China’s industrial profits grow for fourth straight month

By Reuters Staff


SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Profits at China’s industrial firms grew for the fourth straight month in August, buoyed in part by a rebound in commodities prices and equipment manufacturing, the statistics bureau said on Sunday.

China’s recovery has been gaining momentum as pent-up demand, government stimulus and surprisingly resilient exports propel a rebound.

Industrial firm profits grew 19.1% year-on-year in August to 612.81 billion yuan ($89.8 billion), the statistics bureau said.

That compares with a 19.6% increase in July and is the fourth straight month of profit growth.

However, industrial firms’ profits still face external pressures as rising tensions between Washington and Beijing cloud the global trade outlook.

Raw material manufacturing profits increased by 32.5% in August, up from 14.7% in July, according to Zhu Hong, an official at the statistics bureau. This was driven in part by a rebound in the prices of international commodities such as crude oil and iron ore, he added.

Meanwhile, profits of the general equipment manufacturing sector notched up 37% in August on-year, with electrical machinery up by 13.3% over the same period.

Economic indicators in August, ranging from exports to producer prices and factory output, all pointed to a further pickup in the industrial sector.

However, factory activity grew at a slower pace with smaller firms facing sluggish market demand and financial strains.

The country has introduced a slew of measures to kick-start the economy, from tax and fee reductions to grace periods for the calling in of debt.

China’s economy may stagnate if it fails to rise up the value chain, as it faces increasing competition from countries with advanced technologies and lower labour costs, economists warned.

Authorities have pledged to boost investment in strategic industries including core tech sectors such as 5G, artificial intelligence and semiconductors, and accelerate new material development to ensure stable supply chains.

For January-August, industrial firms’ profits fell 4.4% from a year earlier to 3.72 trillion yuan, better than the 8.1% decrease in the first seven months.

Liabilities at industrial firms rose 6.6% on-year at end-August, edging higher than the 6.5% at end-July.

Earnings at state-owned industrial firms were down 17% on an annual basis for the first eight months of the year, versus a 23.5% decline in the first seven months.

Private-sector profits fell 3.3% in January-August, narrowing from January-July’s 5.3% fall.

Reporting by Luoyan Liu and Engen Tham in Shanghai; Editing by William Mallard and Stephen Coates

Source: Reuters “China’s industrial profits grow for fourth straight month”

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

Chinese Navy Crafts Unmanned Sea Hunter Knock-off

By: H I Sutton

September 25, 2020 11:07 AM

Chinese Navy USV

A candid photograph posted on Chinese social media sheds light on a Chinese project to develop an unmanned ship similar to the U.S. Navy’s Sea Hunter. The trimaran is remarkably similar to the Sea Hunter in almost every respect.

Although the designation of the project is unknown, based on imagery analysis, the builder and dimensions have been established.

The uncrewed Sea Hunter has been designed under the Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program. The uncrewed surface vessel’s (USV) primary mission is to track quiet diesel-electric submarines. It is designed to “lock on” to a submarine and trail it continuously.

Platforms of this size and with this autonomy may have additional capabilities. But the inference is that China may seek the same capability as the Navy’s Sea Hunter.

Due to their higher speed, nuclear-powered submarines could out-run the USV, so the U.S. Navy’s own submarine should be largely immune. But other countries in China’s area of interest — notably Japan, Australia and India — all have diesel-electric submarines.

HI Sutton Image, used with permission

Compared to the Sea Hunter, the Chinese vessel is slightly longer (based on measurements in satellite images) and wider, so it may have a higher displacement. It is narrower overall, however due to the closer placed trimaran outriggers.

The Chinese vessel has been built by Jiang Tongfang New Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. In Jiujiang City, Jiangxi. Based on historic satellite imagery, the vessel was launched before August 30, 2019. The yard, on the banks of the Yangtze River, is 760 km (470 miles) from the sea. It is unclear whether it is an official Chinese government-funded program or a private venture. Jiang Tongfang New Shipbuilding is known to build government vessels but is not generally associated with the Chinese Navy (PLAN).

Chinese firms have already unveiled several USVs. These include armed models such as the Tianxing-1 unveiled at the 2017 China Marine Economy Expo in Zhanjiang. That uses a RIB (rigid inflatable boat) hull and is armed with a machine gun, likely of 12.7 mm. And more recently the Chinese unveiled the JARI catamaran, which is armed with a 30mm canon, surface-to-air missiles and two anti-submarine torpedoes. But both these drone vessels are a fraction of the size of the new trimaran USV.

PLA KJ-600

The main benefit of the increased size should be range and seakeeping. The U.S. Navy’s Sea Hunter is almost identical in size and boasts ‘transoceanic’ ranges.

While Chinese defense manufacturers have a reputation for copying, this vessel is unusual in the degree to which it appears based on an American design. But it is not alone in that respect. China’s new KJ-600 carrier-borne airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft is a dead ringer of the E-2 Hawkeye family.

Only one prototype of the Chinese “Sea Hunter” drone is known and it appears to still be at the shipyard. More details may emerge, especially if it is a government or export project.

A version of this post originally appeared on Naval News. It’s been republished here with permission.

Source: USNI News “Chinese Navy Crafts Unmanned Sea Hunter Knock-off”

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

Some 3,500 U.S. companies sue over Trump-imposed Chinese tariffs

By David Shepardson


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – About 3,500 U.S. companies, including Tesla Inc TSLA.O, Ford Motor Co F.N, Target Corp TGT.N, Walgreen Co WBA.O and Home Depot HD.N have sued the Trump administration in the last two weeks over the imposition of tariffs on more than $300 billion (£235.35 billion) in Chinese-made goods.

The suits, filed in the U.S. Court of International Trade, named U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and the Customs and Border Protection agency and challenge what they call the unlawful escalation of the U.S. trade war with China through the imposition of a third and fourth round of tariffs.

The legal challenges from a wide variety of companies argue the Trump administration failed to impose tariffs within a required 12-month period and did not comply with administrative procedures.

The companies challenge the administration’s “unbounded and unlimited trade war impacting billions of dollars in goods imported from the People’s Republic of China by importers in the United States,” according to a suit filed by auto parts manufacturer Dana Corp DAN.N.

The suits challenge tariffs in two separate groups known as List 3 and List 4A.” List 3 includes 25% tariffs on about $200 billion in imports, while List 4A included 7.5% tariffs on $120 billion in goods.

One suit argues the administration cannot expand tariffs to other Chinese imports “for reasons untethered to the unfair intellectual property policies and practices it originally investigated.”

Companies filing suit include heavy truck manufacturer Volvo Group North America VOLVb.ST, U.S. auto parts retailer Pep Boys, clothing company Ralph Lauren, Sysco Corp SYY.N, guitar manufacturer Gibson Brands, Lenovo’s 0992.HK U.S. unit, Dole Packaged Foods, a unit of Itochu Corp 8001.T and golf equipment manufacturer Callaway Golf Co.

Home Depot’s suit noted it faces tariffs on bamboo flooring, cordless drills and many other Chinese-made products. Walgreen, a unit of the Walgreen Boots Alliance, said it is paying higher tariffs on products like “seasonal novelties; party, first aid, and office supplies; and household essentials.”

Lighthizer’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

On Sept. 15, the World Trade Organization found the United States breached global trading rules by imposing multibillion-dollar tariffs in Trump’s trade war with China.

The Trump administration says tariffs on Chinese goods were justified because China was stealing intellectual property and forcing U.S. companies to transfer technology for access to China’s markets.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Tom Brown

Source: Reuters “Some 3,500 U.S. companies sue over Trump-imposed Chinese tariffs”

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

Why Can Intel and AMD Sell Chips to Huawei Again?

The ban on chip sales to Huawei didn’t last very long.

Leo Sun

Sep 25, 2020 at 8:45AM

On Sept. 15, new restrictions barring sales of U.S. components to Chinese tech giant Huawei went into effect. Those rules would have prevented Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), AMD (NASDAQ:AMD), and other American chipmakers from selling any new chips to Huawei.

But shortly after that deadline passed, Intel and AMD announced they had obtained special government licenses that will enable them to continue selling chips to Huawei. Let’s see how Intel and AMD obtained those licenses, and what they mean to the tech war between the U.S. and China.

Why does Huawei need American chipmakers?

Huawei installs Intel and AMD’s x86 CPUs in its PCs and servers, as well as Intel’s Altera FPGA (field programmable gate array) chips in its 5G base stations. Huawei develops its own Arm-based CPUs via its HiSilicon subsidiary, but those chips are less powerful than Intel and AMD’s chips. Huawei depends on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (NYSE:TSM) to produce those chips — but the Taiwanese contract chipmaker stopped taking its orders to comply with tighter U.S. regulations earlier this year.

Those restrictions also cut Huawei’s smartphone business off from Qualcomm’s (NASDAQ:QCOM) mobile chips. To make matters worse, NVIDIA’s (NASDAQ:NVDA) planned takeover of Arm Holdings could eventually cut HiSilicon and other Chinese chipmakers off from Arm-based designs — which account for over 95% of all smartphone chips worldwide.

Simply put, the U.S. could have cut Huawei off from the industry’s most powerful PC and mobile chips with its latest restrictions. That’s why the 11th-hour license approvals for Intel and AMD were surprising — the U.S. clearly had Huawei on the ropes, but it’s now backing up and giving the Chinese tech giant time to recover.

Why would the government grant Intel and AMD licenses?

The details regarding the new licenses are vague, but they’ll reportedly allow Intel and AMD to sell “certain” types of chips to Huawei.

AMD’s EESC (enterprise, embedded, and semi-custom) chief Forrest Norrod recently said that, based on its recent license approvals, the chipmaker wouldn’t experience a “significant impact” from the latest trade restrictions. Intel has been less forthcoming about the overall impact to its business, and merely confirmed it could sell chips to Huawei again.

AMD’s statement suggests that both chipmakers will continue selling PC and server CPUs to Huawei. Intel already supplies server-class CPUs to Inspur, China’s top server company, and stated back in July that the latest trade restrictions wouldn’t affect those shipments. Intel previously supplied supercomputer-class chips to the Chinese government, but the Obama administration banned those shipments five years ago. Therefore, Intel’s PC and data center businesses in China should remain fairly stable.

However, Intel’s FPGA business, which generates most of its programmable solutions group (PSG) revenue, faces a less certain future in China because its Altera chips power Huawei’s 5G stations (these are a major flashpoint in the escalating tech war between the U.S. and China). Intel’s statement about “certain” types of chips hints that those chips could still be banned.

Yet Intel can afford to lose those orders since its PSG business generated just 2.5% of its revenue last quarter. Intel doesn’t disclose the PSG segment’s exact revenue from China, but we know that the chipmaker generated 28% of its total revenue in China last year. As such, Intel’s FPGA sales to Huawei likely account for less than 1% of its total revenue.

Hesitation on both sides

These new license approvals should allay some concerns about Intel and AMD’s future in China, but they also indicate the Trump administration isn’t ready to completely cut Huawei off from American chips. That hesitation mirrors the Chinese government’s reluctance to blacklist U.S. tech companies.

Both sides seem hesitant because their technologies and businesses are still too tightly intertwined. Moreover, cutting off Huawei from American chips would force Chinese chipmakers to accelerate the development of their own domestic chips — which could harm American chipmakers over the long run.

Source: The Money Fool “Why Can Intel and AMD Sell Chips to Huawei Again?”

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

Is China About to Give Its Best Fighters Powerful New Jet Engines?

A game-changer?

by Sebastien Roblin

March 5, 2020

Key point: Beijing wants the best for its vaunted fighter jets. And that means better engines to allow them to compete with America’s finest.

In a 2018 Zhuhai airshow in China, a specially modified Chengdu J-10B single-engine multi-role jet wowed audiences with a series of jaw-dropping maneuvers including the famous Pugachev’s Cobra and the Falling Leaf, in which the diving aircraft spun laterally on its horizontal aircraft as it seemingly floated lazily towards the ground. You can see the stunts in this video.

This first appeared in 2018 and is being reposted due to reader interest.

Like its American counterpart the F-16 jet, the J-10—dubbed the Vigorous Dragon, or the Firebird by NATO—is a quite agile fourth-generation jet with an aerodynamically unstable airframe that has to be regulated by its flight control computer. But such maneuvers would have been impossible for a regular plane relying entirely upon conventional flight controls.

The secret-sauce in the J-10B at Zhuhai was its powerplant: instead of the usual Russian AL-31F(N) turbofan, it boasted a WS-10B Taihang engine normally reserved for use on the larger twin-engine Chengdu J-20 Mighty Dragon stealth fighter.

More importantly, this particular Taihang (labeled the WS-10G in some sources) was modified with three-dimensional Thrust Vector Controls (TVC) allowing the pilot to redirect the engine’s thrust by tilting the exhaust nozzles side by side as well as up and down.

This enhances the jet’s ability to adjust pitch, roll and yaw, granting the J-10B super-maneuverable flight characteristics, in which the pilot retains control of the aircraft during a stall, unlike for a conventional plane.

Aside from various testbeds, the United States only operationally deploys a single TVC-equipped fighter, the super high-performing F-22 Raptor air superiority stealth fighter equipped with two-dimensional TVC. Lockheed did not incorporate TVC in the later F-35 Lightning attack-oriented stealth jet.

Russia has adopted TVC engines on a larger-scale in the fourth-generation Su-30MK, Su-35S and MiG-35 fighters, as well as its Su-57 stealth fighter. China’s purchase of 36 Su-35 fighters in 2016 likely gave it access to technology it used to inform the TVC-equipped WS-10.

The ability to perform tight maneuvers is obviously slick card for pilots to hold up their sleeve in a within-visual range dogfight, potentially allowing them to outmaneuver nearby foes and possibly dodge an incoming missile.

But the value of incorporating heavier and more expensive TVC engines remains debated in Western aviation circles, because performing such extreme maneuvers drains away the jet’s energy in terms of speed and altitude that can be traded for speed. That means that a tight maneuver may pay off against an immediate threat, but then leave the TVC-equipped jet in question a ponderous state in which it would struggle to evade follow-up attacks.

It’s alleged that over-reliance on thrust-vectoring led to the defeat of Indian Air Force Su-30MKI fighters which dueled American F-15C jets in a Red Flag exercise in 2008.

Another issue is that the advent of high-off-boresight missiles like the American AIM-9X and Russian R-73 missiles and helmet-mounted sights on the latest fourth-generation fighters allow pilots to launch short-range air-to-air missiles at targets without having the nose of the plane pointed at them (though being so positioned remains desirable due to the added momentum.) This reduces, but hardly eliminates, the advantages granted by superior maneuverability.

The Troubled Taihang

Photos have revealed additional J-10Bs and more advanced J-10Cs modified as WS-10B testbeds, both with and without thrust-vectoring. in November 2019, photos emerged of a yellow composite-skinned J-10C with production model serials equipped with higher-thrust non-TVC WS-10B turbofans.

Furthermore, a J-20 stealth fighter testbed equipped with a thrust-vectoring engine is also known to exist.

China has for years struggled to get its indigenous WS-10 turbofans, particularly their metallurgy and single-crystal fan blades, to perform to the specifications and reliability required of them. Reportedly, early WS-10s had to be returned to the factory for refurbishment after only a few dozen flight hours.

For that reason, its J-20 stealth fighters often make do with lower-thrust Russian AL-31F engines, and so the beastly stealth jet has yet to attain its full projected performance characteristics.

After years of refinements, J-10 and J-20 manufacturer CAIG hopes the WS-10B model marks a more consistent step up in thrust and performance while China completes the development of a much higher-performance WS-15 turbofan.

The WS-15 is projected to generate 40,000 pounds of thrust, possibly boosting J-20 speeds to the point it can super cruise—fly supersonic in level flight without using fuel-gulping afterburners. The WS-15 is also speculated to feature three-dimensional thrust vectoring.

The question that emerges, therefore is whether the multiple J-10 TVC testbeds indicate China intends to build a higher-thrust, and possibly thrust-vectoring J-10D production model to succeed its very respectable J-10C fighter (detailed further in a companion article).

Or do the tests instead indicate CAIG’s focus on making thrust-vectoring J-20 stealth fighters? Dr. Andreas Rupprecht, author of the Modern Chinese Warplanes series of books, told Defense News earlier in 2019 it’s more likely that the J-10 engine testbeds are being used to test capabilities that will make their way into new WS-15 engine planned for the J-20.

The predominant theory in western circles is that beefy J-20 is exhibiting high-speed but inferior maneuverability, making it best suited for hit-and-run style attacks. But China’s evident sustained interest in testing agility-enhancing TVC engines may support a counternarrative that the J-20 is intended to evolve into a more well-rounded jet once upgraded with new engines, one that could more than hold its own in within-visual range combat.

Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring. This first appeared in 2018 and is being reposted due to reader interest.

Could Pakistan Move to Make Gilgit-Baltistan a New Province Soon?

Islamabad’s decision will factor in several domestic and geopolitical considerations.

By Abhijnan Rej

September 23, 2020

Media reports last week suggested that Pakistan may declare Gilgit-Baltistan — a part of Kashmir administered by Pakistan as an autonomous territory but also claimed by India — to be a full-fledged province in the near future. According to reports, on September 16 Pakistan’s Minister for Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs, Ali Amin Gandapur, said that Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit the region “soon” and make the official announcement. Since India’s decision in August 2019 to revoke the special constitutionally-guaranteed autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir, Islamabad has been struggling for an appropriate response – which, so far, has only taken the form of attempts to raise the Kashmir issue at the U.N. and the release of a new political map that marked India and Pakistan-administered Kashmir with the same color.

To be sure, if Pakistan was to revoke Gilgit-Baltistan’s autonomy, it would be much more consequential – and potentially fraught with risks. But such a decision is most likely to be taken in consultation with – if not dictated outright by – Pakistan’s powerful army and its chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Also at play is a renewed opposition push in Pakistan against (what the opposition calls) “selected prime minister” Khan. After a year’s silence, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif launched a strident attack against Khan on September 20 “accusing him of only reaching power through a vote rigged by the country’s powerful military,” according to one report of a conference of opposition parties. Whether Khan, who nominally enjoys the support of the military, will deflect Sharif’s attack by showing his resolve around Kashmir — an issue around which he can rally people — or (conjecturally) consolidate the army’s backing by adopting a muscular approach on the region remains to be seen. But any Pakistani decision on Gilgit-Baltistan will have to factor China’s significant investments in the region, as well as the ongoing India-China military standoff “next door,” in eastern Ladakh.

Let’s start with the domestic-political angle. Pakistan’s three major opposition political parties – the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F), the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), and the Pakistan People’s Party – announced a joint decision Sunday to launch a “three-phased anti-government movement” beginning next month and lasting till January next year with the aim to oust Khan from office. If this alliance manages to sustain itself, and some Pakistani observers remain skeptical, it stands to put significant pressure on Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party. But much would depend on Khan’s own assessment of the probability of something like that materializing. If he assesses that the alliance has the ability to stay its stated course, Khan might try to earn a quick win from the COVID-19 battered public with a decision around Gilgit-Baltistan to preemptively deflect some of the heat, and especially so if it buys him more goodwill with Bajwa which would, then, go on to help him consolidate his rule.

But Khan’s domestic-political calculus pails in significance compared to what the Pakistan army may – or may not – have in mind when it comes to drawing up a course of action for Pakistan-administered Kashmir (which currently comprises the autonomous “Azad Jammu and Kashmir,” along with Gilgit-Baltistan) as well as India. While soon after India’s August 2019 decision Bajwa spoke out — noting that his army was “prepared” and would “go to any extent to fulfill our obligations” to the Kashmiri cause — Pakistan’s coercive military options to force India to the negotiating table on Kashmir are limited. Any solo Pakistani military push around Kashmir at the moment is a non-starter given the significant Indian military presence in the region, especially as Indian planners find themselves confronting the possibility of a two-front India-China war.

Paradoxically, given these circumstances, Bajwa may indeed sign off on a plan to incorporate Gilgit-Baltistan into the Pakistani state – a move that will irk India considerably, but one to which New Delhi will have no meaningful reply given China’s military buildup in Ladakh. In fact, it is plausible that the India-China standoff creates an opening for Pakistan to establish a notional parity with India – just as India revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy in August 2019, Pakistan, by doing the same in Gilgit-Baltistan, could call it even and call it a day.

Of course, to what extent China may agree to such a plan remains to be seen. Pakistan’s incorporation of Gilgit-Baltistan as a fifth province of the republic would stand to help China consolidate its significant investments in the region. But at the same time, given the timing New Delhi would – irrespective of how the story actually played out in reality – suspect Beijing to be a backer, if not outright instigator, of the move. That, in turn, could lead to significant hardening of India’s position in the standoff in eastern Ladakh, at a time when diplomatic options to resolve the crisis look fewer each passing day.

Source: The Diplomat “Could Pakistan Move to Make Gilgit-Baltistan a New Province Soon?”

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

Sliver of hope for Huawei as SMIC develops its own chip tech

Chinese semiconductor group pressing on with technology that will see it enter 8nm process market and become a potential top player

(ATF) Chinese chip maker SMIC is reportedly developing high-performance chips to satisfy demand from troubled technology giant Huawei and other domestic companies.

China’s largest and most advanced semiconductor manufacturer is using foreign technology to achieve its goal, according to documents seen by Chinese news website Qweikejishou.

According to the report, some investors and firms including Huawei have asked SMIC to begin mass producing of next-generation chips. Huawei is scouting for high-end fabricators to provide components for its smartphones and other devices after its main supplier, Taiwan’s TSMC, halted shipments when US sanctions were slapped on the Shenzhen-based tech giant.

The SMIC move will also China’s broader economic goals; it has decided to increase its chip self-sufficiency rate to 70% within five years, hastened by the White House measures, which bar American technology, such as that used by TSMC, from being incorporated into Chinese tech products.

But the domestic industry will need to hold core technology patents if it wishes to meet the stated goals. To that end, the government is aggressively hunting for talent in the field and has made that a top national priority.

SMIC is the most advanced and largest wafer foundry in mainland China and has the greatest international reach and operations. Founded by dissenters from TSMC, it has mastered production of 90nm, 28nm and 14nm chip standards. The first generation of 14nm technology has already entered the mass production stage.

But SMIC’s best products can’t compete with flagship rivals such as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon, and there is a huge gap between its 14nm products and TSMC’s 5nm standard. It will take time for SMIC to enter the level of high-end foundry chip manufacturing.

The tech website claims the documents who SMIC’s 14nm chips can already meet most of the technology industry’s daily production needs for microchips. SMIC stated that the second-generation FinFET technology platform has also entered the customer introduction stage and is simultaneously developing next-generation process technologies. (Underline by this reblogger and ditto later on.)

According to information disclosed by SMIC chief executive Liang Mengsong, the N+1 process has 20 times higher performance than 14nm, power consumption has been reduced by 7%, and its size cut by 63%. This kind of process is equivalent to 8nm technology and SMIC expects to enter small-batch production of format by the end of the year.

The advantage of the new product lies in its lower costs and the craftsmanship that has gone into developing the chip is “on the next level”. According to SMIC’s N+1 process, 8nm can be produced without a photolithography machine.

Reducing the dependence on lithography machines is of great significance to independent research and the development of process technology. It will bring SMIC closer to producing mainstream 7nm technology and at that level will become the third-largest foundry in the world, second only to Samsung and TSMC.

SMIC will be the fourth company to enter the 10nm-and-lower process market and could join Samsung, TSMC and Intel in the future “top players” list, the report states.

But SMIC has some time before that happens. Upgrading its process technology to 8nm won’t happen overnight. Reports suggest it will begin trial production at the end of this year but mass production will take much longer.

While some have questioned how SMIC can produce 8nm without a lithography machine the report concedes “nothing is absolute”.

Source: Asia Times Financial “Sliver of hope for Huawei as SMIC develops its own chip tech”

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

At the UN, China’s Xi showed he understands the system better than Trump

The US is ceding leverage, which is giving China the influence it craves.

By Jen Sep 22, 2020, 4:00pm EDT

President Donald Trump spent most of his United Nations speech blasting China — for its handling of the coronavirus, for its contributions to pollution, for its trade policy.

China’s President Xi Jinping, who spoke shortly afterward, did not mention the United States directly. Instead, he talked about Beijing’s commitment to global cooperation and the humanitarian response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Both speeches misrepresented the realities of their countries, and the world, right now. But 75 years after the United Nations was founded, China, not the United States, has shown it knows how to work the multilateral system to its advantage.

Trump’s dismissiveness of international cooperation has been a theme of his presidency, culminating in his fourth (and maybe final) United Nations speech, where he once again revisited the greatest hits of “America First.” Or as Trump put it in his short, prerecorded address: “But only when you take care of your own citizens will you find a true basis for cooperation. As president, I have rejected the failed approaches of the past, and I am proudly putting America first, just as you should be putting your countries first.”

Even if expected, Trump’s tone was at odds with the UN’s 75th anniversary, which is all about member states renewing their commitment to multilateralism. His attacks on China were in sharp contrast to the warnings from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who warned earlier Tuesday morning against the start of a “new Cold War” and a world where “the two largest economies split the globe in a great fracture.”

We must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world: China,” Trump said, referring to the coronavirus. “In the earliest days of the virus, China locked down travel domestically while allowing flights to leave China — and infect the world.”

He accused the World Health Organization, which the Trump administration announced this summer it was withdrawing from, of being too greatly influenced by China. He demanded the “United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions.”

A representative for China, speaking to introduce his leader Xi, rejected the US’s characterizations, but in contrast to Trump’s adversarial tone, China tried to paint a picture where they were the good guys just trying to defeat the pandemic responsibly. “We should follow the guidance of science, give full play to the leading role of the World Health Organization, and launch a joint international response to beat this pandemic,” Xi said in his address, through an interpreter. “Any attempt of politicizing the issue of stigmatization must be rejected.”

Of course, China silenced whistleblowers who spoke out in the early days of the pandemic, it delayed reporting the outbreak, and there are still questions about China’s level of cooperation with the WHO investigation into the origins of the virus. China has also deployed propaganda to try to blame the US for the coronavirus, too.

We will never seek hegemonic expansion or sphere of influence,” Xi said in his speech, clearly a nod to Trump’s accusations. “We have no intention to fight either a cold war or a hot one with any country. We will continue to narrow differences and resolve disputes with others through dialogue and negotiation.”

Xi is framing China as a sort of responsible global partner and humble participant in the global order; he didn’t try to go tit-for-tat with the US. Instead, the leader of a country that is interning 1 million of its Uighur Muslim minority population, and has stifled democracy in Hong Kong, talked about the need “to join hands to uphold the values of peace, development, equity, justice, democracy, and freedom shared by all of us.”

The Trump administration isn’t wrong to call out China its misdeeds. (Trump did not mention Hong Kong or the Uighurs directly, though he warned against “religious persecution, and the ethnic cleansing of religious minorities.”) But the US also failed to offer an alternative vision of global leadership other than everyone looking out for themselves.

In rejecting global institutions, Trump then wants these global institutions to change — a proposition that seems doomed to fail. At least for the United States.

China’s influence in multilateral institutions is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy

The UN and its agencies like the WHO are really the sum of their parts, which is a collective of member states. That makeup is also reflective of the geopolitical realities of the world: The richest and most powerful states tend to have the most leverage. That is, still, the United States, even as it doesn’t always claim to have that role.

The United States, for example, is far and away the largest donor to the UN. While China’s contributions are increasing, in fiscal year 2019, the US’s commitments to the UN’s regular budget were nearly double China’s. (China is the biggest donor to UN peacekeeping missions.) As for the World Health Organization, in 2018 and 2019, the US’s contributions dwarfed China’s in both assessed and voluntary contributions.

There’s no doubt China’s influence is growing, but it is slightly overblown. But when the United States walks away from cooperative bodies — from the Paris climate accord to the WHO — it leaves behind a vacuum. China has hastened to fill it, and that, more than anything, is bolstering Beijing’s rise and influence. It gives China a chance to be a good guy — say, pledging $30 million to the WHO when the US threatened to withdraw, a fraction of the money the US provides annually. The Trump administration, in abandoning institutions for being too China-centric, is allowing them to become just that. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Again, this is not to say the US doesn’t have legitimate criticisms of the WHO, or China. But by refusing to work within the system, it is actively ceding leverage and losing credibility. Last week, in a discussion with reporters about the implications of the US leaving the WHO, Elizabeth Cousens, the president and CEO of the UN Foundation, said that even as the US is trying to push the WHO to reform, it’s “losing influence in that conversation because they’ve stepped off the field.”

The US can’t officially withdraw from the WHO until July 2021 because it must fulfill certain financial commitments through then. But that undermines trust in the United States as a reliable partner. China is happy to try to fill that gap.

And Trump’s anger at some of these multilateral institutions is somewhat misplaced. For all his “America is the best” rhetoric, he’s suggesting the United Nation has powers that it just doesn’t have, in part because powerful member states don’t want it to. It’s not as though the US likes supranational bodies getting involved in its affairs.

The UN system is far from perfect. But as Stewart Patrick, an expert on global governance at the Council on Foreign Relations, told me before Trump’s speech, past presidents used to criticize the United Nations “more in sorrow than in anger” — in other words, this body is imperfect and needs to be reformed. But Trump’s wholesale rejection doesn’t achieve those ends. If America wants UN bodies to work for its interests, then it has to work within them, rally support, defend, and make the case for them. That’s what China tried to do on Tuesday.

China might not succeed in this because global cooperation is as much a means to an end, in this case to build up China as a great power.

Take the quest for an effective and safe Covid-19 vaccine. In Trump’s speech, he said: “We will distribute a vaccine. We will defeat the virus. We will end the pandemic. And we will enter a new era of unprecedented prosperity, cooperation, and peace.” What he notably didn’t mention were any specific commitments to the rest of the world.

Alternatively, Xi claimed China had a “safe and effective vaccine,” then added that “there is a particular need in terms of leadership for the leaders of this movement to cooperate and collaborate with the most vulnerable countries.” He also pledged $50 million to help the UN’s Covid-19 humanitarian response.

But here’s the thing: Neither the United States nor China is among the 156 countries participating in a WHO-linked initiative to invest in Covid-19 treatments and vaccines and distribute them equitably around the world. You might understand that from Trump’s speech, but not necessarily China’s.

And that’s the point: Actions matter. If the US wanted to make the case that China isn’t a good global partner, putting its weight behind a vaccine project would show China isn’t the responsible actor it claims to be. It would also be using multilateral institutions in the US’s interests. But the Trump administration has not done so — and it’s not stopping China from doing it, either.

Source: “At the UN, China’s Xi showed he understands the system better than Trump”

Xi’s remarks at UN high-level meeting send ‘another stern message opposing US unilateralism, hegemony’

By Zhang Han Source: Global Times

Published: 2020/9/22 18:18:40 Last Updated: 2020/9/22 22:58:33

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s remarks at a high-level UN meeting on Monday, which stressed that “No country has the right to dominate global affairs, control the destiny of others, or keep advantages in development all to itself,” sent a strong warning against US hegemony and bullying practices that threaten to upend the world order and stability, observers said on Tuesday.

In his speech at a high-level meeting to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations on Monday, Xi noted that the UN must stand firm for justice, uphold the rule of law, promote cooperation and focus on real action.

Relations between countries and coordination of their interests must only be based on rules and institutions, and they must not be lorded over by those who wave a strong fist at others, Xi said.

Cold War mentality, ideological lines or zero-sum games are no solution to a country’s problems, still less an answer to mankind’s common challenges, Xi noted.

Chinese analysts noted it was a clear message to the US, which is stubbornly heading to the dead end of unilateralism in the hope of safeguarding its own privilege while exploiting the development opportunities of others.

“This is a clear message opposing the Trump administration’s recklessly quitting international organizations and pushing a unilateral agenda with hegemonic power,” Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

“It is an ironic contrast that the US was a fervent advocate of a multilateral world when the UN was established, and today it has become the biggest troublemaker for the world order when it thought the order no longer meets its own needs,” he said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Tuesday’s press conference also noted that Xi’s address to the UN’s high-level meeting shows China’s firm determination in upholding UN-centered multilateralism and the world order based on international law, and safeguarding UN’s core role in international affairs while always acting as a practitioner of multilateralism.

Xi has recently called for the upholding of multilateralism and opposition to hegemony multiple times. In early September, when the world celebrated the 75th anniversary of the victory of the anti-Fascist War, Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin exchanged messages and Xi said he was ready to work with his Russian counterpart to join efforts with the international community to resolutely safeguard international fairness and justice.

At a symposium commemorating the victory, Xi noted “the Chinese people will never allow any individual or any force to jeopardize their peaceful life and right to development, obstruct their exchanges and cooperation with other peoples, or undermine the noble cause of peace and development for humanity.”

Xi, in a speech delivered via video at the Global Trade in Services Summit of the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services, pledged that China will promote greater harmonization of rules for the services sector at the multilateral and regional levels, and work for continued improvement in global economic governance and more inclusive growth of the world economy.

Source: Global Times “Xi’s remarks at UN high-level meeting send ‘another stern message opposing US unilateralism, hegemony’”

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

Huawei Launches ‘Historic’ New Strike At Android To Beat Google And Samsung

Zak Doffman, Contributor

Sep 20, 2020,05:49am EDT

.Huawei is about to shift the 600 million users on its smartphone ecosystem from Android to its own HarmonyOS/HMS—at least that’s what seemed to be the key takeaway from HDC, the company’s developer conference a week ago. Well—maybe not. The real takeaway from HDC is much more interesting and will be a much more serious threat to Android than just shifting Huawei users. If it works, of course.

The reason Huawei is venturing an alternative to Android is the U.S. blacklist pulling Google software from its devices. That same blacklist has now removed chipsets and displays. There’s not much point in a new OS if smartphones are in short supply. The biggest threat to Android is not Huawei users shifting OS, it’s a potential market shake-up that impacts many more manufacturers than that.

Huawei has painted this shift from Android as an industry game-changer, a strike against Google and arch-rival Samsung, fuelling the company’s ambition to “fight” Android head-on “and take the lead.” Huawei overtook Samsung for global smartphone shipments earlier this year, albeit temporarily. The new U.S. action ensures that Samsung, as Android’s leading light, will recapture the market lead. Huawei’s ambition had been to topple Samsung’s crown. Now it needs to adopt an entirely different strategy to attempt the same.

At HDC, these game-changing supply chain issues were played down. Huawei’s consumer boss, Richard Yu, mentioned “restrictions and software shortages” in among an upbeat summary of “booming” sales, number one or two—globally and in China—in wearables, watches and notebooks. Number three for tablets. And, above all, number one—both globally and in China—for smartphones. For now, at least.

The U.S. first blacklisted Huawei in May last year, with the loss of Google being the headline. That tanked export sales for new Huawei phones, but its domestic market grew and grew. A year on, in May this year, the U.S. prohibited Huawei from using American tech to design or fabricate the custom chips that power its flagships. Plan B was to turn to standard offerings. Painful but not existential. Then, in August, Washington played its Trump card. Suddenly those third-party chips would also be restricted. There’s no obvious Plan C.

So let’s return to Yu’s bullish presentation. Yes, “our business has been affected,” he said, but “we can see our business is still growing fast.” Surely this means the company has a clever plan to replace those smartphone chipsets? That would mean the reported 75% decline in smartphone shipments next year, down to some 50 million units, must be very wrong. So, is there a secret Plan C after all?

Actually, there probably isn’t. Even if China pushed its domestic suppliers to breach U.S. sanctions, they could not produce the sophistication and volume of chipsets required. If there’s a secret, so to speak, it’s that Huawei seems to be contemplating a change in the relationship it now enjoys with those 600 million smartphone users around the world. One that would bypass U.S. sanctions.

Yu’s punchlines were all HMS-related. This is Huawei’s answer to Google’s Mobile Services (GMS), everything from the Play Store to Google Pay, as well as stock apps for maps, mail and search. Alongside HarmonyOS—a cross-platform operating system, HiLink—the networking ecosystem to connect Huawei devices to partner offerings, this is the new ecosystem intended to replace Android.

Huawei has been talking up its ecosystem for more than a year. A seamless, AI-driven linkage between smart devices. At the heart of this strategy is “1+8+n,” where “1” a user’s smartphone, “8” is the user’s smart devices—PC, tablet, wearables, and “n” is the myriad other IoT devices that link into this ecosystem, controlled by that central Huawei hardware.

The latest expansion of the U.S. blacklist has hit Huawei’s strategy with a fatal flaw. Tricky to deploy a strategy with a smartphone at its heart if you can’t produce the smartphone. But what if the smartphone isn’t from Huawei, it’s powered by Huawei? An open-source operating system like Android’s AOSP, available to other manufacturers? Through this lens, the integration between HarmonyOS (out of the box IoT ready) and HMS (490 million active users, 261 billion app downloads) becomes more than a stick-on Google replacement.

The growth [of HMS] is really fast,” Yu told HDC. “The development has exceeded our expectations.” HMS Core 5.0 is the latest iteration. Faster networking than Android and with lower latency, more API’s than Google’s GMS. If you want to build an ecosystem to compete with the world leader then this is important stuff. But how do you get partners to play along—Android isn’t broken, it’s a global powerhouse. Huawei’s experience in post-blacklist export sales tells you all you need to know about Android’s lock on the market.

Huawei’s answer is to play the China card. “Huawei would like to enjoy joint success with global partners and developers,” Yu explained. “We are dedicated to introducing Chinese developers to global consumers. We are hoping to see more TikToks in the future—so we can take them to the overseas market… At the same time, Huawei has the ambition to help overseas developers serve Chinese consumers.”

The China card. If you buy into the splinternet, the tech division that is being driven between east and west, then the macro opportunity for Huawei has always been to lead a new and united eastern alternative to the U.S. dominance of the mobile ecosystem. As I said last year, not long after the blacklist, if Huawei were to pass a point of no return on Google, then its long-game alternative would be to place itself at the beachhead for this new momentum, one supported by China’s own emerging technology strategy. And now here we are.

Looking at the potential for this balkanisation, competing operating systems and ecosystems, Yu told his audience that “we would like to be the bridge in-between.” The SDK for HarmonyOS 2.0, the smartphone-ready flavour is due by year-end, Yu said. The consumer boss has promised this before. Just after the blacklist, he said HarmonyOS (HongMeng as was) might be available before the end of 2019. That became 2020. Now it has become 2021. But the stakes have changed. This isn’t about posturing anymore, this is about survival.

Wang Chenglu—Huawei’s software boss, told HDC that the company has learned lessons a year into its own OS. “Developing a good ecosystem is far harder than developing good technologies… We don’t have along history of software development in China.”

Beyond consumer adoption, weaning millions off Google, the challenge for Huawei is to get its domestic rivals to play ball. No mean feat given there’s no Google-shaped burning platform for them to jump from to maintain their export sales. But China will push and cajole. This could fast become a national strategy. “I hope developers and partners can unite with us in this historic moment,” Wang said, “in this way a Chinese ecosystem can be long-lasting and thriving… Today we are taking the first step.”

Huawei’s smartphone-centric ecosystem was born out of its premium devices that competed head-to-head with Samsung and Apple. The thought that this ecosystem might now be launched onto a market absent those flagships is a twist that was never envisaged until last month. And Huawei users will not be expecting that as a potential outcome from next year—even now, Chinese consumers are snapping up Huawei devices, fearing supplies will run out early next year.

Most HDC write-ups have focused on the news that, finally, Huawei has confirmed that HarmonyOS is getting prepped for smartphones and will be a replacement for Android. “Maybe starting from next year we will see smartphones with HarmonyOS,” Yu told the developer conference. The question as to who will make those smartphones, though, might be much more important.

If—and it’s a huge if—Huawei can coral Chinese (and maybe even non-Chinese?) smartphone makers to jump from Android to its own operating system and app store, it will be a massive achievement. It will also be a serious threat to Google’s lock on the Android market and to market-leader Samsung. Again, though, let’s not be too hasty with any predictions. We haven’t even started a debate yet as to whether the U.S. would go so far as to sanction manufacturers who opt for Huawei’s OS.

Source: Forbes “Huawei Launches ‘Historic’ New Strike At Android To Beat Google And Samsung”

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