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Qualcomm receives US permission to sell 4G chips to Huawei in exception to ban

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Qualcomm on Friday (Nov 13) received a license from the US government to sell 4G mobile phone chips to China's Huawei, an exemption to US trade restrictions imposed amid rising tensions with China.

"We received a license for a number of products, which includes some 4G products," a Qualcomm spokeswoman told Reuters.

Qualcomm and all other American semiconductor companies were forced to stop selling to the Chinese technology firm in September after US trade restrictions took effect.

The spokeswoman declined to comment on the specific 4G products Qualcomm can sell to Huawei but said they were related to mobile devices. Qualcomm has other license applications pending with the US government, she said.

In the past Huawei was a relatively small chip customer for Qualcomm, which is the biggest supplier of mobile phone chips. Huawei used its own house-designed chips in its flagship handsets but used Qualcomm chips in lower-priced models.

Huawei's potential to design its own chips was thwarted in September by US trade restrictions that blocked its access to chip design software and fabrication tools. Industry analysts believe Huawei's stockpile of chips purchased before the ban could run out early next year, crippling its smartphone business.

Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon said the Qualcomm license would have a "limited impact" because it covers only 4G chips while consumers are shifting to newer 5G devices. Rasgon said it is still unclear whether US officials will grant Qualcomm licenses for 5G smartphone chips.

Representatives for Huawei and the US Department of Commerce, which grants the licenses, declined to comment.

Other U.S. companies such as Micron Technology were also stopped from selling to Huawei and have said they have applied for licenses. Intel has also said it has a license to sell to Huawei.

China

China-ASEAN co-operation on digital economy

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The digital economy has gradually become a focus of the co-operation between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in recent years. As drivers of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, the China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) and relevant summits are constantly enriching the content of digital economy in forums, meetings and expositions, so as to lay a solid foundation for China-ASEAN digital economy co-operation, write Pang Geping and Li Zong, People's Daily.

For instance, state-of-the-art products of the internet, big data and artificial intelligence (AI) industries, such as smart robots, intelligent management systems of unmanned aerial vehicles, satellite remote sensing systems, as well as virtual reality products introducing meteorological knowledge, are exhibited at the Advanced Technology Exhibition section at the CAEXPO every year, attracting huge numbers of visitors.

A series of high-end forums are also held by the CAEXPO, building a bridge of cooperation that gathers consensus and align development strategies.

The China-ASEAN E-commerce Summit that was initiated since 2014, as well as relevant e-commerce forums, have kept their focus on cross-border and rural e-commerce issues. They launched a series of high-level dialogues and implemented a batch of e-commerce projects, including a cross-border trade facilitation platform between China and ASEAN and a China-ASEAN cross-border e-commerce industrial park in Nanning, south China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

The 12th CAEXPO held in 2015 started the construction of the China-ASEAN Information Harbor. Since then, the China-ASEAN Information Harbor Forum has developed into a routine activity of the CAEXPO, becoming an important platform for digital economy cooperation between the two sides. Propelled by the forum, a series of digital economy cooperation mechanisms have been established between China and ASEAN countries, and a batch of major projects have been put into operation, such as a fund for the China-ASEAN Information Harbor, the China-ASEAN Information Harbor Digital Economy Alliance, as well as an industrial ecosphere established under the China-ASEAN Information Harbor.

Apart from high-level forums, the CAEXPO also held professional exhibitions to showcase the development of digital technologies, offering a window of cooperation for participants. At the 15th CAEXPO, Chinese tech giant Huawei presented future scenarios of a micro smart city, as well as new experiences of 5G network, demonstrating the profound changes to be brought by the infusion between 5G and traditional industries such as housing, automobile, and manufacturing. Chinese e-commerce platform JD.com exhibited its smart logistics system composed of unattended warehouses, delivery stations, drones and UAVs. Thailand-China Technology Transfer Center brought its technologies in cosmetics, farm produce and dietary supplements.

This year marks the ASEAN-China Year of Digital Economy Cooperation. The 17th CAEXPO held a series of activities under the theme of 'Building the Belt and Road, Strengthening Digital Economy Co-operation', so as to comprehensively promote the in-depth cooperation between China and ASEAN countries in digital economy.

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China leads world in new installed photovoltaic capacity

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China's new and total installed photovoltaic capacities had ranked the first in the world for seven and five consecutive years, respectively, as of the end of 2019, said Wang Bohua, vice chairman and secretary general of China Photovoltaic Industry Association, writes Ding Yiting, People's Daily Overseas Edition.

Wang announced the performance at the recent 5th China Photovoltaic Industry Forum (CPIF).

The country's production of polycrystalline silicon and modules production capacity also topped the world for 9 and 13 years in a row, Wang added, saying China would still keep its records this year.

It is reported that China's photovoltaic industry still kept stable growth in the first three quarters of this year despite the impacts from COVID-19 and the slump of global trade. The country produced around 290,000 tons of polycrystalline silicon, up 18.9 percent from a year ago. Module production capacity exceeded 80 GW, expanding 6.7 percent year on year. Besides, the country saw 18.7 GW of newly installed photovoltaic capacity, up 17 percent from a year ago, and the photovoltaic generation capacity has hit over 200 billion kilowatt hours, 16.9 percent more that in the same period last year.

China's photovoltaic industry has established a complete industrial chain that leads the world in technology, size and cost, said Li Qionghui, director of the new energy research department at the State Grid Energy Research Institute. According to her, the generation efficiency of China's photovoltaic industry has broken records for times, and the cost of photovoltaic systems dropped by over 90 percent than that in 2005.

"Chinese enterprises have made huge breakthroughs in photovoltaic technologies and cost in the past 10 years. The price of silicon wafer dropped to 3 yuan ($0.46) from around 100 yuan a decade ago, and the module price also went down from 30 yuan per watt ten years ago to today's 1.7 yuan," said Li Zhenguo, founder and president of LONGi Group, the world's most valuable solar technology company. The cost of photovoltaic generation is even lower than 0.1 yuan per kilowatt at places with high-quality sunshine, he added.

According to statistics from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), solar photovoltaics prices have fallen 82% since 2010 while concentrated solar power has dropped 47%. Onshore and offshore wind energy costs have dropped 39% and 29%. The prices will keep going lower in the next ten years, the agency forecasted.

In the first 9 months, the export of photovoltaic modules exceeded that from a year ago by 52.3 GW, said Wang.

The supply side of the photovoltaic industry was not very much impacted as China, the largest photovoltaic production base, had already controlled the spread of COVID-19 and fully recovered its industrial production in the second quarter, Zhang Senri with the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products told the People's Daily. The sound performance of the overseas market also contributed a big part, he added.

The annual installed capacity of this year is expected to stay on the same level with that of the last year due to the hot demand in the second half, he said, adding that the newly installed capacity might hit 110 to 120 GW. China's export of photovoltaic products will probably grow by over 20% this year, he noted.

"The prospering global photovoltaic market is an irreversible trend, and there are huge emerging markets waiting to be explored by Chinese enterprises," Zhang said.

As enterprises constantly improve their supply capacity and optimize products, China's photovoltaic industry will surely lead a clean way of global power energy through its strategy of "going global."

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Meng Wanzhou: Questions over Huawei executive’s arrest as legal battle continues

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When a Canadian border officer did some hurried research on the internet on 1 December 2018, the result left him "shocked". He had just been told that a Chinese woman was landing at Vancouver airport in a few hours and that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had an arrest warrant out for her based on a US request. What the research revealed was that she was the chief financial officer of the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and the daughter of the company's founder. It was at that moment that border officials realised they were about to be plunged into the centre of a major international incident which, nearly two years on, has not gone away.

The woman was Meng Wanzhou (pictured) whose flight from Hong Kong arrived at Gate 65 at 11:10 local time. She was on a stopover in Canada, where she has two homes, before heading on to business meetings in Mexico. Further details of what took place at the airport have been revealed in a Vancouver court in the past week as part of the latest stage of legal battle that could stretch on for years.

Her lawyers are pursuing a multi-pronged strategy to prevent her being extradited to the US on charges of misleading the bank HSBC in a way which might lead to it breaking US sanctions on Iran.

Meng's lawyers have been arguing that there was abuse of process in the way the arrest was carried out.

One of the issues they raised is why Meng was questioned for nearly three hours by officers from Canadian Border Services Agency before she was formally arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Her lawyers are looking for signs that proper procedures were not followed in what unfolded in those hours.

Meng, who appeared in court wearing the security ankle bracelet that is required for her bail, was described as "calm" during her initial questioning at the airport because she had no idea what was coming next.

Border officials took her phones and devices and placed them in a special bag - designed to prevent any electronic interference. Border officials also got her passwords and PIN codes for the devices but the court heard that they mistakenly handed these, along with the devices, over to the RCMP when they technically should not have done. The police officer who eventually arrested her after the border questioning was challenged in court as to why he did not do so earlier. Her lawyers are looking for evidence a co-ordinated plan by border agency and police - perhaps with the guiding hand of the US behind them - to improperly detain and question her without a lawyer.

Officials deny this and say the border questioning was to establish whether there was any reason she could not be admitted, for instance involvement in espionage. The police officer also testified "safety" concerns were one reason he did not arrest Ms Meng immediately after her Cathay Pacific 777 flight landed.

This part of the legal battle will focus on whether procedures were followed and if not, whether that was due to simple mistakes or the result of any plan.

The RCMP officer who took custody of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s electronics on the day of her arrest two years ago says foreign law enforcement never asked him to obtain the passcodes or search the devices.

Const. Gurvinder Dhaliwal said Monday American officials asked that Meng’s devices be seized and stored in special bags to prevent them from being erased remotely, which he considered to be a reasonable request.

He said he wasn’t concerned when the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer handed him a piece of paper with the passcodes written on it after the immigration exam adjourned and she was being arrested by RCMP.

“I didn’t even think about it, I just put them with the phones and I thought, this is her phones and these passcodes belong to her phones and eventually these phones and these belongings would go back to her once the process is complete,” Dhaliwal told B.C. Supreme Court under examination by Crown counsel John Gibb-Carsley.

Dhaliwal told the evidence-gathering hearing that he never asked officers from border services to obtain the passcodes or to ask any particular questions during Meng’s immigration exam.

Meng is wanted in the U.S. on fraud charges based on allegations related to American sanctions against Iran that both she and Chinese tech giant Huawei deny.

Her lawyers are collecting information they hope will support their allegation that Canadian officers improperly gathered evidence at the request of U.S. investigators under the guise of a routine border exam.

For the first time, the court also heard that security codes to at least one of Meng’s homes were also recorded on a piece of paper.

Dhaliwal described a photo to the court that showed the paper on top of boxes she travelled with as having the key to her residences and a “security code” for her house.

Dhaliwal said the paper was passed to him by a Mountie who was based at Vancouver’s airport.

“I have no idea where he got it from,” Dhaliwal said, adding he has not been involved in any discussion about those security codes.

Dhaliwal assumed the role of “exhibits officer” in Meng’s case, meaning he was charged with ensuring anything seized from her was documented, safe and secure.

After her arrest, Meng’s case was transferred to the financial integrity branch of the RCMP’s Federal Serious and Organized Crime unit because it was a “complex” case, he said.

Dhaliwal received a request from Staff Sgt. Ben Chang indicating that the U.S. was asking for certain information in anticipation of an application through the mutual legal assistance treaty between the two countries, he said.

Dhaliwal was asked to record the electronic serial numbers, makes and models of her electronics, he said. He did so with help from the RCMP tech unit, he said. But at no point did he ever use the passcodes on the devices, nor was he asked to search the devices, he said.

Later, he was contacted by a senior CBSA officer inquiring about the piece of paper with the phone passcodes, he said.

“She had indicated to me that the codes were given in error to us,” Dhaliwal said.

As the codes were already part of an exhibit, he testified that he told her they were under the court’s authority and he could not return them.

The case continues.

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