Global Geopolitics: US-China Technology War; India's Regional Isolation; Pakistan's Ties With China, US

Is US-China technology war heating with Huawei ban? Is it part of the larger geopolitical landscape pitting the US as the established superpower against China as the new rising power? Is the fight over Huawei 5G merely a symptom of it? How will it affect global peace and the economy of the world?

Why has Intel fallen behind TSMC in semiconductor technology which is fundamental to computers, communications and other related technologies?  Is it just the fault of recently fired Indian-American technology executive at Intel? Why is US forcing TSMC to not manufacture chips for Huawei? Is this just an attempt to China's rise in technology?

Are India's regional ties with Bangladesh and Iran fraying? Will Iran-Pakistan ties improve?Why is China building a regional quad with Afghanistan, Nepal and Pakistan? Is it aimed at India and its quad with Australia, Japan and US? Will Pakistan be forced to choose sides between US and China?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Davesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com).

https://youtu.be/DLMloNMVwCs



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Comments

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan among top 5 markets for #China's ByteDance owned #TikTok video sharing app. #India leads with 190 million users, followed by #US 41 million, #Turkey 23.2 million, #Russia 19.9 million and #Pakistan 19.5 million. https://www.businessofapps.com/data/tik-tok-statistics/#:~:text=India%20still%20leads%20by%20some,are%20covered%20by%20these%20stats.

A total of 44 countries are covered by these stats. It is unclear whether these include China.

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1291431262129774592?s=20
Riaz Haq said…
Mark Zuckerberg tells #Facebook employees he's 'really worried' about possible #tiktokban. "It's a really bad long-term precedent..I am really worried…it could very well have long-term consequences in other countries around the world. https://www.businessinsider.com/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-tiktok-ban-all-hands-meeting-report-2020-8?utmSource=twitter&utmContent=referral&utmTerm=topbar&referrer=twitter via @businessinsider
Riaz Haq said…
#US squeeze on #China’s apps, #digital infrastructure could upend global internet. Over 20 of 100 top-grossing apps on #Google Play are #Chinese, while 10 of the 100 highest grossing apps on #Apple’s App Store are from China. #CleanNetwork https://www.scmp.com/tech/big-tech/article/3096323/us-squeeze-chinas-apps-digital-infrastructure-could-upend-global?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=share_widget&utm_campaign=3096323 via @scmpnews

“Many of the Chinese companies currently under unilateral US sanctions are innocent, and their technology and products are safe,” said Wang Wenbin, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, in a statement on Thursday. “It is absurd for the US to talk of a ‘Clean Network’ when it is covered in its own filth”, referencing the Edward Snowden incident and Prism surveillance.

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The Trump administration’s “Clean Network” programme threatens to further disrupt China’s technology industry, as the campaign seeks to restrict the international expansion of Chinese apps, cloud services and undersea cable networks.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday made sweeping remarks that – “to keep Americans’ data safe from untrusted vendors” – he will aim to remove Chinese-owned apps in the market as well as cut off links with China’s digital infrastructure.
The initiative, which the State Department said includes the commitment of more than 30 countries and territories, is likely to escalate the complex tech war between the world’s two largest economies, according to analysts.
“The negative effect of this programme is that it’s becoming harder to see a truly global vision of the internet and access without borders surviving this tech war,” said Paul Haswell, a partner who advises technology companies at international law firm Pinsent Masons. “It would seem that the object of the campaign is to remove Chinese technology from all aspects of US data transmission and processes. We’ll have to see if that is even possible in practice.”

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“This latest ramp-up in US-China tensions poses a potential barrier for the Chinese cloud companies to expand globally,” said Mathew Ball, Canalys’ chief analyst for global infrastructure, cloud and cybersecurity. He added, however, that this campaign “will be challenging to enforce outside the US”.
Pompeo said the US campaign is also focused on keeping the undersea cables that links the country to the global internet safe from intelligence-gathering by China.
In June, the US government blocked a major undersea cable network from linking Hong Kong to the US West Coast because it “would expose US communications traffic to collection” by China.
Riaz Haq said…
#US #CleanNetwork aims to restrict #international growth of #Chinese apps, cloud services and undersea cable networks. 20+ of 100 top-grossing apps on #Google Play are #Chinese, while 10 of the 100 highest grossing apps on #Apple’s App Store are from China https://www.scmp.com/tech/big-tech/article/3096323/us-squeeze-chinas-apps-digital-infrastructure-could-upend-global

The Clean Network campaign also aims to prevent sensitive personal information of US citizens and businesses’ most valuable intellectual property – including Covid-19 vaccine research – from being stored and processed on cloud computing platforms run by the likes of 

Alibaba Group Holding
, telecommunications network operators 

China Mobile
 and 

China Telecom


Baidu
 and Tencent.

Tencent and Alibaba, the parent company of the South China Morning Post, declined to comment on the US programme on Thursday. Baidu did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Alibaba Cloud
 was the world’s fourth-largest cloud services provider in the second quarter, behind Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, according to research firm Canalys.
“This latest ramp-up in US-China tensions poses a potential barrier for the Chinese cloud companies to expand globally,” said Mathew Ball, Canalys’ chief analyst for global infrastructure, cloud and cybersecurity. He added, however, that this campaign “will be challenging to enforce outside the US”.

Riaz Haq said…
Alibaba vs. Amazon

https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/better-buy%3A-alibaba-vs.-amazon-2020-04-02


With just about everyone who is still working doing so from home due to the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been a huge increase in the use of cloud services and online grocery orders. Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) and Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) are two of the top e-commerce and cloud service providers in the world.

Alibaba dominates China's e-commerce market, with 824 million users on mobile. The Chinese tech giant is also the leading cloud service provider in China with Alibaba Cloud.

Amazon is increasing its share of e-commerce in the U.S., as it becomes the go-to online store for people relatively new to buying things online. The company has over 150 million Amazon Prime members who enjoy free shipping and other services as part of a yearly subscription. Most of the company's profit, however, is generated from Amazon Web Services, which is helping organizations migrate their data systems from on-premise servers to the cloud.

Both companies were growing fast going into the coronavirus crisis, but the practice of social distancing will only make these companies stronger as more people adopt online shopping. We'll compare Alibaba and Amazon on financial fortitude, growth, and valuation to determine which stock is the better buy.

In hard times, companies that have plenty of cash can weather the storm, while companies that are swamped with debt add an additional element of risk that you can avoid by investing in cash-rich companies like Alibaba and Amazon.

The main difference between the two is that Alibaba generates more free cash flow relative to revenue than Amazon. Free cash flow is an important profitability metric to watch, as it shows the actual cash that is left over for value-creating moves like dividends, share repurchases, and acquisitions after paying all expenses and reinvesting in the business for growth.

Overall, Alibaba has the advantage here.

Which company is growing faster?
While Alibaba and Amazon have both been around for more than 20 years, both companies are still growing very fast, especially for companies of their size.
Riaz Haq said…
Cunningham, Edward, Tony Saich, and Jessie Turiel. 2020. Understanding CCP Resilience: Surveying Chinese Public Opinion Through Time. Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.

https://ash.harvard.edu/publications/understanding-ccp-resilience-surveying-chinese-public-opinion-through-time

This policy brief reviews the findings of the longest-running independent effort to track Chinese citizen satisfaction of government performance. China today is the world’s second largest economy and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has ruled for some seventy years. Yet long-term, publicly-available, and nationally-representative surveys in mainland China are so rare that it is difficult to know how ordinary Chinese citizens feel about their government.

We find that first, since the start of the survey in 2003, Chinese citizen satisfaction with government has increased virtually across the board. From the impact of broad national policies to the conduct of local town officials, Chinese citizens rate the government as more capable and effective than ever before.
Riaz Haq said…
Harvard Study: The study found satisfaction with the government improved overall from 2003 to 2016.


According to the study, the proportion of respondents satisfied with the central government rose from 86.1 per cent in 2003 to 93.1 per cent in 2016, although it dipped to 80.5 per cent in 2005.


https://www.scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/3093983/chinese-rate-government-more-capable-ever-long-term-harvard

“From the impact of broad national policies to the conduct of local town officials, Chinese citizens rate the government as more capable and effective than ever before,” authors Edward Cunningham, Tony Saich and Jessie Turiel, from the Roy and Lila Ash Centre for Democratic Governance and Innovation, wrote in the report.
Their study was based on data from eight separate surveys, including face-to-face interviews, conducted between 2003 and 2016. It involved more than 31,000 Chinese in both urban and rural areas. The surveys were designed by the Ash Centre at the Harvard Kennedy School, and carried out by a “reputable domestic Chinese polling firm”, the report said, without elaborating.

They rejected a theory that Beijing was sitting on a “social volcano” of suppressed public dissatisfaction, but cautioned that without robust economic growth – and if austerity measures were introduced – the widespread approval might change.
Riaz Haq said…
Has China Won by Kishore Mahbubani

Financial Times Book Review by John Thornhill

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=8278279504304651957&postID=6231840832100514419


In Mahbubani’s telling, written before coronavirus struck, the US ruling classes think their rivalry with China is a rerun of the cold war with the Soviet Union — and they know how that movie ended. It is surely only a matter of time and political gravity before the liberty-loving, free-market superpower sees off the latest uppity communist dictatorship.

Mahbubani picks up on that cold war analogy. But this time, he argues, the roles are reversed: the US is the inflexible, ideological, systemically challenged superpower, while China is the adaptable, pragmatic and strategically smart rival. “America is behaving like the Soviet Union, and China is behaving like America,” he writes.

Like an overzealous proctologist, Mahbubani probes America’s most sensitive parts. In spite of the increasingly bellicose noises coming out of Washington, the US has failed to develop any coherent strategy to deal with a resurgent China, he argues. That is in glaring contrast with the patient strategy of containment articulated by the US diplomat George Kennan in 1946 at the start of the cold war. Mahbubani gives short shrift to America’s marginalised modern-day diplomats: there are, as the former defence secretary Robert Gates observed, more members of military marching bands than US foreign service personnel.


The former Singaporean diplomat adds that US politics has been captured by a short-sighted plutocracy that would not survive long if the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, criminalising bribery of officials abroad, applied at home.


Lacking any strategic brain, the US has become over-reliant on military muscle and entangled in perpetual wars in the Middle East. The US may account for half of global defence spending, but how much use is its military hardware in a software age? US aircraft carriers, which can cost up to $13bn to build, can be easily sunk by one of China’s DF-26 missiles, costing a few hundred thousand dollars.

Most tellingly, the US’s social and economic model has stopped delivering for most of its people. “America is the only developed society where the average income of the bottom 50 per cent of the population has gone down over the past 30 years. In the same period, the Chinese people have experienced the greatest improvement in their standard of living ever seen in Chinese history,” he writes.




It is in the nature of a polemic to maximise all evidence supporting an argument and minimise everything that contradicts it. So it is with Mahbubani: unsparing on the US’s failings, he glosses over China’s manifest flaws. The Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, in which tens of millions died, merit one sentence. The current unrest in Hong Kong is dismissed as a struggle between the homeless and real estate tycoons.

Mahbubani is as effusive in his praise of China’s leaders as he is damning of their US counterparts. President Xi Jinping’s removal of term limits was necessary to counter factionalism and corruption. His rule delivers three public goods to the world: restraining Chinese nationalism; responding to climate change; and ensuring that China is a status quo power, not a revolutionary one. “There is a very strong potential that Xi Jinping could provide to China the beneficent kind of rule provided by a philosopher king,” he gushes.

In the end, Mahbubani ducks the question his book’s title poses. Despite his criticisms of the US, he recognises its many strengths: an individualistic culture; the best universities in the world; a magnetic attraction for the world’s best and brightest (including 351,000 Chinese students); and its strong institutions — although Donald Trump is working on that.

He concludes that a “geopolitical contest between America and China is both inevitable and avoidable”. Read this book to be provoked, if not convinced.
Riaz Haq said…
#India and #US , the 2 largest democracies in the world, are the sickest now. One major difference is that political opposition to the government’s mishandling of the #COVID19 crisis is much more energised and organised in the US than in India.

https://scroll.in/article/971086/the-two-largest-democracies-in-the-world-are-the-sickest-now

The two largest democracies in the world, India and the United States, are now struggling and flailing in the fight against the coronavirus. India has the world’s largest number of new cases, followed closely by the US. The number of reported cases are almost surely undercounts, as in both countries testing has been delayed and highly inadequate, if not downright chaotic. Death rates per million people are much lower in India, possibly because the Indian population is much younger. As the number of cases mounted, the government in both countries discontinued giving daily briefings on the virus impact.

As is well known, in the US, President Donald Trump and his party had been in denial or claiming imminent victories too often (consistent with their anti-science and anti-expert attitude), fatally wasting several weeks of potential preparation. Simple hygienic precautionary measures have been politicised, with not wearing masks becoming a sign of partisan or libertarian defiance.

The US also lacks a unified public health agency to authoritatively handle and coordinate in a major pandemic. Even in the best of times, the US private medical insurance system is messy, uncoordinated, mired in a bureaucratic system oriented to exclude people, and largely unaffordable for all those, particularly the poor, who do not have a stable job. Among rich countries the system is among the least prepared to face a pandemic of the current proportions.

The current regime in India in its health plans has been trying by and large to copy the American system of subsidised private insurance. Health spending by the Indian government as percentage of GDP has long been one of the lowest for any major country, and the public health system is chronically dismal. This has been a matter of national shame, but this kind of shame does not get the attention of our current crop of ultra-nationalists.

A poorly handled pandemic
Faced with the virus, India, like the US, has been woefully unprepared. India also wasted crucial weeks in February and March, even as the virus was raging in a neighboring country. This was not so much because of anti-science attitudes (though they are not absent in the ruling party and its affiliates – remember the cow urine drinking parties organised by some of them to forestall the virus), but more because of another virus that has been afflicting India’s body politic: the virus of hate and intolerance.

Much of February, particularly around the time of the Delhi state elections, went in majoritarian hate-mongering against the minority Muslim community and all dissenters against a highly discriminatory Citizenship Act. The protesting women of Shaheen Bagh were the enemy, more than the pandemic. On February 24, the regime felicitated Trump in an Ahmedabad cricket stadium packed with 110,000 people, at a time when restrictions were already in place in some countries. After the Delhi elections, some ruling party politicians were busy fomenting riots. The first half of March the central leadership was preoccupied with toppling an Opposition state government.

--------------------

There is a danger that by the time the coronavirus crisis is finally over in India, there may be only a largely hollowed-out shell of democracy left. India will then be known as the world’s largest pseudo-democracy. This will give China a much larger ideological victory than their minor military one at India’s borders that the Indian government is currently busy covering up to prop its faltering image of muscular nationalism.
Riaz Haq said…
Joe Biden’s China Journey
As a United States senator, he spoke of transforming China through trade. As a presidential candidate two decades later, he denounces it as a “dictatorship.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/06/us/politics/biden-china.html

Mr. Biden, leading his first overseas trip as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was also there in Beidaihe in 2001 to help usher in an important era in America’s relationship with China — the building of a commercial link that would allow the Communist nation entry into the World Trade Organization.

“The United States welcomes the emergence of a prosperous, integrated China on the global stage, because we expect this is going to be a China that plays by the rules,” Mr. Biden told Mr. Jiang, recalled Frank Jannuzi, the Senate aide who organized the trip and took notes at Mr. Biden’s side.

The senator traveled days later to a dirt-road village near the Great Wall. Seven thousand miles from Delaware, his adopted home state, Mr. Biden glad-handed bemused locals like a candidate, even taking holy communion from a Roman Catholic priest. He returned to Washington seeing more promise than peril, offering reporters the same message he had delivered to Chinese leaders: The United States welcomed China’s emergence “as a great power, because great powers adhere to international norms in the areas of nonproliferation, human rights and trade.”

Two decades later, China has emerged as a great power — and, in the eyes of many Americans, a dangerous rival. Republicans and Democrats say it has exploited the global integration that Mr. Biden and many other officials supported.

The 2020 election has been partly defined by what much of Washington sees as a kind of new Cold War. And as Mr. Biden faces fierce campaign attacks from President Trump, his language on China points to a drastic shift in thinking.

Mr. Biden calls Xi Jinping, the authoritarian Chinese leader, a “thug.” He has threatened, if elected, to impose “swift economic sanctions” if China tries to silence American citizens and companies. “The United States does need to get tough on China,” he wrote this winter in an essay in Foreign Affairs. Mr. Biden now sees the country as a top strategic challenge, according to interviews with more than a dozen of his advisers and foreign policy associates, and his own words.

Mr. Biden’s 20-year road from wary optimism to condemnation — while still straining for some cooperation — is emblematic of the arc of U.S.-China relations, which have deteriorated to an unstable, potentially explosive state. But as Mr. Trump denounces what he describes as failures by the Washington establishment on China, Mr. Biden, an avatar of that establishment, is not recanting his past enthusiasm for engagement.

-------------------

“There’s a question I’ve been meaning to ask students of China,” Mr. Biden said, according to Mr. Jannuzi, who is now the president of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation. “The students of Tiananmen Square, were they patriots or traitors to the People’s Republic of China?”

There was silence. Then, a physics student, a scholar of Newton and Einstein, stood up.

“The students of Tiananmen were heroes of the People’s Republic of China,” he said. “Senator, change will come to China. But it will be we, the students of Newton, who determine the pace and the direction of that change, and not you or anyone else working on the banks of the Potomac.”
Riaz Haq said…

A Tale of Two Dictatorships
by Kishore Mahbubani


http://www.mahbubani.net/articles%20by%20dean/a%20tale%20of%20two%20dictatorships.pdf

Myanmar and Pakistan are both Asian countries whose military rulers are in trouble. But they are
heading in opposite directions, because, whereas Pakistan understands why Asia is rising, Myanmar
does not.
Asia is rising because Asian countries are increasingly opening their doors to modernity. Starting with
Japan, this modernizing wave has swept through the four “Asian Tigers” (South Korea, Taiwan, Hong
Kong, and Singapore), some ASEAN countries (Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam), and then
to China and India. Now, it is moving into Pakistan and West Asia.
I was in Pakistan during one of its more exciting weeks. Exiled former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
sought to return, but was promptly sent back into exile. The world expected a political eruption. Instead,
the country carried on calmly.
Pakistan did not erupt because Pakistan’s elite is focused on modernization. Led by Prime Minister
Shaukat Aziz, who was formerly with Citibank, the country has carried out dramatic structural reforms,
matching best practices in leading emerging-market economies. This explains high economic growth
rates.
Pakistan has welcomed foreign trade and investment. And, just as the success of overseas Indians in
America inspired Indians in India, Pakistan stands to similarly benefit from its own successful diaspora.
But this opening to modernity extends beyond economics and finance. Yes, thousands of madrasas
remain open and Islamic fundamentalism is strong. But this has not completely changed the fundamental
texture of Pakistan’s society.
One sight at LUMS, a leading private university in Lahore, heartened me: how women were dressed.
When I visited Malaysian campuses as a young man in the 1960’s, few Malay Muslim women wore the
hijab . Today, on the same campuses, almost all do. By contrast, at LUMS (which has the look and feel
of Harvard Business School), only about 5% of female students wore the hijab , a remarkable
expression of social freedom.
There has also been an explosion of free media in Pakistan. An astonishing number of Pakistani TV
stations openly discuss the activities of Sharif and the other exiled former prime minister, Benazir
Bhutto. Indeed, many elements of an open society are in place, including – as the world learned in
March – an independent judiciary
-------

I was in Pakistan as a state guest. But my real mission was to reconnect with my ethnic Sindhi roots, as
I had never visited the country where my parents were born. Only those who understand the pain of the
partition of British India in 1947 will appreciate the powerful symbolism of a child of Hindu parents
being welcomed back warmly to Muslim Pakistan. Those cultural ties helped me understand the Urdu
and Sindhi being spoken, and also to feel the deep urge to modernize in the Pakistani soul – an urge that
exists alongside the urge to reconnect with Pakistan’s rich cultural past.
I left Pakistan feeling hopeful, because I saw the strong desire to join today’s rising Asia. If a similar
impulse could be implanted into Myanmar, both its people and the world would benefit.

--------

America’s decision to engage, rather than isolate, Pakistan has also helped. I have no doubt that closer
American re-engagement helped to nudge Pakistan in the right direction. Many members of Pakistan’s
elite have been educated in American universities – another leading indicator of a country’s orientation.
Just imagine how different international relations would be if American leaders could visit Myanmar (or
even Iran) with equal ease and have friendly discussions about agreements and disagreements.
Riaz Haq said…
"Has China Won?" by Kishore Mahbubani


America also prides itself on being a rational society. In many ways, it is. It is heir to the great story of Western civilization with its foundation in reason and logic. The scientific revolution that boosted Western civilization enabled its domination. With the advantage of a vibrant market, the strongest universities, and the most highly educated elites in the world, America assumed that no society could compete with it in the critical domains of economic and military strengths, intellectual ingenuity, and moral supremacy. Americans also assumed that since they had the most open society on the planet, the various mechanisms of this open society would alert America if it took a major wrong turn. Sadly, this has not happened in recent decades. Most Americans are unaware that the average income of the bottom 50 percent of their population has declined over a thirty-year period.* This didn’t happen because of one wrong turn. As this book will document, America has turned away significantly from some of the key principles that defined social justice in American society. America’s greatest political and moral philosopher in recent times has been John Rawls. Through his works, he tried to distill the wisdom of the philosophy of the great European philosophers, which America’s Founding Fathers learned from. Unfortunately, many Americans are unaware how much they have turned away from some key founding principles. Similarly, few Americans are aware that the world has changed in many critical dimensions since the heyday of American power in the 1950s. In 1950, in PPP (purchasing power parity) terms, America had 27.3 percent of the world’s GDP, while China had only 4.5 percent.* At the end of the Cold War, in 1990, a triumphant moment, America had 20.6 percent and China had 3.86 percent. As of 2018, it has 15 percent, less than China’s (18.6 percent).* In one crucial respect, America has already become number two. Few Americans are aware of this; fewer still have considered what it means. Even more critically, the global context in which the US-China rivalry will be played out will be very different from that of the Cold War. The world has become a more complex place. It is clear that America remaining the preeminent world power, while not impossible, is going to become more and more unlikely unless America adapts to the new world that has emerged.


Mahbubani, Kishore. Has China Won? (pp. 9-10). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition
Riaz Haq said…
"This challenge is the massive efforts being made by the 1.3 billion Muslims to modernize and create the same kind of comfortable and secure middle-class living standards that most American and Chinese citizens already enjoy. Fortunately, most Muslim societies are slowly and steadily succeeding, including the most populous Islamic countries of Indonesia and Malaysia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Over time, these more successful Islamic societies will have a positive impact on some of the more troubled Arab nations in the Middle East."

Mahbubani, Kishore. Has China Won? (pp. 279-281). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.
Riaz Haq said…
Snowden, Edward. Permanent Record (pp. 163-164). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.

"It’s not just the Internet’s infrastructure that I’m defining as fundamentally American—it’s the computer software (Microsoft, Google, Oracle) and hardware (HP, Apple, Dell), too. It’s everything from the chips (Intel, Qualcomm), to the routers and modems (Cisco, Juniper), to the Web services and platforms that provide email and social networking and cloud storage (Google, Facebook, and the most structurally important but invisible Amazon, which provides cloud services to the US government along with half the Internet). Though some of these companies might manufacture their devices in, say, China, the companies themselves are American and are subject to American law. The problem is, they’re also subject to classified American policies that pervert law and permit the US government to surveil virtually every man, woman, and child who has ever touched a computer or picked up a phone. Given the American nature of the planet’s communications infrastructure, it should have been obvious that the US government would engage in this type of mass surveillance. It should have been especially obvious to me. Yet it wasn’t—mostly because the government kept insisting that it did nothing of the sort, and generally disclaimed the practice in courts and in the media in a manner so adamant that the few remaining skeptics who accused it of lying were treated like wild-haired conspiracy junkies. Their suspicions about secret NSA programs seemed hardly different from paranoid delusions involving alien messages being beamed to the radios in our teeth. We—me, you, all of us—were too trusting. But what makes this all the more personally painful for me was that the last time I’d made this mistake, I’d supported the invasion of Iraq and joined the army. When I arrived in the IC, I felt sure that I’d never be fooled again, especially given my top secret clearance. Surely that had to count for some degree of transparency. After all, why would the government keep secrets from its secret keepers? This is all to say that the obvious didn’t even become the thinkable for me until some time after I moved to Japan in 2009 to work for the NSA, America’s premier signals intelligence agency."

Riaz Haq said…
Snowden, Edward. Permanent Record (pp. 172-173). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition. 



AT THE START of my employment with the NSA, in 2009, I was only slightly more knowledgeable about its practices than the rest of the world. From journalists’ reports, I was aware of the agency’s myriad surveillance initiatives authorized by President George W. Bush in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. In particular, I knew about its most publicly contested initiative, the warrantless wiretapping component of the President’s Surveillance Program (PSP), which had been disclosed by the New York Times in 2005 thanks to the courage of a few NSA and Department  Department of Justice whistleblowers. Officially speaking, the PSP was an “executive order,” essentially a set of instructions set down by the American president that the government has to consider the equal of public law—even if they’re just scribbled secretly on a napkin. The PSP empowered the NSA to collect telephone and Internet communications between the United States and abroad. Notably, the PSP allowed the NSA to do this without having to obtain a special warrant from a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret federal court established in 1978 to oversee IC requests for surveillance warrants after the agencies were caught domestically spying on the anti–Vietnam War and civil rights movements. Following the outcry that attended the Times revelations, and American Civil Liberties Union challenges to the constitutionality of the PSP in non-secret, regular courts, the Bush administration claimed to have let the program expire in 2007. But the expiration turned out to be a farce. Congress spent the last two years of the Bush administration passing legislation that retroactively legalized the PSP. It also retroactively immunized from prosecution the telecoms and Internet service providers that had participated in it. This legislation—the Protect America Act of 2007 and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008—employed intentionally misleading language to reassure US citizens that their communications were not being explicitly targeted, even as it effectively extended the PSP’s remit. In addition to collecting inbound communications coming from foreign countries, the NSA now also had policy approval for the warrantless collection of outbound telephone and Internet communications originating within American borders.

Riaz Haq said…
Instead of #AI, #Pentagon Is Clinging to old #tech. #US #politics of killing off old weapons systems is so forbidding — often because it involves closing factories or bases, and endangers military jobs in congressional districts — that the efforts falter.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/29/us/politics/military-cyberweapons-artificial-intelligence.html

A bipartisan House panel said on Tuesday that artificial intelligence, quantum computing, space and biotechnology were “making traditional battlefields and boundaries increasingly irrelevant” — but that the Pentagon was clinging to aging weapons systems meant for a past era.

The panel’s report, called the “Future of Defense Task Force,” is one of many underway in Congress to grapple with the speed at which the Pentagon is adopting new technologies, often using the rising competition with China in an effort to spur the pace of change.

Most reach a similar conclusion: For all the talk of embracing new technologies, the politics of killing off old weapons systems is so forbidding — often because it involves closing factories or bases, and endangers military jobs in congressional districts — that the efforts falter.

The task force said it was concentrating on the next 30 to 50 years, and concluded that the Defense Department and Congress should be “focused on the needs of the future and not on the political and military-industrial loyalties of the past.”

“We are totally out of time, and here is a bipartisan group — in this environment — saying that this is a race we have to win and that we are currently losing,” said Representative Seth Moulton, Democrat of Massachusetts, who served with the Marine Corps in Iraq and was a co-chairman of the task force. “There is a misalignment of priorities, and diminishing time to make dramatic changes.”

The report calls for the United States to undertake an artificial intelligence effort that uses “the Manhattan Project as a model,” citing the drive in World War II to assemble the nation’s best minds in nuclear physics and weapons to develop the atomic bomb. The task force found that although the Pentagon had been experimenting with artificial intelligence, machine learning and even semiautonomous weapons systems for years, “cultural resistance to its wider adoption remains.”

It recommended that every major military acquisition program “evaluate at least one A.I. or autonomous alternative” before it is funded. It also called for the United States to “lead in the formulation and ratification of a global treaty on artificial intelligence in the vein of the Geneva Conventions,” a step the Trump administration has resisted for cyberweaponry and the broader use of artificial intelligence.

But questions persist about whether such a treaty would prove useful. While nuclear and chemical weapons were largely in the hands of nations, cyberweapons — and artificial intelligence techniques — are in the hands of criminal groups, terrorist groups and teenagers.

Nonetheless, the report’s focus on working with allies and developing global codes of ethics and privacy runs counter to the instincts of the Trump administration, making it more surprising that the Republican members of the task force signed on.

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“The Pentagon knows how to acquire large programs,” like “fighter jets or aircraft carries, but it is less adept at purchasing at scale the types of emerging technologies that will be required for future conflict,” it said.

Defense Department officials have sought to address that problem. But the task force found that while those efforts sometimes succeeded, they were too small, and “the Pentagon has so far only been able to tap into a fraction of the innovation being developed in the United States.”
Riaz Haq said…
#China's #Huawei develops plan for chip plant to help beat #American sanctions. #Chinese fab will initially experiment with making low-end 45nm chips, a #technology global leaders in chipmaking like #TSMC & #Intel started using 15 years ago. #SiliconValley https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-11-01/huawei-chip-plant

Huawei is working on plans for a dedicated chip plant in Shanghai that would not use American technology, enabling it to secure supplies for its core telecom infrastructure business despite U.S. sanctions.

Two people briefed on the project said the plant would be run by a partner, Shanghai IC R&D Center, a chip research company backed by the Shanghai municipal government.

Industry experts said the project could help Huawei, which has no experience in fabricating chips, chart a path to long-term survival.

U.S. export controls imposed in May and tightened in August leverage American companies’ dominance of certain chip-manufacturing equipment and chip-design software to block semiconductor supplies to Huawei.

Industry experts said the planned local facility would be a potential new source for semiconductors after stocks of imported chips Huawei has been accumulating since last year ran out.

The fabrication plant will initially experiment with making low-end 45nm chips, a technology global leaders in chipmaking started using 15 years ago.

But Huawei wants to make more advanced 28nm chips by the end of next year, according to chip industry engineers and executives familiar with the project. Such a plan would allow Huawei to make smart TVs and other “internet of things” devices.

Huawei then aims to produce 20nm chips by late 2022, which could be used to make most of its 5G telecoms equipment and allow that business to continue even with the U.S. sanctions.
“The planned new production line will not help with the smartphone business since chipsets needed for smartphones need to be produced at more advanced technology nodes,” said a semiconductor industry executive briefed on the plans.

“But if it succeeds, it can become a bridge to a sustainable future for their infrastructure business, in combination with the inventory they have built and which should last for two years or so,” he said.

“They possibly can do it, in maybe two years,” said Mark Li, a semiconductor analyst at Bernstein in Hong Kong.

He added that although the chips Huawei needed for making mobile network base stations would ideally be made on 14nm or more advanced process technology, using 28nm was possible.


“Huawei can make up for the shortcomings on the software and system side,” he said. Chinese producers could tolerate higher costs and operational inefficiencies than their offshore competitors.

The project, first reported by Chinese newspaper Caixin last month, could also jump-start China’s ambitions to shake off its dependency on foreign chip technology, particularly from the U.S., which wants to slow China’s development as a technology power.

Huawei has already been investing in the domestic semiconductor sector, especially among smaller operators, a chip industry executive said.

“Huawei has strong abilities in chip design, and we are very happy to help a trustworthy supply chain develop its capabilities in chip manufacturing, equipment and materials. Helping them is helping ourselves,” rotating chairman Guo Ping told journalists in September.
Riaz Haq said…
What started as #Asian pivot for #America is now a full-blown containment strategy to check #China's power by "supporting India’s efforts to pose military dilemmas for China....." #India #Pakistan #CPEC #Asia https://www.dawn.com/news/1596983


The opening line (of "Rising to the China Challenge" report) declares: “The United States and China are locked in strategic competition over the future of the Indo-Pacific” and then goes on to paint a stark contrast between America’s “free and open” vision and the “closed and illiberal” future that the report sees China as envisioning. It then goes on to state that “managing the China challenge” should be the topmost priority of US foreign policy and that doing so will carry economic costs for Americans and require sacrifice and trade-offs. This makes it clear that the coming decade will be shaped by the US-China confrontation, with all the turmoil and scheming that this entails.

There’s a lot in the report that is meant to alarm or goad US policymakers into action, in keeping with the standard policy of exaggerating threats in order to justify a massive response. To summarise, the report warns that “China is poised to surpass the United States in gross domestic product, while racing ahead to gain technological advantage in key areas such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and genomics,” and that the US response must then be to compete in the domains of “economics, technology, diplomacy, ideology, governance, and human capital”. Which pretty much covers all bases.

The report notes that the US has an advantage in the number of regional allies and partners it has, such as Australia, Japan, South Korea and Thailand, and notably mentions India a total of 31 times. By contrast, the only mention of Pakistan is a hyphenated one, occurring in the context of the Indo-Pakistan border. And that brings us to exactly what the US intends to do for India in military terms with the aim of propping it up as a regional counterweight to China. In the report’s own language, this entails “supporting India’s efforts to pose military dilemmas for China, thereby providing low-cost means to complicate the ability of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to concentrate … on US strongholds in East Asia and the Western Pacific”, noting that while India “has the potential to contribute as a military counterweight to China”, its “structural impediments and resource constraints” have hampered it.

The report then spends a good amount of space on how to remove those impediments and relieve those constraints. It envisions an India armed with super and hypersonic anti-ship missiles along with the targeting systems needed to maximise the potential of these weapons. It also proposes making it easier for India to build and/or acquire more cutting-edge attack submarines. There is a focus on improving Indian military transportation infrastructure, allowing it to better redeploy forces on short notice. More crucially, it emphasises making “major investments in [Indian] electronic warfare, cyber offence and counterspace systems”, thus changing the Indian army’s approach from “territorial defence” to multi-domain dominance.

Interestingly, it also proposes turning a blind eye to Indian acquisitions of Russian defence technology so as to not corner Russia or inconvenience India. In that context, the report also proposes “removing barriers” to assistance to allied countries, which in this case means turning a blind eye to growing authoritarianism and Hindutva-led fascism in India. After all, principles are nice to have, but not at the expense of power. As for us, we know that while India may acquire capabilities against China, those capabilities will be first used against us. Will we be forced into a camp or can deft diplomacy reap us some benefits? Either way, things are about to get interesting, once again.

https://www.cnas.org/publications/reports/rising-to-the-china-challenge

Riaz Haq said…
With Money, and Waste, China Fights for Chip Independence
Beijing’s drive to free itself from reliance on imported semiconductors has lifted start-ups and big firms alike. Some have flamed out. But there has been progress.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/24/technology/china-semiconductors.html

Liu Fengfeng had more than a decade under his belt at one of the world’s most prominent technology companies before he realized where the real gold rush in China was taking place.

Computer chips are the brains and souls of all the electronics the country’s factories crank out. Yet they are mostly designed and produced overseas. China’s government is lavishing money upon anyone who can help change that.

So last year Mr. Liu, 40, left his corporate job at Foxconn, the Taiwanese giant that assembles iPhones in China for Apple. He found a niche — high-end films and adhesives for chip products — and quickly raised $5 million. Today his start-up has 36 employees, most of them in the tech hub of Shenzhen, and is aiming to start mass production next year.

“Before, you might have had to beg Grandpa and call on Grandma for money,” Mr. Liu said. “Now, you just have a few conversations and everyone is hoping projects get started as soon as possible.”

China is in the midst of a mass mobilization for chip mastery, a quest whose aims can seem just as harebrained and impossible — at least until they are achieved — as sending rovers to the moon or dominating Olympic gold medals. In every corner of the country, investors, entrepreneurs and local officials are in a frenzy to build up semiconductor abilities, responding to a call from the country’s leader, Xi Jinping, to rely less on the outside world in key technologies.


Their efforts are starting to pay off. China remains far from hosting real rivals to American chip giants like Intel and Nvidia, and its semiconductor manufacturers are at least four years behind the leading edge in Taiwan. Still, local companies are expanding their ability to meet the country’s needs, particularly for products, such as smart appliances and electric vehicles, that have more modest requirements than supercomputers and high-end smartphones.

The turbocharged chip push could prove one of the most enduring legacies of President Trump’s pugilistic trade policies toward China. By turning the country’s dependence on foreign chips into a cudgel for attacking companies like Huawei, the administration made Chinese business and political leaders resolve never to be caught out that way again.


ImageLiu Fengfeng, Tsinghon’s chief and founder. “Before, you might have had to beg Grandpa and call on Grandma for money,” he said. Now, investors are eager to get involved.
Liu Fengfeng, Tsinghon’s chief and founder. “Before, you might have had to beg Grandpa and call on Grandma for money,” he said. Now, investors are eager to get involved.Credit...Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times
But as Beijing broadens its ambitions in semiconductors, it is also setting itself up for larger potential failures — and dialing up the amount of money it might lose in the process. Several chip projects have run aground recently because of frozen funding and mismanagement. A state-backed chip conglomerate, Tsinghua Unigroup, warned this month that it was in danger of defaulting on nearly $2.5 billion in international bonds.
Riaz Haq said…
Lack of #Computer Chips Disrupts #Automobile Factories Worldwide. #Semiconductor chips are used in touch screens, engine controls & transmissions, communications, suspensions, anti-lock brakes & collision avoidance systems with cameras and other sensors https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/13/business/auto-factories-semiconductor-chips.html

Geopolitics also played a role. The Trump administration in September placed restrictions on Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, China’s main foundry, which produces chips for cars and many other applications. The company’s customers began looking for alternatives, generating additional competition for chip supplies from other foundries, said Gaurav Gupta, a vice president at the research firm Gartner.

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The chip crisis is an example of how the pandemic has shaken the global economy in unpredictable ways. Carmakers expected to face supply chain shortages, and plants closed early in 2020 because of fear that workers would infect one another, or because trucking firms had stopped delivering. Most U.S. auto factories ceased production for roughly two months last spring.

Automakers braced for turmoil when the pandemic hit. They expected supply chain disruptions and plummeting sales. But they never figured that a year later one of their biggest problems would be PlayStations.

Strong demand for gaming systems, personal computers and other electronics by a world stuck indoors has sucked up supplies of semiconductors, forcing carmakers around the world to scramble for the chips that have become as essential to mobility as gasoline or steel.

Virtually no carmaker has been spared. Toyota Motor has shut down production lines in China. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles temporarily stopped production at plants in Ontario and Mexico. Volkswagen has warned of production problems at factories in China, Europe and the United States. Ford Motor said last week that it was idling a Louisville, Ky., factory for a week because of the shortage.

When Covid-19 hit, automakers slashed orders for chips in anticipation of plunging sales. At the same time, semiconductor makers shifted their production lines to meet surging orders for chips used in products like laptop computers, webcams, tablets and 5G smartphones.

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Businesses also upgraded their digital infrastructure to handle online meetings and employees working from home, while telecommunications companies invested in broadband infrastructure, further fueling demand for semiconductors.

Then auto sales bounced back faster than expected at the end of 2020, catching everyone off guard. The shortages of chips that ensued are expected to last well into 2021, because it can take semiconductor makers six to nine months to realign production.

“Consumer electronics exploded,” said Dan Hearsch, a managing director at the consulting firm AlixPartners. “Everybody and their brother wanted to buy an Xbox and PlayStation and laptops, while automotive shut down. Then automotive came back faster than expected, and that’s where you get into this problem.”

While the shortage is not expected to cause auto prices to rise very much, buyers might have to wait longer to get the vehicles they want.

The chip shortage has its roots in long-term forces reshaping the auto and semiconductor industries, as well as short-term confusion from the pandemic.

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“Future investment in these foundries will therefore be critical so that the automotive industry can avoid such supply chain upheavals in the future,” Continental said in a statement.

Infineon, based in Munich, said it was stepping up investment in new production capacity in 2021 to as much as 1.5 billion euros, or $1.8 billion, from €1.1 billion in 2020. The company is also ramping up production at a new chip factory in Villach, Austria, that will produce 12-inch wafers.


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