We believe that the near-term growth of the market for solar energy applications depends in large part on the availability and size of government subsidies and economic incentives. The reduction or elimination of government subsidies and economic incentives may hinder the growth of this market or result in increased price competition for solar energy products, which could cause our revenues to decline. These government subsidies and economic incentives could be reduced or eliminated altogether. For example, China has announced several reductions in solar feed-in tariffs (“FITs”) since the release of the “Notice on Leveraging the Price for the Development of the Solar Energy Industry” in 2013. A reduction in solar FITs was announced in May 2018 for solar power projects approved after May 31, 2018. The new FIT for solar power projects in Zone 1, 2 and 3 was reduced by RMB0.05 per kWh, to RMB0.5 per kWh, RMB0.6 per kWh and RMB0.7 per kWh, respectively. In 2019, China adopted a new method of bidding process to allocate subsidies for most of the domestic solar PV installations. A similar policy is applied in 2020. In 2016, global solar PV installations continued its growing trend and reached approximately 73 GW. In 2017, global solar PV installations grew significantly to approximately 100 GW. However, the growth rate of global PV installations slowed down in 2018 with approximately 110 GW newly installed in the year. In 2019, China domestic demand was negatively impacted by a long-delayed announcement of subsidy policy. However, demand from overseas markets remained robust. Global solar PV installations were approximately 115 GW in 2019. In 2020, global solar PV installations continued its growing trend and reached approximately 130 GW. Reductions in, or elimination of, government subsidies and economic incentives for solar energy applications before the photovoltaic industry reaches the economies of scale necessary for solar power to become cost-effective in a non-subsidized market place could result in decreased demand for solar generation products and, as a result, for polysilicon, which could cause our revenues to decline.

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Our limited operating history may not serve as an adequate basis to judge our future prospects and results of operations.

We have a limited operating history. We commenced polysilicon manufacturing in 2008. Certain of our senior management and key employees have worked together at our company for only a relatively short period of time. Our future success will depend on our ability to expand our manufacturing capacity significantly beyond its current level and further expand our customer base. To address these risks, we must, among other things, continue to respond to competition and volatile market developments, attract, retain and motivate qualified personnel, implement and successfully execute expansion plans and improve our technologies. We cannot assure you that we will be successful in addressing such risks.

We experienced significant decreases in revenue and incurred substantial net losses in 2012 and 2013. We had positive net income from 2014 to 2020. However, our limited operating history makes the prediction of future results of operations difficult, and therefore, it is unclear if we could sustain revenue growth or profitability in the future. Our business model, technology and ability to achieve satisfactory manufacturing yields for polysilicon at higher volumes are unproven. Compared to companies with a long and well-established operating history and companies operating in less volatile sectors, our results of operations are more susceptible to the impact of adverse operating environment and supply and demand risks.

Our revenues and results of operations have fluctuated and are likely to fluctuate in the future.

Fluctuations of our revenues and results of operations may occur on a quarterly and on an annual basis and may be due to a number of factors, many of which are beyond our control. These factors include, among others, fluctuation in the global average selling prices of photovoltaic products, fluctuation in the volume of our products shipped, changes in end-user demand for the photovoltaic products manufactured and sold by us or our customers, the gain or loss of significant customers, the availability of governmental subsidies or financial support and changes in our electricity, natural gas, raw material or labor costs. Although our revenue has improved since 2013 and we have regained profitability from 2014 to 2020, our revenues and results of operations may worsen again if one or more of these factors become unfavorable to our business. While we generally have long-term sales contracts of photovoltaic products with our customers and some of these contracts provide for prepayment by the customers, we cannot assure you that the customers will place orders in accordance with the contracts. The customers’ purchases from us depend on, among others, the market supply and demand situation, supply chain developments, the customers’ inventories at hand, market prices, and general economic and market conditions.

Therefore, you should consider our future prospects in light of the risks and uncertainties experienced by early stage companies in a rapidly evolving and increasingly competitive market in China.

We need a significant amount of cash to fund our future capital expenditure requirements and working capital needs; if we cannot obtain additional sources of liquidity when needed, our growth prospects and future profitability may be materially and adversely affected.

We need a significant amount of cash to fund our operations. In particular, we will need substantial additional funding to finance our expansion project at our Xinjiang polysilicon facilities to meet our working capital requirements and to repay any short-term or long-term bank borrowings when due. We will also require cash resources to fund our research and development activities in order to remain competitive on cost and technology.

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We have relied in the past and expect in the next 12 months to continue to rely mainly on operating cash flows and renewal and roll-over of our bank credit facilities to finance our working capital, capital expenditures requirements and other commitments. The photovoltaic markets remain competitive, and payment collection in the solar photovoltaic industry remains challenging. Any delay or failure in collecting amounts owed from customers will adversely affect our company’s cash flow situation. In addition, future acquisitions, expansions, market changes or other developments may cause us to require additional financing. We may incur additional debt in the future. Our ability to obtain external financing in the future is subject to a number of uncertainties, including:

our future financial condition, results of operations and cash flows;
general market conditions for financing activities by companies in our industry;
economic, political and other conditions in China and elsewhere; and
development and sustainability of global economic recovery.

If we are unable to obtain funding in a timely manner or on commercially acceptable terms, or at all, our growth prospects and ability to maintain profitability may be materially and adversely affected.

We may not be successful in our efforts to continue to manufacture high quality polysilicon in a cost-effective manner.

The technology used to manufacture polysilicon is complex, requires costly equipment and is continuously being modified in an effort to improve yields and product performance. We may face significant challenges relating to high quality polysilicon production in the future. Microscopic impurities such as dust and other contaminants, difficulties in the manufacturing process, disruptions in the supply of utilities or defects in the key materials or tools used to manufacture polysilicon could interrupt manufacturing, reduce yields or cause a portion of the polysilicon to be rejected by our customers, which would materially and adversely affect our profitability. As a result of our continuous efforts to improve polysilicon production quality, approximately 97% of our polysilicon was sold to mono-wafer applications in 2020, which require higher quality as compared to multi-wafer applications. We cannot assure you that we can continue to maintain the current level of high quality polysilicon production or achieve the expected increases in the portion of production suitable for selling to mono-wafer applications in 2021.

Our effective capacity and ability to produce high volumes of polysilicon depend on the cycle time for each batch of polysilicon. We may encounter problems in our manufacturing process or facilities as a result of, among other things, production failures, construction delays, human error, equipment malfunction or process contamination, all of which could seriously harm our operations. We are dependent on the availability of inexpensive electricity to keep our production costs down. We may experience production delays if any modifications we make in the manufacturing process to shorten production cycles are unsuccessful. Moreover, failure to achieve acceptable manufacturing levels may make our polysilicon costs uncompetitive, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

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Further development in alternative polysilicon production technologies or other changes in the photovoltaic industry could render our production process too costly or obsolete, which could reduce our market share and cause our sales and profits to decline.

Although the vast majority of the polysilicon produced in the world utilizes the chemical vapor deposition process, or the “modified Siemens process,” several alternative production processes have been developed that may have significantly lower production costs. Compared with other polysilicon production processes, a disadvantage of the modified Siemens process is the large amount of electricity required. For example, REC, GCL and SMP used to operate or currently operate facilities that use the “fluidized bed reactor” method for producing polysilicon using saline (SiH4) as feed-in gas. Other polysilicon manufacturers are establishing facilities using upgraded metallurgical grade silicon process to produce solar-grade polysilicon. Moreover, some polysilicon manufacturers who are using “modified Siemens process” have adopted newer technologies such as Hydrochlorination, which could enable them to produce polysilicon in a more cost effective way compared to the traditional “modified Siemens process.”

Further developments in competing polysilicon production technologies may result in lower manufacturing costs or higher product performance than those achieved from the modified Siemens process, including the one we employ. We will need to invest significant financial resources in research and development to expand our market position, keep pace with technological advances in polysilicon production and effectively compete in the future. Failure to further refine our technology could make our production process too costly or obsolete, which could reduce our margins and market share, cause our revenues to decline and materially and adversely affect our results of operations.

Technological changes in the solar power industry could render our products uncompetitive or obsolete, which could reduce our market share and cause our sales and profits to decline.

The solar power industry is characterized by evolving technologies and standards. These technological evolutions and developments place increasing demands on the improvement of our polysilicon products. Other companies may develop production technologies that enable them to produce polysilicon of higher quality at a lower cost than our products. Technologies developed or adopted by others may prove more advantageous than ours for commercialization of solar power products and may render our products obsolete. As a result, we may need to invest significant resources in research and development to maintain our market position, keep pace with technological advances in the solar power industry, and effectively compete in the future. Our failure to further refine and enhance our products and processes or to keep pace with evolving technologies and industry standards could cause our products to become uncompetitive or obsolete and increase the risk of impairment of our fixed asset, which could materially and adversely reduce our market share and affect our results of operations.

Alternative technologies in cell manufacturing may reduce the demand for polysilicon.

The vast majority of silicon-based photovoltaic cell manufacturers use chunk or granular polysilicon. However, alternative technologies have been commercialized. One such technology, thin-film cell production, uses little to no silicon in the production of solar cells. Although in general, thin-film solar cells are currently not as competitive as silicon-based solar cells in terms of efficiency and cost, thin-film solar cells have their own dominating niche markets, for example, the markets for the building integrated PV applications. If the demand for polysilicon is adversely affected by increased demand for, and improvements to, alternative technologies, our revenues and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

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Our future commercial production and expansion projects may not be successful.

We finished construction of our Phase 2A polysilicon facilities in Shihezi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in September 2012 and successfully reached our targets in terms of capacity and cost structure by the end of the first quarter of 2013. The construction and installation of our Phase 2B expansion project was completed during the second quarter of 2015 and achieved full production capacity in the third quarter of 2015, which increased our polysilicon annual capacity from 6,150 MT to 12,150 MT. In January 2015, our Board of Directors approved our Phase 3A expansion project in Xinjiang. We completed the construction and installation of Phase 3A at the end of 2016 and commenced initial production in the first quarter of 2017. By the end of February 2017, we achieved full production capacity of 18,000 MT per annum. In August 2017, our Board of Directors approved our Phase 3B expansion project in Xinjiang. By October 2018, we completed the construction and installation of Phase 3B and began pilot production. The Phase 3B facility ramped up to full production capacity and increased our total production capacity to 30,000 MT in December 2018. In addition, we completed a debottlenecking project and increased our total production capacity to 35,000 MT by the end of June 2019. Our Phase 4 expansion plan comprises Phase 4A and Phase 4B, which will each increase our production capacity by 35,000 MT. We completed the Phase 4A project and began pilot production in September 2019. We ramped up Phase 4A to full production capacity in December 2019, which increased our total production capacity to 70,000 MT. We began our Phase 4B project in March 2021 and expect to complete the project by the end of 2021 and ramp it up to its full capacity of 35,000 MT by the end of the first quarter of 2022. In addition, Xinjiang Daqo plans to build a semiconductor-grade polysilicon production facility at an annual production capacity of 1,000MT in the coming couple of years with proceeds from its proposed initial public offering in China. Semiconductor-grade polysilicon has higher purity than our existing products, which requires relatively high production technology, and its application areas and target customers are different from our existing products. In addition, we have no prior experience in manufacturing semiconductor-grade polysilicon. Therefore, there is no guarantee that we will have sufficient production or technological experience in implementing the expansion plan as scheduled, or at all, or that our product quality, capacity or client penetration can meet our expectations. Any of these factors could negatively affect our ability to achieve the anticipated benefits from this investment. Moreover, although the Xinjiang location provides many strategic advantages, including lower electricity costs, we face a number of uncertainties in relation with our future commercial production and expansion project in Xinjiang.

In addition, there are many risks associated with our future production in Xinjiang, any of which could cause significant disruption to production, including:

being unable to construct and complete our expansion plan as scheduled;
being unable to fully ramp-up the newly added capacity or achieve our targets for cost and quality;
uncertainties in the stability in supply and price of electricity for our manufacturing facilities;
extremely cold temperatures;
lack of workers in Xinjiang experienced with polysilicon manufacturing;
difficulties in timely transporting products to our customers, most of whom are located in other areas of China that are a significant distance from Xinjiang; and
political or social unrest.One or more of these factors could harm our Xinjiang operations and consequently, could adversely affect our overall operating results.

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If we are unable to manage our expansion effectively, our business and financial results may be adversely affected.

Since 2013, we have experienced a period of growth and expansion in terms of production capacity and sales volume. We achieved a nameplate capacity of 6,150 MT in the first quarter of 2014 and further ramped up our nameplate capacity to 12,150 MT in the third quarter of 2015. Our polysilicon production for 2016 reached a record high of 13,068 MT, which surpassed our nameplate capacity of 12,150 MT per annum. In 2018, 2019 and 2020, we sold 22,521 MT 38,109 MT and 74,812 MT, respectively, of polysilicon (excluding internal sales to our in-house wafer facilities; we discontinued our wafer manufacturing operations in September 2018). We completed the construction and installation of Phase 3A at the end of 2016 and commenced initial production of the Phase 3A project in the first quarter of 2017 and have achieved full production capacity. We completed the construction and installation of Phase 3B and commenced pilot production by October 2018. The Phase 3B facility ramped up to full production capacity and increased our total production capacity to 30,000 MT in December 2018. In addition, we completed a debottlenecking project and increase our total production capacity to 35,000 MT by the end of June 2019. Our Phase 4 expansion plan comprises Phase 4A and Phase 4B, which will each increase our production capacity by 35,000 MT. We completed the Phase 4A project and begin pilot production in the September 2019 and ramped up Phase 4A to full production capacity in December 2019, which increased our total production capacity to 70,000MT. We began our Phase 4B project in March 2021 and expect to complete the project by the end of 2021 and ramp it up to its full capacity of 35,000 MT by the end of the first quarter of 2022. To accommodate our continued expansion, we anticipate that we will need to implement a variety of new and upgraded operational and financial systems, procedures and controls, including the improvement of our accounting and other internal management systems, all of which require substantial management efforts. We also will need to continue to expand, train, manage and motivate our workforce and manage our customer relationships. All of these endeavors will require substantial management efforts and skill and significant additional expenditures. We cannot assure you that we will be able to manage our growth effectively, and any failure to do so may have a material adverse effect on our business and financial results. Moreover, even if we do expand our polysilicon manufacturing capacity as planned, we may be unable to generate sufficient customer demand for our photovoltaic products to support our increased production levels or successfully integrate our polysilicon business to achieve operational efficiency, which could adversely affect our business and results of operations.

Our future success depends substantially on our ability to significantly expand our polysilicon production capacity and output, which exposes us to a number of risks and uncertainties.

Our future success depends on our ability to significantly increase both polysilicon production capacity and output. If we fail to do so, we may not be able to benefit from economies of scale to reduce our costs per kilogram of polysilicon, to maintain our competitive position or to improve our profitability. Our ability to establish additional production capacity and increase output is subject to significant risks and uncertainties, including:

the need to raise significant additional funds to purchase additional production equipment or to build additional manufacturing facilities, which we may not be able to obtain on commercially viable terms or at all;
cost overruns and delays as a result of a number of factors, many of which are beyond our control, such as increases in the price of electricity or problems with equipment delivery;
delays or denial of required approvals by relevant government authorities;
failure to obtain production inputs in sufficient quantities or at acceptable cost;
significant diversion of management’s attention and other resources; and
failure to execute our expansion plan effectively

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We operate in an increasingly competitive market, and we may not be able to compete successfully with competitors who have greater resources than us.

The photovoltaic market is expected to become increasingly competitive. Our competitors include international polysilicon manufacturers, such as Wacker, OCI, Hemlock, REC and Chinese domestic polysilicon manufacturers, such as GCL-Poly, Xinte Energy Co., Ltd., Yongxiang Co., Ltd., Asia Silicon Co., Ltd. Xinjiang East Hope New Energy Ltd. and China Silicon Corporation. There are also likely new entrants into the polysilicon manufacturing market in China, such as the joint venture formed by REC and Shanxi Youser. In addition, some solar cell and module manufacturers, including some of our existing and potential customers may have the intention of establishing polysilicon production or affiliate relationships with manufacturers of polysilicon. We compete with these in-house capabilities, which could limit our ability to expand our sales or even reduce our sales to our existing customers. Many of our competitors have substantially greater financial, technical, manufacturing and other resources than we do. Our competitors’ greater size and longer operating history provide them with a competitive advantage with respect to manufacturing costs because of their economies of scale and their ability to purchase raw materials at lower prices. Our competitors may have stronger relationships or may enter into exclusive relationships with some of our key customers. We also expect that there may be additional polysilicon supply capacities from our competitors in 2021 and 2022. As a result, they may be able to respond more quickly to changing customer demands or to devote greater resources to the development, promotion and sales of polysilicon than we can. Failure to adapt to changing market conditions and to compete successfully with existing or new competitors may materially and adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.

We depend on a limited number of customers and sales contracts for a significant portion of our revenues, and the loss of any customer or cancellation of any contract may cause significant fluctuations or declines in our revenues.

In 2018, 2019 and 2020, our top three customers in aggregate accounted for approximately 64.2%, 81.6% and 83.4% of our total revenues from continuing operations, respectively. We anticipate that our dependence on a limited number of customers will continue for the foreseeable future. As a result of our customer concentration, our financial performance may fluctuate significantly from period to period based, among others, on exogenous circumstances related to our clients. In addition, any one of the following events may cause materially adverse effect to our cash flows, revenues and results of operations:

reduction, delay or cancellation of orders from one or more of our significant customers;
loss of one or more of our significant customers and failure to identify additional or replacement customers;
failure of any of our significant customers to make timely payment for our products; or
the customers becoming insolvent or having difficulties meeting their financial obligations to us for any reason.

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Polysilicon production is energy-intensive, and if our energy costs rise or if our electricity and other utility supplies are disrupted, our results of operations will be materially and adversely affected.

The polysilicon production process, particularly the modified Siemens process that we use, is highly dependent on a constant supply of electricity and other utilities, such as steam and water, to maintain the optimal conditions for polysilicon production. If electricity or other utility supplies are not maintained at the desired level, we may experience significant delays in the production of polysilicon. In the past, there have been shortages in electricity supply in various regions across China, especially during peak seasons, such as in the summer or winter. The local governmental authorities in the worst-hit areas have at times taken measures to reduce or restrict the amount of electricity and other utility supplies to non-residential users which could potentially disrupt our manufacturing process. In addition to shortages, we are subject to potential risks of interruptions in energy supply due to power outages, equipment failure, weather conditions or other causes which could force us to cease production for a prolonged period of time. In the event that electricity or other utility supplies to our manufacturing facilities are disrupted, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be materially and adversely affected. Even if we have access to sufficient sources of electricity and other utilities, any significant increase in the costs of utilities could adversely affect our profitability, as we consume substantial amounts of electricity and other utilities in our manufacturing process. If electricity and other utility costs were to rise, our results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

Our current indebtedness could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

As of December 31, 2020, we had outstanding long-term bank borrowings, including current portion of long-term borrowings of $55.1 million with a weighted average interest rate of 5.3% and outstanding short-term bank borrowings of $15.3 million with a weighted average interest rate of 5.2%, and we expect to incur additional debt in the future. We borrowed the majority of these bank loans from Chongqing Rural Commercial Bank with guarantees from Daqo Group. We cannot assure you that we will be able to renew these borrowings when they become due or to obtain other loans or credits from other banks or other lenders on terms satisfactory to us or at all to satisfy the substantial capital expenditure requirements associated with our capacity expansion. In addition, the indebtedness could have an adverse effect on our future operations, including, among other things: (1) reducing the availability of our cash flow to fund our working capital, capital expenditures or other general corporate purposes as a result of interest or principal payments; (2) subjecting us to the risk of interest rate increases on our indebtedness which bears floating interest rates; and (3) placing us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors that have less debt or are otherwise less leveraged. Any of these factors could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

If we are unable to complete an initial public offering and listing of Xinjiang Daqo on the STAR Market, our ability to strengthen our market position, including our ability to expand our production capacity and increase our revenues, could be adversely affected.

In June 2020, we announced that we were considering the opportunity to list shares of our principal operating subsidiary, Xinjiang Daqo, on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s Sci-Tech innovation board (the “STAR Market”) within the next two years (the “STAR Listing”). We may not be able to complete the STAR Listing for a number of reasons, many of which are outside our control.

If we are unable to complete the STAR Listing, we may need to seek other sources of funds to realize our business strategy, which funds may not be available to us at commercially reasonable terms, or at all. Any such inability to obtain funds may impair our ability to grow Xinjiang Daqo’s business, which could have a material adverse effect on our consolidated operating results and on the price of our ADSs. Moreover, it may take long before we know whether the STAR Listing will be completed, and therefore we may, in the interim, forego or postpone other alternative actions to strengthen our operations and production capacity in the PRC. In addition, the process underlying the STAR Listing could result in significant diversion of management time as well as substantial out-of-pocket costs, which could further impair our ability to expand our business.

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Even if we complete the STAR Listing, we may not achieve the results contemplated by our business strategy (including with respect to use of proceeds from that offering) and therefore the price of our ADSs may not increase, or may even drop.

Even if the STAR Listing is completed, we cannot assure you that we will realize any or all of our anticipated benefits of the STAR Listing. Our completion of the STAR Listing may not have the anticipated effects of strengthening our market position. If the STAR Listing is completed, Xinjiang Daqo will have broad discretion in the use of the proceeds from the STAR Listing, and it may not spend or invest those proceeds in a manner that results in our operating success or with which holders of our shares and ADSs agree. Our failure to successfully leverage the completion of the STAR Listing to expand our production capacity could result in a decrease in the price of the ADSs. In addition, we cannot assure you that the success of Xinjiang Daqo will have an attendant positive effect on the price of the ADSs.

Xinjiang Daqo’s status as a publicly traded company that is controlled, but less than wholly owned, by our company could have an adverse effect on us.

Actions being taken in connection with the STAR Listing, including placement of shares by Xinjiang Daqo, our principal operating subsidiary, to certain shareholders, have resulted in the decrease of our shareholding in Xinjiang Daqo. This minority interest in Xinjiang Daqo will increase upon completion of the STAR Listing, and the interests of Xijiang Daqo of these minority shareholders may diverge from the interests of our company and our other subsidiaries in the future. We may face conflicts of interest in managing, financing or engaging in transactions with Xinjiang Daqo, or allocating business opportunities between our subsidiaries.

Our company will retain majority ownership of Xinjiang Daqo after the STAR Listing, but Xinjiang Daqo will be managed by a separate board of directors and officers and those directors and officers will owe fiduciary duties to the various stakeholders of Xinjiang Daqo, including shareholders other than our wholly-owned subsidiary. In the operation of Xinjiang Daqo’s business, there may be situations that arise whereby the directors and officers of Xinjiang Daqo, in the exercise of their fiduciary duties, take actions that may be contrary to the best interests of our company.

During or after the STAR Listing process, there might be certain requirements of the PRC law, including demands from the CSRC, the Shanghai Stock Exchange or other relevant authorities, that might have a bearing on holders of our ordinary shares and ADSs. In July 2020, in order to comply with the PRC law, some of our senior management resigned from our company, while continuing to carry out their respective responsibilities at Xinjiang Daqo.

In the future, Xinjiang Daqo may issue options, restricted shares and other forms of share-based compensation to its directors, officers and employees, which could dilute our ownership in Xinjiang Daqo. In addition, Xinjiang Daqo may engage in capital raising activities in the future that could further dilute our ownership interest in it.

Our organizational structure will become more complex, including as a result of preparations for the STAR Listing. We will need to continue to scale and adapt our operational, financial and management controls, as well as our reporting systems and procedures, at both our company and Xinjiang Daqo. The continued expansion of our business will require us to commit substantial financial, operational and management resources before our revenue increases and without any assurance that our revenue will increase.

It is difficult to predict the effect of the proposed STAR Listing on the ADSs.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission, or the CSRC, initially launched the STAR Market in June 2019 and trading on the Market began in July 2019. No assurance can be given regarding the effect of the STAR Listing on the market price of the ADSs. The market price of the ADSs may be volatile or may decline, for reasons other than the risk and uncertainties described above, as the result of investor negativity or uncertainty with respect to the impact of the proposed STAR Listing.

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Holders of our ordinary shares and ADSs may have limited opportunities to purchase Xinjiang Daqo’s shares even if the STAR Listing were completed. Investors may elect to invest in our business and operations by purchasing Xinjiang Daqo’s shares in the STAR Listing or on the STAR Market rather than purchasing the ADSs, and that reduction in demand could lead to a decrease in the market price for the ADSs.

We face risks and uncertainties expanding our business through alliances, joint ventures or acquisitions.

We may in the future, if presented with appropriate opportunities, acquire or invest in technologies, businesses or assets that are strategically important to our business or form alliances with key players in the photovoltaic industry to further expand our business. Such acquisitions and investments could expose us to potential risks, including risks associated with the assimilation of new operations, technologies and personnel, unforeseen or hidden liabilities, the inability to generate sufficient revenues to offset the costs and expenses of acquisitions, and potential loss of, or harm to, our relationships with employees, customers and suppliers as a result of integration of new businesses. Investments in new businesses may also divert our cash flow from servicing our debts and making necessary capital expenditures. In addition, we may incur impairment losses on our acquisitions and investments in equity securities. The diversion of our management’s attention and any difficulties encountered with respect to the acquisitions, investments or alliances or in the process of integration could have an adverse effect on our ability to manage our business. Furthermore, our experience in the polysilicon manufacturing industry may not be as relevant or applicable in downstream markets. We may also face intense competition from companies with greater experience or established presence in the targeted downstream markets or competition from our industry peers with similar expansion plans. Any failure to integrate any acquired businesses or joint ventures into our operations successfully and any material liabilities or potential liabilities of any acquired businesses or joint ventures that are not identified by us during our due diligence process for such acquisitions or investments could materially and adversely affect our business and financial condition.

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If we are unable to operate effectively or operational disruptions occur, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected.

Production of polysilicon requires the use of volatile materials and chemical reactions sensitive to temperature and pressure and requires the use of external controls to maintain safety. For example, in the production of polysilicon, we use trichlorosilane, or TCS, which is a highly combustible substance if brought into contact with moisture in the air and is therefore potentially destructive and extremely dangerous if mishandled or used in uncontrolled circumstances. The occurrence of a catastrophic event involving TCS as a result of a natural disaster or human error at one of our polysilicon production facilities could threaten, disrupt or destroy a significant portion or all of our polysilicon production capacity at such facilities for a significant period of time. Additionally, the smooth operation of our polysilicon production facilities depends significantly on our ability to maintain temperatures and pressure at appropriate levels, the supply of steam at a consistent pressure level, the availability of adequate electricity and our ability to control the application of such electricity. Accordingly, mistakes in operating our equipment or an interruption in the supply of electricity or steam at our production facilities could result in the production of substandard polysilicon or substantial shortfalls in production, could reduce our production capacity for a significant period of time and could have negative effect on our customer relationships. In addition, we voluntarily shut down our manufacturing facilities from time to time on an as-needed basis for maintenance and quality check purposes. For example, in April 2013, we temporarily shut down our Phase 2 facilities in Xinjiang for periodic maintenance and technology improvements. In April 2014, we temporarily shut down our Phase 2 facilities in Xinjiang for periodic maintenance and preparation for the Hydrochlorination project. In May 2015, we conducted annual maintenance of the Xinjiang polysilicon facilities, which affected our polysilicon production for five days. In October 2016, we conducted annual maintenance and several technology improvement projects in our Xinjiang polysilicon facilities, and concurrently completed interconnections between our new and existing facilities in Xinjiang. In late September and early October of 2017, we conducted annual maintenance for our Xinjiang polysilicon facilities. In September 2018, we conducted annual maintenance for our Xinjiang polysilicon facilities, connected our newly constructed Phase 3B facility to our existing facilities, and upgraded various manufacturing equipment. In the second quarter of 2019, we completed annual maintenance of our Xinjiang polysilicon facilities. In the third quarter of 2020, we completed annual maintenance of our Xinjiang polysilicon facilities. The annual maintenance, construction, installation of new equipment and interconnection of facilities affected our polysilicon production for two to three weeks. These abovementioned shutdowns have reduced and may further reduce the volume and increase the cost of polysilicon we produce. We could experience events such as equipment failures, explosions or fires due to employee errors, equipment malfunctions, accidents, and interruptions in electricity supplies, natural disasters or other causes. In addition, such events could cause damage to properties, personal injuries or even deaths. As a result, we may in the future experience production curtailments or shutdowns or periods of reduced production. The occurrence of any such events or disruptions could result in loss of revenues and could also damage our reputation, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results and financial condition.

Our operations are subject to natural disasters, adverse weather conditions, operating hazards, environmental incidents and labor disputes.

We may experience earthquakes, floods, mudslides, snowstorms, typhoon, power outages, labor disputes or similar events beyond our control that would affect our operations. Our manufacturing processes involve the use of hazardous equipment, including, but not limited to, furnaces, squaring machines and wire saws. We also use, store and generate volatile and otherwise dangerous chemicals and waste during our manufacturing processes, which are potentially destructive and dangerous if not properly handled or in the event of uncontrollable or catastrophic circumstances, including operating hazards, fires and explosions, natural disasters, adverse weather conditions and major equipment failures. On July 2, 2020, one of our projects with an annual output of 13,000 tons of polysilicon suffered a leakage accident which caused no casualties but resulted in us incurring loss due to the leakage. The equipment and facilities damaged in the accident have been properly repaired, and the production and operation activities have been resumed after a duly safety risk assessment of the accident. However, we cannot guarantee that any similar incident will not recur.

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In addition, our polysilicon production and storage facilities are located in Xinjiang, China. The occurrence of any natural disaster, unanticipated catastrophic event or unexpected accident in these locations could result in production curtailments, shutdowns or periods of reduced production, which could significantly disrupt our business operations, cause us to incur additional costs and affect our ability to deliver our products to our customers as scheduled, which may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Moreover, such events could result in severe damage to property, personal injuries, fatalities, regulatory enforcement proceedings or in our being named as a defendant in lawsuits asserting claims for large amounts of damages, which in turn could lead to significant liabilities.

Occurrences of natural disasters, as well as accidents and incidents of adverse weather in or around Xinjiang, China in the future may result in significant property damage, electricity shortages, disruption of our operations, work stoppages, civil unrest, personal injuries and, in severe cases, fatalities. Such incidents may result in damage to our reputation or cause us to lose all or a portion of our production capacity, and future revenue anticipated to be derived from the relevant facilities, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results and financial condition.

We face risks related to health epidemics and other outbreaks.

Our business could be adversely affected by the effects of swine flu, avian flu, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, Ebola, Zaika, COVID-19 or other epidemics or outbreaks. China reported a number of cases of SARS in April 2004. For examples, in 2006, 2007 and 2008, there were reports of occurrences of avian flu in various parts of China, including a few confirmed human cases and deaths. In 2009, an outbreak of swine flu occurred in Mexico and the United States and human cases of swine flu were discovered in China and Hong Kong. In 2013 and recent years, there were reports of occurrences of avian flu in various parts of China, including a number of confirmed human cases and deaths. See also “—Our business and operations may be materially and adversely affected by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)” for more information on the recent outbreak of COVID-19. Any prolonged occurrence or recurrence of these epidemics or other adverse public health developments in China or any of the major markets in which we do business may have a material adverse effect on our business and operations. These could include our ability to deliver our products within or outside of China, as well as temporary closure of our manufacturing facilities, or our suppliers’ or customers’ facilities, delay in the supply of raw materials from our suppliers, and delayed or cancelled orders from our customers. Any severe travel or shipment restrictions and closures would severely disrupt our operations and adversely affect our business and results of operations.

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Our business and operations may be materially and adversely affected by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Any outbreak of health epidemics or other outbreaks of diseases in the PRC or elsewhere in the world may materially and adversely affect the global economy, our markets and our business. Since December 2019, there has been an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) in China and around the world. COVID-19 is considered to be highly contagious and poses a serious public health threat. The World Health Organization labeled the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, 2020, given its threat beyond a public health emergency of international concern that the organization had declared on January 30, 2020. In response to this pandemic, China, the United States and many other countries and jurisdictions have taken additional, restrictive measures to prevent the virus’ spread, such as quarantines, travel restrictions and home office policies. The outbreak of this virus has caused wide-ranging business disruptions and traffic restrictions in China, particularly in early 2020, and have continued to seriously impact many other parts of the world, including the United States and Europe, and the virus’ adverse impact on business activities, travels and overall GDP in the world has been unprecedented and is expected to continue in the foreseeable future. Despite the recovery from the epidemic in China since the second quarter of 2020, there has been resurgences in China from time to time, particularly in winter and spring. If this outbreak persists, commercial activities throughout the world could be curtailed with decreased consumer spending, business operation disruptions, interrupted supply chain, difficulties in travel, and reduced workforces. In addition, the stock markets around the world have experienced extreme volatility, in reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak and governments’ responses to it, including the interest rate reductions by the U.S. Federal Reserve in 2020, and the launches of vaccines. There is uncertainty around the duration of the virus’ outbreak or its adverse effects on business activities in general. While China, the U.S. and many other countries have been administering COVID-19 vaccines, it remains unclear whether these challenges and uncertainties will be contained or resolved, and what effects they may have on the global political and economic conditions in the long term. The extent to which COVID-19 impacts our results will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted, including the world-wide spread of COVID-19, the relevant governments’ actions to contain COVID-19 or treat its impact, among others, and the distribution and efficacy of vaccines. Overall, any prolonged occurrence or recurrence of the health epidemics, particularly the current pandemic COVID-19, or other adverse public health developments in China or any other markets in which we do business may have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations. These could include our ability to deliver our products within or outside of China in a timely manner, mandatory quarantines of our employees, temporary closure of our manufacturing facilities or our customers’ and suppliers’ facilities, delay in supply of raw materials from our suppliers, and delayed or cancelled orders from our customers. Any severe travel or shipment restrictions, closures and other preventive and risk control measures taken by the Chinese government and other government authorities could severely disrupt our operations and adversely affect our cash flows, business and results of operations.

Existing laws and regulations and changes to these laws and regulations may present technical, regulatory, economic and trade barriers to the purchase and use of photovoltaic products, which may significantly reduce demand for our products, and negatively affect polysilicon prices.

Photovoltaic products are subject to national and local regulations relating to building codes, safety, environmental protection, utility interconnection and metering, and other aspects of the electric utility industry. In a number of countries, including China, these regulations are being modified and may continue to be modified. The purchases of, or further investment in the research and development of, alternative energy sources, including photovoltaic technology, could be deterred by unfavorable regulations, which could result in a significant reduction in the potential demand for our products. For example, without a regulatorily mandated exception for solar power systems, electric utility companies are often charged interconnection or standby fees for putting distributed power generation on the electric utility grid. These fees could increase the cost to end users of using photovoltaic products and make them less desirable. In addition, trade authorities in foreign countries (for example, trade authorities of the U.S. given the recent trade conflicts between China and the U.S.) may apply trade sanctions against photovoltaic product imports from China if they determine that export sales from China are in violation of fair trade practices. These types of trade sanctions can result in significant additional duties, which may adversely affect photovoltaic product demand, thereby harming our business, prospects, results of operations and financial condition. Moreover, if China reduces or removes the antidumping and countervailing duties that it now imposes on non-Chinese producers, polysilicon imports to China may increase, which may reduce demand for our polysilicon and negatively impact our selling prices.

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The U.S. government has recently begun enforcing a long-existing ban on U.S. importation of products produced with forced labor in ways that may adversely affect our business. Section 307 of the U.S. Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, or Section 307, prohibits U.S. importation of goods that are produced or manufactured, wholly or in part, in any non-U.S. country by forced or indentured labor. On December 2, 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, announced that it had issued a withhold release order, or WRO, against cotton products made by the Xinjiang Production Construction Corp, or the XPCC; and on January 13, 2021, CBP issued a broader WRO on all cotton and tomato products produced in Xinjiang, saying that it had identified indicators that these goods were produced with forced labor. As a result of these WROs, U.S. imports of these products may only proceed after the importer demonstrates that the merchandise was not produced with forced labor. Although no WROs have been issued for photovoltaic or other silicon-based products from Xinjiang, some press reports have indicated that the U.S. government may be considering such actions. In addition to existing U.S. law, there have been legislative proposals to enact new laws that could adversely affect our business. On September 22, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives, by a vote of 406-3, passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, or the UFLP Act 2020. If it had been enacted into law, the UFLP Act 2020 would have prohibited all goods manufactured wholly or in part in Xinjiang to enter the United States unless CBP determined that the goods had not been manufactured by forced labor. In effect, the UFLP Act 2020 would have switched the operation of applicable U.S. law from Section 307, under which CBP issues a WRO when it determines there is an indication that the goods were produced with forced labor, to a prohibition on all imports from Xinjiang unless CBP determines that they were not produced with forced labor. The UFLP Act 2020 was not enacted into law prior to the close of the 116th Congress at the end of 2020. In January and February 2021, a new legislation similar to the UFLP Act 2020, or the UFLP Act 2021, was introduced in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, respectively. Our polysilicon manufacturing facilities are located in Xinjiang to be close to sources of raw materials and energy for polysilicon production. We do not tolerate any use of forced labor whether in our own manufacturing facilities or, to the best of our knowledge, throughout our supply chain. However, we cannot assure you that the relevant U.S. authorities will not decide that forced labor exists in our supply chain or in the manufacturing of our polysilicon and, pursuant to Section 307, prohibit U.S. imports of products (including those of our customers) containing our polysilicon. Although we typically do not sell our polysilicon to the U.S. market directly and our customers typically serve the global solar market, some of our major customers likely sell their products containing our polysilicon to the U.S. market, and any such U.S regulatory action may reduce the demand for our products. Furthermore, if legislation similar to the UFLP Act 2021 were to be enacted, given the difficulty in proving no use of forced labor throughout the supply chain, the demand for our products would likely decrease. Either of these types of regulatory or legislative action could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

In addition to the actions taken or being considered by the U.S. government discussed above, there is a growing concern regarding the alleged used of forced labor issue in Xinjiang in the European Union, Japan and certain other countries. If any new legislation or regulatory action with respect to these issues were to be enacted in those regions that impose additional restrictions or requirements on importation of goods that are produced or manufactured, wholly or in part, in Xinjiang, our business in these regions could be adversely affected.

We obtain certain production equipment from a limited number of suppliers, and if such equipment is not delivered on time, is damaged in shipment or is otherwise unavailable, our ability to deliver polysilicon on time will suffer, which in turn could result in cancellation of orders and loss of revenues.

Our operations and expansion plans depend on our ability to obtain a sufficient amount of equipment that meets our specifications on a timely basis. Some of our equipment used in polysilicon production is not readily available from alternative vendors and would be difficult to repair or replace if it were to become damaged or cease working. If any of these suppliers were to experience financial difficulties or go out of business, or if there were any damage to or a breakdown of our production equipment, our business would incur losses. In addition, a supplier’s failure to supply our ordered equipment in a timely manner, with adequate quality and on terms acceptable to us, could delay the capacity expansion of our manufacturing facilities and otherwise disrupt our production schedule or increase our costs of production. We have experienced significant delays in the delivery of our key equipment in the past. Failure to obtain equipment meeting our specifications could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Furthermore, demand for polysilicon production equipment may result in significant increases in prices of such equipment or shortages in related components for our intended expansion. Any unexpected price increases could materially and adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.

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We have sourced and will continue to source some of our production equipment from Chinese manufacturers, and we cannot assure you that the China-sourced equipment will perform at the same level as our imported equipment or will meet our quality requirements.

We have purchased key equipment from Chinese and international suppliers. Compared to major international suppliers, our China-based suppliers generally have shorter operating histories and less experience in providing equipment for the polysilicon industry. We cannot assure you that the locally made equipment will perform at similar levels of quality and reliability as our imported equipment. In the event the China-sourced equipment does not perform as well as the imported equipment or does not perform at all, we may encounter disruption in our manufacture or deterioration of product quality, which in turn could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Product defects could result in increased costs, decreased sales, and damage to our customer relationships and our reputation.

Our photovoltaic products may contain defects that are not detected until after they are shipped or processed by our customers. In the event our products are returned to us due to product defects, we would be required to replace the defective products promptly. If we deliver products with defects, or if there is a perception that our products are of substandard quality, we may incur substantially increased costs associated with termination of contracts and replacement of shipped products, and our credibility, market reputation and relationship with customers will be harmed and sales of our products may be materially and adversely affected.

Substantially all of our production, storage, administrative, and research and development facilities are located in Shihezi City, Xinjiang, China, which may expose us to risks of damages or disruptions at these facilities as well as risks of dealing with sanctioned persons.

Substantially all of our production, storage, administrative, and research and development facilities are currently located in Shihezi City, Xinjiang, China. Natural disasters, such as fires, floods, earthquakes, snow storms, or other unanticipated catastrophic events, including power interruption, telecommunications failures, equipment failures, explosions, break-ins, terrorist acts or war, could significantly disrupt our ability to manufacture our products and operate our business. If any of our production facilities or material equipment were to experience any significant damage or downtime, we would not be able to meet our production targets and our business would incur losses. Substantial damage to or disruption at these facilities could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Our operations in Xinjiang may also expose us to risks of dealing with sanctioned persons. On July 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, added Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, or XPCC, to OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List, or the SDN List, on the basis of XPCC’s alleged involvement in human rights abuses. Under OFAC’s so-called “50% rule,” any entity that is in the aggregate owned, directly or indirectly, by an entity on the SDN list is also subject to the OFAC sanctions applicable to the entity named on the SDN List, even if it is not included on that list. XPCC owns a number of companies in Xinjiang and elsewhere in China. We cannot assure you that none of our suppliers of public utilities or other products or services or other business partners will, due to their relationships with XPCC, be deemed as sanctioned persons by the U.S. or other governments. There is no assurance that we would be able to cease dealing with these types of suppliers, even if they were to be deemed to be sanctioned persons. If we are deemed to have significant dealings with one or more such sanctioned persons, U.S. entities (including financial institutions) and others may decide not to provide services to us, purchase or own our securities, or otherwise deal with us, which could negatively affect our business operations and access to capital markets. In addition, these types of issues may also subject us to negative publicity, which could distract our management’s attention and adversely affect investors’ perception of our company. Our ADS prices may also be adversely affected by these issues, and the holders of our ADSs and ordinary shares might be unable to sell, or receive distributions with respect to, the ADSs or ordinary shares.

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Failure to protect our intellectual property rights may undermine our competitive position, and litigation to protect our intellectual property rights may be costly.

We rely primarily on trade secrets and other contractual restrictions to protect our intellectual property. Contractual arrangements, such as the confidentiality and non-competition agreements and terms between us and our research and development personnel, afford only limited protection and the actions we may take to protect our trade secrets and other intellectual property may not be adequate. In addition, we currently hold 136 patents and have 46 pending patent applications in China covering various aspects of the polysilicon and wafer manufacturing process. However, we cannot assure you that our patent applications will be eventually issued with sufficiently broad coverage to protect our technology and products. Failure to protect our intellectual property and proprietary rights may undermine our competitive position. Third parties may infringe on or misappropriate our proprietary technologies or other intellectual property and proprietary rights and use them to compete against us, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or operating results.

Policing unauthorized use of proprietary technology can be difficult and expensive. In particular, the laws and enforcement procedures of China and certain other countries are uncertain or do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as the laws and enforcement procedures of the United States do. See “— Risks Related to Doing Business in China — Uncertainties in the interpretation and enforcement of PRC laws and regulations could limit the legal protection available to you and us” below. We may need to resort to court proceedings to enforce our intellectual property rights in the future. Litigation relating to our intellectual property might result in substantial costs and diversion of resources and management attention away from our business. An adverse determination in any such litigation will impair our intellectual property and proprietary rights and may harm our business, prospects and reputation.

We may be exposed to infringement or misappropriation claims by third parties, which, if determined adversely to us, could cause us to pay significant damage awards.

Although we are currently strengthening our research and development capability, to date, a great number of the intellectual properties used in our production process were developed by third parties. Our success will be jeopardized if we cannot use and develop our technology and know-how without infringing the intellectual property rights of third parties. The validity and scope of claims relating to photovoltaic technology patents involve complex scientific, legal and factual questions and analysis and, therefore, may be highly uncertain. We may be subject to litigation involving claims of patent infringement or violation of other intellectual property rights of third parties. The defense and prosecution of intellectual property suits, patent opposition proceedings, and related legal and administrative proceedings can be both costly and time-consuming and may significantly divert the efforts and resources of our technical and management personnel. An adverse determination in any such litigation or proceedings to which we may become a party could subject us to significant liability to third parties, require us to seek licenses from third parties, to pay ongoing royalties, or to redesign our manufacturing process or our products or subject us to injunctions prohibiting the manufacture and sale of our products or the use of our technologies. Protracted litigation could also result in our customers or potential customers deferring or limiting their purchase or use of our products until resolution of such litigation.

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Our business depends substantially on the continuing efforts of our executive officers and key employees, and our business may be severely disrupted if we lose their services.

Our future success depends substantially on the continued services of our executive officers and key employees, especially Mr. Guangfu Xu, our chairman, and Mr. Longgen Zhang, our chief executive officer. If one or more of our executive officers or key employees were unable or unwilling to continue in their present positions, we might not be able to replace them easily, in a timely manner, or at all. Our business may be severely disrupted, our financial conditions and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected and we may incur additional expenses to recruit, train and retain personnel. If any of our executive officers or key employees join a competitor or form a competing company, we may lose customers, suppliers, know-how and key professionals and staff members. Each of our executive officers and key employees has entered into an employment agreement with us, which contains non-competition provisions. However, if any dispute arises between our executive officers and us, these agreements may not be enforceable in China, where these executive officers reside, in light of uncertainties with China’s legal system. See “— Risks Related to Doing Business in China — Uncertainties in the interpretation and enforcement of PRC laws and regulations could limit the legal protection available to you and us” below.

Certain of our principal shareholders have substantial influence over our company and their interests may not be aligned with the interests of our other shareholders.

As of March 31, 2021, Messrs. Guangfu Xu, Xiang Xu and Dafeng Shi, our directors that are affiliated with Daqo Group, beneficially owned a total of 81,150,218 or 22.0% of our ordinary shares, including shares that they have the right to acquire within 60 days. As a result of their high level of shareholding, these shareholders have substantial influence over our business, including decisions regarding mergers, consolidations and the sale of all or substantially all of our assets, election of directors and other significant corporate actions. These shareholders may take actions that are not in the best interest of us or our other shareholders. This concentration of ownership may discourage, delay or prevent a change in control of our company, which could deprive our other shareholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their shares as part of a sale of our company and might reduce the price of our ADSs. These actions may be taken even if they are opposed by our other shareholders. These shareholders’ interests as beneficial owners of Daqo Group may not always be aligned with their interests as our shareholders. Should any conflict of interest arise, these shareholders may take actions not in the best interest of us and our other shareholders.

If we are unable to attract, train and retain qualified personnel, our business may be materially and adversely affected.

Our future success depends, to a significant extent, on our ability to attract, train and retain qualified personnel, particularly technical personnel with expertise in the photovoltaic industry. Since our industry is characterized by high demand and intense competition for talent, there can be no assurance that we will be able to attract or retain qualified technical staff or other highly skilled employees that we will need to achieve our strategic objectives. As we have a limited operating history and are in a stage of rapid growth, despite recent setbacks, our ability to train and integrate new employees into our operations may not meet the growing demands of our business. If we are unable to attract and retain qualified personnel, our business may be materially and adversely affected.

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Compliance with environmental regulations can be expensive, and non-compliance with these regulations may result in adverse publicity and potentially significant monetary damages and fines.

As our manufacturing processes generate waste water and gas and other industrial wastes, we are required to comply with all applicable regulations regarding protection of the environment. We are in compliance with present environmental protection requirements in all material respects and have all the necessary environmental permits to conduct our business. However, in light of the Chinese government’s higher environmental protection requirements, the local authorities and electricity suppliers in Xinjiang may implement increasingly stringent environmental protection measures, which could negative affect the supply and price levels of the electricity available to our production facilities in Xinjiang. As a result, our polysilicon production volume and costs could be adversely affected. While Xinjiang Daqo have entered into a power purchase agreement with the local authorities and electricity supplier, we cannot ensure that the local authorities and electricity supplier will full perform the contract. We cannot assure you that our pollution controls will always be effective and we may experience environmental non-compliance incidents. If we fail to comply with present or future environmental regulations, we may be required to pay substantial fines, suspend production or cease operations, which in turn would have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

The discontinuation of any of the preferential tax treatment or the financial incentives and grants currently available to us in China could adversely affect our overall results of operations.

Various Chinese governmental authorities have provided tax incentives to our subsidiaries in China. These incentives include income tax exemption or reduced enterprise income tax rates. For example, under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law (“EIT Law”), the statutory enterprise income tax rate is 25%. However, Xinjiang Daqo New Energy Co., Ltd., or Xinjiang Daqo, a Chinese subsidiary of ours, obtained a High and New Technology Enterprise, or HNTE, certificate for a valid period of three years till 2022. During the year ended December 31, 2020, Xinjiang Daqo was entitled to a preferential tax rate of 15% because of its HNTE status. If there are significant changes in the business operations, manufacturing technologies or other criteria that cause this subsidiary to no longer meet the criteria as a “high and new technology enterprise,” such status will be terminated from the year of such change. We cannot assure you that Xinjiang Daqo will continue to qualify as a “high and new technology enterprise” in future periods. Furthermore, pursuant to the Notice on Continuation of the Enterprise Income Tax Policies for Enterprises of Encouraged Industries in Western China (Circular [2020] No. 23) issued by the State Taxation Administration, the NDRC and the Ministry of Finance on April 23, 2020, enterprises that are set up in Western China, whose principal businesses are included in the Catalogue of Encouraged Industries in Western China (NDRC Circular No.15) and whose revenue from main operations for the year accounts for over 60% of total revenue, are entitled to a preferential enterprise income tax rate of 15% since January 1, 2021. Any increase in the enterprise income tax rate applicable to our Chinese subsidiaries or discontinuation or reduction of any of the preferential tax treatment or financial incentives currently enjoyed by our subsidiaries in China could adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition.

The dividends we receive from our Chinese subsidiaries and our global income may be subject to Chinese tax under the EIT Law, which would have a material adverse effect on our results of operations; our foreign ADS holders may be subject to a Chinese withholding tax upon the dividends payable by us and Chinese tax on gains realized upon the sale or other disposition of our ADSs if we are classified as a Chinese “resident enterprise.”

Under the Chinese enterprise income tax laws and regulations, dividends, interests, rent, royalties and gains on transfers of property payable by a foreign-invested enterprise in China to its foreign investor who is a non-resident enterprise will be subject to a 10% withholding tax, unless such non-resident enterprise’s jurisdiction of incorporation has a tax treaty with China that provides for a reduced rate of withholding tax and such non-resident enterprise is the beneficial owner of the dividends, interests, rent, royalties and gain on transfers of property. The Cayman Islands, where Daqo Cayman is incorporated, does not have such a tax treaty with China.

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Under the EIT Law, an enterprise established outside China with its “de facto management body” within China is considered a “resident enterprise” in China and will be subject to the Chinese enterprise income tax at the rate of 25% on its worldwide income. In April 2009, the Chinese State Administration of Taxation, or the SAT, issued a circular, also known as Circular 82, to clarify criteria for determining the “resident enterprise” status of foreign companies which are controlled by PRC enterprises or PRC enterprise groups. Pursuant to the Circular 82, to determine whether a company formed outside of mainland China and controlled by PRC enterprises or PRC enterprise groups incorporated in China should be treated as a Chinese resident enterprise, the tax authority will review factors such as the routine operation of the organizational body that effectively manages the enterprise’s production and business operations, locations of personnel holding decision-making power, location of finance and accounting functions and properties of the enterprise, and whether more than half of the directors or senior management personnel reside in China. Substantially all of our management members are based in China. However, it remains unclear how PRC tax authorities will classify an overseas company such as ours, which is controlled by PRC natural persons rather than PRC enterprises. If the Chinese tax authorities subsequently determine that Daqo Cayman should be classified as a resident enterprise, then our worldwide income will be subject to Chinese income tax, which may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. Notwithstanding the foregoing provision, the EIT Law also provides that, if a resident enterprise directly invests in another resident enterprise, the dividends received by the investing resident enterprise from the invested enterprise are exempted from income tax, subject to certain conditions. Therefore, if Daqo Cayman is classified as resident enterprise under the EIT Law, the dividends received from our Chinese subsidiaries may be exempted from withholding tax.

Moreover, if Daqo Cayman is classified as a “resident enterprise” in China, non-resident enterprise ADS holders may be subject to a 10% withholding tax (20% in the case of non-PRC individual ADS holders) upon dividends payable by us and 10% tax on gains realized upon the sale or other disposition of our ADSs (20% in the case of non-PRC individual ADS holders). Any such tax may reduce the returns on your investment in our ADSs.

We have limited insurance coverage. In particular, we do not have any product liability insurance or business interruption insurance.

As the insurance industry in China is still in an early stage of development, the product liability insurance and business interruption insurance available in China offer limited coverage compared to that offered in many other countries. We do not have any product liability insurance or business interruption insurance. Any business disruption or natural disaster could result in substantial costs and a diversion of resources, which would have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.

As with other photovoltaic product manufacturers, we are exposed to risks associated with product liability claims if the use of our photovoltaic products results in injury. Since our polysilicon products are made into electricity generating devices, it is possible that users could be injured or killed by devices that use our products as a result of product malfunctions, defects, improper installation or other causes. We cannot predict whether product liability claims will be brought against us in the future or the effect of any resulting negative publicity on our business. The successful assertion of product liability claims against us could result in potentially significant monetary damages and require us to make significant payments.

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We have granted, and may continue to grant, stock options and other share-based compensation in the future, which may materially impact our future results of operations.

We adopted our 2009 share incentive plan, or the 2009 Plan, our 2014 share incentive plan, or the 2014 Plan, and our 2018 share incentive plan, or the 2018 Plan, in August 2009, December 2014 and April 2018, respectively, that permit the grant of stock options, restricted shares and restricted share units to employees, directors and consultants of our company. Under the 2009 Plan, the 2014 Plan and the 2018 Plan, we may issue awards to purchase up to 15,000,000, 21,000,000 and 38,600,000 ordinary shares of our company, respectively. As of March 31, 2021, excluding expired or cancelled options, we had granted options to purchase a total of 19,002,067 of our ordinary shares and 55,070,799 restricted share units of our company under these plans. In addition, we modified the exercise prices for certain outstanding options in January 2012, April 2013, January 2015 and September 2015 in order to provide additional incentives to our employees and directors pursuant to an express authorization under our share incentive plan, allowing our Board of Directors to approve a downward adjustment of the option exercise prices without our shareholders’ approval. As a result of these option grants, option re-pricings and potential future grants under the plans, we have incurred, and will incur in future periods, significant share-based compensation expenses. We account compensation costs for all stock awards using a fair-value based method and recognize expenses in our consolidated statement of income in accordance with the relevant rules in accordance with U.S. GAAP, which may have a material adverse effect on our net income. Moreover, the additional expenses associated with share-based compensation may reduce the attractiveness of such incentive plans to us. However, if we limit the scope of our share incentive plans, we may not be able to attract or retain key personnel who expect to be compensated with incentive shares or options.

Risks Related to Doing Business in China

Uncertainties in the global economy and the slowdown of the Chinese economy may adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

The global financial markets experienced significant disruptions in 2008 and the United States, Europe and other economies went into recession. The recovery from the lows of 2008 and 2009 was uneven, including the escalation of the European sovereign debt crisis since 2011 and the slowdown of the Chinese economy in the recent years. It is unclear whether the Chinese economy will continue slowing down. There is considerable uncertainty over the long-term effects of the expansionary monetary and fiscal policies that have been adopted by the central banks and financial authorities of some of the world’s leading economies, including China’s. There have also been concerns over unrest in the Middle East, especially the recent tensions between the U.S. and Iran, which have resulted in volatility in oil and other markets. There have also been concerns about the economic effect of the territorial disputes involving China in Asia and the tensions in the relationship between China and Japan. Although the U.S. and China have reached a phase-one deal in January 2020, the trade conflicts between China and the U.S. have, and may continue to, put pressure on China’s economic growth, particularly our downstream customers’ export to the U.S. Economic conditions in China are sensitive to global economic conditions. Any prolonged slowdown in the global or Chinese 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.

We derive substantially all of our revenues from customers in China, one of the world’s largest emerging markets, while the economies of emerging markets are typically more vulnerable to market downturns and economic slowdowns elsewhere in the world. Any prolonged slowdown in the Chinese economy may have a negative impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition in a number of ways. For example, our customers may reduce or delay spending with us, while we may have difficulty expanding our customer base fast enough, or at all, to offset the impact of decreased spending by our existing customers. In addition, to the extent we offer credit to any customer and such customer experiences financial difficulties due to the economic slowdown, we could have difficulty collecting payment from such customer.

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We are subject to many of the economic and political risks associated with emerging markets due to our operation in China. Changes in China’s economic, political or social conditions or government policies could have a material adverse effect on our business and operations.

Substantially all of our assets are located in and substantially all of our revenues are currently sourced from China, one of the world’s largest emerging markets. In light of our operations in an emerging market, we may be subject to risks and uncertainties including fluctuations in GDP, unfavorable or unpredictable treatment in relation to tax matters, expropriation of private assets, exchange controls, restrictions affecting our ability to make cross-border transfer of funds, regulatory proceedings, inflation, currency fluctuations or the absence of, or unexpected changes in, regulations and unforeseeable operational risks. In addition, our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects may be influenced 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 level of government involvement, level of development, growth rate, control of foreign exchange and allocation of resources. Although the Chinese government has implemented measures since the late 1970s 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 is still owned by the Chinese 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 the Chinese economic growth through the allocation of 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 benefit the overall Chinese economy, but may also have a negative effect on us. For example, our operating results and financial condition may be adversely affected by government control over capital investments or changes in tax regulations that are applicable to us, and by government policies or guidance aimed at curtailing the perceived over-capacity of certain industry sectors, such as polysilicon, steel, concrete and wind power equipment. See “Item 4. Information on the Company — B. Business Overview — Regulation — Renewable Energy Law and Other Government Directives.” The Chinese government has implemented certain measures, including interest rate increases, to control the pace of economic growth. These measures may cause decreased economic activity in China, which could in turn reduce the demand for our products and materially and adversely affect our operating results and financial condition.

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Uncertainties in the interpretation and enforcement of PRC laws and regulations could limit the legal protection available to you and us.

The Chinese legal system is a civil law system based on written statutes. Unlike common law systems, it is a system in which legal decisions have limited value as precedents. In the late 1970s, the Chinese government began to promulgate a comprehensive system of laws and regulations governing economic matters in general. The overall effect of legislation and rule-making over the past three decades has been to significantly increase the protections afforded to various forms of foreign or private-sector investment in China. Our Chinese operating subsidiary, Xinjiang Daqo, is a foreign-invested enterprise and is subject to laws and regulations applicable to foreign-invested enterprises as well as various PRC laws and regulations generally applicable to companies in China. Our business is also subject to various industry policy, safety and environmental laws and regulations that affect our operations and production facility expansion plans, including those related to investment, project construction, building, zoning, fire prevention and work safety. These laws and regulations are still evolving, and their interpretation and enforcement involve uncertainties. In addition, due to the inconsistent regulatory enforcements in China, local Chinese governmental authorities have significant discretion in interpreting and implementing rules and regulations, and there is no assurance that the central government authorities will always agree with the interpretations and implementations of the local governmental authorities. Currently, we possess all material local governmental approvals relating to our operations and production capacity expansion plans. However, if a central government agency requires us to obtain its approval and if we fail to obtain such approval in a timely manner, or at all, we may be subject to the imposition of fines against us, or the suspension or cessation of our production capacity expansion plans. See “Item 4. Information on the Company — B. Business Overview — Regulation — Renewable Energy Law and Other Government Directives.” It may be more difficult to evaluate the outcome of any regulatory or legal proceedings and the level of legal protection we enjoy than in more developed legal systems. These uncertainties may impede our ability to continue our operations or planned capacity expansions, which, as a result, could materially and adversely affect our business and operations.

Chinese regulations relating to offshore investment activities by Chinese residents may increase the administrative burden we face and may subject our Chinese resident beneficial owners or employees to personal liabilities, limit our subsidiaries’ ability to increase its registered capital or distribute profits to us, limit our ability to inject capital into our Chinese subsidiaries, or may otherwise expose us to liability under PRC laws.

The State Administration of Foreign Exchange, or the SAFE, has promulgated regulations that require Chinese residents and Chinese corporate entities to register with local branches of SAFE in connection with their direct or indirect offshore investment activities. These regulations may apply to our shareholders who are Chinese residents and may apply to any offshore acquisitions that we make in the future.

SAFE promulgated the Circular on Relevant Issues Concerning Foreign Exchange Control on Relating to Domestic Resident’s Offshore Investment and Financing and Roundtrip Investment through Special Purpose Vehicles, or SAFE Circular 37, in July 2014 that requires PRC residents or entities to register with SAFE or its local branch in connection with their establishment or control of any special purpose vehicles established for the purpose of overseas investment or financing. In addition, such PRC residents or entities must update their SAFE registrations when the offshore special purpose vehicle undergoes material events relating to any change of basic information (including change of such PRC citizens or residents, name and operation term), increases or decreases in investment amount, transfers or exchanges of shares, or mergers or divisions. SAFE Circular 37 is issued to replace the Notice on Relevant Issues Concerning Foreign Exchange Administration for PRC Residents Engaging in Financing and Roundtrip Investments via Overseas Special Purpose Vehicles, or SAFE Circular 75.

If a Chinese shareholder with a direct or indirect stake in an offshore parent company fails to make the required SAFE registration, the Chinese subsidiaries of such offshore parent company may be prohibited from making distributions of profit to the offshore parent and from paying the offshore parent proceeds from any reduction in capital, share transfer or liquidation in respect of the Chinese subsidiaries, and the offshore parent company may also be prohibited from injecting additional capital into its Chinese subsidiaries. Furthermore, failure to comply with the SAFE registration requirement described above may result in liability for the Chinese shareholders and the Chinese subsidiaries under PRC laws for foreign exchange registration evasion.

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We have, as of the date of this annual report, completed SAFE registration for all current beneficial shareholders of our company who are, to our knowledge, Chinese residents. However, we may not be fully informed of the identities of the beneficial owners of our company and we cannot assure you that all of our Chinese resident beneficial owners will comply with SAFE regulations. The failure of our beneficial owners who are Chinese residents to make any required registrations may subject us to fines and legal sanctions, and prevent us from making distributions or paying dividends, as a result of which our business operations and our ability to distribute profits to you could be materially and adversely affected.

Participants of our share incentive plan who are PRC individuals are required to register with SAFE, and the failure to so comply could subject us and such participants to penalties.

In February 2012, SAFE promulgated the Notice on the Administration of Foreign Exchange Matters for Domestic Individuals Participating in the Stock Incentive Plans of Overseas Listed Companies, or the Stock Option Notice. According to the Stock Option Notice, a PRC domestic qualified agent or the PRC subsidiary of such overseas listed company must file an application with SAFE or its local counterpart on behalf of PRC resident individuals who participate in stock incentive plans of overseas publicly listed companies to obtain approval for an annual allowance with respect to the purchase of foreign exchange in connection with the stock holding or share option exercises. Our company is an “overseas publicly listed company,” and therefore, we and participants of our share incentive plan who are PRC individuals are subject to these regulations.

We have completed registration for options and restricted share units granted as of the date of this annual report. For future option and restricted share unit grants, if our application is unsuccessful or our option plan participants who are PRC individuals fail to work with us to complete the registration, we or such persons may be subject to fines and legal sanctions. Any failure to comply with such regulations may subject us and the relevant participants of our share incentive plan to fines and legal sanctions and prevent us from being able to grant share incentives to our personnel, as a result of which our business operations may be adversely affected.

Chinese regulation of direct investment and loans by offshore holding companies to Chinese entities may delay or limit us from making additional capital contributions or loans to our Chinese subsidiaries.

Any capital contributions or loans that we, as an offshore entity, make to our Chinese subsidiaries are subject to Chinese regulations. For example, for each of our Chinese subsidiaries as a foreign invested enterprise, the aggregate amount of our loans to the Chinese subsidiary cannot exceed the larger amount of (i) the balance between the registered total investment amount and registered capital of the Chinese subsidiary, or (ii) twice the amount of the net assets of the Chinese subsidiary calculated in accordance with PRC GAAP, subject to satisfaction of applicable government registration or approval requirements, and the loans must be registered with the local branch of SAFE. There is a specific statutory guideline relating to the ratio of a foreign invested enterprise’s registered capital amount over total investment amount. For each foreign invested enterprise, such as Xinjiang Daqo, it may increase its registered capital to receive additional capital contributions from us and currently there is no statutory limit to increasing its registered capital, subject to satisfaction of applicable government registration and filing requirements. The registered total investment amounts of Chongqing Daqo and Xinjiang Daqo are $286.0 million and $704.2 million, respectively. The registered capital of Chongqing Daqo is $96.0 million contributed by Daqo Cayman as the sole investor. The registered capital of Xinjiang Daqo is $247.3 million, of which $212.2 million was contributed by Daqo Cayman, $7.0 million was contributed by Chongqing Daqo, and $28.1 million was contributed by four individual shareholders. As a result, the maximum permissible amounts that Chongqing Daqo and Xinjiang Daqo may borrow from Daqo Cayman are $190.0 million and $492 million, respectively. We cannot assure you that we will be able to complete the necessary registrations or obtain the necessary government approvals on a timely basis, if at all, with respect to future loans to our Chinese subsidiaries or future capital contributions by us to our Chinese subsidiaries. If we fail to complete such registrations or obtain such approvals, our ability to make equity contributions or provide loans to our Chinese subsidiaries or to fund their operations may be negatively affected, which could adversely affect our Chinese subsidiaries’ liquidity and their ability to fund their working capital and expansion projects and meet their obligations and commitments.

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We rely principally on dividends and other distributions on equity paid by our wholly owned operating subsidiaries to fund any cash and financing requirements we may have, and any limitation on the ability of our operating subsidiaries to pay dividends to us could have a material adverse effect on our ability to borrow money or pay dividends.

As a holding company, we rely principally on dividends and other distributions on equity paid by our Chinese subsidiaries for our cash requirements, including funds necessary to service any debt we may incur. If our Chinese subsidiaries incur debt on their own behalf in the future, the instruments governing the debt may restrict their ability to pay dividends or make other distributions to us. Furthermore, relevant PRC laws and regulations permit payments of dividends by our Chinese subsidiaries only out of their retained earnings, if any, determined in accordance with Chinese accounting standards and regulations. Under PRC laws and regulations, each of our Chinese subsidiaries are required to set aside a portion of their net income each year to fund a statutory surplus reserve until such reserve reaches 50% of its registered capital. This reserve is not distributable as dividends. As a result, our Chinese subsidiaries are restricted in their ability to transfer a portion of its net assets to us in the form of dividends, loans or advances. Limitation on the ability of our Chinese subsidiary to pay dividends to us could materially and adversely limit our ability to borrow money outside of China or pay dividends to holders of our ADSs. See “-Risks Related to Our Business-The dividends we receive from our Chinese subsidiaries and our global income may be subject to Chinese tax under the EIT Law, which would have a material adverse effect on our results of operations; our foreign ADS holders may be subject to a Chinese withholding tax upon the dividends payable by us and Chinese tax on gains realized upon the sale or other disposition of our ADSs if we are classified as a Chinese ‘resident enterprise’.”

Fluctuations in exchange rates could result in foreign currency exchange losses.

The conversion of the RMB into foreign currencies is based on rates set by the People’s Bank of China. The value of the RMB 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. In July 2005, the PRC government changed its decades-old policy of pegging the value of the RMB to the U.S. dollar, and the RMB appreciated more than 20% against the U.S. dollar over the following three years. Between July 2008 and June 2010, this appreciation halted and the exchange rate between the RMB and the U.S. dollar remained within a narrow band. Since June 2010, the RMB has fluctuated against the U.S. dollar, at times significantly and unpredictably. The PBOC further enlarged the floating band of RMB against the U.S. dollar in March 2014 and announced its intention to improve the central parity quotation system of RMB against the U.S. dollar. Effective from October 1, 2016, RMB has been included in the International Monetary Fund’s basket of special drawing rights. It is difficult to predict how market forces or PRC or U.S. government policy may impact the exchange rate between the RMB and the U.S. dollar in the future. We cannot assure you that the RMB will not appreciate or depreciate significantly in value against foreign currencies in the future.

The financial records of our PRC subsidiaries are maintained in RMB, which is their functional currency. We are therefore exposed to fluctuations in the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and RMB. We do not currently hedge, and have not historically hedged, our operational exposure to this foreign currency fluctuation. Our consolidated financial results are presented in U.S. dollars, and therefore, during times of a strengthening U.S. dollar versus RMB, our reported revenue and earnings that are denominated in RMB will be reduced because the RMB will translate into fewer U.S. dollars. In addition, assets and liabilities are translated at the exchange rates at the balance sheet date. Equity accounts are translated at historical exchange rates. Revenues, expenses, gains and losses are translated at average rate of exchange prevailing during the periods presented. Translation adjustments arising from the use of differing exchange rates from period to period are recorded as cumulative translation adjustments and are shown as a separate component of other comprehensive income in our statement of changes in equity and comprehensive income. Accordingly, changes in currency exchange rates will cause our revenues, expenses, gains and losses, shareholders’ equity, and comprehensive income to fluctuate, and such fluctuations may have an adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

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Furthermore, any significant depreciation of the RMB against the U.S. dollar may have a material adverse effect on the value of, and any dividends payable on, our ADSs and ordinary shares. If we decide to convert our RMB into U.S. dollars for the purpose of making payments for dividends on our ordinary shares or for other business purposes, depreciation of the RMB against the U.S. dollar would reduce the U.S. dollar amount available to us. On the other hand, to the extent that we need to convert U.S. dollars into RMB for our operations, appreciation of the RMB against the U.S. dollar would have an adverse effect on the RMB amount we receive from the conversion. In addition, the value of your investment in our ADSs will be affected by the exchange rate between U.S. dollar and RMB because the value of our business is effectively denominated in RMB, while the ADSs will be traded in U.S. dollars. Fluctuation in the value of the RMB in either direction could have a material adverse effect on the value of our company and the value of your investment.

Failure to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting could have a material and adverse effect on the trading price of our ADSs.

We are subject to the reporting obligations under the U.S. securities laws. In connection with the audit of our internal controls over financial reporting as of and for the year ended December 31, 2011, we and our independent registered public accounting firm identified three “material weaknesses” including (i) our lack of accounting resources and expertise necessary to comply with U.S. GAAP and the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, financial reporting and disclosure requirements, (ii) our lack of sufficient resources to perform thorough reviews of consolidated financial statements and related footnote disclosures during the period-end financial reporting and disclosure process, and (iii) our lack of sufficient processes, documentation and approval of related party transactions with affiliates. In 2012, we made enhancements to our internal controls over financial reporting. Based on these actions taken and our testing and evaluation of the effectiveness of our internal controls, we have concluded the material weaknesses no longer existed as of December 31, 2013 to 2020. As of December 31, 2020, our management concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was effective. Our independent registered public accounting firm did not conduct an audit of our internal control over financial reporting for the years ended December 31, 2012 and 2013. For the years ended December 31, 2014 through 2020, our independent registered public accounting firm performed an audit of our internal control over financial reporting.

However, 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 controls 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 controls 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 controls 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 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. In addition, our internal controls over financial reporting will not prevent or detect all errors or fraud. A control system, no matter how well designed and operated, can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurance that the control system’s objectives will be met. Because of the inherent limitations in all control systems, no evaluation of controls can provide absolute assurance that misstatements due to error or fraud will not occur or that all control issues and instances of fraud will be detected.

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If the settlement reached between the SEC and the Big Four PRC-based accounting firms (including the Chinese affiliate of our independent registered public accounting firm), concerning the manner in which the SEC may seek access to audit working papers from audits in China of US-listed companies, is not or cannot be performed in a manner acceptable to authorities in China and the US, we could be unable to timely file future financial statements in compliance with the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act.

In late 2012, the SEC commenced administrative proceedings under Rule 102(e) of its Rules of Practice and also under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 against the mainland Chinese affiliates of the “Big Four” accounting firms (including the mainland Chinese affiliate of 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 Chinese accounting 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 Chinese accounting firms reached a settlement with the SEC whereby the proceedings were stayed. Under the settlement, the SEC accepted that future requests by the SEC for the production of documents would normally be made to the CSRC. The Chinese accounting firms would receive requests matching those under Section 106 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, and would be required to abide by a detailed set of procedures with respect to such requests, which in substance would require them to facilitate production via the CSRC. The CSRC for its part initiated a procedure whereby, under its supervision and subject to its approval, requested classes of documents held by the accounting firms could be sanitized of problematic and sensitive content so as to render them capable of being made available by the CSRC to US regulators.

Under the terms of the settlement, the underlying proceeding against the four PRC-based accounting firms was deemed dismissed with prejudice at the end of four years starting from the settlement date, which was on February 6, 2019. Despite the final ending of the proceedings, the presumption is that all parties will continue to apply the same procedures: i.e., the SEC will continue to make its requests for the production of documents to the CSRC, and the CSRC will normally process those requests applying the sanitization procedure. We cannot predict whether, in cases where the CSRC does not authorize production of requested documents to the SEC, the SEC will further challenge the four PRC-based accounting firms’ compliance with U.S. law. If additional challenges are imposed on the Chinese affiliates of the “big four” accounting firms, 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 against audit firms with operations in China, 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 to not be in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act, including possible delisting. Moreover, any negative news about any such future proceedings against these accounting firms may cause investor uncertainty regarding China-based, United States-listed companies and the market price of our ADSs may be adversely affected.

If the Chinese affiliate of our independent registered public accounting firm were 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 not to be in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act. Such a determination could ultimately lead to the delisting of our ordinary shares from the NYSE or deregistration from the SEC, or both, which would substantially reduce or effectively terminate the trading of our ADSs in the United States.

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The audit reports included in this annual report have been prepared by our independent registered public accounting firm whose work may not be inspected fully by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and, as such, you may be deprived of the benefits of such inspection ; furthermore, the inspection status of our auditors may affect the ability of our securities to continue to be traded in the United States.

Our independent registered public accounting firm that issues the audit reports included in our annual reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as auditors of companies that are traded publicly in the United States and a firm registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States), or the PCAOB, is required by the laws of the United States to undergo regular inspections by the PCAOB to assess its compliance with the laws of the United States and professional standards.

Because we have substantial operations within the PRC and the PCAOB is currently unable to conduct inspections of the work of our independent registered public accounting firm as it relates to those operations without the approval of the Chinese authorities, our independent registered public accounting firm is not currently inspected fully by the PCAOB. This lack of PCAOB inspections in the PRC prevents the PCAOB from regularly evaluating our independent registered public accounting firm’s audits and its quality control procedures. As a result, investors may be deprived of the benefits of PCAOB inspections.

On May 24, 2013, PCAOB announced that it had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding on Enforcement Cooperation with the China Securities Regulatory Commission, or the CSRC, and the Ministry of Finance which establishes a cooperative framework between the parties for the production and exchange of audit documents relevant to investigations in the United States and China. On inspection, it appears that the PCAOB continues to be in discussions with the Mainland China regulators to permit inspections of audit firms that are registered with PCAOB in relation to the audit of Chinese companies that trade on U.S. exchanges. On December 7, 2018, the SEC and the PCAOB issued a joint statement highlighting continued challenges faced by the U.S. regulators in their oversight of financial statement audits of U.S.-listed companies with significant operations in China. The joint statement reflects a heightened interest in this issue. On November 4, 2019, the SEC announced that SEC and PCAOB had dialogue with the “Big Four” accounting firms, which emphasized the need for effective and consistent global firm oversight of member firms, including those operating in China. In a statement issued in December 2019, the SEC reiterated concerns over the inability of the PCAOB to conduct inspections of the audit firm work papers with respect to U.S.-listed companies that have operations in China, and emphasized the importance of audit quality in emerging markets, such as China. On February 19, 2020, the SEC and the PCAOB further issued a joint statement on continued dialogue with “Big Four” accounting firms on audit quality in China, highlighting that PCAOB continues to be prevented from inspecting the audit work and practices of PCAOB-registered audit firms in China. On April 21, 2020, the SEC and the PCAOB issued a new joint statement, reminding the investors that in many emerging markets, including China, there is substantially greater risk that disclosures will be incomplete or misleading and, in the event of investor harm, substantially less access to recourse, in comparison to U.S. domestic companies, and stressing again the PCAOB’s inability to inspect audit work papers in China and its potential harm to investors.

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On June 4, 2020, the U.S. President issued a memorandum ordering the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, or the PWG, to submit a report to the President within 60 days of the memorandum that includes recommendations for actions that can be taken by the executive branch and by the SEC or PCAOB on Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges and their audit firms, in an effort to protect investors in the U.S. On August 6, 2020, the PWG released a report recommending that the SEC take steps to implement the five recommendations outlined in the report. In particular, to address companies from jurisdictions that do not provide the PCAOB with sufficient access to fulfill its statutory mandate, or NCJs, the PWG recommends enhanced listing standards on U.S. stock exchanges. This would require, as a condition to initial and continued exchange listing, PCAOB access to work papers of the principal audit firm for the audit of the listed company. Companies unable to satisfy this standard as a result of governmental restrictions on access to audit work papers and practices in NCJs may satisfy this standard by providing a co-audit from an audit firm with comparable resources and experience where the PCAOB determines it has sufficient access to audit work papers and practices to conduct an appropriate inspection of the co-audit firm. The report permits the new listing standards to provide for a transition period until January 1, 2022 for listed companies, but would apply immediately to new listings once the necessary rulemakings and/or standard-setting are effective. Our ADSs are listed on NYSE. If we fail to meet the new listing standards before the deadline specified thereunder due to factors beyond our control, we could face possible de-listing from the NYSE, deregistration from the SEC and/or other risks, which may materially and adversely affect the market price and liquidity of our ADS, or effectively terminate our ADS trading in the United States.

The lack of PCAOB inspections in China prevents the PCAOB from regularly evaluating our auditor’s audits and its quality control procedures. Inspections of other firms that the PCAOB has conducted outside the PRC have identified deficiencies in those firms’ audit procedures and quality control procedures, which may be addressed as part of the inspection process to improve future audit quality. The inability of the PCAOB to conduct full inspections of auditors in the PRC 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 the PRC that are subject to PCAOB inspections. Investors may lose confidence in our reported financial information and procedures and the quality of our financial statements.

As part of a continued regulatory focus in the United States on access to audit and other information currently protected by national law, in particular PRC law, on May 20, 2020, the U.S. Senate passed the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, or the HFCAA, which includes requirements similar to those in the EQUITABLE Act requiring the SEC to identify issuers whose audit reports are prepared by auditors that the PCAOB is unable to inspect or investigate because of restrictions imposed by non-U.S. authorities. The HFCAA would also require public companies on the SEC’s list to certify that they are not owned or controlled by a foreign government and make certain additional disclosures on foreign ownership and control of such issuers in their SEC filings. The HFCAA was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on December 2, 2020 and was signed into law by the U.S. President on December 18, 2020. The HFCAA amended the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 to require the SEC to prohibit securities of any U.S.-listed companies from being listed on any of the U.S. securities exchanges, such as the New York Stock Exchange, or traded “over-the-counter,” if the registrant’s financial statements have been audited by an accounting firm branch or office that is not subject to PCAOB inspection for a period of three consecutive years after the HFCAA became effective. Enactment of the HFCAA or any other similar legislations or other efforts to increase U.S. regulatory access to audit information could cause investor uncertainty for affected issuers, including us, and the market price of our ADSs could be adversely affected. On March 24, 2021, the SEC adopted interim final rules to implement portions of the HFCAA, and it gave the public a 30-day comment period. As an initial matter, the process of identifying an issuer, which is audited by an auditor not subject to the PCAOB’s full inspections or investigation because of restrictions by non-U.S. authorities, will require coordination with the PCAOB. The PCAOB is currently considering how it will implement the requirements of the HFCA Act, and any PCAOB rulemaking in this respect will be subject to SEC review and approval prior to implementation. Upon the effectiveness of the SEC implementation rules relating to the HFCAA, we will be subject to the requirement to have our financial statements audited by an accounting firm for which the PCAOB can inspect and investigate. Failure to comply with such requirements could ultimately result in a de-listing of the ADSs from NYSE. In addition, the uncertainty around the HFCAA could adversely affect the market price of our ADSs.

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Restrictions on currency exchange under PRC laws may limit our ability to convert cash derived from our operating activities into foreign currencies and may materially and adversely affect the value of your investment.

Substantially all of our revenues and operating expenses are denominated in RMB. Under the relevant foreign exchange restrictions in China, conversion of the RMB is permitted, without the need for SAFE approval, for “current account” transactions, which includes dividends, trade, and service-related foreign exchange transactions, by complying with certain procedural requirements. Conversion of the RMB for “capital account” transactions, which includes foreign direct investment and loans, is still subject to significant limitations and requires approvals from and registration with SAFE and other Chinese regulatory authorities. We cannot assure you that SAFE or other Chinese governmental authorities will not further limit or eliminate our ability to purchase foreign currencies in the future. Any existing and future restrictions on currency exchange in China may limit our ability to convert cash derived from our operating activities into foreign currencies to fund expenditures denominated in foreign currencies. If the foreign exchange restrictions in China prevent us from obtaining U.S. dollars or other foreign currencies as required, we may not be able to pay dividends in U.S. dollars or other foreign currencies to our shareholders, including holders of our ADSs. Furthermore, foreign exchange control in respect of the capital account transactions could affect our Chinese subsidiaries’ ability to obtain foreign exchange or conversion into RMB through debt or equity financing, including by means of loans or capital contributions from us.

Risks Related to Our ADSs

The trading prices of our ADSs have been and may continue to be volatile, which could result in substantial losses to investors.

The closing trading prices of our ADSs ranged from $8.32 to $68.81 in 2020, and may remain volatile in the future and could fluctuate widely due to factors beyond our control. This may happen because of broad market and industry factors, like the performance and fluctuation of the market prices of other companies with business operations located mainly in China that have listed their securities in the United States. A number of China-based companies, including many solar energy companies, have listed their securities on U.S. stock exchanges. The securities of some of these companies have experienced significant volatility, including price declines in connection with their initial public offerings. The trading performances of these Chinese companies’ securities after their offerings may affect the attitudes of investors toward Chinese companies listed in the United States in general and consequently may impact the trading performance of our ADSs, regardless of our actual operating performance.

In addition to market and industry factors, the price and trading volume for our ADSs may be volatile for factors specific to our own operations, including the following:

variations in our revenues, earnings and cash flow;
announcements of our new investments, acquisitions, strategic partnerships, or joint ventures;
announcements of new products and expansions by us or our competitors;
announcements of sale of existing business segments;
fluctuations in market prices of or demand for our products;
changes in financial estimates by securities analysts;
changes in the ratio of ADSs vs. ordinary shares;
additions or departures of key personnel; and
potential litigation or regulatory investigations.

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Any of these factors may result in large and sudden changes in the volume and price at which our ADSs will trade. We cannot assure you that these factors will not occur in the future.

The sale or availability for sale of substantial amounts of our ADSs could adversely affect their market price.

Sales of substantial amounts of our ADSs in the public market or the perception that these sales could occur, could adversely affect the market price of our ADSs and could materially impair our ability to raise capital through equity offerings in the future. Our ADSs are freely tradable without restriction or further registration under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, subject to the restrictions in Rule 144 and Rule 701 under the Securities Act. In addition, market sales of securities held by our significant shareholders or any other shareholder or the availability of these securities for future sale may adversely affect the market price of our ADSs.

We may issue additional ordinary shares or other equity or equity-linked securities, which may materially and adversely affect the price of our ordinary shares or ADSs.

We may issue additional equity or equity-linked securities for a number of reasons, including to finance our operations and business strategy (including in connection with business expansion or other transactions), to satisfy our obligations for the repayment of existing indebtedness, or for other reasons. Any future issuances of equity or equity-linked securities could substantially dilute your interests and may materially and adversely affect the price of our ordinary shares or ADSs. We cannot predict the timing or size of any future issuances or sales of equity or equity-linked securities, or the effect, if any, that such issuances or sales may have on the market price of our ordinary shares or ADSs. Market conditions could also require us to accept less favorable terms for the issuance of those securities in the future.

Our Fourth Amended and Restated Memorandum and Articles of Association contain anti-takeover provisions that could have a material adverse effect on the rights of holders of our ordinary shares and ADSs.

Our Fourth Amended and Restated Memorandum and Articles of Association contain provisions to 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.

You may face difficulties in protecting your interests, and your ability to protect your rights through U.S. courts may be limited, because we are incorporated under Cayman Islands law.

We are an exempted company incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands. Our corporate affairs are governed by our memorandum and articles of association, as amended from time to time, the Companies Act of the Cayman Islands, as amended from time to time, and the common law of the Cayman Islands. The rights of shareholders to take actions against the directors, 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 precedent in the Cayman Islands as well as from the common law of England, the decisions of whose courts are of persuasive authority, but are not binding, 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 precedent in some jurisdictions in the United States. In particular, the Cayman Islands has a less developed body of securities laws than the United States. Some U.S. states, such as Delaware, have more fully developed and judicially interpreted bodies of corporate law than the Cayman Islands. In addition, Cayman Islands companies may not have standing to initiate a shareholder derivative action in a federal court of the United States.

The Cayman Islands courts are also unlikely:

·to recognize or enforce against us judgments of courts of the United States based on certain civil liability provisions of U.S. securities laws; and

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·to impose liabilities against us, in original actions brought in the Cayman Islands, based on certain civil liability provisions of U.S. securities laws that are penal in nature.

There is no statutory recognition in the Cayman Islands of judgments obtained in the United States, although the courts of the Cayman Islands will in certain circumstances recognize and enforce a non-penal judgment of a foreign court of competent jurisdiction without retrial on the merits.

As a result of all of the above, public shareholders may have more difficulty in protecting their interests in the face of actions taken by management, members of the board of directors or controlling shareholders than they would as public shareholders of a company incorporated in the United States.

You may experience difficulties in enforcing judgments against us and our management, and the ability of U.S. authorities to bring actions against us or our management may also be limited.

We are a Cayman Islands company and all of our assets are located outside of the United States. Substantially all of our current operations are conducted in China, one of the world’s largest emerging markets. In addition, a majority of our current directors and officers are nationals and residents of countries other than the United States. Substantially all of the assets of these persons are located outside the United States. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible for you to bring an action against us or against these individuals in the United States in the event that you believe that your rights have been infringed under the United States federal securities laws or otherwise. Even if you are successful in bringing an action of this kind, the laws of the Cayman Islands and of China may render you unable to enforce a judgment against our assets or the assets of our directors and officers. In addition, due to jurisdictional limitations, matters of comity and various other factors, the SEC, Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and other U.S. authorities may be limited in their ability to take enforcement actions, including in instances of fraud, against us or our directors and officers in China. In addition, shareholder claims that are common in the United States, including class action securities law and fraud claims, generally uncommon in China. For example, in China, there are significant legal and other obstacles to obtaining information needed for shareholder investigations or litigation outside China or otherwise with respect to foreign entities. Although the local 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 regulatory cooperation with the securities regulatory authorities in the U.S. have not been efficient in the absence of mutual and practical cooperation mechanism. According to Article 177 of the PRC Securities Law 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. Accordingly, without the consent of the competent PRC securities regulators and relevant authorities, no organization or individual may provide the documents and materials relating to securities business activities to overseas parties.

The voting rights of holders of ADSs are limited by the terms of the deposit agreement, and you may not be able to exercise your right to vote your ordinary shares.

As a holder of our ADSs, you will only be able to exercise the voting rights with respect to the underlying ordinary shares in accordance with the provisions of the deposit agreement. Under the deposit agreement, you must vote by giving voting instructions to the depositary. Upon receipt of your voting instructions, the depositary will vote the underlying ordinary shares in accordance with these instructions. You will not be able to directly exercise your right to vote with respect to the underlying shares unless you withdraw the shares. Under our Fourth Amended and Restated Memorandum and Articles of Association, the minimum notice period required for convening a general meeting is seven days. When a general meeting is convened, you may not receive sufficient advance notice to withdraw the shares underlying your ADSs to allow you to vote with respect to any specific matter. If we ask for your instructions, the depositary will notify you of the upcoming vote and will arrange to deliver our voting materials to you. We cannot assure you that you will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that you can instruct the depositary to vote your shares. In addition, the depositary and its agents are not responsible for failing to carry out voting instructions or for their manner of carrying out your voting instructions. This means that you may not be able to exercise your right to vote and you may have no legal remedy if the shares underlying your ADSs are not voted as you requested.

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The depositary for our ADSs will give us a discretionary proxy to vote our ordinary shares underlying your ADSs if you do not vote at shareholders’ meetings, except in limited circumstances, which could adversely affect your interests.

Under the deposit agreement for the ADSs, if you do not vote, the depositary will give us a discretionary proxy to vote our ordinary shares underlying your ADSs at shareholders’ meetings unless:

we have failed to timely provide the depositary with notice of meeting and related voting materials;
we have instructed the depositary that we do not wish a discretionary proxy to be given;
we have informed the depositary that there is substantial opposition as to a matter to be voted on at the meeting;
a matter to be voted on at the meeting would have a material adverse impact on shareholders; or
the voting at the meeting is to be made by a show of hands.

The effect of this discretionary proxy is that if you do not vote at shareholders’ meetings, you cannot prevent our ordinary shares underlying your ADSs from being voted, except under the circumstances described above. This may make it more difficult for shareholders to influence the management of our company. Holders of our ordinary shares are not subject to this discretionary proxy.

You may not receive dividends or other distributions on our ordinary shares and you may not receive any value for them, if it is illegal or impractical to make them available to you.

The depositary of our ADSs has agreed to pay to you the cash dividends or other distributions it or the custodian receives on ordinary shares underlying our ADSs, after deducting its fees and expenses. You will receive these distributions in proportion to the number of ordinary shares your ADSs represent. However, the depositary is not responsible if it decides that it is unlawful or impractical to make a distribution available to any holders of ADSs. For example, it would be unlawful to make a distribution to a holder of ADSs if it consists of securities that require registration under the Securities Act but that are not properly registered or distributed under an applicable exemption from registration. The depositary may also determine that it is not feasible to distribute certain property through the mail. Additionally, the value of certain distributions may be less than the cost of mailing them. In these cases, the depositary may determine not to distribute such property. We have no obligation to register under U.S. securities laws any ADSs, ordinary shares, rights or other securities received through such distributions. We also have no obligation to take any other action to permit the distribution of ADSs, ordinary shares, rights or anything else to holders of ADSs. This means that you may not receive distributions we make on our ordinary shares or any value for them if it is illegal or impractical for us to make them available to you. These restrictions may cause a material decline in the value of our ADSs.

You may not be able to participate in rights offerings and may experience dilution of your holdings.

We may, from time to time, distribute rights to our shareholders, including rights to acquire securities. Under the deposit agreement, the depositary will not distribute rights to holders of ADSs unless the distribution and sale of rights and the securities to which these rights relate are either exempt from registration under the Securities Act with respect to all holders of ADSs, or are registered under the provisions of the Securities Act. The depositary may, but is not required to, attempt to sell these undistributed rights to third parties, and may allow the rights to lapse. We may be unable to establish an exemption from registration under the Securities Act, and we are under no obligation to file a registration statement with respect to these rights or underlying securities or to endeavor to have a registration statement declared effective. Accordingly, holders of ADSs may be unable to participate in our rights offerings and may experience dilution of their holdings as a result.

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You may be subject to limitations on transfer of your ADSs.

Your ADSs are transferable on the books of the depositary. However, the depositary may close its books at any time or from time to time when it deems expedient in connection with the performance of its duties. The depositary may close its books from time to time for a number of reasons, including in connection with corporate events such as a rights offering, during which time the depositary needs to maintain an exact number of ADS holders on its books for a specified period. The depositary may also close its books in emergencies, and on weekends and public holidays. The depositary may refuse to deliver, transfer or register transfers of our ADSs generally when our share register or the books of the depositary are closed, or at any time if we or the depositary thinks it is 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.

As a company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, we are permitted to adopt certain home country practices in relation to corporate governance matters that differ significantly from the NYSE corporate governance listing standards; these practices may afford less protection to shareholders than they would enjoy if we complied fully with the NYSE corporate governance listing standards.

As a Cayman Islands company listed on the NYSE, we are subject to the NYSE corporate governance listing standards. However, NYSE rules permit a foreign private issuer like us to follow the corporate governance practices of its home country. Certain corporate governance practices in the Cayman Islands, which is our home country, may differ significantly from the NYSE corporate governance listing standards. For example, we are not required to have a compensation committee and corporate governance and nominating committee composed entirely of independent directors. See “Item 16G. Corporate governance.” Since we have chosen to follow certain home country practice, our shareholders may be afforded less protection than they otherwise would enjoy under the NYSE corporate governance listing standards applicable to U.S. domestic issuers.

We may be classified as a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, which could subject U.S. investors in our ADSs or ordinary shares to adverse tax consequences.

A non-United States corporation, such as our company, will be classified as a passive foreign investment company (“PFIC”) for United States federal income tax purposes, for any taxable year if either (i) 75% or more of its gross income consists of certain types of “passive” income or (ii) 50% or more of the average value of its assets is attributable to assets (generally determined on the basis of a quarterly average) that produce or are held for the production of passive income. Based on our income and assets, we do not believe that we were a PFIC for the taxable year ended December 31, 2020 and do not anticipate becoming a PFIC in the current taxable year or the foreseeable future, although there can be no assurance in this regard. Although we do not currently expect that our assets or activities will change in a manner that would cause us to become a PFIC for our current taxable year or the foreseeable future, there can be no assurance our business plans will not change in a manner that will affect our PFIC status. Because there are uncertainties in the application of the relevant rules and 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 — United States Federal Income Tax Considerations”) may incur significantly increased United States federal income tax on gain recognized on the sale or other disposition of the ADSs or ordinary shares and on the receipt of distributions on the ADSs or ordinary shares to the extent such gain or distribution is treated as an “excess distribution” under the United States 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 ordinary shares, we generally will continue to be treated as a PFIC for all succeeding years during which such U.S. Holder holds our ADSs or ordinary shares. See “Item 10. Additional Information — E. Taxation — United States Federal Income Tax Considerations — Passive Foreign Investment Company Considerations” for more information.

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We are a “foreign private issuer,” and have disclosure obligations that are different from those of U.S. domestic reporting companies; as a result, you should not expect to receive the same information about us at the same time when a U.S. domestic reporting company provides the information required to be disclosed.

We are a foreign private issuer and, as a result, we are not subject to the same requirements that are imposed upon U.S. domestic issuers by the SEC. Under the Exchange Act, we will be subject to reporting obligations that, to some extent, are more lenient and less frequent than those of U.S. domestic reporting companies. For example, we are not required to issue quarterly reports or proxy statements. We have 120 days to file our annual report with the SEC for the fiscal years ending on or after December 31, 2011. We are not required to disclose detailed individual executive compensation information that is required to be disclosed by U.S. domestic issuers. Further, our directors and executive officers are not required to report equity holdings under Section 16 of the Securities Act and are not subject to the insider short-swing profit disclosure and recovery regime. As a foreign private issuer, we are also exempt from the requirements of Regulation FD (Fair Disclosure) which, generally, are meant to ensure that select groups of investors are not privy to specific information about an issuer before other investors. We are, however, still subject to the anti-fraud and anti-manipulation rules of the SEC, such as Rule 10b-5 under the Exchange Act. Since many of the disclosure obligations imposed on us as a foreign private issuer are different than those imposed on U.S. domestic reporting companies, our shareholders should not expect to receive the same information about us and at the same time as the information received from, or provided by, U.S. domestic reporting companies.

If securities or industry analysts do not actively follow our business, or if they publish unfavorable research about our business, our ADS price and trading volume could decline.

The trading market for our ADS depends in part on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. If one or more of the analysts who covers us downgrades our ADSs or publishes unfavorable research about our business, our ADS price would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts ceases coverage of our company or fails to publish reports on us regularly, demand for our ADSs could decrease, which could cause our ADS price and trading to decline.

ITEM 4.      INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY

A.     History and Development of the Company

Our company was incorporated in Cayman Islands as Mega Stand International Limited in November 2007. We changed our corporate name to Daqo New Energy Corp. in August 2009.

We are a company limited by shares domiciled in the Cayman Islands. The corporate affairs of Daqo New Energy Corp. are governed by our Fourth Amended and Restated Memorandum and Articles of Association, the Companies Act (Revised) of the Cayman Islands and the common law of the Cayman Islands.

In 2008, we established Chongqing Daqo as our wholly owned operating subsidiary in China. Through Chongqing Daqo, we focused primarily on the manufacturing and sale of polysilicon and later expanded into wafer manufacturing. In addition to Chongqing Daqo, we established Nanjing Daqo New Energy Co., Ltd., or Nanjing Daqo, in China in 2007, through which we conducted our module manufacturing business. In 2009, we established our wholly owned subsidiary Daqo Solar Energy North America, or Daqo North America, in California to promote our products in North America.

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Daqo Group established Daqo New Material in 2006 in Chongqing, China. Although all of Daqo Group’s equity interest holders also beneficially own shares of Daqo Cayman, Daqo Group does not have any shareholding in our company. As of March 31, 2021, holders of equity interests in Daqo Group in aggregate beneficially own 32.43% of the outstanding ordinary shares of our company. Subsequent to the establishment of Chongqing Daqo in July 2008, Chongqing Daqo entered into a lease agreement with Daqo New Material to rent all of Daqo New Material’s land, production infrastructure, machinery, equipment, facilities, factories, buildings and other assets for polysilicon production. This lease was terminated on December 30, 2013. Under Financial Accounting Standards Board Accounting Standards Codification 810-10-15, “Variable Interest Entities,” we were deemed to be Daqo New Material’s primary beneficiary and Daqo New Material had been consolidated from July 1, 2008 to December 30, 2013. As a result of the voluntary termination of our contractual arrangements with Daqo New Material, starting from December 31, 2013, we deconsolidated Daqo New Material.

We commenced commercial production at the Phase 1 polysilicon facilities in July 2008. Production at the Phase 1 polysilicon facilities used equipment and property from both us and Daqo New Material. Even though we do not directly or indirectly hold any equity interests in Daqo New Material, under U.S. GAAP, Daqo New Material has been deemed to be our predecessor business from November 16, 2006 through June 30, 2008.

Under a non-competition agreement with us, Daqo Group has agreed not to engage in the business of manufacturing, marketing or distributing polysilicon or any other solar power products anywhere in the world or compete in any manner with our businesses without our consent for an indefinite term. Under the non-competition agreement, we, through Daqo Cayman and Chongqing Daqo, are entitled to seek temporary restraining orders, injunctions or other equitable relief, in addition to monetary remedies specified in the agreement, if Daqo Group breaches its non-competition obligations. Any related party transactions are subject to our audit committee’s review and approval. With the approval of our audit committee, we gave our consent to Daqo Group to enter the photovoltaic cell manufacturing business in China. Daqo Group incorporated a wholly owned subsidiary, Zhenjiang Daqo Solar Co., Ltd., or Zhenjiang Daqo, which started commercial production of photovoltaic cells in 2011.

On October 7, 2010, we listed our ADSs, each representing five ordinary shares of Daqo New Energy Corp., on the New York Stock Exchange, or the NYSE, under the symbol “DQ” in connection with an initial public offering. We issued a total of 9,200,000 ADSs at $9.50 per ADS in connection with our initial public offering.

In February 2011, we incorporated a wholly owned subsidiary, Xinjiang Daqo, in Shihezi Economic Development Area in Xinjiang Autonomous Region, China, to build our Phase 2A polysilicon production facilities. We finished construction of our Phase 2A polysilicon facilities in September 2012 and engaged in commercial production at these facilities beginning from the first quarter of 2013.

In April 2011, we incorporated a wholly owned subsidiary, Daqo New Energy Holdings (Canada) Ltd., or Daqo Canada, to expand our operations in North America. Through Daqo Canada, we set up a joint venture with JNE Solar Inc., a party unrelated to us prior to this transaction, in Hamilton, Ontario. This joint venture was terminated in April 2012. We liquidated Daqo Canada in October 2013.

In September 2012, to focus on our core businesses of polysilicon and wafer production, we sold our 100% equity interest in our module business to Daqo Group for a consideration of $9.9 million. On December 21, 2012, we effected a change of the ADS to ordinary share ratio from one ADS representing five ordinary shares to one ADS representing 25 ordinary shares. The ratio change had the same effect as a 1-for-5 reverse ADS split.

In September 2012, we halted polysilicon production in order to begin maintenance and technology improvement projects at the Phase 1 polysilicon facilities with the primary objective of lowering the cost to produce polysilicon at these facilities. In conjunction with the production stoppage, a supplementary lease agreement with Daqo New Material was reached which reduced lease payments beginning in 2013 to approximately $zero.

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In the first quarter of 2013, we terminated Daqo North America, which was originally designed to promote our module products in North America. In the second quarter of 2013, we incurred fixed asset impairment charges related to the Phase 1 polysilicon facilities to reflect the market challenges that had an adverse effect on the profit-generating ability of the assets.

As of March 2013, we successfully reached our initial targets for both capacity and cost structure for our Xinjiang Phase 2A polysilicon facilities. As part of our efforts toward further improvement, we successfully completed a project to identify and reduce restrictions on our production throughput, or a “debottlenecking” project, prior to the end of 2013.

In November 2013, our Board of Directors approved our plan to further expand our capacity in Xinjiang from 6,150 MT to 12,150 MT, or the Phase 2B expansion, in order to take advantage of the enormous competitive advantage in electricity price in Xinjiang compared to that of Chongqing.

Since we did not intend to continue the technology improvement project in our Phase 1 facilities and we planned to relocate the idle machinery and equipment from Phase 1 facilities in Chongqing to our Xinjiang facilities for expansion projects including Phase 2B, Phase 3A and 3B, we (i) ceased production at the Phase 1 polysilicon facilities in 2012, then started the relocation of certain machinery and equipment from the Phase 1 polysilicon facilities to Xinjiang, and (ii) on December 30, 2013, signed an amendment to the supplementary lease agreement to terminate the lease, which resulted in the deconsolidation of Daqo New Material. To support the wafer manufacturing at Chongqing Daqo, Chongqing Daqo entered into a new lease agreement with Daqo New Material to lease a small portion of its facilities, including, but not limited to, the dining hall, part of the office buildings and portions of the employee dormitory, on January 1, 2014.

Following the completion of our Phase 2A and our capacity enhancement project for Phase 2A, we fully ramped up our nameplate polysilicon production capacity to 6,150 MT per annum in the first quarter of 2014.

We fully ramped up the full production capacity of our Phase 2B project to 12,150 MT per annum at the end of the third quarter of 2015.

In January 2015, our Board of Directors approved our Phase 3A expansion project. We completed the construction and installation of Phase 3A at the end of 2016 and achieved full production capacity of 18,000 MT per annum in the first quarter of 2017. In August 2017, our Board of Directors approved Phase 3B expansion project. We completed the construction and installation of Phase 3B and commenced pilot production by October 2018. The Phase 3B facility ramped up to full production capacity and increased our total production capacity to 30,000 MT in December 2018. In addition, we completed a debottlenecking project and increase our total production capacity to 35,000 MT by the end of June 2019. Our Phase 4 expansion plan comprises Phase 4A and Phase 4B, which will each increase our production capacity by 35,000 MT. We completed the Phase 4A project and begin pilot production and ramped up Phase 4A to full production capacity in December 2019, which increased our total production capacity to 70,000 MT. Following the full operation of our Phase 4A expansion project, we further reduced our production cost to $6.38/kg in the fourth quarter of 2019, benefiting from lower unit cost of electricity, new production processes and equipment with higher efficiencies, and greater economies of scale. We began our Phase 4B project in March 2021 and expect to complete the project by the end of 2021 and ramp it up to its full capacity of 35,000 MT by the end of the first quarter of 2022.

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In November 2013, we achieved great progress in our wafer business by increasing our annual capacity from 36 million pieces to 72 million pieces. From 2014, we began running our wafer business in full capacity and improved the quality and efficiency for our wafer products. In May 2014, we established an in-house slurry recovery system, which helped us lower the wafer production cost. In November 2015, we launched a wafer technology enhancement project at our Chongqing wafer facilities, which helped to reduce our wafer manufacturing cost and increase our wafer capacity with a limited capital expenditure requirement. We upgraded our ingot furnaces from Generation 5 to Generation 6 directional solidification casting furnaces and increased our ingot output from approximately 500 kilograms per batch to approximately 800 kilograms per batch in the first half of 2016. We also increased our wafering capacity by improving efficiency of the existing wafering system and acquiring certain used wafering tools from the secondary market in the first half of 2016. By the end of June 2016, we successfully completed this project and increased our annual wafer capacity from 87 million pieces to approximately 100 million pieces. By the year-end of 2017, we had successfully switched our slicing technology from traditional slurry wiresaws to diamond saws which enable us to significantly improve our manufacturing efficiency and lower processing cost. In September 2018, we made a strategic decision to discontinue our wafer manufacturing operations in Chongqing in response to the increasingly challenging market conditions.

In August 2015, our Board of Directors and the Audit Committee approved the restructuring plan of Xinjiang Daqo in order for it to meet certain PRC legal requirement for listing on the National Equities Exchange and Quotations, or the New Third Board, an emerging over-the-counter securities market in China. Pursuant to the restructuring plan, Xinjiang Daqo Investment subscribed for newly issued equity interest of Xinjiang Daqo representing 1% of the total outstanding equity of Xinjiang Daqo, and the restructuring was completed in December 2015. In April 2016, Xinjiang Daqo has received approval to list its shares on the New Third Board. In June 2016, Xinjiang Daqo was listed on the New Third Board. In May 2018, Xinjiang Daqo voluntarily delisted from the New Third Board, because the effectiveness and efficiency of the financing activities on the New Third Board did not meet our expectations. In December 2018, we approved for our subsidiary, Xinjiang Daqo, to acquire an 100% equity interest of Xinjiang Daqo Investment, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daqo Group and an affiliated company of the Company, for a total consideration of $16.0 million.

In December 2016, we adopted a dual Chinese name “大全新能源公司” at our annual general meeting, so that the name of our company is “Daqo New Energy Corp. “ 大全新能源公司.”

In April 2018, we completed a follow-on public offering of 2,064,379 ADSs, representing 51,609,475 ordinary shares, at $55.00 per ADS. We received net proceeds of $106.6 million from this offering.

In October 2019, we incorporated Xinjiang Daqo Guodi, a wholly owned subsidiary, in Shihezi Economic Development Area in Xinjiang Autonomous Region, China. The subsidiary primarily focuses on research and development related to polysilicon manufacturing.

In November 2019, Xinjiang Daqo Lvchuang was incorporated, which is 70% owned by Xinjiang Daqo and 30% owned by a third party company. The subsidiary primarily focuses on the recycling and sales of polysilicon by-product, which was in the start-up stage as of December 31, 2019.

In March 2020, Daqo New Energy (Hong Kong) Co., Limited, our wholly owned subsidiary, was incorporated in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China. The subsidiary primarily focuses on development of business and investment for us.

In June 2020, we announced our strategic plan to complete a listing of shares of our principal operating subsidiary, Xinjiang Daqo, on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s Sci-Tech innovation board, known as the STAR Market. STAR Market listing requires Xinjiang Daqo to have multiple shareholders. As a result, we sold 4.4% of Xinjiang Daqo’s shares at the aggregate consideration of RMB199.05 million to Mr. Guangfu Xu, Mr. Xiang Xu, Mr. Dafeng Shi and Mr. Longgen Zhang, respectively. Following the transaction, we currently beneficially own 95.6% of Xinjiang Daqo.

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On November 17, 2020, we effected a change of the ADS-to-ordinary-share ratio from one (1) ADS representing twenty-five (25) ordinary shares to one (1) ADS representing five (5) ordinary shares.

Our principal executive offices are located at Unit 29, Huadu Mansion, 838 Zhangyang Road, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China, and our telephone number at that location is +86-21-5075-2918. Our registered office in the Cayman Islands is located at the offices of International Corporation Services Ltd., P.O. Box 472, 2nd Floor Harbor Place, Grand Cayman KY1-1106, Cayman Islands. Our agent for service of process in the United States is Law Debenture Corporate Services Inc., located at 801 2nd Avenue, Suite 403, New York, NY 10017. SEC maintains an Internet site (http://www.sec.gov) that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding us that file electronically with the SEC. Our website is http://www.dqsolar.com.

See “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—B. Liquidity and Capital Resources—Capital Expenditures” for a discussion of our capital expenditures.

B.Business Overview

Photovoltaics is one of the proven and most rapidly growing renewable energy sources in the world. Energy from the sun is converted into electricity primarily through the photovoltaic effect and, to a lesser extent, through concentrated solar thermal technologies.

We are a leading high-purity polysilicon manufacturer based in China. We utilize the chemical vapor deposition process, or the “modified Siemens process,” with upgraded Hydrochlorination technology, to produce polysilicon, and have fully implemented the closed loop system to produce high-quality polysilicon cost-effectively. We manufacture and sell high-purity polysilicon to photovoltaic product manufacturers, who further process our polysilicon into ingots, wafers, cells and modules for solar power solutions. Currently, our annual capacity for polysilicon is 70,000 MT in Xinjiang. We improve our production efficiency and increase our output through technological improvements, adoption of process innovation and refinement as well as equipment enhancement. Actual production volume may exceed the production capacity due to operational improvements we may implement at our facilities in response to market conditions.

We commenced commercial production of wafers using our own polysilicon in July 2011. Following our discontinuation in September 2018 of our wafer manufacturing operations in Chongqing, we now focus on our operations in Xinjiang in northwestern China. The cost of doing business in western China is generally lower than the coastal areas of China. Specifically, in Xinjiang where our polysilicon facilities are located, the electricity rate is much lower than the coastal areas. Because of our strategic location, we have experienced advantages in electricity and raw material costs over our competitors that are based in developed countries or in the coastal areas of China.

We impose rigorous quality control standards at various stages of our manufacturing process. We systematically test raw materials from our suppliers and test our inputs at each stage of our manufacturing process to ensure that they meet all technical specifications. With our strict quality control measures in our manufacturing and facility construction processes, we are able to produce high-quality polysilicon consistently at our facilities. In 2020, approximately 97% of our polysilicon was sold to mono-wafer applications which require higher quality as compared to multi-wafer applications. We currently sell polysilicon to China-based photovoltaic product manufacturers. The majority of our sales are made under framework contracts, with the prices to be determined at the time when specific sales orders are made. As of December 31, 2020, our major polysilicon customers included operating entities of Longi, Jinko Solar and Shangji Automation.

Quarterly sales volume for polysilicon in 2020:

    

First  

    

Second 

    

Third  

    

Fourth 

    

Quarter

Quarter

Quarter

Quarter

FY 2020

Sales Volume

  

  

  

  

  

Polysilicon (MT)

 

19,101

 

18,881

 

13,643

 

23,186

 

74,812

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Our Products

We manufacture and sell high-purity polysilicon to photovoltaic product manufactures, who further process the polysilicon into ingots, wafers, cells and modules for solar power solutions. We offer ready-to-use polysilicon, packaged to meet crucible stacking, pulling, and solidification needs. Our annual capacity for polysilicon production increased from 35,000 MT to 70,000 MT in December 2019. Our actual production volume in 2020 was 77,288 MT. We are one of the best quality polysilicon makers in China. In 2020, approximately 97% of our polysilicon was sold to mono-wafer applications which require higher quality as compared to multi-wafer applications.

See “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects-A. Operating Results-Components of Results of Operations-Revenues” for a breakdown of our net revenues by category of activity.

Polysilicon Manufacturing Process

Modified Siemens Process

Three main technologies are used in polysilicon production: the modified Siemens process, the fluidized bed reactor process and the upgraded metallurgical grade silicon process. The Siemens process is a mature and well-proven process technology predominantly used in high purity silicon feedstock production in the solar industry. The two other technologies, the fluidized bed reactor process and the upgraded metallurgical grade silicon process, have the potential for lower cost production but are less proven and the quality of products made by these two processes is currently lower than modified Siemens process.

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We use the modified Siemens process to produce polysilicon. The modified Siemens process includes three distinct steps: (1) TCS production; (2) distillation; and (3) deposition. In addition, we recover and recycle exhaust gas throughout the process in our closed loop manufacturing system. The diagram below describes our current general manufacturing process:

 

TCS production. The first step of the manufacturing process is to produce TCS from two widely available industrial raw materials: MG-Si and liquid chlorine. We generate TCS in-house through our integrated manufacturing process. TCS production includes two steps: hydrogen chloride synthesis, or HCl synthesis, and TCS synthesis. At the HCl synthesis step, liquid chlorine from a chlorine tank is vaporized to chlorine gas and sent to the HCl synthesis furnace, where it reacts with hydrogen to generate HCl. At the TCS synthesis step that follows, MG-Si powder is then sent to Hydrochlorination unit and reacted with HCl gas.

Distillation. Distillation is a method of separating mixtures based on differences in their boiling points. Raw TCS is purified through distillation to produce high purity TCS feedstock. The difference in boiling points of TCS and impurities such as boron, phosphorous, and metal halides allow for purification of TCS. It is critical to remove these impurities in this process to eliminate the possible causes of low performance in solar cells. In the distillation process, all by-product chemicals from vent gases are separated and further purified before being sent back to our production areas.

Deposition. The purified TCS from the distillation process is vaporized, mixed with hydrogen gas, and then fed into the deposition reactor. The mixed gas passes over heated silicon slim rods inside the deposition reactor. In the reactor, multiple pair slim rods are heated up to approximately 1,100°C and high purity silicon is deposited on the rods surface. The constant feeding of TCS and hydrogen gas allows for continuous silicon deposition until 150–200mm in diameter is achieved. At this point the deposition cycle is completed and the ultra-pure silicon is harvested.

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Closed Loop Manufacturing System

We have implemented the modified Siemens process in a completely closed loop system. The closed loop system is an advanced polysilicon manufacturing process widely used by leading international polysilicon manufacturers. Compared to the open loop system, the closed loop system uses raw materials more efficiently, requires less electricity and produces less pollution. Manufacturing polysilicon generates an exhaust gas primarily consisting of hydrogen, HCl, and chlorosilanes. Using the vent gas recovery system, which combines condensers, distillation towers, adsorption beds and compressors, we are able to separate the exhaust stream from our manufacturing process into individual components that can be reused after further purification. For instance, a by-product of the deposition step is STC, which is a toxic chemical. Through a separate hydrochlorination process, we convert STC to TCS, so that we eliminate the costs related to STC disposal and reduce operational risks of STC treatment. Mixed chlorosilanes are recovered as a liquid stream suitable for separation where we can directly reuse TCS. Anhydrous HCl is recovered with high purity, suitable for use in TCS production. Recovered hydrogen typically contains contaminants of fewer than 10 parts per million and is recycled to the deposition reactors. Recycling significantly reduces costs related to waste disposal and the amount of raw materials we need to purchase for production.

Although the closed loop system has lower manufacturing costs than the open loop system, manufacturing facilities based on the open loop system can be built within a shorter period of time with less initial capital investment for equipment. Most of polysilicon manufacturing facilities in China were traditionally built based on the open loop system. However, as the polysilicon market may face downward pricing pressure from time to time, we believe that an increasing number of China-based manufacturers are converting their open loop system to the closed loop system and many of them have completed such conversion. The full implementation of the closed loop system by other polysilicon manufacturers has diminished our competitive advantages provided by this system. Nevertheless, in August 2011, Chongqing Daqo entered into a Technology License and Transfer Agreement with GTAT Corporation, a Delaware company, under which GTAT granted us a license to use, in both our Chongqing and Xinjiang facilities, its Hydrochlorination TCS Production Technology and Chlorosilane Recovery/Waste Neutralization Technology.

We have successfully adopted in our Xinjiang polysilicon manufacturing facilities Hydrochlorination technology, a process which has seen increasing application in polysilicon manufacturing in recent years. It converts STC to TCS by reacting with metallurgical grade silicon powder. Using Hydrochlorination technology, chemical reactions take place under much higher pressure and at lower temperatures in comparison to the traditional hydrogenation process. As a result, it consumes less electricity and offers a higher STC/TCS conversion rate. In addition, the Hydrochlorination process also does not require fresh TCS production, which further reduces production costs.

To achieve higher efficiency in our manufacturing process, we have also installed a distribution control system and a thermal energy recycling mechanism. The distribution control system enables tight quality control, reduces process related variations, and improves productivity. Our thermal energy recycling system allocates heat generated from our deposition reactors and hydrogenation reactors to many other production areas, such as distillation facilities for TCS purification and our refrigeration station to support a large number of condensers.

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Manufacturing Capacity

The following table sets forth our major installed approximate annual production capacity objectives as of the dates indicated and includes the expected date of initial commercial operation and fully ramped-up production of each expansion phase.

    

Approximate

    

    

    

Annual 

Commercial 

Fully 

Production 

Construction 

Production 

Ramped-up

Capacity

Period

Period

 Production

Phase 2A facilities

5,000 MT

Second quarter of 2011 – September 2012

First quarter of 2013 – Present

March 2013

Capacity enhancement of Phase 2A facilities

1,150 MT

July 2013 – January 2014

January 2014 – Present

First quarter of 2014

Phase 2B facilities

6,000 MT

April 2014 – June 2015

July 2015 – Present

Third quarter of 2015

Phase 3A facilities

 

5,850 MT

 

July 2015 – December 2016

 

First quarter of 2017 – Present

 

First quarter of 2017

Phase 3B facilities

 

12,000 MT

 

January 2018 – October 2018

 

December 2018 – Present

 

December 2018

Debottlenecking project of Phase 3B facilities

5,000 MT

April 2019 - June 2019

June 2019 - Present

Second quarter of 2019

Phase 4A facilities

 

35,000 MT

 

May 2018 – September 2019

 

September 2019 – Present

 

December 2019

We completed the construction and installation of Phase 3A at the end of 2016 and commenced initial production in the first quarter of 2017. By the end of February 2017, we achieved full production capacity of 18,000 MT per annum. In August 2017, our Board of Directors approved Phase 3B expansion project. We completed the construction and installation of Phase 3B and commenced pilot production by October 2018. The Phase 3B facility ramped up to full production capacity and increased our total production capacity to 30,000 MT in December 2018. In addition, we completed a debottlenecking project and increased our total production capacity to 35,000 MT in June 2019. Our Phase 4 expansion plan comprises Phase 4A and Phase 4B, which will each increase our production capacity by 35,000 MT. We completed the Phase 4A project and began pilot production in September 2019. We reached full capacity of 35,000 MT in December 2019, which increased our total production capacity to 70,000 MT. Following the full operation of our Phase 4A expansion project, we further reduced our production cost to $6.38/kg in the fourth quarter of 2019, benefiting from low cost of electricity, new production processes and equipment with higher efficiencies, and greater economies of scale. We began our Phase 4B project in March 2021 and expect to complete the project by the end of 2021 and ramp it up to its full capacity of 35,000 MT by the end of the first quarter of 2022. Our capacity expansion plan and technology improvement plan are preliminary and subject to risks and uncertainties that may be out of our control. See “Item 3. Key Information-D. Risk Factors-Risks Related to Our Business-Our future success depends substantially on our ability to significantly expand our polysilicon production capacity and output, which exposes us to a number of risks and uncertainties” and “Item 3. Key Information-D. Risk Factors-Risks Related to Our Business-If we are unable to manage our expansion effectively, our business and financial results may be adversely affected.”

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Materials and Inputs Used in Production

Polysilicon

Raw materials required for our polysilicon manufacturing process primarily include metallurgical grade silicon, which is silicon of 95% to 99% purity, and liquid chlorine, two widely available industrial raw materials used in our in-house production of TCS, electricity and other utilities, and other significant inputs for production, such as argon gas, caustic soda and graphite parts. We produce liquid chlorine in our in-house facilities. This provides us with a reliable supply of liquid chlorine and also helps us to further reduce material costs.

The costs of electricity are significant in the production of polysilicon. The electricity costs in Xinjiang are significantly lower than those in coastal areas of China and in developed countries due to Xinjiang’s abundant coal resources. Shihezi, where our Xinjiang polysilicon facilities are located, enjoys additional advantages in the costs of electricity due to the independent regional electricity grid being operated and managed by the Eighth Division of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. We also use other utilities, such as steam, water and natural gas, for our manufacturing process. Steam supply is important to the production of polysilicon. We use both a local supplier and our in-house capabilities to produce steam.

Equipment

The major polysilicon production equipment includes hydroelectrolysis devices, hydrochlorination synthesis furnaces, TCS synthesis furnaces, distillation towers, polysilicon deposition reactors, hydrogenation reactors, exhaust gas recovery units and distribution control systems.

We have close relationships with several of the world’s leading equipment manufacturers and work closely with selected equipment manufacturers to develop and build our production lines. In addition, we developed technical specifications for the design of our power supply systems and reactors and have engaged manufacturers to construct the equipment in accordance with our specifications. Our engineers work closely with our equipment suppliers to design our production facilities. Furthermore, to lower costs, we have purchased and will continue to purchase equipment that can be appropriately designed and manufactured by China-based suppliers. Our technical team is responsible for overseeing the installation of our manufacturing lines to optimize the interaction between the various individual components of the entire production process. They work together with our equipment suppliers’ technical teams on site at the time of installation.

Quality Assurance

We apply our quality control system at each stage of our manufacturing process, from raw materials procurement to production and delivery, in order to ensure a consistent quality of our products. We systematically inspect raw materials from our suppliers, such as MG-Si, liquid chlorine and various consumables for our polysilicon business. We also test our inputs in each stage of our production process to ensure the inputs meet all technical specifications.

We sample each lot of polysilicon harvested from the deposition reactors and keep the samples for product quality tracking purpose. We also set up a product tracking system to trace back all shipped products to the samples we keep and to our database, which contains detailed information of each shipment. We received the ISO 9001:2008 certification for our quality assurance system for our Xinjiang plant, which we believe demonstrates our technological capabilities and inspires customer confidence. In 2014, Xinjiang Science and Technology Commission issued a three-year certificate to recognize our polysilicon as a high and new technology product. We have successfully renewed the certificate for Xinjiang Daqo to August 2020 and will continue to apply for renewal of the certificate upon its expiration. In addition, in 2014, Xinjiang Daqo was recognized for its compliance with the “Photovoltaic Manufacture Industry Standard” issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the PRC.

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In order to facilitate our production of photovoltaic products and ensure the quality of the finished product, we conduct analysis for raw materials, in-process products and finished products and monitor the environmental impact and safety throughout the production process.

Customers and Sales

We currently sell polysilicon to China-based photovoltaic product manufacturers. As of December 31, 2020, our major polysilicon customers included operating entities of Longi, Jinko Solar and Shangji Automations.

We sell a substantial portion of our polysilicon to a limited number of customers. Our top three customers in aggregate accounted for 64.2%, 81.6% and 83.4% of our continuing operations’ total revenues in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively.

The majority of our polysilicon sales are made under framework contracts. The framework contracts typically provide binding terms for the sales volumes of our polysilicon. The pricing terms are typically agreed upon between us and our customers based on the prevailing market prices when specific sales orders are made.

We have established nationwide marketing capability through our sales team in China. Each member of our sales team is dedicated to a particular region. Our sales team attends domestic and international industrial conferences and trade fairs and organizes advertising and public relations events. Our sales and marketing team works closely with both our research and development team and our production team to coordinate our ongoing supply and demand planning.

Research and Development

We believe that the continual development of our technology will be vital to maintaining our long-term competitiveness. We have one of the leading research and development teams among polysilicon manufacturers in China. Our research and development team consists of 452 experienced researchers and engineers. Our senior management team spearheads our research and development efforts and sets strategic directions for the advancement of our products and production processes, focusing on efforts to improve product quality, reduce manufacturing costs and broaden our product markets. In 2020, we completed 36 research and technology or process improvement projects to enhance our polysilicon manufacturing process, and successfully registered 51 patents with the State Intellectual Property Office of the PRC.

Intellectual Property

Our intellectual property is an essential element of our business. We rely on patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and other intellectual property laws, as well as non-competition and confidentiality agreements with our employees, business partners and others, to protect our intellectual property rights.

As of the date of this annual report, we hold 136 patents and have 46 additional pending patent applications covering different aspects of the polysilicon and wafer manufacturing process. We also rely heavily on a combination of proprietary process engineering, trade secrets and employee contractual protections to establish and protect our intellectual property, as we believe that many crucial elements of our production processes involve proprietary know-how, technology or data that are not covered by patents or patent applications, including technical processes, equipment designs, algorithms and procedures. We have taken security measures to protect these elements. All of our research and development personnel have entered into confidentiality and proprietary information agreements with us. These agreements address intellectual property protection issues and require our employees to assign to us all of the inventions, designs and technologies that they develop when primarily utilizing our resources or when performing their duties during their employment.

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While we continue to develop and pursue patent protection for our own technologies, we expect to continue implementing third party license arrangements on certain key aspects of our operation. In August 2011, Chongqing Daqo entered into a Technology License and Transfer Agreement with GTAT Corporation, a Delaware company, under which GTAT granted us a license to use its Hydrochlorination TCS Production Technology and Chlorosilane Recovery/Waste Neutralization Technology for our current polysilicon production and future polysilicon production expansions. We had paid off the consideration for the transfer of this technology in January 2016. Most of our equipment supply contracts with international suppliers include an indemnification provision under which the supplier undertakes to indemnify us against actions, claims, demands, costs, charges, and expenses arising from or incurred by reason of any infringement or alleged infringement of patent, copyright, trade mark or trade name by the use of the equipment provided by the supplier. However, it is unclear whether we will be entitled to such indemnification in the event that we use the equipment supplied by such supplier in conjunction with other equipment not supplied by such supplier. In addition, many of our equipment supply contracts with China-based suppliers do not provide any intellectual property indemnification provisions. See “Item 3. Key Information-D. Risk Factors-Risks Related to Our Business-We may be exposed to infringement or misappropriation claims by third parties, which, if determined adversely to us, could cause us to pay significant damage awards.”

Competition

We face competition in China and in the international markets in which we have sales. The photovoltaic market is dominated by a few major manufacturers with a large number of small manufacturers competing for the remaining small portion of the market. We face competition mainly from top manufacturers who have succeeded in establishing a strong brand name with solar companies. For our polysilicon business, our major international competitors include Wacker, OCI, Hemlock, REC and Chinese domestic polysilicon manufacturers, such as GCL-Poly, Xinte Energy Co., Ltd., Yongxiang Co., Ltd., Asia Silicon Co., Ltd., Xinjiang East Hope New Energy Ltd. and China Silicon Corporation. There are also likely new entrants into the polysilicon manufacturing market in China, such as the joint venture formed by REC and Shanxi Youser. In addition, some solar cell and module manufacturers might have the intention of establishing polysilicon production or affiliate relationships with manufacturers of polysilicon. We compete with these in-house capabilities, which could limit our ability to expand our sales. Furthermore, the demand for our polysilicon may be adversely affected by alternative technologies in cell manufacturing. The vast majority of silicon-based photovoltaic cell manufacturers currently use chunk or granular polysilicon. However, alternative technologies are being developed in cell manufacturing. For example, one such technology, thin-film cell production, uses little to no silicon in the production of solar cells. We believe that the solar cells made using thin-film technologies generally tend to have lower energy conversion efficiency than silicon-based solar cells. In addition, the manufacturing cost of silicon-based cells has been significantly reduced recently, which largely reduces or eliminates the historical cost advantage of thin-film cells. Based on our management’s industry knowledge, we believe silicon-based cells will remain the most widely used solar photovoltaic cells in the near future.

We believe that the key competitive factors in the market for photovoltaic products include:

product quality;
price and cost competitiveness;
manufacturing technologies and efficiency;
manufacturing reliability;
economies of scale; and
reputation.

We believe we differentiate ourselves from our competitors and capture market share in the polysilicon markets through our cost and price competitiveness, product quality, and manufacturing technologies and efficiency.

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Regulation

This section sets forth a summary of the most significant regulations or requirements that affect our business activities in China.

Renewable Energy Law and Other Government Directives

China enacted the Renewable Energy Law in February 2005 and amended the law in December 2009. The amended Renewable Energy Law sets forth the national policy to encourage and support the development and use of solar and other renewable energy and its use for on-grid generation. The law also sets forth the national policy to encourage the installation and use of solar technologies in water-heating systems, heating and cooling systems, power generation systems and other energy utilization systems. In addition, the law provides financial incentives, such as national funding, preferential loans and tax preferences for the development of renewable energy projects.

In January 2006, the National Development and Reform Commission, or the NDRC issued two implementing rules relating to the Renewable Energy Law that, among other things, provide general policies regarding the pricing of on-grid power generated by solar and other renewable energy.

In September 2006, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (formerly the Ministry of Construction) and the Ministry of Finance also promulgated the Circular of the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Construction, on Printing and Issuing the Interim Measures for Administration of Special Fund for Construction Applied Renewable Energy Resources, which also emphasize the use and administration of the special fund for supporting renewable energies in construction industry. On March 8, 2011, the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development jointly promulgated the Notice on Further Application of Renewable Energy in Building Construction, which aims to raise the percentage of renewable energy used in buildings.

In August 2007, the NDRC promulgated the Medium and Long-Term Development Plan for the Renewable Energy Industry. This plan sets forth national policy to provide financial allowance and preferential tax regulations for the renewable energy industry. A similar demonstration of the PRC government’s commitment to renewable energy was also set forth in the Thirteenth Five-Year Plan for Renewable Energy Development, which was promulgated by the NDRC in December 2016. The Outline of the Thirteenth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development of the PRC, which was approved by the National People’s Congress in March 2016, also demonstrates a commitment to promote the development of renewable energy to enhance the competitiveness of the renewable energy industry.

On July 24, 2011, the NDRC issued the Circular on Improving the On-Grid Price Policy for Photovoltaic Power, which aims to stimulate the photovoltaic power industry by regulating the price of photovoltaic power.

On July 4, 2013, the General Office of the State Council of China issued “Several opinions on promoting healthy development of Solar PV industry” which increased the aggregated target for PV installations as of 2015 from the previously announced 21 GW to 35 GW.

On September 16, 2013, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued “Regulatory Requirements For the Solar PV Manufacturing Industry” and amended the Regulatory Requirements in March 2015 and in January 2018, respectively. The latest Regulatory Requirements require strict control of new PV manufacturing projects that solely expand production capacity and provide adjustments on the industry regulatory requirements of several PV projects and products in order to guide PV enterprises to further strengthen technology innovation, improve product quality and reduce production costs.

In January 2014, the National Energy Administration of China, or the NEA, announced the PV installation target for 2014 to be 14 GW, which includes 8 GW for distributed PV systems and 6 GW for large scale PV power plants.

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In March 2015, the NEA announced the PV installation target for 2015 to be 17.8 GW. In December 2015, the NDRC announced that it would cut the solar power tariffs in resource zones I, II and III to RMB 0.80/kWh, RMB 0.88/kWh and RMB 0.98/kWh from current RMB 0.90/kWh, RMB 0.95/kWh and RMB 1.00/kWh, respectively, representing reductions of 2% to 11%, effective January 1, 2016. At the same time, China Renewable Energy Fund surcharge fee increased from RMB 15/MWh to RMB 19/MWh.

In December 2016, the NDRC announced the solar power tariff revisions for 2017 as follows. First, in 2017, for solar power plants in resource zones I, II and III, the benchmark FIT will be lowered from RMB0.80/0.88/0.98/kWh in 2016 to RMB0.65/0.75/0.85/kWh, or by 19%/15%/13%. Second, the subsidy for distributed-generation solar power projects will remain unchanged at RMB0.42/kWh. Third, for solar power projects registered prior to 2017 and eligible for fiscal subsidies, the FIT at the 2016 level will remain applicable if they are connected to the grid and in operation by June 30, 2017. Fourth, future solar power tariffs will be revised annually based on cost changes.

In December 2017, the NDRC announced the solar power tariff revisions for 2018. In 2018, for solar power plants in resource zones I, II and III, the benchmark FIT will be lowered from RMB0.65/0.75/0.85/kWh in 2017 to RMB0.55/0.65/0.75/kWh, or by 15%/13%/12%. The new rate for distributed-generation solar power projects will be RMB0.37/kWh, which is about RMB 0.05/kWh lower than in 2017. However, the FIT rate will remain the same for all solar projects built under the Chinese government’s program to alleviate poverty in rural areas, at RMB0.42/kWh.

On April 2, 2018, the NEA issued the Circular on Matters Concerning Easing the Burden of Enterprises in Renewable Energy Sector, which emphasized the strict implementation of the Renewable Energy Law to ensure the sound development of the renewable energy sector and promote the optimization of investment environment to reduce costs of renewable energy exploitation.

On May 31, 2018, the NDRC, the NEA and the Ministry of Finance jointly promulgated the Circular on Relevant Matters Concerning Photovoltaic Power Generation in 2018, or the Circular 823. The Circular 823 stipulates that there will be no arrangement on the installation target of ordinary solar power plants for 2018 on a temporary basis, and the installation target of distributed-generation solar power projects for 2018 is 10GW. In addition, starting from May 31, 2018, for solar power plants newly put into operation in resource zones I, II and III, the benchmark FIT will be lowered from RMB0.55/0.65/0.75/kWh in 2017 to RMB0.5/0.6/0.7/kWh, or by 9%/8%/7%, and the new rate for distributed-generation solar power projects will be lowered from RMB0.37/kWh to RMB0.32/kWh. The FIT rate will remain the same for all solar projects built under the Chinese government’s program to alleviate poverty in rural areas, at RMB0.42/kWh. However, for ordinary solar power projects registered in or prior to 2017, the FIT at the 2017 level will remain applicable if they are connected to the grid and in operation by June 30, 2018, according to a following notice promulgated by the NDRC, the NEA and the Ministry of Finance effective on October 10, 2018.

On January 7, 2019, the NDRC and the NEA jointly promulgated the Circular on Actively Promoting Subsidy-free Grid Price Parity for Wind Power and PV Power, which set forth several measures regarding project organization, construction, operation and supervision to promote PV power generation power projects with grid price equivalent to or below the benchmark grid price of coal-fired power units.

On April 28, 2019, the NDRC promulgated the Notice on Improving Several Issues of the On-grid Price Mechanism for PV Power Generation, or Notice 761, which aims to improve the grid-price mechanism for centralized PV projects and changes the on-grid electricity price for centralized PV power plants from benchmark prices to guidance prices. Notice 761 stipulates that the guidance prices for new centralized PV power plants in resource zones I, II and III that are included in the scope of national financial subsidies are determined as RMB0.40/0.45/0.55/kWh, while for the village-level PV poverty alleviation power stations included in the national renewable-energy-electricity-price additional funds subsidy catalog, the corresponding I-III resource area on-grid electricity prices remain unchanged as RMB0.65/0.75/0.85/kWh.

On May 10, 2019, the NDRC and the NEA jointly promulgated the Notice on Establishing and Perfecting Renewable-Energy-Power Consumption Guarantee Mechanism, and decided to set the weight of renewable-energy-power consumption responsibility for each provincial administrative region, and establish and improve the renewable energy power consumption guarantee mechanism, with an effective period of 5 years.

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On May 28, 2019, the NEA issued the Notification on Matters Regarding the Construction of Wind and PV Power Generation Projects in 2019, in order to further lower the benchmark of the FIT for electricity generated by PV plants, and further promote the construction of PV power generation projects, by launching a construction work plan in 2019.

On January 20, 2020, the NDRC, the NEA and the Ministry of Finance jointly issued the Notice on Printing and Distributing the Measures for the Administration of Additional Funds for Renewable Energy Electricity Prices, which aims to promote the development and utilization of renewable energy, to standardize the management of additional funds for renewable energy electricity prices and to improve the efficiency of capital use. On the same day, the NDRC, the NEA and the Ministry of Finance jointly issued the Several Opinions on Promoting the Healthy Development of Non-aqueous Renewable Energy Power Generation, or the Opinion, in order to promote the healthy and stable development of non-aqueous renewable-energy power generation. On September 29, 2020, the NDRC, the NEA and the Ministry of Finance jointly issued the supplementary Notice to the Opinion, which provides the subsidy criteria when settle the government subsidies for the renewable energy power price.

On March 31, 2021, the NDRC issued the Circular on Matters Concerning the On-Grid Price Policies for Photovoltaic Power Generation in 2020, providing the guide price and the subsidy criteria for the photovoltaic power in 2020.

On June 12, 2020, the Ministry of Finance issued the Interim Administrative Measures for Special Funds for the Development of Clean Energy, or the Interim Measure, replacing the Interim Measures for Administration of Special Fund for the Development of Renewable Energies and its supplementary notice. According to the Interim Measures, the Chinese government will provide certain government subsidies and financial incentives to support the development of the clean energy industry, including the solar energy industry.

Environmental and Safety Regulations

We use, generate and discharge toxic, volatile or otherwise hazardous chemicals and wastes in our research and development and manufacturing activities. China enacted the Environmental Protection Law effective December 1989, which was also amended in 2014. In addition to the Environmental Protection Law, we are subject to a variety of specific laws and regulations in China related to the storage, use and disposal of hazardous materials, including laws and regulations governing water pollution, air pollution, solid waste pollution, noise pollution, hazardous chemicals, pollutant discharge fees and environmental impact appraisals. We are also subject to laws and regulations governing worker safety, work safety permits and occupational disease prevention. Our operation is subject to regulation and periodic monitoring by local environmental protection and work safety authorities.

Foreign Currency Exchange

Under various rules and regulations issued by SAFE and other relevant PRC government authorities, the RMB is convertible for current account items, such as trade related receipts and payments, interest and dividends. Capital account items, such as direct equity investments, loans and repatriation of investment, require the prior approval from SAFE or its local counterpart for conversion of RMB into a foreign currency, such as U.S. dollars, and remittance of the foreign currency outside the PRC.

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Payments for transactions that take place within the PRC must be made in RMB. Unless otherwise approved, PRC companies must repatriate foreign currency payments received from abroad. Foreign-invested enterprises may retain foreign exchange in accounts with designated foreign exchange banks subject to a cap set by SAFE or its local counterpart. Unless otherwise approved, domestic enterprises must convert all of their foreign currency receipts into RMB. Recently, China is strengthening the supervision on foreign currency exchange control.

Admission of Foreign Investment

On March 15, 2019, the Foreign Investment Law of the PRC was issued by the National People’s Representative Meeting and took effect on January 1, 2020, pursuant to which the foreign investments in industries outside the Negative List, or the Special Administrative Measures on the Access of Foreign Investment (Negative List) (2019 Edition) jointly issued by the NDRC and the Ministry of Commerce of the PRC on June 30, 2019 and enforced on July 30, 2019, are able to enjoy national treatment.

The principal regulation governing foreign ownership of solar power businesses in the PRC is Catalogue of Industries for Encouraged Foreign Investment (2019 Edition). Under the Encouraged Catalogue 2019, effective from July 30, 2019, the solar power related business is classified as an “encouraged foreign investment industry.” Companies that operate in encouraged foreign investment industries and satisfy applicable statutory requirements are eligible for preferential treatment, including exemption from customs and input value added taxes, or VAT, and priority consideration in obtaining land use rights.

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Foreign Exchange Registration of Offshore Investment by PRC Residents

Pursuant to SAFE Circular 75, issued in October 2005, and a series of implementation rules and guidance, including the circular relating to operating procedures that came into effect in July 2011, PRC residents, including PRC resident natural persons or PRC companies, must register with local branches of SAFE in connection with their direct or indirect offshore investment in an overseas special purpose vehicle, for the purposes of overseas equity financing activities, and to update such registration in the event of any significant changes with respect to that offshore company. SAFE promulgated the Circular on Relevant Issues Concerning Foreign Exchange Control on Domestic Residents’ Offshore Investment and Financing and Roundtrip Investment through Special Purpose Vehicles, or SAFE Circular 37, on July 4, 2014, which replaced the SAFE Circular 75. SAFE Circular 37 requires PRC residents to register with local branches of SAFE in connection with their direct establishment or indirect control of an offshore entity, for the purpose of overseas investment and financing, with such PRC residents’ legally owned assets or equity interests in domestic enterprises or offshore assets or interests, referred to in SAFE No. Circular 37 as a “special purpose vehicle.” The term “control” under SAFE Circular 37 is broadly defined as the operation rights, beneficiary rights or decision-making rights acquired by the PRC residents in the offshore special purpose vehicles or PRC companies by such means as acquisition, trust, proxy, voting rights, repurchase, convertible bonds or other arrangements. SAFE Circular 37 further requires amendment to the registration in the event of any changes with respect to the basic information of the special purpose vehicle, such as changes in a PRC resident individual shareholder, name or operation period; or any significant changes with respect to the special purpose vehicle, such as increase or decrease of capital contributed by PRC individuals, share transfer or exchange, merger, division or other material event. If the shareholders of the offshore holding company who are PRC residents do not complete their registration with the local SAFE branches, the PRC subsidiaries may be prohibited from distributing their profits and proceeds from any reduction in capital, share transfer or liquidation to the offshore company, and the offshore company may be restricted in its ability to contribute additional capital to its PRC subsidiaries. Moreover, failure to comply with SAFE registration and amendment requirements described above could result in liability under PRC laws for evasion of applicable foreign exchange restrictions. On February 13, 2015, SAFE promulgated a Notice on Further Simplifying and Improving Foreign Exchange Administration Policy on Direct Investment, or SAFE Notice 13, which became effective on June 1, 2015. Pursuant to SAFE Notice 13, entities and individuals are required to apply for foreign exchange registration of foreign direct investment and overseas direct investment, including those required under the SAFE Circular 37, with qualified banks, instead of SAFE. The qualified banks, under the supervision of SAFE, directly examine the applications and conduct the registration. The failure or inability of our PRC resident shareholders to comply with the registration procedures may subject the PRC resident shareholders to fines and legal sanctions, restrict our cross-border investment activities, or limit our PRC subsidiaries’ ability to distribute dividends to or obtain foreign exchange-dominated loans from our company. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—Chinese regulations relating to offshore investment activities by Chinese residents may increase the administrative burden we face and may subject our Chinese resident beneficial owners or employees to personal liabilities, limit our subsidiaries’ ability to increase its registered capital or distribute profits to us, limit our ability to inject capital into our Chinese subsidiaries, or may otherwise expose us to liability under PRC laws.”

Regulations on Employee Stock Options Plans

In February 2012, SAFE promulgated the Notice on the Administration of Foreign Exchange Matters for Domestic Individuals Participating in the Stock Incentive Plans of Overseas Listed Companies, or the Stock Option Notice. According to the Stock Option Notice, a PRC domestic qualified agent or the PRC subsidiary of such overseas listed company must file an application with SAFE or its local counterpart on behalf of PRC resident individuals who participate in stock incentive plans of overseas publicly-listed companies to obtain approval for an annual allowance with respect to the purchase of foreign exchange in connection with the stock holding or share option exercises. Our company is an “overseas publicly-listed company,” and therefore, we and participants of our share incentive plan who are PRC individuals are subject to these regulations. We have completed the registration for the options granted as of the date of this annual report.

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Seasonality

Due to our limited size, we do not expect our operating results and operating cash flows to be subject to seasonal variations. This pattern may change, however, as a result of growth, new market opportunities or new product introductions.

C.Organizational Structure

 The following diagram illustrates our corporate structure, including our principal subsidiaries, as of the date of this annual report.

Notes:

(1)

As of the date of this annual report, individual owners of Daqo Group beneficially hold equity interests in Daqo Cayman through ten personal holding companies incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. See “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—E. Share Ownership.”

(2)

Indicates the respective shareholding percentage of the shareholders in Daqo Cayman.

(3)

Indicates jurisdiction of incorporation.

(4)

Indicates companies within the listing group.

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D.Property, Plants and Equipment

We are headquartered in Shihezi, Xinjiang, China. Our Phase 2A, Phase 2B, Phase 3A, Phase 3B and Phase 4A production facilities in Shihezi Xinjiang have approximately 240,102 square meters of office and manufacturing space in total as of December 31, 2020. We have been granted land use rights to approximately 1,041,301 square meters of land where our plants or offices are situated. These land use rights are usually valid for a period of fifty years, starting from the date of grant from the local government in Xinjiang.

We also own several buildings in Wanzhou, Chongqing, China, which have approximately 23,128 square meters of office and manufacturing space in total as of December 31, 2020. We have been granted land use rights to approximately 132,441 square meters of land where our plants or offices are situated. These land use rights are usually valid for a period of fifty years, starting from the date of grant from the local government in Chongqing.

We believe that our existing facilities, together with our facilities under construction, are adequate for our current and foreseeable requirements. See “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects-B. Liquidity and Capital Resources-Capital Expenditures” for a discussion of our capital expenditures.

Environmental and Safety Matters

Our manufacturing processes generate noise, waste water, gaseous wastes and other industrial wastes. We believe we are in compliance with all present national and local environmental protection requirements in all material respects and have all the necessary environmental permits to conduct our business in China. We process all our waste water and waste gas through various treatments so that they meet the respective national discharge standard. In addition, most of our solid waste can be reused and does not contain poisonous materials. We have established a pollution control system and installed various types of anti-pollution equipment in our facilities to reduce, treat, and where feasible, recycle the waste generated in our manufacturing process. However, we cannot assure you that our pollution controls will always be effective. See “Item 3. Key Information-D. Risk Factors-Risks related to Our Business-Compliance with environmental regulations can be expensive, and non-compliance with these regulations may result in adverse publicity and potentially significant monetary damages and fines.”

We are required to undergo environmental protection and work safety acceptance inspections and obtain approval from relevant governmental authorities before our manufacturing lines are permitted to commence full production. Our production facilities are subject to various pollution control regulations with respect to noise and air pollution and the disposal of waste and other hazardous materials. We have obtained a pollutant discharge permit, a work safety permit for storage and use of hazardous chemicals and a permit for the use of atmospheric pressure containers we have installed.

Insurance

We maintain various insurance policies to safeguard against risks and unexpected events. We purchased property insurance and project construction insurance policies covering our inventory, equipment, vehicles, facilities, buildings and buildings under construction. These insurance policies cover losses due to fire, explosion and a wide range of human accidents. We also provide social security insurance including pension insurance, unemployment insurance, work-related injury insurance and medical insurance for our employees. We do not maintain business interruption insurance or general third-party liability insurance. We also do not have product liability insurance or key-man life insurance. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business—We have limited insurance coverage. In particular, we do not have any product liability insurance or business interruption insurance.” We consider our insurance coverage to be in line with that of other manufacturing companies of similar size in China.

ITEM 4A.    UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

None.

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ITEM 5.      OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS

You should read the following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations in conjunction with the historical consolidated financial statements of our company for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020 and related notes included elsewhere in this annual report on Form 20-F. This discussion contains forward-looking statements that involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Our actual results and the timing of selected events could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including those set forth under “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this annual report.

A.Operating Results

Overview

We are a leading high-purity polysilicon manufacturer based in China with an annual production capacity of 70,000 MT. We believe our production cost for polysilicon is one of the lowest and our product quality is one of the best in China.

We strive to improve our polysilicon production efficiency and to increase our output through technological improvements, adoption of process innovation and refinement, as well as equipment enhancement. As a result of these initiatives, we produced 4,524 MT polysilicon in 2011. In 2012, our polysilicon output was 3,349 MT(1), which was less than 2011 due to the suspension of the Phase 1 polysilicon facilities and less than normal output in our Xinjiang facilities during the pilot production period in the fourth quarter of 2012. In 2013, we produced 4,805 MT polysilicon which was all contributed by our Xinjiang facilities. We conducted a “debottlenecking” project for our Xinjiang facilities and successfully completed the project and started pilot production in December 2013. We fully realized capacity of 6,150 MT and lowered production costs to the level of $14 per kg in the first quarter of 2014. We fully ramped up our Phase 2B project to further increase the polysilicon production capacity in our Xinjiang facilities to 12,150 MT at the end of the third quarter of 2015. We have also successfully upgraded our off-gas treatment process from traditional Hydrogenation technology to Hydrochlorination technology. In 2015, we produced 9,771 MT polysilicon at an annual average production cost of $11.23/kg (including depreciation). In 2016, we produced 13,068 MT polysilicon at an annual average production cost of $9.38/kg (including depreciation). We completed the construction and installation of Phase 3A at the end of 2016 and commenced initial production in the first quarter of 2017. By the end of February 2017, we have achieved full production capacity of 18,000 MT per annum. In 2017, we produced 20,200 MT polysilicon at an annually average production cost of US$8.84/kg (including depreciation). In 2018, we produced 23,351 MT polysilicon at an annually average production cost of US$8.71/kg (including depreciation). In August 2017, our Board of Directors approved Phase 3B expansion project. We completed the construction and installation of Phase 3B and commenced pilot production by October 2018. The Phase 3B facility ramped up to full production capacity and increased our total production capacity to 30,000 MT in December 2018. In addition, we completed a debottlenecking project and increase our total production capacity to 35,000 MT by the end of June 2019. Our Phase 4 expansion plan comprises Phase 4A and Phase 4B, which will each increase our production capacity by 35,000 MT expanded manufacturing capacity. We completed the Phase 4A project and began pilot production September 2019 and reached full capacity of 35,000 MT in December 2019, which increased our total production capacity to 70,000 MT. In 2020, we produced 77,288 MT of polysilicon with an average production cost of $5.85/kg. We began our Phase 4B project in March 2021 and expect to complete the project by the end of 2021 and ramp it up to its full capacity of 35,000 MT by the end of the first quarter of 2022.

We currently sell polysilicon to China-based photovoltaic product manufacturers. The majority of our sales are made under framework contracts, with the prices to be determined at the time when specific sales orders are made. As of December 31, 2020, our major polysilicon customers included operating entities of Longi, Jinko Solar and Shangji Automation.

We expanded to the downstream photovoltaic manufacturing business by commencing commercial production of wafers in July 2011. In September 2018, we decided to discontinue our operations in Chongqing, including wafer manufacturing, which have since been recognized as our discontinued operations.

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We have achieved substantial growth since we commenced commercial production of polysilicon in July 2008. We produced 23,351 MT, 41,556 MT and 77,288 MT of polysilicon and sold 22,521 MT(1), 38,109 MT(1) and 74,812 MT in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. We generated revenues from continuing operations of $301.6 million, $350.0 million and $675.6 million in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. We had a gross profit for our continuing operations of $98.1 million, $80.1 million and $234.0 million in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. Our gross margin for our continuing operations were 32.5%, 22.9% and 34.6% in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. We achieved net income attributable to Daqo New Energy Corp. shareholders of $38.1 million, $29.5 million and $129.2 million in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively.

Note:

(1)       The polysilicon sales volume here only refers to the external sales. The internal sales to our in-house wafer facilities were 459MT, nil and nil in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively; in September 2018, we discontinued our wafer manufacturing operation.

Key Factors Affecting Our Results of Operations

The following are key factors that affect our financial condition and results of operations and are important to understand our business:

demand for photovoltaic products, including government incentives to promote the usage of solar energy;
product prices;
our product mix;
our production capacity and utilization; and
our production costs, in particular the cost of electricity.

Demand for photovoltaic products

Our business and revenue growth are, in part, dependent on the demand for photovoltaic products. The photovoltaic industry remains at a relatively early stage of development and it is uncertain whether solar energy will be widely adopted. Although demand for photovoltaic products has grown significantly in recent years, the global economic slowdown and turmoil in the global financial markets, especially the European sovereign debt crisis that unfolded in 2010 and the slowdown of the Chinese economy, have made solar energy less cost competitive and less attractive as an alternative source of energy.

Demand for photovoltaic products is driven, in part, by government incentives that make the economic cost of solar power competitive with the cost of traditional and other forms of energy. We believe that the near-term growth of the market for solar energy applications depends in large part on the availability and size of government subsidies and economic incentives. Reduction in or elimination of government subsidies and economic incentives may hinder the growth of this market or result in lower sales prices for solar energy products, which could cause our revenues to decline.

Global solar PV installations in 2020 totaled approximately 130 GW, representing a 13% increase from 115 GW in 2019. Due to the long-delayed announcement of subsidy policy, the annual newly added solar PV installations were estimated to be approximately 30 GW in China in 2019, which was significantly lower than 44.1 GW in 2018. However, China continued to rank as the largest solar PV market globally, with the United States, India and Japan ranking the top four globally in 2019. According to several solar PV market reports, we expect global solar installations in 2021 to be approximately 160 to 170 GW in light of the impact of the outbreak of COVID-19.

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Product prices

The sales prices of our photovoltaic products are volatile and cannot always be predicted with certainty. Our sales prices declined from mid-2008 to the middle of 2010 due to industry-wide excess supply but stabilized in the third quarter of 2010 and increased marginally in the fourth quarter of 2010 due to end market demand. In 2011, our sales prices declined rapidly in the fourth quarter primarily due to excess supply in the market. The decline in sales prices continued throughout 2012. Our sales prices started to recover through 2013 due to improved demand and reduced inventory levels. The decline in the market price of polysilicon resulted in an approximately 7% decrease in the average selling price of our polysilicon from 2010 to 2011, a further 59.3% decrease from 2011 to 2012 and a further 23.3% decrease from 2012 to 2013. The market prices for polysilicon have improved significantly through 2013, albeit not sufficient to reverse the year-on-year average decrease. In 2014, the average selling prices for polysilicon fluctuated in the range approximately from $20/kg to $22/kg. In 2015, our quarterly average selling prices for polysilicon decreased by 23.4% from $18.09/kg in the first quarter to $13.86/kg in the fourth quarter of 2015. In 2016, our gross margin for our continuing operation was 39.7% primarily due to significant cost reduction in polysilicon. In 2017, our gross margin for our continuing operations was 44.6% primarily due to continuously significant cost reduction in polysilicon along with increasing of selling prices. In 2018, our gross margin from our continuing operations decreased to 32.5%, primarily due to lower selling prices impacted by the unfavorable solar policy announced by Chinese government on May 31, 2018. In 2019, our gross margin for our continuing operations was 22.9%, primarily due to lower selling prices impacted by delayed installations in China. In 2020, our gross margin for our continuing operations was 34.6%. The increase as compared to 2019 was primarily due to reduced production cost.

On September 1, 2014, the Chinese government suspended the review of applications for importing solar grade polysilicon in the processing trade, according to an announcement jointly made by the Ministry of Commerce and the General Administration of Customs, or GAC, of the PRC in August 2014. All existing agreements approved prior to September 1, 2014 can continue to be performed until the contract terms expire. In addition, certain enterprises in the processing business that have been included in the supervisory network of the GAC were allowed to continue to import before the end of 2014. As a result, in the third and fourth quarters of 2014, foreign polysilicon manufacturers increased their supply of polysilicon into China to take advantage of the grace period before the suspension fully kicked in and exerted pressure on the average selling prices of polysilicon. Although we did see the polysilicon import volume directly from the United States to decline after the Chinese government’s suspension policy took effect, Taiwan became a transshipment hub for the United States made polysilicon. The import volume from Germany and South Korea, the two largest countries in terms of China’s polysilicon import volume in 2018, has not been materially impacted due to a price commitment agreement between Wacker (a polysilicon manufacturer in Germany) and the Chinese government, and low AD tariffs imposed on major South Korean polysilicon manufacturers. In November 2017, China raised the AD tariffs of polysilicon imported from many companies in South Korea. However, the impact was very limited. For instance, the biggest polysilicon exporter from South Korea, OCI Company Ltd.’s tariff rate raised from 2.4 percent to 4.4 percent.

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Company’s quarterly polysilicon external sales volume and average selling prices (ASPs) from 2017 to 2020 (VAT excluded):

Product mix

The proportion of our revenues that are generated from the sales of other photovoltaic products, also referred to as product mix, affects our revenues and profitability. In addition to the revenues generated from sales of polysilicon, we also historically generated revenues from other products. We generated revenue from sales of modules for the first three quarters of 2012 before we sold 100% of our equity interests of Nanjing Daqo in September 2012. We also generated revenue from sales of wafers produced in our facilities in Chongqing from 2011 to 2018, when we decided to discontinue our wafer manufacturing business. Going forward, we expect to focus on our core business of polysilicon manufacturing which will be the only segment to generate revenue.

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Our production capacity and utilization

In the near future, we plan to continue to focus on our core businesses to further improve our operation efficiency, cost structure and product quality by expanding our capacity, adopting new technologies and optimizing the manufacturing processes. In September 2012, we successfully completed our Xinjiang Phase 2A facilities. At the end of 2016, we completed the construction and installation of Phase 3A and commenced initial production in the first quarter of 2017. By the end of the second quarter of 2017, Phase 3A facilities reached full production capacity. In August 2017, our Board of Directors approved Phase 3B expansion project. We completed the construction and installation of Phase 3B and commenced pilot production by October 2018. The Phase 3B facility ramped up to full production capacity and increased our total production capacity to 30,000 MT in December 2018. In addition, we completed a debottlenecking project and increase our total production capacity to 35,000 MT by the end of June 2019. Our Phase 4 expansion plan comprises Phase 4A and Phase 4B, which will each increase our production capacity by 35,000 MT. We completed the Phase 4A project and begin pilot production in September 2019 and reached full capacity of 35,000 MT in December 2019, which increased our total production capacity to 70,000MT. We began our Phase 4B project in March 2021 and expect to complete the project by the end of 2021 and ramp it up to its full capacity of 35,000 MT by the end of the first quarter of 2022.

Our polysilicon production costs consist primarily of the costs of electricity and other utilities, raw materials, labor and depreciation. Currently electricity is the largest component of our polysilicon production costs. In our polysilicon manufacturing facilities in Xinjiang, because of the abundant coal resources, the local electricity rate is much lower than that in most areas in China. This cost advantage, along with our operational expertise, enables us to become one of the lowest cost producers around the globe. We have implemented additional measures to reduce our production costs through technology, process and equipment improvement. For example, in 2016, we continued our efforts to improve manufacturing efficiency and optimize production processes through several R&D and technology improvement projects in our Xinjiang polysilicon facilities. As a result of our continuous cost reduction efforts, we successfully reduced our annual average polysilicon production cost (including depreciation) by 5.8% from $9.38/kg in 2016 to $8.84/kg in 2017. We fully ramped up our Phase 3B facilities in December 2018 and further reduced our production cost to $7.94/kg in the fourth quarter of 2018. We completed the Phase 4A project and begin pilot production in September 2019 and reached full capacity of 35,000 MT in December 2019, which increased our total production capacity to 70,000 MT. Following the full operation of our Phase 4A expansion project, we further reduced our production cost to $6.38/kg in the fourth quarter of 2019, benefiting from low cost of electricity, new production processes and equipment with higher efficiencies, and greater economies of scale. During the fourth quarter of 2020, we achieved our lowest-ever production cost in RMB terms, namely, $5.92/kg, primarily due to our efforts in additional energy savings. Effective cost-reduction measures will have a direct impact on our financial condition and results of operations.

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Indicative polysilicon production cost breakdown:

 

Components of Results of Operations

Continuing Operations

We discontinued our wafer manufacturing operations under Chongqing Daqo in September 2018, which we recognize as discontinued operations. The following discussion focus on continuing operations, comprising our polysilicon manufacturing operations under Xingjiang Daqo.

Revenues

Our revenues from continuing operations are derived from the sale of polysilicon. We plan to continue to focus on our current polysilicon production business to further improve operation efficiency, cost structure and product quality. If we are successful in executing our expansion plans, we expect our polysilicon revenue to continue to grow.

We commenced polysilicon production in 2008. We produced 23,351 MT, 41,556 MT and 77,288 MT of polysilicon and sold 22,521 MT(1), 38,109 MT(1) and 74,812 MT(1) of polysilicon in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. Our polysilicon selling prices are directly affected by global supply and demand conditions. In 2018, the annual average selling price decreased significantly primarily due to negative impact by the unfavorable solar policy announced by Chinese government on May 31, 2018. In 2019, the annual average selling price decreased by 30.4% primarily due to significant increase in polysilicon supply capacities and weaker demand in China’s domestic market. In 2020, the annual average selling price deceased by 1.2% as compared to 2019. We generated revenues from continuing operations of $301.6 million, $350.0 million and $675.6 million in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. We achieved net income attributable to our shareholders of $38.1 million, $29.5 million and $129.2 million in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively.

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We have entered into framework agreements with some of our customers. These contracts typically contain binding terms related to the sales volume of our polysilicon during the contract term. The pricing terms are typically agreed upon between us and our customers based on the prevailing market prices when specific sales orders are placed. Such pricing determination method has caused, and is expected to continue to cause, fluctuations in our revenues and results of operations. In 2018, our top three customers, Longi, Jinko Solar and Trina, accounted for approximately 38.3%, 19.2% and 6.8% of our revenues from continuing operations, respectively, and the three customers in aggregate accounted for approximately 64.2% of our revenues from continuing operations. In 2019, our top three customers, Longi, Jinko Solar and Meike Silicon Energy, accounted for approximately 53.5%, 24.1% and 4.0% of our revenues from continuing operations, respectively, and the three customers in aggregate accounted for approximately 81.6% of our revenues from continuing operations. In 2020, our top three customers, Longi, Jinko Solar and Shangji Automation, accounted for approximately 54.7%, 18.8% and 10.0% of our revenues from continuing operations, respectively, and the three customers in aggregate accounted for approximately 83.4% of our revenues from continuing operations.

Note:

(1)       The polysilicon sales volume here only refers to the external sales. The internal sales to our in-house wafer facilities were 459 MT, nil and nil in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively; we discontinued our wafer manufacturing operation in September 2018.

Cost of revenues

Our cost of revenues primarily consists of:

depreciation of property, plant and equipment;
electricity and other utilities, such as steam, water and natural gas;
raw materials, including metallurgical grade silicon, liquid chlorine, nitrogen, calcium oxide and hydrogen; and
direct labor, including salaries and benefits for personnel directly involved in production activities.

Due to our capacity expansion, depreciation in absolute terms had increased significantly prior to 2014. Depreciation in absolute terms decreased significantly in 2014, primarily as a result of our revision to the expected useful lives of fixed assets during the first quarter of 2014 and the deconsolidation of our former variable interest entity as of December 30, 2013. Along with the full ramp-up of Phase 2B polysilicon expansion project since August 2015, the depreciation in absolute terms increased significantly in 2015 and 2016 due to higher production volume. Depreciation in absolute terms continued to increase in 2017 and 2018 as we fully ramped up Phase 3A and 3B polysilicon expansion projects in the first quarter of 2017 and December 2018, respectively. Depreciation in absolute terms continued to increase in 2019 and 2020 as we were running Phase 3B project in full capacity throughout the year and fully ramped up Phase 4A project in December 2019. We began our Phase 4B project in March 2021 and expect to complete the project by the end of 2021 and ramp it up to its full capacity of 35,000 MT by the end of the first quarter of 2022. Depreciation would resume its upward trend if we were to further expand our polysilicon production capacity or conduct technology improvement. We also expect that our total cost of revenues will increase as we increase our sales volume.

Operating expenses/income

Our operating expenses from continuing operations include selling, general and administrative expenses and research and development expenses, which are partially offset by other operating income as described below.

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Selling, general and administrative expenses

Our selling, general and administrative expenses from continuing operations consist primarily of share-based compensation, salaries and benefits for our administrative, finance and sales personnel, packaging and shipping costs, consulting fee and taxes. All costs in connection with start-up activities, including costs incurred prior to commencement of production and corporate formation costs of Daqo Cayman, were expensed as incurred. We expect that the amount of our selling, general and administrative expenses from continuing operations will increase as we expand our polysilicon production capacity, increase our sales efforts, hire additional personnel, and incur professional expenses to support our operations as a listed company in the United States.

Research and development expenses

Our research and development expenses from continuing operations consist primarily of costs of raw materials used in research and development activities, salaries and employee benefits for research and development personnel, and equipment costs relating to the design, development, testing and enhancement of our production process. We expect our research and development expenses from continuing operations to increase in the future as we continue to hire additional research and development personnel and focus on improvement of process technologies for our products, and expand our polysilicon manufacturing business. Our research and development expenses from continuing operations in 2018, 2019 and 2020 primarily resulted from continuous technology improvement projects for polysilicon production.

Other operating income

Our other operating income from continuing operations reflects unrestricted government subsidies that we receive from time to time, including financial incentives from the Xinjiang local government, which are unrestricted as to use and can be utilized by us in any manner we deem appropriate. We have utilized, and expect to continue to utilize, these subsidies to fund general operating expenses. We record unrestricted government subsidies as other operating income when we receive them. The amount and timing of subsidies cannot be predicted with certainty.

Interest income and expense

Our interest income represents interest on our cash balances. Our interest expenses from continuing operations relate primarily to our short-term and long-term borrowings from banks, less capitalized interest expenses to the extent they relate to our capital expenditures.

Taxation

Cayman Islands tax

We are an exempted company incorporated in the Cayman Islands and are not subject to tax in this jurisdiction.

PRC tax

Our Chinese subsidiaries are foreign invested enterprises in China. Under the EIT Law amended in December 2018 and its implementation rules, the Chinese enterprise income tax rate is 25%. However, qualified foreign invested enterprises located in central or western China may enjoy preferential tax rate under a series of national policies adopted to encourage investment in central and western China.

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Under the EIT Law, an enterprise established outside of China with its “de facto management bodies” within China may be considered a resident enterprise for Chinese tax purposes and be subject to the enterprise income tax at the rate of 25% on its global income. The implementation rules of the EIT Law provide that the term “de facto management bodies” refers to management bodies which have material management and control over all aspects of the business, including production, operations, personnel, finance, and assets. It is unclear whether Chinese tax authorities would determine that, notwithstanding our status as the Cayman Islands holding company of our operating business in China, we should be classified as a resident enterprise. Currently, substantially all of our income is already China-source income subject to Chinese taxes. However, a portion of the net proceeds received from our initial public offering were deposited into interest bearing bank accounts.

In November 2014, Xinjiang Daqo obtained the “High and New Technology Enterprise” certificate for a valid period of three years till 2016, which entitled it to enjoy the preferential income tax rate of 15%. We have successfully renewed the certificate for an additional three years until 2022 and will continue to apply for renewal of the certificate after its expiration.

Under the EIT Law and implementation regulations issued by the State Council of China, dividends, interests, rent, royalties and gains on transfers of property payable by a foreign-invested enterprise in China to its foreign investor who is a non-resident enterprise will be subject to a 10% withholding tax, unless such non-resident enterprise’s jurisdiction of incorporation has a tax treaty with China that provides for a reduced rate of withholding tax and such non-resident enterprise is the beneficial owner of the dividends, interests, rent, royalties and gains on transfers of property. The Cayman Islands, where Daqo Cayman is incorporated, does not have such a tax treaty with China. However, we intend to reinvest all of Chongqing Daqo’s undistributed earnings into our capacity expansion and/or technology improvement and do not plan to distribute any of the earnings as dividends in the foreseeable future and, accordingly, we have not set aside provision for Chinese dividend withholding tax. If we do distribute these earnings in the form of dividends, we will be subject to the withholding tax at a rate of 10%.

Pursuant to the Interim Regulations on Value Added Tax and their implementation rules, starting from May 1, 2018, all entities and individuals that are engaged in the sale of goods, the provision of repairs and replacement services or the importation of goods in China are generally required to pay value-added tax, or VAT, at a rate of 16% of the gross sales proceeds received, less any deductible VAT already paid or borne by the taxpayer. On March 20, 2019, the Ministry of Finance, SAT and the General Administration of Customs jointly promulgated the Announcement on Relevant Policies for Deepening Value-Added Tax Reform, pursuant to which, gross proceeds from the sale of goods, the provision of repairs and replacement services or the importation of goods are generally subject to a VAT rate of 13% effective from April 1, 2019. When exporting certain goods, excluding polysilicon currently, the exporter is entitled to VAT refund, which amount will be a portion of or all of the VAT that it has already paid or borne. For our sales of polysilicon products, we are subject to the 13% VAT without any VAT refunds for such sales after April 1, 2019.

Discontinued Operations

Fixed asset impairment loss

We recognized an impairment loss from continuing operations of $11.5 million in 2018, which was related to certain identified assets in Chongqing that were not transferrable and could not be reutilized in our Xinjiang expansion project. In addition, we incurred an impairment charge of $7.3 million in 2018 related to our discontinued wafer operations in Chongqing. We did not recognize any impairment loss from continuing operations in 2019 and 2020.

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Critical Accounting Policies

We prepare our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, which requires us to make judgments, estimates and assumptions that affect (1) the reported amounts of assets and liabilities, (2) disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the end of each reporting period, and (3) the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during each reporting period. We continually evaluate these estimates and assumptions based on historical experience, knowledge and assessment of current business and other conditions, and expectations regarding the future based on available information and reasonable assumptions, which together form a basis for making judgments about matters not readily apparent from other sources. Since the use of estimates is an integral component of the financial reporting process, actual results could differ from those estimates. Some of our accounting policies require higher degrees of judgment than others in their application. When reviewing our financial statements, you should consider (1) our selection of critical accounting policies, (2) the judgment and other uncertainties affecting the application of such policies, and (3) the sensitivity of reported results to changes in conditions and assumptions. We consider the policies discussed below to be critical to an understanding of our financial statements as their application places the most significant demands on the judgment of our management.

Property, plant and equipment

We reassess the reasonableness of the estimates of useful lives and residual values of long-lived assets when events or changes in circumstances indicate that the useful lives and residual values of a major asset or a major category of assets may not be reasonable. Factors that we consider in deciding when to perform an analysis of useful lives and residual values of long-lived assets include, but are not limited to, significant variance of a business or product line in relation to expectations, significant deviation from industry or economic trends, and significant changes or planned changes in the use of the assets. The analysis will be performed at the asset or asset category with reference to the assets’ conditions, current technologies, market, and future plan of usage and the useful lives of major competitors.

Revenue recognition

As of January 1, 2018, we have adopted ASU 2014-09 Revenue from Contracts with Customers - Topic 606 and all subsequent ASUs that modified ASC 606. We have elected to apply the ASU and all related ASUs retrospectively to each prior reporting period presented. The implementation of the guidance had no impact on the measurement or recognition of revenue of prior periods, however, additional disclosures have been added in accordance with the ASU.

Our revenue is all derived from the sale of polysilicon from the polysilicon segment, which is the only remaining segment after the discontinuation of the wafer business in September 2018. The sale of polysilicon is all in PRC and our operations is in one PRC location, Xinjiang. Revenue cannot be disaggregated to a lower level or more than one categories to provide meaningful information. We recognize sale of polysilicon at a point in time following the transfer of control of the products to the customers, which occurs upon delivery according to the terms of the underlying contracts. Our standalone selling prices are based on the prices charged to customers for the single performance obligation which is transfer of control of polysilicon upon delivery to the customers.

Variable consideration that could affect our reported revenues is sales returns, which would be recorded as a reduction of revenue. Return rights of defective products are typically contractually limited, which allows sales returns within a period ranging from 3 to 30 days upon delivery. Historically, sales returns have been nil for each reporting period presented. No warranties, incentives, or rebates arrangements has been offered to customers.

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For majority of the sales arrangements, we require payments prior to shipments. For customers with trade credit granted on a short-term basis within 30 days, we record accounts receivable at the invoiced amount, net of an estimated allowance for doubtful accounts. As of December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, accounts receivable totaled $1,180,598, $13,287 and $nil, respectively. We did not record any allowance for doubtful accounts as of December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020. Advances from customers are to secure their polysilicon supply, which are applied against future purchases. Contract liabilities represent our obligations to transfer polysilicon for which we have received considerations from customers. We refer to contract liabilities as “advances from customers” on the consolidated financial statements and the related disclosures. The balance in the short-term and long-term advances from customers was $17.5 million, $35.2 million and $41.0 million as of December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. Revenue recognized from the beginning advances from customers balance as of January 1, 2018, 2019 and 2020 was $16.4 million, $10.2 million and $33.0 million, respectively.

Practical Expedients and Exemptions

We apply the new revenue standard requirements to a portfolio of contracts (or performance obligations) with similar characteristics for transactions where it is expected that the effects on the financial statements of applying the revenue recognition guidance to the portfolio would not differ materially from applying this guidance to the individual contracts (or performance obligations) within that portfolio. Therefore, we have elected the portfolio approach in applying the new revenue guidance.

Our revenue contracts provide for performance obligations that are fulfilled and transfer control to customers at point in time, involve the same pattern of transfer to the customer, and provide a right to consideration from our customers in an amount that corresponds directly with the value to the customer for the performance completed. Therefore, we recognize revenue in the amount to which we have a right to invoice.

We have made an accounting policy election to not assess whether promised products are performance obligations if they are immaterial in the context of the contract with the customer. If the revenue related to a performance obligation that includes products that are immaterial in the context of the contract is recognized before those immaterial products are transferred to the customer, then the related costs to transfer those products are accrued.

We generally expense incremental costs of obtaining a contract when incurred because the amortization period would be less than one year. These costs primarily relate to sales commissions and are recorded in selling, general and administrative expenses.

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Impairment of long-lived assets

We evaluate our long-lived assets for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of an asset group may not be recoverable. Factors that we consider in deciding when to perform an impairment review include, but are not limited to significant under-performance of a business or product line in relation to expectations, significant negative industry or economic trends, and significant changes or planned changes in the use of the assets. An impairment analysis is performed at the lowest level of identifiable independent cash flows for an asset or asset group. We make subjective judgments in determining the independent cash flows that can be related to a specific asset group based on the asset usage model and manufacturing capabilities. We measure the recoverability of assets that will continue to be used in the operations by comparing the carrying value of the asset group to the estimate of the related total future undiscounted cash flows. If an asset group’s carrying value is not recoverable through the related undiscounted cash flows, the impairment loss is measured by comparing the difference between the asset group’s carrying value and its fair value. We determine the fair value of an asset or asset group utilizing estimated future discounted cash flows and incorporate assumptions that it believes marketplace participants would utilize. For the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, we recorded impairment losses for long-lived assets from discontinued operations of $18.8 million, nil and nil, respectively. No impairment loss for long-lived assets was recorded from continuing operations for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020. The impairment losses of $11.5 million incurred in 2018, respectively, were related to the polysilicon assets identified as non-transferrable and/or not able to be reutilized by its Xinjiang polysilicon manufacturing or expansion projects. The remaining impairment losses of $7.3 million incurred in 2018 were related to the assets of discontinued wafer manufacturing operations.

Share-based compensation expenses

We recognize share-based compensation in the statement of operations based on the fair value of equity awards on the date of the grant, with compensation expense recognized over the period in which the grantee is required to provide service to us in exchange for the equity award. We have made an estimate of expected forfeiture and is recognizing compensation costs only for those equity awards to vest. The share-based compensation expenses have been classified as either selling, general and administrative expenses or cost of sales, depending on the job functions of the grantees.

With respect to options granted on October 6, 2010, December 3, 2010, January 9, 2012, April 3, 2013, January 28, 2014, January 12, 2015 and July 6, 2015, we estimated the fair value of share options granted using the binomial option pricing model with the assistance of the independent appraiser, which requires the input of highly subjective assumptions, including the expected life of the share options, estimated forfeitures and the price volatility of the underlying shares. The assumptions used in calculating the fair value of share options represent management’s best estimates. As a result, if factors change and we use different assumptions, our share-based compensation expense could be materially different in the future. In addition, we estimate our expected forfeiture rate and recognize the expense only for those shares expected to vest. These estimates are based on past employee-retention rates. We will prospectively revise our estimated forfeiture rates based on actual history. Our compensation expense may change based on changes to our actual forfeitures of these share options.

On January 12, 2015, we modified the exercise price to $0.87 for a total number of 6,274,166 previously granted options, in order to provide appropriate incentives to certain of our employees and executive officers. The fair value of the options under revised terms was $0.55 and $0.52. The total incremental cost associated with the modification was $241,557, of which $60,107 was recognized immediately for the options vested prior to the date of the modification and the remaining share-based compensation charges of $181,470 are recognized over a weighted-average period of 2.91 years.

On September 9, 2015, we modified the exercise price to $0.59 for a total number of 12,569,166 options for five batches granted on January 28, 2014, January 12, 2015 and July 6, 2015, in order to provide appropriate incentives to certain of our employees and executive officers. The fair values of the options under revised terms were $0.38, $0.35, $0.38, $0.37 and $0.40, respectively. The total incremental cost associated with the modification was $282,581, of which $123,322 was recognized immediately for the options vested prior to the date of the modification and the remaining share-based compensation charges of $159,259 are recognized over a weighted-average period of 2.85 years.

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Results of Operations

The following table sets forth a summary of our consolidated statements of operations for the periods. Our historical results presented below are not necessarily indicative of the results that may be expected for any future period.

Year Ended December 31,

    

2018

    

2019

    

2020

US$ in thousands

Revenues

 

301,600

 

349,991

 

675,602

Cost of revenues

 

(203,486)

 

(269,887)

 

(441,610)

Gross profit

 

98,114

 

80,104

 

233,992

Operating expenses/income:

 

 

 

Selling, general and administrative expenses

 

(27,077)

 

(32,457)

 

(39,472)

Research and development expenses

 

(2,737)

 

(5,708)

 

(6,856)

Other operating income

 

12,904

 

5,546

 

191

Total operating expenses

 

(16,910)

 

(32,619)

 

(46,137)

Income from operations

 

81,204

 

47,485

 

187,855

Interest expense

 

(10,763)

 

(10,397)

 

(26,632)

Interest income

 

1,236

 

983

 

907

Exchange Gain/(loss)

 

1,836

 

(186)

 

-

Income before income taxes

 

73,513

 

37,885

 

162,130

Income tax expense

 

(11,717)

 

(9,623)

 

(28,182)

Net income from continuing operations

 

61,796

 

28,262

 

133,948

(Loss)/income from discontinued operations, net of tax

 

(23,030)

 

1,261

 

(141)

Net income

 

38,766

 

29,523

 

133,807

Net income/(loss) attributable to non-controlling interest

 

641

 

(1)

 

4,612

Net income attributable to Daqo New Energy Corp.’s ordinary shareholders

 

38,125

 

29,524

 

129,195

The discussion below focuses on our continuing operations.

Year Ended December 31, 2020 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2019

Revenue. The revenue from continuing operations was $675.6 million in 2020, representing an increase of 93.0% from $350.0 million in 2019. All of the polysilicon sold in 2020 and 2019 was manufactured in our Xinjiang facilities. Our external sales volume increased by 96.3% from 38,109 MT in 2019 to 74,812 MT in 2020. This was offset in part by a slight decrease in our annual average selling prices from $9.09/kg in 2019 to $8.98/kg in 2020.

Cost of revenue. The cost of revenue for continuing operations was $441.6 million in 2020, which increased by 63.6% from $269.9 million in 2019. The increase in cost of revenue from product sales was attributable primarily to an increase of sales volume, and partially offset by a decrease in our unit production cost.

Gross profit. We had a gross profit of $234.0 million for continuing operations in 2020, representing an increase of 192.1% from $80.1 million in 2019. In 2019, we successfully reduced our annual total production cost by 17.1% from $7.06/kg in 2019 to $5.85/kg in 2020 and increased external sales volume by 96.3% from 38,110 MT in 2019 to 74,812 MT in 2020. This was offset in part by a decrease in our annual average selling price from $9.09/kg in 2019 to $8.98/kg in 2020.

Selling, general and administrative expenses. Our selling, general and administrative expenses for continuing operations were $39.5 million in 2020, compared to $32.5 million in 2019. The increase in selling, general and administrative expenses was primarily due to an increase in shipment expense as a result of higher sales volume, as well as an increase in personnel cost.

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Research and development expenses. Our research and development expenses for continuing operations were $6.9 million in 2020, compared to $5.7 million in 2019. The research and development expenses vary from period to period reflecting the R&D activities that occur in such period.

Other operating income. Other operating income from continuing operations was $0.2 million in 2020, compared to $5.5 million in 2019, and mainly consisted of unrestricted cash subsidies that we received from local government authorities, which vary from period to period at the discretion of the corresponding local government authorities.

Net interest expense. Our net interest expenses for continuing operations were $25.7 million in 2020, compared to $9.4 million in 2019. The increase was primarily due to the decline in capitalized interest expense.

Income tax expense. Income tax expenses for continuing operations were $28.2 million in 2020, compared to $9.6 million in 2019.

Net income from continuing operations. Net income from continuing operations were $133.9 million in 2020, compared to $28.3 million in 2019.

Income/(Loss) from discontinued operations, net of tax. Loss from discontinued operations was $0.1 million in 2020, compared to income of $1.3 million in 2019, net of tax of nil.

Net income attributable to our shareholders. As a result of the factors described above, we had net profit attributable to our shareholders of $129.2 million in 2020, an increase of 337.6% from $29.5 million in 2019.

Year Ended December 31, 2019 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2018

Revenue. The revenue from continuing operations was 350.0 million in 2019, representing an increase of 16.0% from $301.6 million in 2018. All of the polysilicon sold in 2019 and 2018 was manufactured in our Xinjiang facilities. In December 2019, we successfully ramped up Phase 4A expansion project to full production capacity, which increased our total production capacity to 70,000 MT. As a result, our annual production volume increased by 78.0% from 23,351 MT in 2018 to 41,556 MT in 2019. Accordingly, our external sales volume increased by 69.2% from 22,521 MT in 2018 to 38,109 MT in 2019. This was offset in part by a decrease in our annual average selling prices from $13.04 /kg in 2018 to $9.09/kg in 2019, which was primarily due to a significant increase in additional polysilicon supply which could not be consumed by relatively weak demand.

Cost of revenue. The cost of revenue for continuing operations was $269.9 million in 2019, which increased by 32.6% from $203.5 million in 2018. Our external sales volume increased by 69.2% from 22,521 MT in 2018 to 38,109 MT in 2019. The increase in cost of revenue from product sales was attributable primarily to an increase in sales volume, and to a lesser extent to the reduction in average unit production cost.

Gross profit. We had a gross profit of $80.1 million for continuing operations in 2019, representing a decrease of 18.4% from $98.1 million in 2018. In 2018, we successfully reduced our annual total production cost by 19.0% from $8.71/kg in 2018 to $7.06/kg in 2019 and increased external sales volume by 69.2% from 22,521 MT in 2018 to 38,109 MT in 2019. This was offset in part by a decrease in our annual average selling price from $13.04/kg in 2018 to $9.09/kg in 2019, which was primarily due to a significant increase in additional polysilicon supply which could not be consumed by relatively weak demand.

Selling, general and administrative expenses. Our selling, general and administrative expenses for continuing operations were $32.5 million in 2019, compared to $27.1 million in 2018. The increase in selling, general and administrative expenses was primarily due to an increase in non-cash share-based compensation costs related to our 2018 share incentive plan, as well as an increase of shipment expenses.

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Research and development expenses. Our research and development expenses for continuing operations were $5.7 million in 2019, compared to $2.7 million in 2018, mainly due to an increase in the number of employees engaged in R&D activities. The research and development expenses vary from period to period reflecting the R&D activities that occur in such period.

Other operating income. Other operating income from continuing operations was $5.5 million in 2019, compared to $12.9 million in 2018, and mainly consisted of unrestricted cash subsidies that we received from local government authorities, which vary from period to period at the discretion of the corresponding local government authorities.

Net interest expense. Our net interest expenses for continuing operations were $9.4 million in 2019, compared to $9.5 million in 2018. The decrease was primarily due to an increase in capitalized interest expense.

Income tax expense. Income tax expenses for continuing operations were $9.6 million in 2019, compared to $11.7 million in 2018.

Net income from continuing operations. Net income from continuing operations were $28.3 million in 2019, compared to $61.8 million in 2018.

Income/(Loss) from discontinued operations, net of tax. Income from discontinued operations was $1.3 million in 2019, compared to loss of $23.0 million in 2018, net of tax of nil.

Net income attributable to our shareholders. As a result of the factors described above, we had net profit attributable to our shareholders of $29.5 million in 2019, a decrease of 22.6% from $38.1 million in 2018.

Recent Accounting Pronouncements

A list of recently issued accounting pronouncements that are relevant to us is included in note 2 “Summary of Principal Accounting Policies—Adoption of new accounting pronouncement” and “—Recent accounting pronouncements not yet adopted” to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report.

Inflation

In recent years, inflation in China has not materially impacted our results of operations. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the year-over-year percent changes in the consumer price index for December, 2018, 2019 and 2020 were increases of 2.1%, 2.9% and 2.5%, respectively. Although we have not been materially affected by inflation in the past, we may be affected if China experiences higher rates of inflation in the future.

B.Liquidity and Capital Resources

 Liquidity

Our cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash increased by $22.5 million, $20.2 million and $3.1 million during 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. Net cash provided by operating activities was $95.6 million, $181.0 million and $209.7 million in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. Net cash used in investing activities was $164.7 million, $261.8 million and $118.5 million in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. Net cash provided by financing activities was $86.7 and $102.3 million in 2018 and 2019, respectively, and net cash used in financing activities was $95.5 million in 2020.

As of December 31, 2020, we believe that our cash, cash equivalents, cash flows from operating activities and continued support from financial institutions located in the PRC in the form of renewed and additional operating loans will be sufficient to meet our working capital, capital expenditure and repayment of bank borrowings needs that will arise in 2021 and beyond.

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The following significant developments in 2020 have impacted our liquidity or are expected to impact our liquidity:

As of December 31, 2020, our current liabilities exceeded our current assets by $103.9 million. Amounts due to related parties of $9.4 million were included as current and non-current liabilities, of which $4.2 million represented consideration payables to Daqo Group for the acquisition of Xinjiang Daqo Investment and which will be paid in 2022. While from continuing operations we had cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash of $118.4 million as of December 31, 2020, we had short-term bank borrowings (including current portion of our long-term debt) of $70.4 million due within one year. The current portion of our long-term debt amounted to $55.1 million as of December 31, 2020, such long-term debt being restricted to purchases of fixed assets and not expected to be renewed. Additionally, we had capital commitments of $56.3 million as of December 31, 2020 relating to the purchase of property, plant and equipment to be fulfilled in the next twelve months.
For the year ended December 31, 2020, we generated an operating income of $187.9 million from our continuing operations. We believe that we will continue to generate positive operating income from our continuing operations in 2021.
During the year ended December 31, 2020, we experienced positive cash flow from operations of $209.7 million from our continuing operations. We believe we will continue to generate positive operating cash flow from our continuing operations in 2021.
The total capital expenditure for our Phase 4B expansion is approximately $537.9 million, of which $10.0 million had been spent as of December 31, 2020. Our nameplate production capacity for polysilicon increased from 70,000 MT per annum to 105,000 MT per annum starting from December 2021, which is expected to help increase our operating cash inflow and reduce our average unit cost.

We have taken or plan to take the following actions to effectively manage our liquidity:

We have performed a review of our cash flow forecasts for the twelve-month period after the date of this annual report and believe that our net operating cash flow will be positive.
While there can be no assurance that we will be able to refinance our short-term bank borrowings as they become due, we have historically renewed or rolled over most of our short-term bank borrowing upon their maturity and believe that we will continue to be able to do so.

Based on the above factors, we believe that adequate sources of liquidity will exist to fund our working capital and capital expenditure requirements and to meet our short-term debt obligations, other liabilities as they become due during the twelve-month period after the date of this annual report.

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Cash Flows and Working Capital

Polysilicon production requires intensive capital investment. Due to our relatively short operating history, our financing has been primarily through sales of polysilicon, bank borrowings, financing from Daqo Group, and advances from customers. Furthermore, a substantial portion of our outstanding indebtedness is guaranteed by Daqo Group. In the future, we may rely upon Daqo Group to provide additional guarantees for our indebtedness or direct assistance if our cash on hand and cash flow from our operations are insufficient for our future capital needs. The following table sets forth a summary of our cash flows for the periods indicated:

Year Ended December 31,

    

2018

    

2019

    

2020

(in thousands of US$)

Net cash provided by operating activities from continuing operation

 

77,559

 

179,980

 

209,753

Net cash provided by (used in) operating activities from discontinued operation

 

17,993

 

1,010

 

(50)

Net cash provided by operating activities

 

95,552

 

180,990

 

209,703

Net cash used in investing activities from continuing operation

 

(165,337)

 

(263,284)

 

(118,292)

Net cash (used in) provided by investing activities from discontinued operation

 

617

 

1,457

 

(195)

Net cash used in investing activities

 

(164,720)

 

(261,827)

 

(118,487)

Net cash (used in) provided by financing activities from continuing operation

 

103,491

 

104,979

 

(95,471)

Net cash used in financing activities from discontinued operation

 

(16,779)

 

(2,651)

 

Net cash (used in) provided by financing activities

 

86,712

 

102,328

 

(95,471)

Effect of exchange rate changes

 

4,910

 

(1,317)

 

7,365

Net increase in cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash

 

22,454

 

20,174

 

3,110

Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash, at the beginning of the year

 

72,666

 

95,120

 

115,294

Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash at the end of the year

 

95,120

 

115,294

 

118,404

Supplemental disclosure of cash flow information:

 

 

 

Interest paid

 

10,788

 

10,215

 

24,696

Income taxes paid

 

19,453

 

5,546

 

12,808

Supplemental schedule of non-cash investing activities:

 

 

 

Purchases of property, plant and equipment included in payables

 

56,154

 

135,702

 

73,148

Purchases of property, plant and equipment included in amount due to related parties - short-term portion

 

2,241

 

26,539

 

198

Payables for acquisition of Xinjiang Daqo Investment included in amount due to related parties - short-term portion

 

 

7,899

 

Payables for acquisition of Xinjiang Daqo Investment included in amount due to related parties - long-term portion

 

15,992

 

7,899

 

4,238

Our cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash increased by $22.5 million, $20.2 million and $3.1 million during 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. As of December 31, 2020, we had $76.6 million in cash and cash equivalents and $41.8 million in restricted cash for continuing operations. Restricted cash was primarily comprised of cash that we placed in our bank accounts as guarantee deposits for the banks’ issuance of short-term letters of credit, bank notes and short-term borrowings. Cash and cash equivalents consisted of cash on hand and demand deposits, which were unrestricted as to withdrawal and use and had maturities of three months or less.

As of December 31, 2020, we had a working capital deficit (total current assets less total current liabilities) of $103.9 million, primarily due to payables for purchase of property, plant and equipment as we completed the construction of our phase 4A expansion project. We had cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash of $118.4 million from continuing operations and short-term and long-term borrowings of $70.4 million and $123.2 million, respectively, as of December 31, 2020. In addition, we have a total capital commitment of $56.3 million.

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Operating Activities

Net cash provided by operating activities from continuing operations for the year ended December 31, 2020 was $209.8 million, primarily resulting from $775.0 million of cash received from the sales of our products, partially offset by our payments for raw materials and utilities of $482.3 million, tax paid of $20.8 million, employee salaries and welfare payment of $37.0 million and interest payment of $25.1 million. We generated positive operating cash flow in 2020. The fluctuation was primarily due to the increases in sales volume and gross margin.

Net cash provided by operating activities from continuing operations for the year ended December 31, 2019 was $180.0 million, primarily resulting from $420.3 million of cash we received from the sale of our products, partially offset by our payments for raw materials and utilities of $184.2 million, taxes paid of $6.8 million, employee salaries and welfare payments of $32.5 million and interest expense payments of $16.8 million. We generated positive operating cash flow in 2019. The fluctuation was primarily due to the lower selling price which is partially offset by the expansion in our polysilicon manufacturing capacity.

Net cash provided by operating activities from continuing operations for the year ended December 31, 2018 was $77.6 million, primarily resulting from $301.2 million of cash we received from the sale of our products, partially offset by our payments for raw materials and utilities of $143.3 million, taxes paid of $42.8 million, employee salaries and welfare payments of $26.7 million and interest expense payments of $10.8 million. We generated positive operating cash flow in 2018. The fluctuation was primarily due to the lower selling price which is partially offset by the expansion in our polysilicon manufacturing capacity.

Investing Activities

Net cash used in investing activities from continuing operation for the year ended December 31, 2020 was $118.3 million, primarily resulting from payments for the purchase of property, plant and equipment in a total amount of $118.3 million.

Net cash used in investing activities from continuing operation for the year ended December 31, 2019 was $263.3 million, primarily resulting from payments for the purchase of property, plant and equipment in a total amount of $285.6 million.

Net cash used in investing activities from continuing operation for the year ended December 31, 2018 was $165.3 million, primarily resulting from payments for the purchase of property, plant and equipment in a total amount of $143.1 million.

Financing Activities

Net cash used in financing activities from continuing operation for the year ended December 31, 2020 was $95.5 million, primarily resulting from the repayment of bank borrowings in the amount of $198.0 million, which was partially offset by proceeds received from by the bank borrowings in the amount of $98.6 million, as well as proceeds from non-controlling interests in the amount of $28.1 million.

Net cash provided by financing activities from continuing operation for the year ended December 31, 2019 was $105.0 million, primarily resulting from proceeds received from by the bank borrowings in the amount of $178.2 million which partially offset by the repayment of bank borrowings in the amount of $74.6 million.

Net cash provided by financing activities from continuing operation for the year ended December 31, 2018 was $103.5 million, primarily resulting from the net proceeds from follow-on equity offering in the amount of $106.6 million and proceeds received from by the bank borrowings in the amount of $56.0 million which partially offset by the repayment of bank borrowings in the amount of $59.8 million.

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Capital Expenditures

In 2018, we made capital expenditures of $96.5 million, $84.7 million and $56.1 million, respectively, for our Phase 3A, Phase 3B and Phase 4A expansion projects of our polysilicon facilities in Xinjiang. In 2019, we incurred capital expenditures of $1.8 million, $18.9 million, $247.2 million, and $24.0 million for our Phase 3A, Phase 3B, Phase 4A expansion projects and debottlenecking projects. In 2020, we incurred capital expenditure of $117.0 million for our Phase 4A expansion project.

Our capital expenditures will increase in the future. We expect that the total capital expenditure for our Phase 4B expansion will be approximately $537.9 million, of which $10.0 million had been spent as of December 31, 2020. Capital expenditure of $56.3 million for our Phase 4B has been included in our capital commitments, which will be paid within one year after December 31, 2020. In the event that we conduct potential expansion projects in the future, we expect that completion of any such expansion projects will be subject to obtaining additional funding, and we intend to use cash generated from operating activities and take other actions to obtain alternative sources of financing, such as obtaining loan facilities from financial institutions or entering into capital arrangements to meet our capital expenditure requirements. In contrast, the average unit production cost decreased from our Phase 1 to Phase 3B for the year ended December 31, 2019. The cost per unit in Phase 1, Phase 2A, Phase 2B, Phase 3A, Phase 3B and 4A was $114.0/kg, $56.8/kg, $26.7/kg, $16.5/kg, $14.2/kg, and $12.3/kg for the year ended December 31, 2020. For additional information, see also “—B. Liquidity and Capital Resources” and “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Manufacturing Capacity” in this annual report.

C.Research and Development, Patents and Licenses, Etc.

See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Research and Development.” See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Intellectual Property.”

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D.Trend Information

Market Trends

Global solar PV installations in 2020 totaled approximately 130 GW, representing a 13% increase from 115 GW in 2019. Despite China’s issuance of a new solar PV policy on May 31, 2018 that reduced solar installation quotas in China in the second half of 2018, China continued to rank as the largest solar PV market globally with total installations of 44.1 GW in 2018, with the United States, India and Japan ranking the top four globally in 2018. Due to the long-delayed announcement of subsidy policy, the annual newly added solar PV installations were estimated to be approximately 30 GW in China in 2019, which was significantly lower than 44.1 GW in 2018. In 2020, the annual newly added solar PV installations in China were estimated to be approximately 48.2 GW, which were significantly higher compared with 30 GW in 2019. According to several solar PV market reports, we expect global solar installations in 2021 to be approximately 160 to 170 GW in light of the impact of the outbreak of COVID-19.

Operational Trends

We successfully completed the construction of our Phase 2A facilities in Xinjiang in September 2012 and fully ramped up capacity to 5,000 MT at our Phase 2A facilities prior to the end of March 2013. We also completed a “debottlenecking” project prior to the end of 2013, which increased our annual capacity to 6,150 MT. We fully ramped up capacity of our Phase 2B expansion project and expanded the production capacity at our Xinjiang polysilicon facilities to 12,150 MT. We have also successfully upgraded our off-gas treatment process from traditional Hydrogenation technology to Hydrochlorination technology. As a result, we lowered our production cost of polysilicon (including depreciation) and cash cost (excluding depreciation) to $9.74/kg and $7.69/kg, respectively, in the fourth quarter of 2015. In 2016, we continued to focus on polysilicon manufacturing improvement to further lower our cost structure. We achieved our record low cost structure in the third quarter of 2016, with production cost (including depreciation) and cash cost (excluding depreciation) of $8.66/kg and $6.88/kg, respectively. We completed the construction and installation of Phase 3A by the end of 2016 and commenced initial production in the first quarter of 2017. By the end of February 2017, we achieved full production capacity of 18,000 MT per annum. In August 2017, our board of directors approved Phase 3B expansion project. The Phase 3B facility ramped up to full production capacity and increased our total production capacity to 30,000 MT in December 2018. In addition, we completed a debottlenecking project and increase our total production capacity to 35,000 MT by the end of June 2019. Our Phase 4 expansion plan comprises Phase 4A and Phase 4B, which will each increase our production capacity by 35,000 MT. We completed the Phase 4A project and began pilot production in September of 2019 and ramped up Phase 4A to full production capacity in December 2019, which increased our total production capacity to 70,000 MT. Following the full operation of our Phase 4A expansion project, we further reduced our production cost to $6.38/kg in the fourth quarter of 2019, benefiting from lower unit cost of electricity, new production processes and equipment with higher efficiencies, and greater economies of scale. We began our Phase 4B project in March 2021 and expect to complete the project by the end of 2021 and ramp it up to its full capacity of 35,000 MT by the end of the first quarter of 2022.

 Other than as disclosed elsewhere in this annual report, we are not aware of any trends, uncertainties, demands, commitments or events since the beginning of our fiscal year 2020 that are reasonably likely to have a material effect on our net revenues, income from operations, profitability, liquidity or capital resources, or that would cause the disclosed financial information to be not necessarily indicative of future operating results or financial condition.

E.Off Balance Sheet Commitments and Arrangements

We have not entered into any financial guarantees or other commitments to guarantee the payment obligations of third parties. We have not entered into any derivative contracts. Furthermore, we do not have any retained or contingent interest in assets transferred to an unconsolidated entity that serves as credit, liquidity or market risk support to such entity. We do not have any variable interest in any unconsolidated entity that provides financing, liquidity, market risk or credit support to us or that engages in leasing, hedging or research and development services with us.

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F.Tabular Disclosure of Contractual Obligations

The following table sets forth our contractual obligations and commercial commitments as of December 31, 2020:

    

Payments due by Period

Less Than 

More Than 

    

Total

    

1 Year

    

1-3 Years

    

3-5 Years

    

5 Years

(in thousands of US$)

Contractual obligations:

  

  

  

  

  

Long-term debt(1)(2)

178,336

55,114

117,861

5,361

Interest payment on long-term debt(3)

 

13,653

 

7,480

 

6,074

 

99

 

Capital commitments(4)

 

56,321

 

56,321

 

 

 

Operating lease obligations(5)

 

121

 

96

 

25

 

 

Total obligations

 

248,431

 

119,011

 

123,960

 

5,460

 

Notes:

(1)

Excludes interest payments.

(2)

As of December 31, 2020, long-term bank loans including the current portion in the amount of $178.3 million, of which $42.7 million were secured by Xinjiang Daqo with its land use rights and equipment as collaterals, and guaranteed by Daqo Group and Daqo New Energy. The long-term loans in the amount of $124.9 million were guaranteed by Daqo Group, Chongqing Daqo and three affiliated companies under Daqo Group. The rest of the long-term loans in the amount of $10.7 million were guaranteed by Daqo Group.

(3)

All long-term bank borrowings are bearing the variable interests, which are based on the five-year long term interest rate issued by People’s Bank of China, and the interest payments are calculated based on the current interest rate in effect of each borrowing.

(4)

Represents commitments relating to our purchase of property, plant and equipment for our production capacity expansion, including payment commitments to our project contractors.

(5)

Represents Xinjiang Daqo’s obligation under the lease agreement with Daqo Group until 2022.

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G.Safe Harbor

This annual report on Form 20-F contains forward-looking statements. These statements are made under the “safe harbor” provisions of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. These forward-looking statements can be identified by terminology such as “will,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “future,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “estimates,” “may,” “intend,” “it is possible” “subject to” and similar statements. Among other things, the sections titled “Item 3. Key Information — D. Risk Factors” “Item 4. Information on the Company,” and “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects,” as well as our strategic and operational plans, contain forward-looking statements. We may also make written or oral forward-looking statements in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, in our annual report to shareholders, in press releases and other written materials and in oral statements made by our officers, directors or employees to third parties. Statements that are not historical facts, including statements about our beliefs and expectations, are forward-looking statements and are subject to change, and such change may be material and may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations for one or more prior periods. Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. A number of important factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained, either expressly or impliedly, in any forward-looking statement in this annual report on Form 20-F, including but not limited to the following: the demand for photovoltaic products and the development of photovoltaic technologies; global supply and demand for polysilicon; alternative technologies in cell manufacturing; our ability to significantly expand our polysilicon production capacity and output; and the reduction in or elimination of government subsidies and economic incentives for solar energy applications. All information provided in this annual report on Form 20-F and in the exhibits is as of the date of this annual report on Form 20-F, and we do not undertake any obligation to update any such information, except as required under applicable law.

ITEM 6.      DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES

A.Directors and Executive Officers

The following table sets forth information regarding our directors and executive officers as of the date of this annual report.

Name

    

Age

    

Position/Title

Guangfu Xu

78

Chairman of the board of directors

Longgen Zhang

56

Chief executive officer and director

Xiang Xu

50

Director

Dafeng Shi

48

Director

Fumin Zhuo

69

Independent director

Rongling Chen

79

Independent director

Minsong Liang

52

Independent director

Shuming Zhao

68

Independent director

Arthur Wong

61

Independent director

Ming Yang

46

Chief financial officer

Mr. Guangfu Xu is the chairman of our Board of Directors. Mr. Xu is principally responsible for formulating our strategic development objectives. Mr. Xu has been the chairman of Daqo Group since January 1984 and currently holds directorship positions with 30 subsidiaries and affiliated entities of Daqo Group. Mr. Xu has served as chairman of our board of directors since our incorporation in November 2007. Mr. Xu joined Xinba General Company, the predecessor entity of Daqo Group, in 1966 and has been instrumental in building Daqo Group from a small township and village enterprise to a leading manufacturer of electrical systems in China. Mr. Xu is a member of the Ninth People’s Congress of Jiangsu Province and the vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the Ninth Yangzhong City People’s Congress. Mr. Xu was named a