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Marco Polo and the #Blockchain

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For many of us the world of crypto currencies, sometimes known as digital assets, is a mystery and those involved are performing some form of magic using a mysterious spell known as the blockchain. But those with experience of crypto currencies have realised that great rewards are available to those brave or clever enough to invest in this new world of digital finance, writes Colin Stevens.

But those with experience of crypto currencies have realised that great rewards are available to those brave or clever enough to invest in this new world of digital finance.

Best known of the crypto currencies is the Bitcoin, a crypto coin invented in 2008 by an unknown person or group of people using the name Satoshi Nakamoto and started in 2009 when its implementation was released as open-source software.

Over the course of bitcoin's history, it has undergone rapid growth to become a significant currency both on and offline. From the middle of 2010 some businesses began accepting bitcoin in addition to traditional currencies.

Bitcoin was followed by Ethereum in 2015 and a host of other crypto currencies, so that today there are over 2000 crypto currencies.

The legal status of bitcoin and related crypto instruments varied substantially country to country at first, but many countries quickly realised that crypto currencies are the first apolitical form of money in history, which makes it borderless, impossible to control and regulate. Everyone can use crypto currencies for P2P transactions, which makes it the most inclusive form of money there is.

However, since nothing as decentralized as crypto currencies existed before, it is a true headache both to regulators and tyrannical regimes.

Enlightened governments began to realise the potential benefit of these digital assets, and accepted and even encouraged new crypto currencies tied to their national currencies – such as the USA with Tether (USDT), a crypto currency with a value meant to mirror the value of the U.S. dollar. The idea was to create a stable crypto currency that can be used like digital dollars. Once this happened crypto currencies came of age and became acceptable and mainstream.

Coins that serve this purpose of being a stable dollar substitute are called “stable coins” Tether converts cash into digital currency, to anchor or “tether” the value of the coin to the price of national currencies like the US dollar, the euro, and the yen.

Banks quickly realised the potential of crypto currencies, both for investment opportunities and for their business customers who wish to use it for instant cross border money transfer and exchange services. Major banks are now launching their own crypto coins or “tokens”.

J.P. Morgan in the USA this month became the first US bank to create and successfully test a digital coin representing a fiat currency, that is a government-issued currency that isn't backed by a commodity such as gold.

The JPM Coin is based on blockchain-based technology enabling the instantaneous transfer of payments between their institutional clients. Wall Street has been quick to welcome both the advantages this brings to businesses in competitive markets and the investment opportunities coupled with potentially seismic return on investment for early investors.

Across the Atlantic, after negotiations with the Chinese government, LGR Crypto Bank in Switzerland is launching a new crypto currency called “Silk Road Coin” which is destined to facilitate trade and commerce along the Belt and Road Initiative, formerly known as One Belt One Road or OBOR for short. This is a global infrastructure development strategy by the Chinese government mirroring the old Marco Polo trade route between China and Europe. Started in 2013, its purpose is to benefit and invest in nearly 70 countries and international organizations along the route.

The Belt and Road project will construct a unified large market and make full use of both international and domestic markets. The Belt and Road Initiative addresses an "infrastructure gap" and thus has potential to accelerate economic growth across the Asia Pacific area, Africa and Central and Eastern Europe, estimated to be worth at least US$900 billion per year over the next decade, 50% above current infrastructure spending rates. The gaping need for long term capital and an instant and easy means of cross border money transfer and exchange services along the 70 country Belt and Road project almost guarantees the success of the new Silk Road Coin crypto currency, with substantial gains possible for early investors.

Many investors wise enough to invest in bitcoin in its initial years made millions, even billions of dollars, pounds or euros return on their initial investments. Just as the Venetian merchant and adventurer Marco Polo did between 1271–95, new merchant adventurers stand to make their fortunes via the new digital currencies of the Silk Road.

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#Huawei delivered a lifeline from Samsung as latest US sanctions hit

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Huawei has reportedly been delivered a helping hand from smartphone rivals Samsung as they deal with more US sanctions inflicted on them, writes Dion Dassanayake.

The P40 Pro and P30 Pro makers this week (15 September) are seeing a new set of US sanctions imposed on them. Following on from Huawei being put on the US Entity trade blacklist last year, Donald Trump's administration are ramping up the pressure on Huawei even further with a new restriction that means a company which wishes to supply parts that use any kind of American tech to Huawei needs to apply for a license. The latest sanction affects a wide range of tech used in Huawei smartphones such as chips and OLED displays from Samsung and LG.

LG has already commented about this latest round of sanctions, saying it will have little impact on its operations as the firm supplies a limited amount of panels to Huawei.

Samsung is yet to comment, but the South Korean tech giant has reportedly applied for a license to supply the P40 makers with panels.

According to a post by ZDNet, Samsung Display has applied for a license from the US Department of Commerce before the latest sanctions kick in on September 15.

If the license is given the green light then it will be great news for both parties.

Samsung Display is the world's biggest OLED provider, with Huawei their third most important customer behind Apple and Samsung Electronics.

While Huawei will be hoping the license gets approved as if it doesn't it leaves them with few alternatives.

Elsewhere, ahead of the latest US sanctions coming into force Huawei has reportedly been stockpiling Kirin chipsets.

Reports coming from China claim Huawei chartered a cargo plane to Taiwan to ship Kirin and other related chips back to them by 14 September.

Huawei has already confirmed that their upcoming Mate 40 handset will be the last to feature their own Kirin chipset.

Huawei’s consumer business CEO Yu Chengdong has confirmed the restrictions being implemented on 15 September means its Kirin chipsets "cannot be manufactured" after that date.

HuaweiHuawei have been hit by a number of restrictive US sanctions 

Huawei chips are manufactured by Taiwanese firm TSMC which use equipment sourced from the States.

Recently, Huawei chairman Guo Ping spoke about the latest sanctions coming from the Trump administration.

Staying upbeat, Guo admitted the latest sanctions would "cause certain difficulties" but said "I believe we can solve them".

Guo also said "the world has been suffering for a long time" over the power Google wields on the Android ecosystem and that the globe is "looking forward to a new open system". The Huawei bigwig added: "Since Huawei helped Android to succeed, why not make our own system successful?"

Guo, whose firm in Q2 of 2020 became the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, added that Huawei was up to the "fight" to succeed. The Huawei chairman said: "HMS must have a ‘Foolish Old Man Moving Mountain Spirit’, no matter how high the mountain is, dig an inch or less, persist and fight for a long time, we will definitely succeed".

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Competition zone for 2022 Olympic Winter Games goes deep in sports industry

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Chongli district, as a major competition zone for the snow events of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, is accelerating construction of ski resorts and relevant facilities to develop the sports industry, writes Zhang Tengyang, People’s Daily.

So far, it has built 7 middle- and large-sized ski resorts, including 169 tracks that total 161.7 kilometers.

Wen Chang, is a 56-year-old resident of Chongli, Zhangjiakou of North China’s Hebei Province. He now works at the Thaiwoo Ski Resort & Alpine Park in the district.

The location of the resort was once Wen’s home - Yingcha village. In the past, like other villagers, Wen lived in an adobe house and made a living by growing cabbages. However, due to the lack of water resources, the crop not always harvested.

A hailstorm happened in 2011, which lasted over 20 minutes, ruined all the crops, and I cried in the field,” Wen recalled.

Later, the ski resort was built in the village. Wen and his family moved away and received compensation for relocation. They bought an apartment in downtown Chongli.

Thaiwoo Ski Resort & Alpine Park, starting operation since 2015, has developed from a simple ski resort into a “small town” that gathers relevant snow and ice industries such as hotel, catering, costume and winter sports.

The prospering snow and ice industry also created abundant job opportunities for local residents. Yingcha village had 70 households, and the resort has created a job for at least one person from each of them.

Wen works at the staff canteen of the resort and earns 4,000 yuan ($586) per month with social insurance. His two daughters, after graduating from college, are also working at a local resort and a tourism investment company, respectively.

Ski tracks are common in Thaiwoo Ski Resort & Alpine Park. However, the white tracks in winter are green in summer, winding in the dark green forests on the mountain. Though it’s not snow season at present, visitors are still hustling in the resort. According to Tong Haitao, an employee of the Thaiwoo Ski Resort & Alpine Park, an outdoor off-road racing event will be held there several days later, and is expected to attract more tourists.

Relying on the opportunity of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games and favorable natural scenery, Chongli has steadfastly developed skiing industry in the winter and outdoor activities in the summer, making remarkable performances in both Winter Games preparation and economic development.

Since Beijing won the bid to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, Chongli has newly planted 48,200 hectares of forests, improving its forest coverage from 52.38 percent in 2015 to 67 percent. The figure stands at 80 percent in core the core zones of the Olympic games.

Since 2017, the district has also seen prosperous tourism industry. The Thaiwoo Ski Resort & Alpine Park alone had received 200,000 visitors last summer, almost the same with those seen in the winter.

The thriving tourism created huge development space for local residents. Tong, who worked in Qingdao, East China’s Shandong Province, is one that returned to his hometown after seeing more job opportunities there. He was once an electrician when he just entered the resort, but as summer activities were more and more launched, he was promoted and took up more responsibilities. “My income doubled after I became a department chief,” he said.

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Xi encourages Chinese scientists to make sci-tech research intensive, extensive

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Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed that scientific and technological development must target the global science frontiers, serve the main economic battlefield, strive to fulfill the significant needs of the country and benefit people's lives and health, writes Du Shangze, People's Daily.

Xi made the remarks at a symposium attended by scientists in Beijing on 11 September.

Fu Qiaomei, a research fellow of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) delivered a speech at the symposium. Her speech was joked to be the "oldest topic introduced by the youngest scientist," as the woman was only in her thirties.

According to her, what she does is to study the question of who we are and where we came from through ancient genomes.

To explore the long stretches of history calls for perseverance. Fu shared with the president a question that she had frequently been asked over the years - what usages her study has. She told Xi that she once considered switching to hotspot research when struggling to maintain her lab, but finally decided to stick to it. She hopes that the country can further guide the public’s opinion on basic research, saying the so-called usage is not the only criterion for evaluation.

Deeply impressed by what Fu said, Xi replied that unpopular subjects are always considered useless, but such practice might hinder the development of these subjects. He told Fu that evaluation on scientific research calls for insight, global vision and science-based analysis.

Basic research is the source of scientific innovation. That’s an issue that has been long considered by the Chinese President. He stressed the importance of enhancing basic research, saying the root cause of China's stranglehold problems in science and technology is the lack of basic studies.

He demanded necessary fiscal, finance and taxation support for progressive research units and enterprises engaged in basic studies, regardless of their types of ownership and system. He said a favorable ecology for basic studies shall be developed in an innovative manner.

The inflow of overseas returnees in the recent years indicated the attraction of China’s development, and the topic of talents was a focus at the symposium.

Academician Yao Qizhi suggested to build a complete chain of talent cultivation to foster the “blood making” capacity of China. Academician Shi Yigong reported the progress of the construction of the Westlake University, a new research-oriented private university in east China’s Zhejiang province, hoping it to become a top-notch scientific and technological incubator and a top base for talent cultivation.

Xi recorded what they said on a note book when talking with them, noting people are the source of China’s scientific innovation.

He demanded bolder practices in talent attraction and cultivation, suggesting to introduce opener and more flexible mechanisms. He stressed that China should gather first-class talents from the world and attract high-level talents from overseas, and build a competitive and attractive environment for overseas scientists working in China.

The president encouraged the spirit to seek truth in scientific research, saying scientific innovation, especially original innovation needs creative and dialectical capability and strict verification.

Scientific research shall start from the development trend of the country to make preparation in advance, Xi said, adding that the selection of research directions shall be demand-oriented and address the urgent and long-term demand of the country to solve practical problems.

The planning of the Fourteenth Five-Year Plan is being made when the timeframes of the two centenary goals converge. Recently, Xi has convened several symposiums to solicit opinions. At this symposium, he listened to speeches of 7 scientists, saying they have a broad mind and are enlightening. He also encouraged other scientists to submit advices in written forms.

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