Huawei Mobile Services 4.0 beta is packing more features and getting closer to Google’s offering.


Victor, 29 December 2019

In the wake of soured relations between Huawei and the US, life has been anything but easy for the Chinese tech giant. However, that doesn’t mean that acceptance or desperation have settled in. Quite the contrary, Huawei and its subsidiaries and sister companies have really been doubling-down hard to make up for lost ground and still come out on top. Whether through impressive efforts into 5G infrastructure, expansion and contracts or the aggressive Western marketing for tech accessories like smart TVs and wearables, which haven’t been affected by various trade bans quite as badly. And these are just some of the reactionary measures in the tech realm we are observing first-hand. Huawei’s contingency plans stretch far and beyond and operate with impressive scope.

Software effort has been huge in this process. And we’re not just talking about the company’s HarmonyOS, which still holds great promise as an Android alternative and beyond. Huawei’s recent work on filling the Google-sized hole, so to say, in its current and future Android devices has been nothing short of admirable and impressive. Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) 4.0 beta was just revealed on December 27 at a Huawei Developer Groups (HDG) event. The beta version of what is essentially an alternative to Google’s Mobile/Play Services will be coming shortly and it is packed full of new features, as well as major improvements to existing ones.

Huawei account services, in-app payment services, and advertising services all get a major boost in functionality. And there are shiny new software packages to get excited about as well, like smart learning services and dynamic label manager services, as well as a new Safety Detect security detection service. The latter promises system integrity, application security, malicious URL and fake user detection. Definitely a nice and much needed effort into improving the company’s stance and image with regard to privacy.

Source: m.gsmarena.com “Huawei Mobile Services 4.0 beta is packing more features and getting closer to Google’s offering”

Note: This is m.gsmarena.com’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


US Military to Fall Behind China’s despite Huge Budget


Forbes’ article “Building The Air Force We Need To Meet Chinese And Russian Threats” begins by saying, “In January, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) released its unclassified assessment of China’s military capabilities, with the telling subtitle: ‘Modernizing a Force to Fight and Win.’ As DIA director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley explained: ‘China is building a robust, lethal force with capabilities spanning the air, maritime, space and information domains which will enable China to impose its will in the region.’ He went on to emphasize: ‘…the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] is on the verge of fielding some of the most modern weapons systems in the world. In some areas, it already leads the world.’”

The writer of the article blames former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for ceasing production of stealth fighter F-22 as he predicted that China would not have any stealth fighter jet by 2020 but why did he no change his mind to regard China’s military development as a “threat” when China tested its J-20 stealth fighter for the first time when he visited China in 2011? Because he was arrogant and did not believe that China would succeed in satisfactorily developing J-20 by 2020.

Now, Pentagon has changed its mind and begun to take China’s military development seriously. However, the US lacks funds to substantially increase its military budget. With much smaller budget, China is still able to catch up with and surpass the US. What if it substantially increase its budget? China has lots of funds to do so.

How can the US stop its own decline and China’s rise?

Think about that.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Forbes’ article, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.forbes.com/sites/davedeptula/2019/02/11/building-the-air-force-we-need/amp/.


Why Russia Doesn’t Fear America’s F-35 Stealth Fighter


Americans are horrified when their soldiers don’t receive the most cutting-edge equipment. Russia is willing to sacrifice sophistication for simplicity.

by Michael Peck December 29, 2019

Key point: Technology is technology, but war is war.

Hard to believe, isn’t it? Yet while the Sputnik News interview might be dismissed as tendentious at best and propaganda at worst, it perfectly illustrates how Russia and the West view weapons technology.

“The F-35 is a very complex system and, as such, it has lots of holes, bugs and other things, and it is very difficult to debug it,” Dmitry Drozdenko told Sputnik News. “Like other problems, all this is because it is an excessively high-tech aircraft.”

Sound familiar? Russia would have made the same argument in 1943, when hordes of uncomplicated T-34 tanks faced formidable but heavily engineered and expensive German Tiger and Panther tanks. Or the American M-16 versus the AK-47, or the F-4 Phantom versus the MiG-21.

Americans are horrified when their soldiers don’t receive the most cutting-edge equipment. Russia is willing to sacrifice sophistication for simplicity.

Drozdenko also declared to Sputnik News that “unlike us, the Americans rely too much on stealth. However, radar technology is developing fast and invisibility is no longer a sure-fire guarantor of air supremacy.”

Dogfights haven’t gone anywhere,” he added. “They will fire from a distance the first day, but a couple of days later, we’ll be flying like we always did before.”

Note the words “flying like we always did before.” As far back as the 1950s, the U.S. thought the future of air combat would be aircraft engaging each other with missiles at long range (which proved a fallacy in the skies over North Vietnam). The whole concept of the stealth F-35 and F-22 is that they can blast a MiG out of the sky without the MiG knowing it’s there. But to Russia, the good ol’ days of close-range aerial knife fights aren’t over.

Drozdenko does make a point about the F-35 that would have many Americans nodding in agreement. “The Americans tolerate this plane because it’s a very big and expensive business with contracts running into trillions of dollars. While they keep making the F-35s, the Americans are modernizing their fourth-generation-plus F-18s and F-15s trying to bring them up to par with Russia’s Su-35,” he noted.

What’s important here isn’t the mudslinging about who has better weapons, or the merits and demerits of the F-35. As Drozdenko points out, technological advances like stealth are transitory.

It’s the rival conceptions of military technology, and by extension how to wage war. These are concepts rooted in history and circumstances. America’s wars over the last century have all been fought overseas, where the U.S. could tap its industrial and technological resources to field expeditionary forces plentifully supplied with advanced equipment. For Russia, the last century was marked by two immense invasions by the Germans, as well as huge land battles against the Japanese, the Poles and even other Russians during the Russian Civil War. Conflicts fought on underdeveloped, rugged or frozen battlefields are harsh on equipment.

Of course, these images are partly stereotypes. Russia is indeed capable of making advanced weapons such as hypersonic missiles. And while simplicity is a virtue, it has its drawbacks, such as Russian jet engines that wear out too quickly. American weapons may be costlier and fancier than they need to be, but they can be quite effective if used by nations that know to operate and maintain them, as the Israelis have demonstrated time and again.

Still, it’s hard to argue with Drozdenko’s observations that war and technology are not the same. “Imagine a BMW and a Russian Niva on a bumpy road somewhere deep in Russia,” Drozdenko says. “Which of the two will wear out? Technology is technology, but war is war.”

Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook. This article first appeared in 2018.

Source: National Interest “Why Russia Doesn’t Fear America’s F-35 Stealth Fighter”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


Forget Aircraft Carriers or Stealth: Here Come China’s Special Forces


Special forces are becoming more heavily relied on by modern militaries.

Image: Reuters.

by Michael Peck December 28, 2019

Key point: Special forces have become America’s instrument for waging small wars on the cheap, using small numbers of elite soldiers rather than large numbers of expensive — and politically sensitive — regular troops.

Some special force units get all the attention. America’s Delta Force, Russia’s Spetnatz and Britain’s SAS have glamorous reputations.

When was the last time you heard about China’s commandos?

But Chinese special forces exist, and they have been growing in size, sophistication and global reach, according to the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO). Their command structure has been streamlined and training has become more realistic.

China put these changes to this summer during the first comprehensive assessment of its special forces. The exercise, Ingenious Special Operations Soldier-2018, “tested all levels of command, including brigade, battalion, company, element and squad levels,” FMSO said. “While media coverage of the exercise emphasized tests of special forces skills, such as fast-roping from helicopters, night operations and sniper attacks, the underlying point of the exercise is likely to be the test of command capabilities.”

Chinese special operations units are a recent creation. “China’s first army special forces units were first set up in the 1990s,” FMSO said in the August issue of its OE Watch magazine. “Additional units have continued to be stood up, with the other services of the PLA establishing SOF [special operations forces] units with specialized skills sets throughout the 2000s.”

Each People’s Liberation Army Group Army has an attached special forces regiment or brigade. “Increasing realism in training, and particularly the creation of PLA Aviation Brigades that provide SOF brigades with organic vertical lift, are important steps in creating an operationally useful force,” FMSO noted. “As assessments of the exercise “Ingenious Special Operations Soldier-2018” are published or future iterations of the exercise take place, the PLA’s progress in implementing the new command structure should become more clear.”

As for naval commandos, in 2002 the People’s Liberation Army Navy created the Jiaolong (“Water Dragon”). In 2015, it evacuated foreign nationals from the Yemen conflict, and in 2017 it recaptured a hijacked freighter from Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden as part of China’s anti-piracy patrols in the region. “Although the unit has provided ample fodder for Chinese Navy recruitment videos and propaganda, it should not detract from the fact that naval special forces have important roles to play in how China could conduct wars across a range of theaters,” said FMSO. “Video of Jiaolong unit training show them operating in a wide range of environments, from desert to frozen mountains and conducing airborne, surface and underwater infiltration missions.”

A Water Dragon company commander told Chinese media that the washout rate for the unit is 88.8 percent.

Of course, just like in the U.S., where every service feels compelled to have its own special operations unit, China’s air force has a commando brigade. In 2011, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force created the “Thunder Gods” unit.

“The Leishen unit, as elite parachutists, have acted as a test bed for innovations in the airborne corps,” FMSO said. “They train jumping from different aircraft and using various parachute configurations and maneuvers. Members of Leishen have attended Venezuela’s Hunter School to learn jungle warfare and participated in several international special forces competitions.”

Special forces are only as good as their transportation, and China is developing the capability to convey special forces to where they are needed. “China has traditionally lacked the transport aircraft needed to perform a major airborne operation,” FMSO notes. “With the Y-20 heavy lift transport entering mass production and upgrades to smaller aircraft being rolled out, that situation is changing. Although still in its early stages, PLAAF special forces units like the Leishen commandos have laid an important foundation for building a strong strategic deterrent and power projection capability.”

Which brings up the real question: Do improvements in China’s special forces mean they will be used more often? Would America’s current foreign policy even be possible without special operations units to battle insurgents or train friendly troops in the Middle East and Africa?

Special forces have become America’s instrument for waging small wars on the cheap, using small numbers of elite soldiers rather than large numbers of expensive — and politically sensitive — regular troops.

As China begins to stretch its muscles across the globe, it would be surprising if it did not do the same.

Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook. This article first appeared in 2018.

Source: National Interest “Forget Aircraft Carriers or Stealth: Here Come China’s Special Forces”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


China scraps extra-judicial forced labor for sex workers


December 28, 2019 / 8:48 PM / Updated 13 hours ago

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s parliament abolished on Saturday an extra-judicial system of forced labor used to punish sex workers and their clients for up to two years, but it stressed that prostitution remains illegal.

China banned prostitution after the Communist revolution in 1949, but it returned with a vengeance after landmark economic reforms began in the late 1970s, despite periodic crackdowns.

The official Xinhua news agency said China’s largely rubber-stamp legislature had voted to scrap the “custody and education” system. It said the decision would be effective from Sunday, when all those currently held in detention under the system would be released.

State media said the instruction to do away with the system had come from the Cabinet and parliament had recommended a review last year, noting that the program was increasingly not being applied in practice.

It had come in for criticism not only for its extra-judicial nature, as China seeks to promote a more law-based society, but also because of abuses such as the supposed rehabilitation facilities being run as profit-making ventures.

Xinhua said that when the system was instigated two decades ago it had “played an important role in educating and rescuing those involved in prostitution and visiting prostitutes”.

But as the country continues to deepen legal reforms and the criminal system, the “custody and education” program was less and less appropriate, it added.

The custody and education system’s historical role had already been completed. This is an important manifestation of strengthening social management using rule of law thinking and methods,” the news agency said.

Prostitution remains illegal, however, with punishments of up to 15 days in detention and fines of up to 5,000 yuan ($714.76), Xinhua said.

In 2013, China scrapped another controversial forced labor statute – the re-education through labor system.

That decision followed several high-profile miscarriages of justice, including a case where a woman was sent to a labor camp after demanding justice for her daughter who had been raped.

The re-education through labor system, which began in 1957, had empowered police to sentence petty criminals to up to four years in detention without going through the courts.

($1 = 6.9954 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Helen Popper

Source: Reuters “China scraps extra-judicial forced labor for sex workers”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China Launches Long March Rocket as Space Race Heats Up


Carrier rocket Long March-5 Y3 at the Wenchang Space Launch Center on Dec. 21, 2019. Photographer: Zhang Gaoxiang/Xinhua via Getty

By Kari Soo Lindberg

December 27, 2019 9:14 pm [GMT+8]

Updated December 27, 2019 11:09 pm [GMT+8]

  • Rocket enters orbit after blasting off from Hainan on Friday

  • Missions will include sending rover, spacecraft to Moon, Mars

China launched a Long March 5 rocket from the island province of Hainan on Friday, a key step in its ambitions to reach Mars and cement its place as a major power in space exploration.

The country’s largest carrier rocket, with a diameter of 5 meters (16 feet), blasted off from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center at 8:45 p.m. local time and entered orbit about 15 minutes later, according to a live broadcast from CCTV. The unmanned rocket was carrying a communications satellite named Shijian 20 that was deployed into orbit.

The “mission was a complete success,” the China National Space Administration posted on its website. Thirty-six minutes after takeoff, the communications satellite Shijian 20 was “accurately put in its predetermined orbit.”

This is China’s third launch of the Long March 5. An earlier version of the rocket malfunctioned less than six minutes after liftoff in 2017, pushing back the schedule for Mars missions to mid-2020 from late 2019.

In the context of the Mars 2020 mission, this rocket is essential — they have no other rocket that can do that mission,” said Blaine Curcio, founder of Orbital Gateway Consulting in Hong Kong. “While a failure later this month would not 100% rule out a Mars 2020 Long March 5 mission, it would make it astronomically less likely.”

China’s President Xi Jinping has ambitious plans for space exploration, and the country has outdone both the U.S. and Russia in terms of its number of orbital launches with 33 in 2019 before this Long March 5 attempt and 39 the previous year. There were two failures this year. In January, China became the first country to land a probe on the far side of the moon.

Missions involving the Long March 5 will include sending a lunar rover named Chang’e 5 to bring back samples from the moon’s surface, as well as sending spacecraft to Mars.

Faced with China’s space exploration push, the U.S. is also stepping up its efforts, with President Donald Trump this month signing into law a new military branch named Space Force as commanders express concerns about the space warfare capabilities of China and Russia. India too has been expanding with the successful launch of its Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft, though the country suffered a setback when its Vikram lander crashed on the moon in September.

It’s not just countries. Chinese venture capitalists are trying to rival the likes of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. ISpace, also known as Beijing Interstellar Glory Space Technology Ltd., became the first private company to successfully launch a rocket into orbit in July following failures by private firms Landspace and OneSpace earlier in the year.

(Updates with space administration statement in third paragraph.)

Source: Bloomberg “China Launches Long March Rocket as Space Race Heats Up”

Note: This is Bloomberg’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


US Military, Economic, Geopolitical Superiority Already Ended


Popularresistance’s article “In A Real War With Russia And China, US Superiority Will End” says that US superiority will end if there is a real war but what it really means is that US superiority has already ended.

Militarily, it quotes Andrei Martyanov’s book “The (Real) Revolution in Military Affairs,” (Clarity Press) as saying, “Such weapons (Russia’s supersonic missiles, etc.) ensure a guaranteed retaliation on the U.S. proper.” Even the existing Russian nuclear deterrents – and to a lesser degree Chinese, as paraded recently — “are capable of overcoming the existing U.S. anti-ballistic systems and destroying the United States,”

The book further says, “There is no parity between Russia and the United States in such fields as air-defense, hypersonic weapons and, in general, missile development, to name just a few fields – the United States lags behind in these fields, not just in years but in generations.”

Economically,diplomatically and geopolitically, the book says, “All across the Global South, scores of nations are very much aware that the U.S. economic ‘order’ – rather disorder – is on the brink of collapse. In contrast, a cooperative, connected, rule-based, foreign relations between sovereign nations model is being advanced in Eurasia – symbolized by the merging of the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the NDB (the BRICS bank).”

What the book means is not that US superiority will be ended by a war with China or Russia but the superiority has already ended.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on popularresistance’s article full text of which can be viewed at https://popularresistance.org/in-a-real-war-with-russia-and-china-us-superiority-will-end/.


China, Russia and Iran to hold joint naval drills from Friday


December 26, 2019 / 5:20 PM / Updated 9 hours ago

BEIJING (Reuters) – China, Iran and Russia will hold joint naval drills starting on Friday in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman, China’s defense ministry said on Thursday, amid heightened tension in the region between Iran and the United States.

China will send the Xining, a guided missile destroyer, to the drills, which will last until Monday and are meant to deepen cooperation between the three countries’ navies, ministry spokesman Wu Qian told a monthly news briefing.

The drill was a “normal military exchange” between the three armed forces and was in line with international law and practices, Wu said.

It is not necessarily connected with the regional situation,” he said, without elaborating.

The Gulf of Oman is a particularly sensitive waterway as it connects to the Strait of Hormuz – through which about a fifth of the world’s oil passes – which in turn connects to the Gulf.

The drills are also coming at a time of fraught tensions between the United States and Iran.

Friction has increased since last year when U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six nations and re-imposed sanctions on the country, crippling its economy.

Washington has proposed a U.S.-led naval mission after several attacks in May and June on international merchant vessels, including Saudi tankers, in Gulf waters which the United States blamed on Iran. It denies the accusations.

Tension has risen in the region not only over Iran’s disputed nuclear program but also over a September attack on Saudi oil facilities blamed on Iran by the United States and Saudi Arabia. Iran also denies involvement.

The Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman are key areas for international trade and maintaining security in the waterways is an important task, Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi, spokesman for Iran’s armed forces, said on Wednesday, according to the official IRNA news agency.

This drill will take place for supporting and increasing experience in the security of international trade in the region,” he said.

China has close diplomatic, trade and energy ties with Iran.

But China also has good relations with Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, meaning it has long had to tread a fine line in a part of the world where it has traditionally exerted far less sway than the United States, Russia, France or Britain.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to visit Saudi Arabia next year as it is the host of the 2020 G20 summit.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; additional reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh in Geneva; Editing by Gareth Jones and David Clarke

Source: Reuters “China, Russia and Iran to hold joint naval drills from Friday”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Huawei closes in on Samsung for world smartphone crown


by SC Yeung Dec 24, 2019 2:06pm

The smartphone market has been witnessing a massive churn globally in recent years thanks to the rise of a number of Chinese players. Once considered poor imitators, Chinese brands have come into their own, and are now playing a key role in driving the development of the industry. Standing at the forefront and showing the way forward is none other than Huawei.

Despite facing curbs from US authorities, Huawei has done quite well for itself and looks set to move ahead in its goal of overtaking Samsung and becoming the world’s No. 1 smartphone maker.

A market research report recently predicted that Huawei could surpass Samsung to emerge as the world’s biggest smartphone maker by shipment units in 2021, thanks to the firm’s strong momentum in both China and overseas markets.

A Korean newspaper, meanwhile, has said Huawei will rank the second in the global smartphone arena this year, surpassing Apple, with 251 million phones for an estimated market share of 17.7 percent by the year-end.

According to another report from Strategic Analytics, Samsung will still be the top phone maker this year with 21.3 percent market share and 323 million units, but the gap between Samsung and Huawei will be just 3.6 percentage points.

Apple, which has been focusing on the premium phone segment, remains in the third position, with shipments seen at 193 million units for 13.6 percent market share.

Huawei managed to improve its performance despite Washington’s sanctions which affected sales in the US and Europe. The Chinese tech giant offset the losses in key Western markets with a strong performance at home.

Industry observers have noted that Huawei recorded a sharp increase in market share in China this year after the US trade ban, as the company shifted its resources to the home market.

According to Counterpoint market research, Huawei’s market share in China in the third quarter rose to 40 percent, up from 23 percent a year earlier. Meanwhile, other local brands saw their market shares decline as Chinese consumers flocked to Huawei to show their support amid the US ban.

Given the huge share of the China market, the lack of Google mobile service support may not impact too much on Huawei’s overall status in the global smartphone arena. While the current market share figures are yet to reflect the actual impact of the US ban on Huawei, it is interesting to note that Huawei has adopted a low-profile approach in promoting its latest flagship model Mate 30 series.

Though the company launched the device in Europe with a special event, the product was yet to be sold in the continent due to the lack of Google services. Huawei knows the lack of Google support is a pain for European users. That could limit Huawei’s growth in some markets in the coming months.

As for Samsung, the company maintains a strong presence in global market thanks to its comprehensive product roadmap in all segments — entry level, mid-range and the premium segment. The Galaxy S10 series and Note 10 series are still considered one of the best Android smartphones in the market.

However, the problem is that the company has failed to achieve significant market share in China.

Currently, Samsung is not a top 5 or top 10 smartphone maker in the China market. Some market research figures showed that Samsung had less than one percent market share in China. This decline in the sales of Samsung in China is being attributed to the influence of the Chinese brands and the inclination of more and more Chinese users to go for domestic brands. For the second quarter of 2019, the Korean giant shipped around 700,000 units in China, which would account for just 0.7 percent market share.

Samsung’s fortunes in China have been on a downward slope in the past few years. In 2016, the company had a 4.9 percent market share which declined to 2.1 percent the following year. Last year, the figure slipped to below 1 percent. Reports indicate that in the first quarter of 2019, the company’s market share in China rebounded somewhat, to 1.1 percent.

The Korean firm said in October that it was shutting down its last phone factory in China, in the southern city of Huizhou. With its share of the Chinese market collapsing amid a rise in labor costs there, the company is now setting its sights on more promising markets.

Samsung’s share of the Chinese market has declined steadily since late 2016, when it suffered a steep fall in demand in the wake of the Galaxy Note 7 debacle. Samsung’s delayed response to the crisis, which erupted after reports of devices overheating and exploding, led to a severe loss of consumer confidence.

With Samsung losing out in the vast China market, and many Chinese consumers opting for domestic brands out of nationalistic sentiments, it is reasonable to expect that Huawei will further boost its overall global market share in the coming year.

With the gap between the global top two narrowing to just a few percentage points, don’t be surprised if Huawei dethrones Samsung as soon as next year to take the world smartphone crown.

Source: ejinsight.com “Huawei closes in on Samsung for world smartphone crown”

Note: This is ijinsight.com’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


Global Warming Benefits Russia, China, Hurts the US


Due to global warming China will have an Arctic Silk Road 5,000 kilometers shorten for its shipping to Europe as the Arctic has been melting.

The US, however, has been suffering from abnormal weather due to global warming.

Russia’s agriculture will be greatly benefited from warmer climate due to global warming.

The US regards China and Russia as major competitors and wants to contain them but it has withdrawn from Paris Agreement to benefit them and from TPP to benefit China.

Article by Chan Kai Yee.