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TikTok Faced Bans in Britain, Belgium, Demark and New Zealand

Well-known Chinese news site Sina (NASDAQ: SINA) recently reported that British cabinet minister Oliver Dowden announced in the House of Commons that the British government will ban government staff from using the Chinese app TikTok on official mobile phones. The ban then took effect immediately. The UK’s move is in line with the U.S. and the European Commission, marking a “180-degree shift” in the UK’s previous position.

Earlier, United Daily News (UDN), one of the primary Taiwanese news groups, also reported that the Belgian Prime Minister said on March 10, because of concerns about online security, privacy and disinformation, that, for at least six months, Belgium will temporarily ban the use of TikTok on devices owned or paid for by the Belgian federal government. In the meantime, the Danish public broadcaster and TV station Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR) advised employees not to use TikTok on business mobile phones due to security concerns. This is the first news organization to issue such an advice.

In addition, the New Zealand Chinese online news site Solace Media also reported that Rafael Gonzalez-Montero, chief executive of Parliamentary Services, said that, following the advice from cybersecurity experts, Parliamentary Services have informed Members of Parliament and staff that TikTok should be removed from all devices that have access to Parliament’s network.

(1) Sina, March 16, 2023
(2) UDN, March 10, 2023
(3) Solace Media, March 17, 2023

LTN: Russia Banned China’s WeChat

Major Taiwanese news network Liberty Times Network (LTN) recently reported that the Russian Federal Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media Supervision Agency (Roskomnadzor) issued a statement stating that Russian government officials are prohibited from using some communications software developed and operated by foreign companies, including Discord, Teams, Skype for Business, Snapchat, Telegram, Threema, Viber, WhatsApp, and China’s WeChat. After the news spread across China, Chinese netizens ridiculed the government’s whining about the U.S. ban of TikTok. Last month the U.S. banned the TikTok use across federal agencies. In response to the U.S. ban, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, “The U.S. is so afraid of an app that young people like; it is too underconfident.” However, the Chinese government remained quiet on the Russian WeChat ban, and the Chinese mainstream media has been compltely silent. WeChat is the most popular mobile instant messaging app in China. It has been the world’s largest standalone mobile app since 2018 with over 1 billion monthly active users. The Russian WeChat ban was based on the amendments to the “Information, Information Technology and Information Protection Act” passed in 2022, and the amendments went into effect on March 1, 2023. The ban also applies to businesses and financial organizations with state involvement. The WeChat blockage by the Kremlin also made many Chinese people feel (it was) sudden and (they were) puzzled, due to China’s friendly position on the Russia-Ukraine war.

Source: LTN, March 5, 2023

EU Parliament, Japan and Canada Banned Government Use of TikTok

Popular Hong Kong online media HK01 Network recently reported that, following the European Commission and the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament is expected to announce a ban on government use of TikTok. In addition to prohibiting Parliament employees from installing TikTok on their work smartphones, private devices having access to the Parliament’s emails and the Parliament’s networks are also included. The Parliament is worried about TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, and that the Chinese government may use the app to collect personal data and other information. In Denmark, one of the EU member states, its parliament also strongly recommended that parliamentarians and employees delete TikTok.

According to major Taiwanese news network Liberty Times Network (LTN), almost at the same time, Japanese government spokesman and Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroichi Matsuno stated at a press conference that, for network security reasons, government employees are prohibited from using TikTok and other social media services that require connection to external networks on mobile phones and other terminal devices that may be involved in processing confidential information. Also in the meantime, the Canadian government announced that the use of TikTok on government devices and equipment is prohibited, citing information security risks. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this could be the first step. With the government banning TikTok, many Canadians and businesses will reflect on their online security and may choose to do so too.

(1) HK01, March 1, 2023
(2) LTN, February 28, 2023

China Times: Foxconn Plans $700 Million New Investment in India

Major Taiwanese newspaper China Times recently reported that top Apple supplier Foxconn, after setting up a foundry in India, developed recent plans to invest an additional US$700 million to build a new factory in India. The new production line is expected to be used to take over the iPhone production capacity transferred from Mainland China. Indian officials said that Apple wants to shift 25 percent of its iPhone production capacity to India due to concerns over the Chinese supply chain risks. The factory covers an area of about 1.2 square kilometers. In addition to the production of iPhones, the factory may also be used for electric vehicle parts. The new factory is expected to employ 100,000 workers. This investment is one of Foxconn’s largest single investments in India so far. In the future, China may face the risk of losing its status as the world’s largest producer of consumer electronics . Foxconn’s Zhengzhou (China) factory output dropped sharply due to the Chinese government Zero Covid lockdown at the end of last year, making Apple re-examine its supply chain in China. Foxconn’s investment in India may be a move to stay in line with Apple’s policies. Some reports indicated that the Apple iPhone 14 series 2022 production slipped by nearly 6 million units.

Source: China Times, March 3, 2023

The U.S. Added More Chinese Tech Companies to the Entity List

Well-known Chinese news site Sina (NASDQ: SINA) recently reported that the U.S. Department of Commerce has included an additional 28 Chinese companies and research institutions in the so-called Entity List on the grounds of national security and foreign policy interests. The Chinese companies added this time include Inspur Group (a Server hardware supplier), Loongson Technology (a leader in the CPU design field), 4Paradigm Technology (an artificial intelligence provider), BGI Research (genetic research), Suzhou Centec Communications (an Ethernet exchange chip designer), and a number of others. According to the regulations of the U.S. Department of Commerce, companies included in the Entity List must obtain authorization from the U.S. government to obtain U.S. products and technologies. Inspur Group, is a major player in China’s cloud computing, big data, hosting, and the artificial intelligence market. It depends heavily on Intel’s technology for its services. When contacted by reporters for comment, several companies said they were still assessing the situation and impact . A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson commented earlier that the United States has repeatedly generalized the concept of national security, abused export control measures, adopted discriminatory and unfair practices against companies from other countries, and politicized and weaponized economic, trade and technological issues.

Source: Sina, March 3, 2023

Global Times: European Commission Asked Staff to Uninstall TikTok

Global Times recently reported that, due to so-called data protection considerations, the European Commission has asked the agency’s staff to uninstall TikTok from work devices and personal devices using work applications. The Commission’s staff members were asked to delete TikTok no later than March 15. For those who do not comply by the deadline, work applications will no longer be available on the relevant device. This is the first time the agency has suspended its staff from using an app. A spokesman for the European Commission said it was the result of a “careful analysis,” but declined to disclose the information that led them to conclude that the app posed a significant cybersecurity and data risk to the Commission. The European Parliament also said that it was monitoring and evaluating all possible data breaches related to the app and would consider the European Commission’s assessment before making recommendations. A TikTok spokesperson expressed disappointment in this decision. For some time, the United States has been at the forefront of suppressing TikTok. Politicians in the U.S. frequently use “national security” as an excuse to request restrictions on the use of the app. In December last year, the United States banned the use of TikTok on all federal government devices. Although no EU government has followed the example of the United States, yet some countries, including the Netherlands, are evaluating whether to impose restrictions on the use of TikTok by government staff.

Source: Global Times, February 23, 2023

Over 5,700 Chinese Chip Companies Disappeared in 2022

Well-known Chinese news site Sina (NASDQ: SINA) recently reported that China’s “chip gold rush” is now showing signs that the tide is ebbing. Based on the latest statistics, in 2022, China revoked and cancelled the registration of 5,746 chip-related companies, far exceeding previous years. This represented an increase of 68 percent from 3,420 in 2021. Data further showed, in the four months from September to December last year, more than 2,300 chip companies were suspended or deregistered in China. This means that on average, more than 15 chip companies dropped out of the industry. With the U.S. Federal Reserve raising interest rates, inflation, the US-China decoupling, and the global semiconductor industry entering a downward cycle, it has been difficult for the domestic chip industry to remain untouched. The performance reports of the 49 domestic listed chip companies are seeing a year-over-year decline in net profit. These companies are suffering both on the performance side and on the side of the sale of stock prices. In addition, the United States continues to restrict semiconductor exports to China, which has also greatly affected the performance of the Chinese chip companies and industry confidence. China’s integrated circuit industry started and rose in the wave of globalization, and is accustomed to a global resource allocation. Now that the industrial development situation has changed, Chinese companies must adjust their strategies as soon as possible. The new mission is to find out how to reduce imports, increase local production, and strengthen the export of domestically produced chips while ensuring the safety of the supply chains. It is critical for China to form its own product family system and technical standards.

Source: Sina, February 16, 2023

Global Times: Computing Power Is Becoming a New Engine for Digital Economic Growth

Global Times recently reported that computing power, like water and electricity, has become a necessity in our lives. China is accelerating its integration into all fields of the economy and society. The processes of implementing real-life application scenarios such as smart manufacturing, smart city, smart medical care, and driverless cars, are all inseparable from the support of massive computing power. Computing power has gradually become a new engine for digital economic growth. Last February, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and the National Energy Administration officially launched the national “East Data West Compute” program which consists of eight National Computing Power Hub Nodes in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Yangtze River Delta, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and in the Chengdu-Chongqing, Inner Mongolia, Guizhou regions, and in the planned ten National Data Center Clusters. The “East Data West Compute” program guides the intensive computing power demand from the east to the west in an orderly manner. It also enables the cross-region flow of data elements and it also promotes the rapid development of the digital economy and the artificial intelligence industry with a national integrated computing power network. Recently, the Shanghai Data Center has started dividing high volume business data and distributed non-realtime computing loads to the Inner Mongolia Computing Hub, which has the advantages of a low electricity price and natural low temperature cooling. The program promotes an east-west balanced resource structure of domestic data centers to establish a clustered, integrated layout from a national perspective to improve efficiency.

Source: Global Times, February 16, 2023