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X Platform Suspends Many Chinese Accounts That Criticize CCP

Recently, many social media users found their X platform accounts critical of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) suddenly suspended without warning or explanation, and they were unable to appeal.

For example, Yang Caiying, who lives in Japan, said that her account was suspended because she shared information (found on the Internet) about CCP officials who persecuted her family members. Her friend’s X account was also suspended for mentioning some corrupt Chinese officials. Her repeated appeals to X yielded no results. “These days, I appeal twice every day. The first response always comes quickly, citing repeated violations of the rules leading to permanent suspension. My second appeal hardly got any response. I asked X to provide me the tweets supposedly violating their rules, but they didn’t provide the tweets nor did they offer any explanation. Their actions are just like those of the Chinese government.”

A social media user collected information from more than a hundred netizens who reported their accounts being suspended on May 3rd.

People suspect that X has a list of accounts targeted for suspension. The account “Nike in Australia” (Nike在澳洲) said, “R.I.P. I really didn’t expect my account to die on World Press Freedom Day, May 3rd. Perhaps, this platform will become more and more like Weibo. Maybe we’ll have to use puns in our tweets in the future. We all know that he [Elon Musk] went to China for one day, and the ban on use of his car’s [Tesla’s] Full-Self Driving capabilities in China was removed. But when he came back, before sitting for long enough to warm his seat, he started suspending accounts (that the CCP does not like). Apparently, dictatorship can be contagious; for money, so-called ‘values of freedom’ can also be sold.”

Source: Epoch Times, May 7, 2024

Warrantless Phone Searches Allowed Under New Chinese National Security Regulations

On April 26th, China’s Ministry of State Security announced two law enforcement regulations which state that local law enforcement officers will be granted the power to inspect electronic devices. This means that, beginning on the implementation date of July 1st, tourists visiting China may have their phones or laptops checked by local officers. Customs officers in Shenzhen and Shanghai have already started randomly checking phones and laptops of incoming travelers.

The new “Administrative Law Enforcement Procedures” and “Criminal Case Procedures” regulations allow state security officers, with approval from superiors at the municipal level or above, to legally inspect individuals’ and organizations’ electronic devices, facilities, applications and tools. In emergencies, officers only need approval from municipal-level superiors to inspect someone’s devices on the spot after showing their police or investigator credentials.

A Ms. Jiang returning from Shenzhen told Radio Free Asia that she saw customs officers checking a female tourist’s phone at the border, asking if she had any other phones. Mr. Shao from Shanghai said he witnessed customs officers searching a man’s phone after returning from Japan recently.

A Chinese legal scholar Lu Chengyuan said the regulations aim to create an atmosphere of self-censorship and fear of contacting foreigners or using encrypted messaging apps like Signal, violating constitutional free speech rights. He criticized the decision to allow administrative law enforcement officers to search phones without first obtaining a judicial warrant, calling it a blatant violation of privacy rights.

Another scholar, Mr. Liu, said that extending the justification of national security into people’s everyday lives has created an omnipresent atmosphere of state security terror. The regulations lack clarity on what qualifies as an “emergency” allowing officers to search phones.

Source: Radio Free Asia, May 7, 2024

RFI Chinese: China Asks Telecom Operators to Phase Out Foreign Chips

Radio France Internationale (RFI) Chinese Edition recently reported that, people familiar with the matter said Chinese officials earlier this year directed the country’s largest telecom operators to phase out foreign processors at the heart of their telecom networks by 2027. This would be a hit to U.S. chip giants Intel and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology set the 2027 deadline in order to speed up the government’s efforts to stop using such core chips in its telecommunications infrastructure. Chinese regulators also ordered state-owned mobile operators to check whether “non-Chinese” semiconductors are commonly used in their networks and to draft a timetable for replacement.

In the past, efforts by the Chinese telecommunication industry to wean itself from dependence on foreign semiconductors was to be hampered by a lack of quality chips produced domestically. Now, the quality of domestic chips has improved and their performance has become more reliable.

Currently, U.S. chipmakers Intel and AMD supply most of the core processors used in networking equipment in China and globally; geopolitical concerns now cloud their future business prospects in China. In October of last year, China Telecom purchased approximately 4,000 artificial intelligence servers, 53 percent of which used Intel processors. According to tender documents, the rest of the AI servers use Huawei’s processors. In the past, Intel chips accounted for a much higher share of server procurements.

Source: RFI Chinese, April 12, 2024

China and Thailand to Carry Out Joint Moon Exploration

On April 5th, China’s National Space Administration and Thailand’s Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation jointly signed a “Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation for Exploration and Peaceful Utilization of Outer Space” as well as a “Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation on an International Lunar Research Station.”

Xinhua reported that “China and Thailand will establish joint committees and working groups to strengthen cooperation in the fields of space exploration, space applications, building space capacity. This will be done through joint space projects, scientific exchange programs, personnel training plans, data and information exchange, and organization of joint thematic workshops and scientific seminars.”

“China’s Chang’e-7 mission [planned for 2026] will reportedly carry a ‘Global Space Weather Monitoring’ device developed by Thailand. This will be the first time a Thai scientific instrument enters deep space from Earth orbit. China’s Chang’e-8 mission [planned for 2028] provides opportunities for international collaboration, with the ability to carry payloads of 200 kilograms. Thailand has submitted several applications regarding lunar surface robots and scientific payloads. The applications are currently being processed.”

“China has already signed space cooperation agreements with more than 10 countries and international organizations.”

Source: Xinhua, April 5, 2024

Half-Stopped Factories Become Norm in Chinese Lithium Battery Industry

Shanghai-based Chinese financial news site East Money recently reported that, “as the period of frenzied investment has passed, the Chinese lithium battery industry has been shrouded in the shadow of overcapacity and price wars. .. After the Chinese New Year, which is often the peak period for job hunting and employment, many battery companies reported suspensions of production, layoffs, and salary cuts.” Below are some translated excerpts from the article.

The oversupply situation in the lithium battery industry has been reflected in all aspects of the entire supply chain. Some sources told the reporters that, in the new energy industry chain from top to bottom, no orders and half-stopped factories have become the norm. “The bosses themselves are looking to find a more stable job.” Starting this year, even large companies are in danger. Other than the two “super players,” CATL and BYD, the question is: how many battery companies can survive past spring?

The turning point for the lithium battery industry’s sharp decline occurred in the fourth quarter of 2022. The trigger was that the sales growth rate of new energy vehicles began to slow down significantly, which was not expected by the industry. Because of this, since 2023, the battery industry has fought a fierce price war, and capacity utilization has further declined as well. Even for CATL, its 2021 manufacturing capacity utilization rate was as high as 95 percent, dropped to 83.4 percent in 2022, and further dropped to 70.47 percent in 2023, which is still much higher than the industry average capacity utilization rate – around 41.8 percent.

Right now, the lithium battery industry is still facing the challenge brought by the worsen high EV inventories as the result of the rapid expansion of new energy vehicles. In the meantime, the battery inventory of the energy storage industry is piling up too. No one knows when the lithium battery industry will emerge from the bottom. A new round of elimination in the market seems to be just starting.

Source: East Money, April 1, 2024

China Makes Progress on eVTOL Aircraft Development

China has made progress in development of electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. China views the eVTOL platform as a revolution in aviation. “Similar to the transition from gasoline cars to electric cars on the ground, [a transition] from gasoline-powered helicopters to eVTOL aircraft [is occurring],” said Xie Jia, Senior Vice President of Fengfei Aviation Technology, Shanghai.

On October 10, 2023, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Finance, and the Civil Aviation Administration of China jointly issued an “Outline for the Development of a Green Aviation Manufacturing Industry (2023-2035)” proposing that, by 2025, eVTOLs will achieve pilot operation. The outline further proposes that, by 2035, new types of general aviation equipment characterized by unmanned, electric, and intelligent features will achieve commercialization and large-scale application.

In October 2023, China had its first flight of a 2-ton eVTOL in Shanghai. The aircraft, the M1, was developed by the Future Wing Company in Shanghai. The vehicle became China’s first independently-developed and domestically-produced 2-ton eVTOL. Production was domestic in all three core areas: electric systems, flight control systems, and composite materials. The M1 has a composite wing configuration with 20 rotors, a maximum payload of 500 kilograms, seating for 5 people, a cruising speed of 200 kilometers per hour, and an intended range of 250 kilometers. It can meet short-distance air travel needs within and between cities, shortening travel time from 2-3 hours to around 30 minutes.

In March of 2024, the eVTOL “Shengshi Long” took off from Shenzhen and landed at the Zhuhai, both in Guangdong Province, covering a distance in 20 minutes that would have taken 3 hours by car. This was the world’s first public demonstration of an eVTOL flight that traveled over water and between cities. The aircraft was developed by Shanghai Fengfei Aviation Technology Co., Ltd., with a takeoff weight of 2 tons, seating for 5 people, a cruising speed of up to 200 kilometers per hour, and 100 percent domestic production of its core modules.

1. People’s Daily, October 31, 2023
2. People’s Daily, March 2, 2024

Shenzhen Issues Plan to Promote Development of HarmonyOS Operating System

HarmonyOS is a distributed operating system (OS) developed by Huawei for smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, smart watches, personal computers and other smart devices.

On March 3rd, the government of Shenzhen issued the “Shenzhen Support for Open Source HarmonyOS Native Application Development 2024 Action Plan” to promote the Chinese version of this OS.

The plan puts forward specific development goals and directives for the development of the HarmonyOS software ecosystem by the end of 2024:

  • The number of HarmonyOS native applications developed in Shenzhen should account for over 10 percent of the national total;
  • major industries in Shenzhen are to be fully served by native applications targeting HarmonyOS;
  • HarmonyOS development courses will be offered in major universities and training institutions in Shenzhen;
  • the number of certified HarmonyOS developers will account for over 15 percent of the national total;
  • establish at least two industrial parks that rely primarily on HarmonyOS-based applications and software;
  • there will exceed 1000 software companies with staff who are qualified in HarmonyOS application development;
  • promote the stable operation of the HarmonyOS Ecosystem Innovation Center, providing public services such as showcasing and promoting HarmonyOS native applications, and talent cultivation; and
  • officially launch and expand the global Smart Internet of Things (IoT) Alliance to continuously increase the international influence of HarmonyOS applications.

The plan also encourages capable enterprises to expand outsourcing services for development of HarmonyOS-native applications, aiming to reach a scale of 500,000 HarmonyOS developers.

By the end of 2023, a total of 49 enterprises in Shenzhen had participated in the construction of the open-source HarmonyOS ecosystem, contributing 133 products and 11 software distributions. The open-source HarmonyOS community has more than 250 ecosystem partners, 35 project donors, 173 partners passing the HarmonyOS compatibility evaluation, and over 230 commercial devices in fields such as finance, education, smart home, transportation, digital government, industry, and medical care.

Source: Xinhua, March 3, 2024

Lianhe Zaobao: China Bans Government Use of Intel and AMD Chips

Singapore’s primary Chinese language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao recently reported that China is reportedly phasing out the use of U.S. chips and operating systems for government computers.

Following official procurement standards released last year, Chinese officials are winding down the use of Intel and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) components in government computers and servers. At the same time, China is also trying to eliminate the Microsoft Windows operating system and foreign-made database software in favor of domestic software. State-owned enterprises are required to complete the transition to domestic technology by 2027.

China’s Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released seven government procurement standards on December 26 last year. They clearly required that the Communist Party and government agencies at or above the township level comply with the standard of “safety and reliability.” On the same day, China’s Information Security Evaluation Center announced the first list of “safe and reliable” processors and operating systems. All of the recommended processors and operating systems are produced by Chinese companies, including Huawei and Phytium.

In the context of the China-US technology war, China has continuously encouraged government agencies to use domestically produced tech products in recent years. In 2022, government agencies and state-owned enterprises were asked to replace foreign-brand computers with domestic equipment. Mandates for equipment replacement at that time did not include hard-to-replace components such as processors, however. In addition to computers, China is also requiring employees in government agencies and state-owned enterprises to switch to domestically produced mobile phones. As of December last year, at least 10 provinces, including Beijing, Tianjin, Zhejiang, Guangdong, and Jiangsu, had implemented such requirements.

Source: Lianhe Zaobao, March 24, 2024