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Zoom to Pay $85 Million to Users after Lying about Privacy

Well-known Chinese news site Sina (NASDAQ: SINA) recently reported that popular video conferencing provider Zoom Video Communications will have to pay $85 million to its users as part of the settlement of a class-action lawsuit. The company was accused of lying about offering end-to-end encryption on its services; as well as providing user data to Facebook and Google without permission. This came nine months after Zoom agreed to security improvements and a “prohibition on privacy and security misrepresentations” in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. However, the FTC settlement didn’t include compensation for users. In addition to payments, Zoom agreed to over a dozen major changes to its practices. Zoom later issued a statement promising, “The privacy and security of our users are top priorities for Zoom.” Back in 2020, it was revealed that Zoom did not offer end-to-end encryption despite claiming to do so. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic forced more people to work from home, Zoom’s user base has increased fivefold. In April 2021, the company had 497,000 customers with more than 10 employees, compared to only 81,900 in January 2020. Zoom said that, as more people get vaccinated and return to work, its growth may slow down.

Source: Sina, August 2, 2021

Apple Added New Flagship Chinese Assembler

Popular Chinese technology news site CNBeta recently reported that Apple has given Chinese electronics maker Luxshare Precision Industry a big promotion, tapping the company for iPhone 13 Pro production. Alongside long-term partners Foxconn and Pegatron, Luxshare is a new assembler making the latest flagship models. This move by Apple is highly unusual, as it used to only allow new faces to assemble old models. It appears that Apple is expanding the diversification of its supply chain for risk management, while also gaining bargain chips in negotiations with Foxconn and Pegatron. However, Apple’s high end model iPhone 13 Pro Max remains exclusively in the hands of Foxconn. In addition to Luxshare, Lens Technology will begin to provide metal frames for the iPhone; Sunny Optical will provide iPhone lens; Goertek and Luxshare will share the manufacturing orders for AirPods 3; and BOE Technology will also supply OLED displays for the iPhone, starting this year. The stock prices of these Chinese companies have all increased significantly.

Source: CNBeta, August 4, 2021

China’s “World’s First” Biological Experiments Violate Human Ethics

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has conducted several biological experiments which violate human ethics. While other countries have not done them because they are unethical, the CCP has been able to claim they are the “first in the world” to do them. Down the road, these experiments, as listed below, may jeopardize humanity.

  1. Make male rats pregnant. On June 9, BioRxiv published a research paper that researchers from the China Naval Medical University produced. It described and gave out the actual method to sacrifice three female rats to make one male rat pregnant.
  2. Human-monkey chimeric embryos. On April 15, a research team from Kunming University of Technology in China and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in the United States developed embryos with cells originating from humans and also with cells originating from monkeys.
  3. Genetically modified fetuses. In late November 2018, Chinese scientist He Jiankui created a situation in which twin baby girls were born with modified genes.
  4.  Shi Zhengli and the Wuhan Institute of Virology worked on modifying the Coronavirus.

Source: Epoch Times, June 29, 2021

BBC Chinese: China’s Taishan Nuclear Power Plant Shut Down for Inspection

The BBC Chinese Edition recently reported that the China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) announced on July 30 that “a small amount of fuel damage” occurred in Unit One of the Guangdong Taishan Nuclear Power Plant. The company decided to shut down the unit for inspection to identify the cause of the fuel damage and to replace the damaged parts. The Guangdong Taishan Nuclear Power Plant has the largest single-unit nuclear capacity in the world. In mid-June, the outside world questioned the safety of the plant. US media revealed that Framatome, the French supplier of the Taishan Plant,  asked the US Department of Energy for help, describing the Taishan Plant as facing “an imminent radiological threat.” At that time, CGN called the reports “rumor” and “hype” of the Western media. CGN’s latest announcement now says some small fuel damage does exist, but it was within the allowable range of the specifications. Framatome was once a subsidiary of Areva and was resold to EDF (Électricité de France) in 2009. In 2015, the French regulatory authorities found quality problems in Areva components. That brought the construction of three nuclear power plants in China, France, and Finland to a halt. The China Taishan Plant resumed construction later, but the plants in France and Finland remain delayed.

Source: BBC Chinese, July 31, 2021

LTN: Washington Pressured Netherlands to Ban Selling Lithography Systems to China

Major Taiwanese news network Liberty Times Network (LTN) recently reported that the U.S. Biden administration is putting pressure on the Netherlands not to sell lithography systems to Chinese semiconductor companies. The Netherlands’ ASML is the world’s top lithography systems manufacturer primarily for machines to produce computer chips. Even though China urged ASML to sell its EUV lithography system, the Dutch government still retained the export license of ASML EUV. So far, not even one has fallen into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party, even though ASML’s CEO Peter Wennink said that export restrictions may backfire. Less than a month after Biden took office, his national security advisor Jacob Sullivan and his Dutch counterparts discussed the “close cooperation” between the two countries on advanced technologies. Sullivan’s top priority is to continue to restrict ASML’s business with China. The Chinese communists hoped to provide domestic chipmakers with US$150 million EUV lithography systems so that Huawei and other Chinese semiconductor companies can reduce their dependence on foreign suppliers.

Source: LTN, July 17, 2021

One-Third of New Academic Degrees in Chinese Universities Are in AI

China’s Ministry of Education recently announced a list of new majors (in 2021) to be included in the catalog of undergraduate programs in higher education institutions. Among the 37 new majors (departments), engineering related programs occupy the lion’s share. About one third of the new majors are in AI and electronic engineering, including intelligent surveillance engineering, intelligent mining engineering and quantum information science.

Since the end of 2020, the president of China, Xi Jinping, has repeatedly stressed the need to strengthen national science and technology forces, to enhance the capabilities of controlling the industrial supply chain and to solve the problem of “being strangled” in key technologies.

In addition to AI, China is also trying to accelerate the development of its own semiconductor industrial talents. 2020 saw the establishment of an Integrated Circuits University in Nanjing, also known as the first “chip university” in China. In early 2021, Anhui University is also setting up an IC (integrated circuit) college. The Shenzhen University of Technology in Guangdong Province established the School of Integrated Circuits in collaboration with China’s leading semiconductor company SMIC in June of this year.

Source: Radio Free Asia, June 30, 2021

NASA Administrator: Support Permanent Exclusion of China from International Space Station

Global Times recently reported that, on June 23, at a U.S. House of Representatives hearing, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said that he supported the permanent “Wolf Clause” that excludes China from participating in the International Space Station. This means that China will never be allowed to participate in the Space Station’s research. Nelsen testified categorically that “America should be number one” in space technology. He also asked the House Science, Space and Technology Committee for a larger budget in order to produce greater results. In April 2011, on the grounds of so-called “national security,” the U.S. Congress approved the “Wolf Clause,” which banned any joint scientific research activities between China and the United States that were related to NASA or which the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy coordinated. With the recent space achievements China had, the EU and the U.S. started to worry. The European Space Agency (ESA) has already announced its 15 billion Euro new space program. The U.S. Biden administration just rushed a $24.8 billion 2022 NASA budget to Congress. Nelson seems to be familiar with the process of pumping more money into the Trump’s Artemis Program: play the “Watch the Chinese” card.

Source: Global Times, June 25, 2021

China Strictly Bans Bitcoin Mining

Well-known Chinese news site Sina (NASDAQ: SINA) recently reported that the Chinese central government required a ban on bitcoin mining across all provinces. Some provinces are leading the implementation of the policy. Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Qinghai, Yunnan and Sichuan issued local detailed requirements to power suppliers to cut off power to the miners. So far, large scale bitcoin mining has been brought to a full halt in China. Surprisingly, at the same time, some U.S. states are welcoming bitcoin miners. At the moment, there are at least five bitcoin mining companies being publicly traded in U.S. capital markets. For example, this year Marathon Digital Holdings acquired the Hardin Power Station in Montana to supply power for bitcoin mining. Emiliano Grodski, CEO of Bitfarms, said that, thanks to the Chinese government’s intervention, his company is seeing the most rapid growth in its history. In the U.S., The low cost of energy in Texas has attracted many bitcoin miners. In early 2019, Wyoming passed a bill to recognize virtual currency as an intangible personal asset. Last month, Miami had the world’s largest bitcoin conference. The mayor even welcomed Chinese bitcoin miners to come and offered a low-cost nuclear power supply. The Americans may bring China some enlightenment on this matter.

Source: Sina, June 23, 2021