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#China territorial claims cause unease in #Tajikistan

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The central Asian region is once again being distracted by the so-called 'China invasion'. The debate on possible Chinese sovereignty of some territories of the modern Republic of Tajikistan that began in 2013 is once again on the rise today, writes Olga Malik, independent journalist and political analyst.

Earlier, at the end of 2016, a number of Chinese scientists requested an investigation on historical belonging of some Tajik territories to China. During their visit to China in 2016 Dr. Akromi, director of the institute of history, archaeology and ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan and his colleagues discussed the issue with Chinese scientists who suggested a scientific research that would possibly prove the fact some territories of the Central Asia and particularly a part of Tajikistan are the historical lands of China. Following the debate Chinese scientists demanded archaeological excavations to be performed on the disputed territories in Tajikistan while the north-western Polytechnic University located in Xi'an, China offered its full sponsorship of the project.

The first stage of the project would involve translation and publication of the six-volume scientific work The History of Tajik People where some essential facts of the early and ancient history of Tajikistan could be found proving the statements of Chinese scientists.

The next step of the project suggests archaeological excavations performed in the Beshkent valley and Dangar where a lot of objects that belonged to the ancient government of Yuezhi (I-II centuries of A.D.) were found. Yuezhi was a part of the Chinese ethnic group, but many scientists mistakenly consider it a part of the Greek group.

Archaeologists, historians and scientists of Tajikistan are worried that in the end China will succeed in acquiring the disputed territories of the Republic of Tajikistan given the obvious economic and political leadership of China and its dominance over Tajikistan. Yet Beijing’s aggressive policy is far beyond the goal of reaching historical fairness: the disputed land claimed by China is rich in gold and other precious metals and minerals.

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Delay to UK's 5G roll-out puts at risk government's 'levelling up' agenda says Huawei

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The UK government’s own acknowledgement of a likely delay in rolling out 5G in the UK risks not fully realizing £108 billion worth of economic benefit and the creation of 350,000 jobs in regions outside London and the south-east over the next decade.

A delay in Britain realizing its full 5G potential could condemn some parts of the country to the digital slow lane for years to come, according to an independent report by Assembly published on 29 October.

The new report, commissioned by Huawei, lays bare the opportunities for levelling up. If 5G were delivered nationwide without delay, three-quarters of its expected economic benefit would likely come in regions outside London and the south-east with the potential to transform connectivity in areas such as the north-east, the north-west and the West Midlands.

Risk to UK jobs and a widening of the digital divide

As a global leader in 5G, the UK could stand to benefit from more than 600,000 potential new jobs over the next decade, bringing with it the value of more than £6,000 per household on average by 2030. Critically, the jobs at risk are not limited to the tech sector or confined to tech hubs but spread across white-collar and blue-collar workforces.

  • In the North-West, the region risks not fully realizing an economic uplift of £16.9bn between 2020-2030 – and 59,000 new jobs.
  • In London, the region risks not fully realizing an economic uplift of £39.7bn between 2020-2030 – and 139,000 new jobs.
  • In the West Midlands, the region risks not fully realizing an economic uplift of £13bn between 2020-2030 – and 45,500 new jobs.

Consumers could be left waiting

The UK mobile industry has already made significant progress in the roll-out of 5G, with more than 300 towns and cities already having some degree of coverage. However, a delayed roll-out would mean consumers across the country would have to wait longer to enjoy the full benefits of next-generation connectivity on their devices – such as virtual reality video streaming, gaming and the delivery of on-demand content.

Industries face losing out on 5G benefits

The report warns that a delay in 5G roll-out threatens to slow advances in everything from next-generation remote healthcare and smart manufacturing, to robotics and at-home schooling. Slowing down advances in high-quality remote learning and healthcare, are potential ‘social equalizers’ ­– helping to address GP or teacher shortages.

Advances in smart manufacturing and robotics would also be under threat. A recent 5G trial in Worcestershire registered a marked rise in productivity after exploring the use of 5G in machinery fault detection and remote training.

Assembly Principal Analyst and Founder Matthew Howett said: "The government’s own expectation of its restrictions on Huawei is for up to a three-year delay in 5G roll-out. The risk of course is that this will be felt by operator’s being forced to focus their deployments in more profitable urban centres and that would inevitably mean it takes longer to reach, and fully cover, more rural and remote parts of Britain with 5G. If this plays out there is a risk of a widened digital divide."

Huawei Vice President Victor Zhang said: “UK government has set ambitious targets for improved connectivity by 2025. This research reveals how a 3-year delay in 5G roll-out will have a significant economic impact on every part of the UK, and highlights the consequences of failing to realise Britain’s full potential. Without global 5G leadership, Britain faces relegation to the digital slow lane, a job creation black hole and a wider digital divide.”

A copy of the full report ‘Regional and consumer impact of a delayed 5G roll-out’ can be downloaded here. Supporting graphics are available here.City level data at a glance

Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Potential 5G benefit 2020-2030 (£m): 6,435

Potential jobs created by 5G: 22,475

4G coverage: 99%

5G availability: EE, O2, Three, Vodafone

Birmingham

Potential 5G benefit 2020-2030 (£m): 2,603

Potential jobs created by 5G: 9,091

4G coverage: 98%

5G availability: EE, O2, Three, Vodafone

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority

Potential 5G benefit 2020-2030 (£m): 3,095

Potential jobs created by 5G: 10,810

4G coverage: 100%

5G availability: EE, O2, Three, Vodafone

Glasgow City Region

Potential 5G benefit 2020-2030 (£m): 3,966

Potential jobs created by 5G: 13,853

4G coverage: 86%

5G availability: EE, O2, Three, Vodafone

Newcastle

Potential 5G benefit 2020-2030 (£m): 806

Potential jobs created by 5G: 2,814

4G coverage: 100%

5G availability: EE, O2

Leeds

Potential 5G benefit 2020-2030 (£m): 2,349

Potential jobs created by 5G: 8,203

4G coverage: 97%

5G availability: EE, O2, Three, Vodafone

Edinburgh

Potential 5G benefit 2020-2030 (£m): 2,166

Potential jobs created by 5G: 7,564

4G coverage: 91%

5G availability: EE, O2, Vodafone

Cardiff

Potential 5G benefit 2020-2030 (£m): 1,058

Potential jobs created by 5G: 3,695

4G coverage: 96%

5G availability: EE, O2, Three, Vodafone

Bristol

Potential 5G benefit 2020-2030 (£m): 1,301

Potential jobs created by 5G: 4,542

4G coverage: 100%

5G availability: EE, O2, Three, Vodafone

Belfast City Region

Potential 5G benefit 2020-2030 (£m): 2,638

Potential jobs created by 5G: 9,214

4G coverage: 97%

5G availability: EE, O2, Vodafone

About Assembly

Assembly is an independent analyst firm providing subscription-based information, analysis and commentary on regulatory, policy and legislative developments that affect communications markets and the wider digital economy.

For more information, click here. 

About Huawei

Founded in 1987, Huawei is a leading global provider of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart devices. We are committed to bringing digital to every person, home and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world. Huawei's end-to-end portfolio of products, solutions and services are both competitive and secure. Through open collaboration with ecosystem partners, we create lasting value for our customers, working to empower people, enrich home life, and inspire innovation in organizations of all shapes and sizes. At Huawei, innovation puts the customer first. We invest heavily in fundamental research, concentrating on technological breakthroughs that drive the world forward. We have nearly 194,000 employees, and we operate in more than 170 countries and regions, serving more than three billion people around the world. Founded in 1987, Huawei is a private company fully owned by its employees.

For more information, click here. 

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Samsung Display gets US licenses to supply some panels to Huawei

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Samsung Electronics’ display unit has received licenses from US authorities to continue supplying certain display panel products to Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL], a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday (27 October).

With US-China ties at their worst in decades, Washington has been pushing governments around the world to squeeze out Huawei, arguing that the telecom giant would hand data to the Chinese government for spying. Huawei denies it spies for China.

From 15 September, new curbs have barred US companies from supplying or serving Huawei.

Samsung Display, which counts Samsung Electronics and Apple as major customers for organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display screens, declined comment.

Huawei was not immediately available for comment.

It is still unclear whether Samsung Display will be able to export its OLED panels to Huawei as other firms in the supply chain making components necessary to manufacture panels would also have to get U.S. licences.

Samsung’s cross-town rival LG Display said that it and other companies, including most semiconductor companies, need to get licences to resume business with Huawei.

Last month, Intel Corp said it had received licences from US authorities to continue supplying certain products to Huawei.

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Despite talk of digital sovereignty, Europe sleepwalks into Chinese dominance on drones

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In her State of the European Union speech, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivered a clear-eyed assessment of the European Union’s position within the global digital economy. Alongside predictions of a European “digital decade” shaped by initiatives such as GaiaX, von der Leyen admitted Europe had lost the race on defining the parameters of personalized data, leaving Europeans “dependent on others”, writes Louis Auge.

Despite that straightforward admission, the question remains whether European leaders are willing to mount a consistent defence of their citizens’ data privacy, even as they accept reliance on American and Chinese firms. When it comes to challenging American social media or e-commerce giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, Europe has no problem seeing itself as the global regulator.

In facing China, however, the European position often seems weaker, with governments only acting to curb the influence of Chinese technology suppliers such as Huawei under intense US pressure. Indeed, in one key area with serious implications for several economic sectors Commission President von der Leyen cited in her speech – unmanned aerial vehicles, otherwise known as drones – Europe is allowing a single Chinese firm, DJI, to corner the market practically unopposed.

A trend accelerated by the pandemic

Shenzhen Dajiang Innovation Technologies Co. (DJI) is the unquestioned leader of a global drone market predicted to skyrocket to $42.8 billion in 2025; by 2018, DJI already controlled 70% of the market in consumer drones. In Europe, DJI has long been the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) supplier of choice for military and civilian government clients. The French military uses “commercial off-the-shelf DJI drones” in combat zones like the Sahel, while British police forces uses DJI drones to search for missing persons and manage major events.

The pandemic kicked that trend into high gear. In European cities including Nice and Brussels, DJI drones equipped with loudspeakers admonished citizens about confinement measures and monitored social distancing. DJI representatives have even tried to convince European governments to use their drones to take body temperatures or transport COVID-19 test samples.

This rapid expansion in the use of DJI drones runs counter to decisions being taken by key allies. In the United States, the Departments of Defense (the Pentagon) and the Interior have banned the use of DJI’s drones in their operations, driven by concerns over data security first uncovered by the US Navy in 2017. In the time since, multiple analyses have identified similar flaws in DJI systems.

In May, River Loop Security analyzed DJI’s Mimo app and found the software not only failed to adhere to basic data security protocols, but also that it sent sensitive data “to servers behind the Great Firewall of China.” Another cybersecurity firm, Synacktiv, released an analysis of DJI’s mobile DJI GO 4 application in July, finding the company’s Android software “makes use of the similar anti-analysis techniques as malware,” in addition to forcibly installing updates or software while circumventing Google’s safeguards. Synacktiv’s results were confirmed by GRIMM, which concluded DJI or Weibo (whose software development kit transmitted user data to servers in China) had “created an effective targeting system” for attackers – or the Chinese government, as US officials fear – to exploit.

To address the potential threat, the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) has introduced a small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) initiative to procure drones from trusted American and allied manufacturers; France’s Parrot is the only European (and, indeed, non-American) firm currently included. Last week, the Department of the Interior announced it would resume purchasing drones through the DIU sUAS program.

DJI’s security flaws have also sparked concern in Australia. In a consultation paper released last month, the Australian transport and infrastructure department flagged weaknesses in Australia’s defenses against “the malicious use of drones,” finding UAVs could potentially be used to attack the country’s infrastructure or other sensitive targets, or otherwise for purposes of “image and signals gathering” and other types of reconnaissance by hostile actors.

In Europe, on the other hand, neither the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), the German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (BfDI), nor the French National Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL) have taken public action on the potential dangers represented by DJI, even after the company’s products were found forcibly installing software and transferring European user data to Chinese servers without allowing consumers to control or object to those actions. Instead, the use of DJI drones by European military and police forces may appear to offer consumers a tacit endorsement of their security.

Despite an opaque ownership structure, links to Chinese state abound

Suspicions of DJI’s motives are not helped by the opacity of its ownership structure. DJI Company Limited, the holding company for the firm via the Hong Kong-based iFlight Technology Co., is based in the British Virgin Islands, which does not disclose shareholders. DJI’s fundraising rounds nonetheless point to a preponderance of Chinese capital, as well as linkages with China’s most prominent administrative bodies.

In September 2015, for example, New Horizon Capital – cofounded by Wen Yunsong, son of former premier Wen Jiabao – invested $300 million in DJI. That same month, New China Life Insurance, partly owned by China’s State Council, also invested in the firm. In 2018, DJI may have raised up to $1 billion ahead of a supposed public listing, although the identify of those investors remains a mystery.

DJI’s leadership structure also points to links with China’s military establishment. Co-founder Li Zexiang has studied or taught at a number of universities linked to the military, including the Harbin Institute of Technology – one of the 'Seven Sons of National Defence' controlled by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology – as well as the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT), directly supervised by the Central Military Commission (CMC). Another executive, Zhu Xiaorui, served as DJI’s head of research and development up until 2013 – and now teaches at the Harbin University of Technology.

These links between DJI’s leadership and China’s military would seem to explain DJI’s prominent role in Beijing’s repression of ethnic minority groups. In December 2017, DJI signed a strategic partnership agreement with the Bureau of Public Security of the Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, outfitting Chinese police units in Xinjiang with drones but also developing specialized software to facilitate missions for the “preservation of social stability.” DJI’s complicity in the campaign of “cultural genocide” against the Uighur population of Xinjiang burst into the headlines last year, when a leaked video – shot by a police-controlled DJI drone – documented a mass transfer of interned Uighurs. The company has also signed agreements with authorities in Tibet.

An inevitable crisis?

While DJI has gone to considerable efforts to counteract the findings of Western governments and researchers, even commissioning a study from consultancy FTI that promotes the security of its new “Local Data Mode” while sidestepping existing flaws, the monopolistic control of this emerging sector by a single firm with links to China’s security establishment and direct involvement in systemic human rights abuses could quickly become a problem for regulators in Brussels and the European capitals.

Given how prevalent drones have become across the wider economy, the security of the data they capture and transmit is a question European leaders will have to address – even if they prefer to ignore it.

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