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Huawei Set to Make Electric Vehicles

Well-known Chinese news site Sina (NASDAQ: SINA) recently reported that, ever since the last batch of a shipments of 120 million high-end chips from Taiwan last December, Huawei’s mobile phone sales have been in freefall, income growth reached a record low and cash flow reached a seven-year low. Huawei’s board changed its strategy from “technology orientation” to “survival orientation.” In addition to getting into the cloud computing business, Huawei is partnering with Chinese-owner Seres, an electric vehicle and component manufacturer headquartered in Santa Clara, California, to make electric vehicles (EVs). Huawei’s online shopping site recently presold 3,000 Seres EVs in two days, while Tesla China was combating questionable consumer complaints. Starting in June 2020, Huawei conducted a re-organization and established the structure of an EV branch. The Huawei Smart Car Solutions Business Unit (BU) now has nine departments, including Architecture and Integration; Strategy and Development; Policy, Standards and Patents; Marketing; MDC (Mobile Data Computing); Quality Control and Operations. The BU branch plans to have three product lines: Smart Driving, Smart Cabin, and Smart Automobile Cloud. All heads of the departments of this BU come from Huawei’s top leadership team. The initial BU has around one thousand staff members and the goal is to expand to five to six thousand. Huawei also aims to produce a world-leading car operating system to compete against Tesla, Apple and Google. However, the company is facing a difficulty in finding manufacturing partners in the EV industry.

Source: Sina, April 30, 2021

Netizen Exposes Data Collection Function of Smart TVs Made in China

Recently, a Chinese netizen discovered that his home TV, equipped with the Android system, was secretly carrying out surveillance capabilities. In an article posted on the V2EX website, a discussion platform for designers and developers, he mentioned that a data service on his TV scans all network devices every 10 minutes, even including his neighbors’ information.

As he felt the transmission of the TV signal was slow, he decided to look at the background services that were running. He found something called ‘Gozen Data Service,’ about which he had absolutely no idea.

“I found that this thing scans my household’s network devices every 10 minutes, sending back the information including hostname, MAC (Media Access Control), IP addresses, and even the network latency time. It also detects the surrounding WiFi SSID (Service Set Identifier) names, and MAC addresses packaged and sent to the domain name gz-data .com.”

“In other words, with the information such as whatever smart devices or cell phones are physically at home, anyone who is connected to the WiFi, and the name of the neighbors’ WiFi networks, were collected and uploaded all the time. Are we sure this is not a spy service?”

Gozen Data is a Chinese company specializing in big data service in large smart TV’s, reaching over 100 million smart TV terminals made in China and accounting for 55 percent of the market. As of April 2019, Gozen Data entered into a long-term partnership with a long list of Chinese and Western companies including Sanyo, Toshiba, and Philips, by the implanting of an SDK (Software development kit) in the TV’s operating system so as to collect smart TV data.

Xing Jian, a citizen journalist who is familiar with the Internet technology, told Radio Free Asia that the Chinese government had modified the open-source Android system and used it for the “Xueliang Project (雪亮工程),” an IT network to surveil people living in the rural area.

The “Android system repurposed for this ‘Xueliang Project’ was able to achieve the networking of public security surveillance videos. The application usually intrudes into cell phones, TVs and other Android devices in the form of ‘spyware,’ automatically scanning and collecting the information such as device model, usage, and social media and transferring the data to the government databases.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, April 27, 2021

TikTok Accused in London of Collecting Children’s Private Information Illegally

Well-known Chinese news site NetEase (NASDAQ: NTES) recently reported that a class action lawsuit was filed in London against TikTok because it was illegally collecting private information from millions of children. TikTok may face a damages of billions of U.S dollars. According to Anne Longfield, leader of this current suit and the former Children’s Commissioner for England, every child can receive thousands of dollars in compensation if they win the case. According to Longfield, since May 25, 2018, every child who used TikTok suffered TikTok’s illegal information collection. The information was provided to unknown third parties for consumption regardless of what privacy settings the children had on the app. The information includes phone numbers, physical location and videos. TikTok claimed these accusations are baseless. In 2019, TikTok was fined by the U.S. FTC for a total of US$5.7 million for illegal information collection from underaged users. The company is still seeking settlement of a privacy related suit in the United States. The class lawsuite indicated that TikTok collected information without transparency and without the guardian’s consent, violating British and European Union data protection laws. There are 3.5 million children impacted in Britain alone.

Source: NetEase, April 21, 2021

Global Times: Russia Plans to Quit the International Space Station

Global Times recently reported that multiple high ranking Russian government officials said Russia will leave the alliances that constructed the International Space Station and start to build its own space station. This may put an end to the 20-year international relationship, which was recognized as a “rare example” of cooperation between Russia and the West. Dmitry Rogozin, Director General of Roscosmos, said Russia is gradually leaving the International Space Station and is ready to build Russia’s own, pending President Putin’s approval. The new Russian Station is expected to be launched in 2030. The International Space Station was founded in 1998. It centered on the United States and Russia, with the help from Japan, Canada, the European Space Agency member countries and Brazil. The 16-country international project received a total investment of over US$100 billion. Russia provided significant support to the International Space Station over the years. Currently the Station is rapidly aging. The United States did not show any interest in working with Russia in the future and both sides expressed the intent to have their own stations.

Source: Global Times, April 25, 2021

TSMC Chairman: China’s Semiconductor Industry Is Still Far Behind

Major Taiwanese news network China Times recently reported that Morris Chang, Chairman of TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company), gave a speech at a think tank conference. He expressed the view that China’s semiconductor industry is still far behind Taiwan while South Korea’s Samsung is a strong competitor. TSMC is currently the world’s most valuable semiconductor manufacturer. Chang thinks Mainland China is still over five years behind, even with tens of billions of dollars in government subsidies. Chang said that Taiwan has three competitive advantages. One is a large talent pool in the semiconductor area. Even the United State cannot compare. The second is that all levels of managers are from Taiwan. The third advantage is Taiwan’s advanced high-speed railway system and freeway system, which are suitable for large-scale manufacturing personnel movements. TSMC has three major manufacturing centers across Taiwan and thousands of engineers can be mobilized without moving their homes. TSMC has started investments in the United States. However, Chang has some reservation about the popularity of the manufacturing industry in the U.S. as well as the loyalty of U.S. engineers.

Source: China Times, April 22, 2021

China Shuts Down Social Media Accounts on Military Affairs

On March 22, China’s popular military Internet forum “Super Base Camp (超级大本营)” made a sudden announcement that it would permanently close four discussion boards, including the navy, air force, army, and aerospace and new concept weapons, starting from the early hours on March 23.

Afterwards, military public WeChat accounts, such as “Sina Military Affairs (新浪军事)” and “Military Sub-Dimension (军武次位面)” had also been shut down for “violations.” The victims also include Tencent’s own military channel the WeChat account “Military Lecture Hall (讲武堂).”

Some people pointed out that military fans often publish photographs of new military aircraft or warships under construction. As many of the suspended military forums are involved in discussions of weaponry, the recent move was likely to prevent leaks of secrets.

Overseas media observed and reported that some Chinese netizens commented that those social media sites or accounts often “create patriotic rumors” to incite people’s nationalistic emotions, resulting in the “Wolf Warrior sentiment.”

Zhuang Rongwen, deputy head of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Central Propaganda Department and Director of the Cyberspace Administration of China, said at a January meeting in the year of the CCP’s 100th anniversary, that it is of special importance to maintain the order of network communication and ensure that the network space is full of “positive energy.” He demanded that cyberspace place “adherence to the correct political direction, public opinion guidance and value orientation” in the first place. Zhuang also called for an increase in the penalties for illegal accounts and their platforms.

By late January and early February, many self online publishers and public account operators had already received a notice that mentioned specifically that, if an account “does not have the relevant qualifications, it is recommended that it not publish, comment on and interpret information related to political, economic, military, or diplomatic fields and major emergencies, to avoid violating relevant laws and regulations, causing inconvenience to subsequent operations.”

Source: Central News Agency, April 8, 2021

FCC Commissioner Carr Called for New Rules to Fully “Cut Off” Huawei and ZTE

Well-known Chinese news site Sina (NASDAQ: SINA) recently reported that Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner Brendan Carr called for new rules to ensure that Huawei and ZTE telecommunications technology and equipment will not enter the U.S. telecom network. Carr also proposed that the FCC should not allow equipment made with “forced labor” to enter the United States. The FCC set a rule in 2020 to ban the use of government funds to buy Huawei and ZTE equipment but allowed the telecom operators to use their own money to acquire such equipment. Carr described this as an “obvious loophole.” A spokesperson said that the FCC is working hard at addressing Carr’s concerns. At the end of 2020, the FCC asked American telecom operators to replace the acquired equipment. Congress also agreed to fund this plan with US$1.9 billion.

Source: Sina, April 1, 2021

Global Chip Shortage Pressured the West to Reconstruct Supply Chain

Popular Chinese technology news site CNBeta recently reported that a global chip shortage has intensified since the end of last year and has heavily impacted most of the major automobile manufacturers across the board. The British market research firm IHS Markit expected that, for the first quarter of this year, around one million automobiles will suffer delivery delays due to a car chip shortage. Analysts expressed the belief that the imbalance of supply and demand that the pandemic brought about was the main cause of the semiconductor shortage. The stay-home orders created a large wave of chip demand on personal computers, cellphones, game stations and other consumer electronic products that shifted chip production from automobiles to home devices. The recent fire at the Japanese chipmaker Renesas and the extreme weather in Texas contributed to the chip shortage as well. This trend is pushing the U.S. government and the European Union to start investments in domestic semiconductor manufacturing capabilities. Intel just announced a US$20 billion investment in Arizona for a new factory. Even South Korea, as one of the world’s biggest chip exporters, is forming an alliance with Samsung, SK Hynix and Hyundai to expand its domestic car chip manufacturing.

Source: CNBeta, March 31, 2021