Huawei CFO cites US$12 million homes in Vancouver and health issues in bail bid in Canada


Extradition case: A home owned by the family of Meng Wanzhou, who is being held on an extradition warrant, is pictured in Vancouver. — Reuters
A home owned by the family of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who is being held on an extradition warrant, is pictured in Vancouver, British Columbia.

For Huawei CFO, an Idyllic Summer Playground Turns Into a Prison

Vancouver plays a special role for Meng Wanzhou, as it does for many a wealthy Chinese — a place to park some assets, educate  your children, and just let your hair down from time to time.

Meng — chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co., a telecom equipment giant present in more than 170 countries — would carve a few weeks out of her punishing travel schedule every year for a break in the Canadian city.

She’d time it for the summer, when her children would be there and when the city’s crystal waters and craggy mountains would emerge from 10 months of rain to be  bathed in long, golden days of sunshine. Just last August, she was seen strolling through a local park, snapping photos with her in-laws.

Her place of retreat has now become a jail. On Dec. 1, Meng stepped off a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong around noon, and had planned a 12-hour stopover in Vancouver before heading on to Mexico. Instead, she was arrested by Canadian  authorities and faces a U.S. extradition request on charges she conspired to defraud banks, including HSBC Bank Plc, so that they unwittingly cleared millions of dollars in transactions linked to Iran, in violation of U.S. sanctions.

This time, her stay looks to become an extended one — extradition cases can sometimes take years. Whether she spends that time in a cell or under house arrest may hinge in part upon her ties to Vancouver and if they’re considered deep enough to stop her from fleeing.

Meng’s bail hearing resumes Monday at 10 a.m. local time. It’s expected to last the whole day as her defense team calls witnesses, including security companies, to testify on ways to address flight risk.

“In essence, Ms. Meng vacations for two weeks in Vancouver — I say that is not a meaningful connection to this jurisdiction,” Crown attorney John Gibb-Carsley said Friday at the six-hour bail hearing in Vancouver as more than 100 spectators watched from a glass-walled gallery.

Meng — wearing a dark green sweat suit, her posture impeccable — watched from the back of the courtroom with her interpreter, occasionally taking notes on a sheet of paper. The 46-year-old has an incentive to flee home to China, which has no extradition treaty with the U.S., and she has the vast resources and connections to remain out of reach indefinitely, Gibb-Carsley said.

Canada has long been a favored destination for millionaire migrants, and Vancouver, especially, for the Asian ones. But increasingly that’s been stoking tensions in a city  awash in Chinese cash, with wealthy part-time residents blamed for property prices that have made Vancouver the most unaffordable city in North America.

Meng, who first visited Vancouver 15 years ago, bought a six-bedroom house with her husband Xiaozong Liu in 2009 that’s now assessed at C$5.6 million ($4.2 million),  according to property records and an affidavit by Meng read aloud in court. In 2016 they bought a second property, a brick-and-glass mansion set in a 21,000-square-foot lot assessed at C$16.3 million. Purchased with mortgages from HSBC, she’s offered to
post the family’s equity in both as part of her bail.

Meng and Liu live in Shenzhen with their 10-year-old daughter. She also has three
sons from a previous marriage, one of whom attends a prep school in Massachusetts. If granted bail, the family would move into one of their Vancouver homes and the son in Massachusetts would join them for Christmas, Meng’s lawyer told the court.

Meng WanzhouPhotographer: Dennis Zhe/Huawei Technologies Co.

Three of her four children have done part of their schooling in Vancouver, and they still spend weeks — sometimes months — in the city during summer. Meng, who also goes by the names Sabrina and Cathy, holds two passports, one from China and one from Hong Kong, and until 2009 also had Canadian permanent residency.
Her defense argues that those ties are substantive, and proposes she wait it out at one of her houses, under surveillance, tagged by a GPS device, and subject to  nannounced
police checks.

“She would not flee,” Meng’s defense lawyer David Martin responded. “She has a home here.”

Meng is the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei, whose net worth was  stimated at $3.2 billion, according to Gibb-Carsley. A million-dollar bail to that family is equivalent to a C$156 bail for an upper-middle class Canadian family with C$500,000 in assets, he said.

“I’m not saying that wealthy people can’t get bail,” said Gibb-Carsley. “But I’m saying in terms of magnitude to feel the pull of bail, we are in a different universe.” –

 

Sabrina Meng in her own words: Huawei CFO cites health problems in her bid to secure bail in Canada

The US is seeking to extradite Meng in relation to Huawei’s alleged use of an unofficial subsidiary, Skycom, to skirt sanctions on Iran

Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications  giant Huawei Technologies, was arrested last Friday in Vancouver, Canada at the request of the US and accused of fraudulently representing the company to get around US and EU sanctions on Iran.

The US is seeking to extradite Meng in relation to Huawei’s alleged use of an unofficial subsidiary, Skycom, to skirt the sanctions, a lawyer representing the Canadian  government said. Meng was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on December 1 as she changed planes and has been detained ever since.

Meng, a daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, attended the British Columbia Supreme Court last Friday for a bail hearing, as the US seeks her extradition on fraud charges. The hearing ended without a decision and will continue on Monday.

Ahead of the continuation, here are some of the details of Meng’s personal affidavit filed with the Supreme Court:

    • Meng describes herself as a 46-year old Chinese citizen, holding a Hong Kong and Chinese passport, who lives in Shenzhen.

 

    • Meng says her family have extensive ties to Canada, and Vancouver in particular.

 

    • Although Meng relinquished permanent resident status in Canada, she says her family have bought two homes in Vancouver.

 

    • Those two homes include a property bought in 2009 with her husband at 4005 28th Street, and another at 1603 Matthews Street in 2016.

 

    • Meng says she tries to spend at least 2-3 weeks in Vancouver every summer. Since 2012 her children, who attended school in Vancouver, no longer live there.

 

    • After being detained and interrogated at Vancouver International Airport on Friday, Meng says she was taken to Richmond General Hospital after feeling unwell due to severe hypertension, a condition she has struggled with “for years”.

 

    • Meng says she continues to feel unwell and is worried about her health “deteriorating” while she is incarcerated. Meng says she has had numerous health problems throughout her life, including thyroid cancer, for which she underwent surgery in 2011.

 

    • In May 2018, Meng says she had surgery to remedy health issues related to sleep apnoea and still has difficulty eating solid foods – which has caused her to modify her diet. She has received daily packages of medicines from her doctor for years to treat her ailments.

 

    • Meng points out she has no previous criminal record in China or anywhere else.

 

    • If she is granted bail, Meng offers to surrender both her passports, to live at her home at 4005 28th Street, to have her family live with her as permitted by Canada’s immigration laws, she is willing to pledge the equity of either or both her houses as security, or to make a cash deposit as directed by the court.

 

    • Meng says she would not breach any bail conditions because of the reputational damage it could do to Huawei, the company her father founded.

 

    • Finally, Meng says she is innocent of the allegations levelled against her and will contest the allegations at trial in the US if she is ultimately surrendered.

 

Case: In the matter of the Extradition Act, S.C. 1999, c. 18 as amended in the matter of the Attorney General of Canada on behalf of the United States of America and Wanzhou  Meng, also known as “Cathy Meng” and “Sabrina Meng”.. –

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Internet Protocol Version 9 第一代互联网 IPv9, Quantum Computing, AI and Blockchain: The Future of IT


Internet Protocol Version 9 第一代互联网 IPv9 

Great news and why Washington is harboring so much envy and hatred against China.

After watching the video “National Sovereign Network IPV9 officially unveiled”, I realized why cyber security is national security and what enabled the US Government to amass so much wealth from every other country in the world.

Day after day and each time we surf the internet, read our emails, WeChat, QQ, WhatsApp, etc., and use WiFi for whatever reasons including video streaming on smartphones and smartTVs, we have to use the United States Internet protocol IPV4. This is the parent server and the main root server for WWW or the worldwide Internet.

China had signed an agreement with the United States to rent the worldwide Internet for 20 years from the year 2000. Every year, China and the rest of the world have been, and currently still pay rents to the United States monopoly. The annual rents are increasing with the ever rising increase in usage, including 500 billion in 2007 and 1.8 trillion in 2017. By the end of 2020, it is estimated to be even more which is only the rent from China alone! Every other country in the world are also paying rents for Internet usage to the US. How much is that transfer of wealth! How can a country not be rich when it possesses such a humungus monopoly? If the ordinary American people ain’t receiving a share of this fabulous windfall, then their country’s elites like Trump, Clinton, Bush, Wall Street banksters like Goldman Sachs, etc., can perhaps be made to divulge their secret.

Thankfully for China (also quite likely for Third World countries) by 2014, China independently developed the IPV9 parent server and the main root server with independent intellectual property rights. Having achieved this quantum leap, China tried to negotiate with the United States to introduce to the world its new IPV9 protocol. Not surprisingly, it was rejected.

Then in 2015, a team of Chinese delegation of technological experts unveiled and gave a test introduction of IPV9 to members of the UN General Assembly. The team of experts were able to prove that both the security and quality of IPV9 far exceeded that of the United States’s IPV4 and IPV6.

The two nations were then given the opportunity to present their case at the end of which the UN Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of China’s IPV9.

After further discussions, the UN General Assembly handed over management of the worldwide internet to China for 100 years. That is to say, when the current lease with the US expires in 2020, China will assume leadership and management of the worldwide internet with its superlative IPV9 parent server and the main root server.

All the receiving and transmitting stations in China have now been completed. To date, 25 countries have signed lease agreements with China with the rest of the world to follow. In 2019, IPV9 will be put into trial operation. When the lease with the US expires in 2020, the old and outdated American IPV4 will be closed and China’s new generation Internet, namely the “Internet of Things IPV9”, will be up and running. If Internet IPV4 and IPV6 made the United States brilliant, then the Internet of Things IPV9 will bring immense glory and blessings to China and the rest of the world for the next hundred years!

Quantum Computing, AI and Blockchain: The Future of IT – Talks at Google

Prof. Shoucheng Zhang discusses three pillars of information technology: quantum computing, AI and blockchain. He presents the fundamentals of crypto-economic science, and answers questions such as: What is the intrinsic value of a medium of exchange? What is the value of consensus and how does it emerge? How can math be used to create distributed self-organizing consensus networks to create a data-marketplace for AI and machine learning?

Prof. Zhang is the JG Jackson and CJ Wood professor of physics at Stanford University. He is a member of the US National Academy of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He discovered a new state of matter called topological insulator in which electrons can conduct along the edge without dissipation, enabling a new generation of electronic devices with much lower power consumption. For this ground breaking work he received numerous international awards, including the Buckley Prize, the Dirac Medal and Prize, the Europhysics Prize, the Physics Frontiers Prize and the Benjamin Franklin Medal.

He is also the founding chairman of DHVC venture capital fund, which invests in AI, blockchain, mobile internet, big data, AR/VR, genomics and precision medicine, sharing economy and robotics.
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Huawei Surprise goldfish in a bowl


Uncertain future: In this courtroom sketch, Meng sits beside a translator during a bail hearing in Vancouver. She
faces extradition to the US on charges of trying to evade US sanctions on Iran. – AP 
The arrest of Huawei ‘heiress’ has thrown a rare spotlight on the family of the reclusive smartphone giant founder, Ren Zhengfei.

WHEN Huawei CFO Sabrina Meng Wanzhou appeared on Wednesday in a Vancouver courtroom, clad in an unbranded green tracksuit, the moment was witnessed by a single reporter from the local Vancouver Sun newspaper who happened to notice her name on the hearings list that morning.

By the end of the day, Meng’s arrest in Canada at the request of Washington was the biggest story in the world.

And when her bail hearing resumed on Friday, Meng entered court to see about 100 reporters, craning to look at her through two layers of bulletproof glass.

Meng who faces extradition to the United States, was charged for helping Huawei allegedly cover up violations of US sanctions on Iran.

Like many top Chinese executives, Meng is a mysterious figure even in her home country, but the 46-year-old chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies had been widely tipped to one day take the helm of the tech giant her father founded.

That was until her shock arrest, a move that has entangled her in the protracted diplomatic tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Crucially, Meng is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei – one of China’s leading businessmen, an ex-People’s Liberation Army officer and an elected member of the 12th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

In other words, Meng is part of China’s elite.

Her father Ren moves in the highest government circles in China and founded Huawei in 1988, after he retired from the Chinese armed forces. Born into a rural family in a remote mountainous town in the southwestern province of Guizhou, Ren rose to the equivalent rank of a deputy regimental chief in the PLA and served until 1983, according to his official Huawei biography.

Officials in some governments, particularly the United States, have voiced concern that his company is close to the Chinese military and government. Huawei has repeatedly insisted Beijing has no influence over it.

Ren is one of the most watched entrepreneurs in China and was on Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in the world in 2005 and again in 2013.

But like his elder daughter, Ren has largely kept a low profile.

Ren has married three times. His first wife was Meng Jun, daughter of a former senior official in Sichuan province, Meng Dongbuo; she bore Ren two children: Sabrina Meng Wanzhou and a son, Meng Ping.

Meng’s current wife is Yao Ling, who gave him a younger daughter, Annabel Yao, 20. In a rare move, the three posed last month for a family photoshoot for French lifestyle magazine Paris Match. Annabel, a Harvard computer science student, became a sensation at last month’s Le Bal des Debutantes (or Crillon Ball) in Paris.

Ren’s third wife is Su Wei who, according to Chinese media reports, is a millennial who was formerly his secretary.

Interestingly, all his children opted not to take on their father’s surname – Meng adopted her mother’s surname after her parents divorced. According to Chinese news websites, Meng’s brother Ping, who also works for Huawei, followed her in taking their mother’s surname to “avoid unnecessary attention” – though the son was also known as Ren Ping in the past.

(This practice is not uncommon among the families of China’s elite. The co-founder of Chinese auction house China Guardian, Wang Yannan, opted not to take her father’s surname – she is the daughter of late Chinese premier Zhao Ziyang.)

Born in 1972, Meng joined the company in 1993, obtained a master’s degree from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in 1998, and rose up the ranks over the years, mostly holding financial roles.

In her first media appearance before the Chinese press in 2013, Meng said she had first joined the company as a secretary“whose job was just to take calls”.

In the interview with China’s 21st Century Business Herald, Meng said she began her first job at China Construction Bank after graduating with her first degree in 1992.

Arrested Meng: Like her father, the Huawei CFO had led a quiet life, out of the spotlight. – Reuters

Arrested Meng: Like her father, the Huawei CFO had led a quiet life, out of the spotlight. – Reuters

“I joined Huawei one year later because a branch closed its operations due to the business integration [of CCB],” said Meng, describing her early jobs in Huawei as “very trivial”.

Meng has served in various roles at the company since, until her latest role as the Hong Kong-based CFO of Huawei.

In 2003, Meng established Huawei’s globally unified finance organisation, with standardised structures, financial processes, financial systems, and IT platforms.

Since 2005, Meng has led the founding of five shared service centers around the world, and she was also the driver behind completion of a global payment center in Shenzhen, China. These centres have boosted Huawei’s accounting efficiency and monitoring quality, providing accounting services to sustain the company’s rapid overseas expansion.

Meng has also been in charge of the integrated financial services (IFS) transformation program, an eight-year partnership between Huawei and IBM since 2007. This has helped Huawei develop its data systems and rules for resource allocation, and improve operating efficiency and internal controls.

In recent years, Meng has focused on advancing detailed financial management at Huawei, working to align these efforts with the company’s long-term development plans.

Meng’s importance at Huawei became apparent in 2011, when she was first named as a board member. Company insiders describe her as capable and hardworking. Earlier this year, Huawei promoted Meng, to vice-chairwoman as part of a broader reshuffle. Meng is one of four executives who hold the vice-chair role, while retaining her CFO position. Despite assertions by Ren that none of his family members would succeed him in the top job, it is widely speculated that she was being groomed to take over the reins of the company eventually.

Married with a son and a daughter, Meng’s revelation that her husband did not work in the industry, dispelled the speculation she was married to a senior Huawei executive.

Meng did not conduct public interviews before 2013 and has seldom mentioned her personal life until recently, when she used her son to illustrate the importance of persistence.

“My son did not want to go swimming one day and he almost knelt on the ground and begged my husband so that he would not have to go. But he was rejected,” Meng said in a speech at Chongqing international school in 2016. “Now my son is proud to represent his school in swimming competitions.”

Meng recently made a speech at a Singapore academic conference in 2018, in which she talked of Huawei’s future role in technology development.

“Without universities, the world would be left in darkness. Without industry, science would be left in the ivory tower,” said Meng. “The fourth industrial revolution is on the horizon and artificial intelligence is one of its core enabling technologies. Huawei is lucky to be part of it.”

While her brother, Meng Ping, as well as her father’s younger brother and his current wife all work at Huawei and related companies, none has held such senior management roles.

“The other family members are in the back office, Sabrina is CFO and sits on the board,” a Huawei source said. “So she is viewed as the boss’s most likely successor.”

But her fate now is uncertain.

She faces up to 30 years’ jail for the alleged crime. Her lawyer in Canada, David Martin, had told the court that Meng posed no flight risk and should be granted bail. To flee would shame her in front of her father and all of China, said Martin.

“Her father would not recognise her. Her colleagues would hold her in contempt. She would be a pariah,” he said.

Meng leaned forward in her seat and dabbed at her eyes with a tissue.

When the hearing adjourned, she was led away with her head bowed, a goldfish in a bowl that is the biggest story in the world. – South China Morning Post

Younger Huawei daughter: ‘I’m just a normal girl’

Arresting Yao: ‘My daily life is actually pretty boring compared to this.’

JUST last month, the reclusive Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei made headlines by appearing in French lifestyle magazine Paris Match with his younger daughter and current wife.The daughter, Annabel Yao, 20, posed with a smile in front of a grand piano with her mother, identified by the magazine as Yao Ling, and Ren, who wore a blue shirt with his hand resting on her shoulder.

Suddenly, the whole family are making headlines again – even if for quite different reasons.

Few outsiders had previously heard of the younger daughter, a Harvard computer science student and ballerina. But Yao recently made a high-profile appearance at the exclusive Le Bal Debutante ball in Paris.

While Le Bal des Debutantes in Paris each year is a nod to the tradition of young society ladies entering the elite social scene of Europe, these days it courts modern debutantes, aged 16 to 21, who are chosen for their looks, brains and famous parents – prominent in business, entertainment and politics.

They parade in glamorous couture gowns, waltz with their cavaliers – young men who accompany the “debs” for the evening – and take part in photo shoots and interviews.

The schedule at the event, organised by Ophélie Renouard, is full of young women such as Baroness Ludmilla von Oppenheim, from Germany; Julia McCaw, daughter of AT&T founder Craig McCaw; and Yao – one of three debutantes chosen for the opening waltz this year.

“I definitely treated this as a debut to the world,” said Yao after the ball. “From now on, I’ll no longer be this girl living in her own world, I’ll be stepping into the adult world where I have to watch my own actions and have my actions be watched by others.”

Today’s Le Bal, is a diverse affair, a microcosm of the shifting tides of the global elite. Of the 19 debutantes of 2018, there were young ladies from India and America, Europeans from Portugal, France, Belgium and Germany, as well as Hong Kong’s Angel Lee, Kayla Uytengsu from the Philippines and China’s Yao.

Yao – who has lived in Britain, Hong Kong and Shanghai – was one of several Chinese debutantes in recent years. Hollywood offspring, such as the daughters of actors Forest Whitaker, Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone, have also become Le Bal regulars.

“All the girls were down-to-earth, easygoing, helpful and outgoing. No one was pretentious,” said Yao.

“All of them attended top universities or high schools like Stanford, Brown and Columbia, so it’s a group of girls who are privileged, but also work really hard.”

 

Diverse affair: Today’s ‘Le Bal’ is a microcosm of the shifting tides of the global elite like Yao (far right, front row).

 

As they swapped their jeans for tiaras and couture gowns and trade teenage antics for waltzing, the girls got to play fairytale princesses for three days and make their grand debut in high society.

They all arrived in Paris two days before the ball to meet, socialise with other girls and their cavaliers (Yao’s cavalier was the young Count Gaspard de Limburg-Stirum), rehearse and take part in portrait sessions.

Girls are given questionnaires about the fashion styles they like, and then choose from a selection. Yao donned a champagne gold J Mendel gown.

“An American designer with a very French style I wanted something modern,” she said. “I’m not super girlie inside, so I prefer something more chic and not so princessy It’s very elegant, and I’m not a fan of very [strongly] pigmented hues. I also loved the tulle texture of the dress, as it reminds me of a ballerina.”

“I definitely feel very honoured to be included, as there are only 19 girls in the world this year,” Yao added. “It means I have to work harder, try to accomplish great things in my life and be a role model for other girls.”

She said: “As people who have more privilege than others, it’s more important for us to help those with less opportunity. I want to get involved in philanthropy and charity I still consider myself a normal girl; it’s important for me to work hard and better myself every day.

“My daily life is actually pretty boring compared to this. I usually live like a normal student.”

Computer science is a heavy subject with a high workload, so she studies a lot. Her spare time is often taken up at the Harvard Ballet company (she’s been dancing since childhood). “I try to dance as much as possible,” she said.

A quick glance at the Ivy League student’s social media shows her jetting around the world wearing Dior, Louis Vuitton and Saint Laurent, but she’s quick to show her serious side. This summer, she did an internship at Microsoft “on a team focusing on machine learning and image recognition”.

However, she noted: “As much as I enjoy coding, I enjoy personal interactions a lot I have a passion for fashion, PR and entertainment.”

In the future, she sees herself working on the business side of technology. “I’ll try to integrate the tech knowledge I have,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll be a software engineer but maybe I’ll be more on the management side. I enjoy building connections.” – South China Morning Post

Growing stronger, opening wider key to resolving Huawei crisis

Huawei is now facing its most severe test since it became the world-renowned innovative tech company.

With executive’s arrest, US wants to stifle Huawei

The Chinese government should seriously go behind the US tendency to abuse legal procedures to suppress China’s high-tech enterprises. It should increase interaction with the US and exert pressure when necessary. China has been exercising restraint, but the US cannot act recklessly. US President Donald Trump should rein in the hostile activities of some Americans who may imperil Sino-US relations.

 

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Huawei CFO arrest violates human rights as US takes aim at Huawei, the real trade war with China

In custody: A profile of Meng is displayed on a computer at a Huawei store in Beijing. The Chinese government, speaking
through its embassy in Canada, strenuously objected to the arrest, and  demanded Meng’s immediate release.  
AP

China’s Chang’e-4 spacecraft, a world’s first mission to moon’s far side, boosts Beijing a space superpower


A Long March 3B rocket launches China’s Chang’e 4 lunar probe from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Dec. 7, 2018 (Dec. 8 local Chinese time). The probe is expected to make the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon
in early January 2019.

Credit: Jiang Hongjing/Xinhua/Zuma

Probe on far side of moon

 
BEIJING: China launched a rover destined to land on the far side of the moon, a global first that would boost Beijing’s ambitions to become a space superpower, state media said.

The Chang’e-4 lunar probe mission – named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology – launched early yesterday on a Long March 3B rocket from the south-western Xichang launch centre at 2.23am (local time), according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The blast-off marked the start of a long journey to the far side of the moon for the Chang’e-4 mission, expected to land around the New Year to carry out experiments and survey the untrodden terrain.

“Chang’e-4 is humanity’s first probe to land on and explore the far side of the moon,” said the mission’s chief commander He Rongwei of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the main state-owned space contractor.

“This mission is also the most meaningful deep space exploration research project in the world in 2018,” He said.

Unlike the near side of the moon that is “tidally locked” and always faces the earth, and offers many flat areas to touch down on, the far side is mountainous and rugged.

It was not until 1959 that the Soviet Union captured the first images of the heavily cratered surface, uncloaking some of the mystery of the moon’s “dark side”.

No lander or rover has ever touched the surface there, positioning China as the first nation to explore the area.

China over the past 10 or 20 years has been systematically ticking off the various firsts that America and the Soviet Union did in the 1960s and 1970s in space exploration,” said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

“This is one of the first times they’ve done something that no one else has done before.”

It is no easy technological feat – China has been preparing for this moment for years.

A major challenge for such a mission is communicating with the robotic lander: as the far side of the moon always points away from earth, there is no direct “line of sight” for signals.

As a solution, China in May blasted the Queqiao (“Magpie Bridge”) satellite into the moon’s orbit, positioning it so it can relay data and commands between the lander and earth.

Adding to the difficulties, Chang’e-4 is being sent to the Aitken Basin in the lunar south pole region – known for its craggy and complex terrain – state media has said.

The probe is carrying six experiments from China and four from abroad.

They include low-frequency radio astronomical studies – aiming to take advantage of the lack of interference on the far side – as well as mineral and radiation tests, Xinhua cited the China National Space Administration as saying.

The experiments also involve planting potato and other seeds, according to Chinese media reports.

Beijing is pouring billions into its military-run space programme, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022, and of eventually sending humans to the moon. — AFP

Exploring new terrain: A Long March 3B rocket taking off with the rover that is  destined to land on the far side of the moon. — AFP
Exploring new terrain: A Long March 3B rocket taking off with the rover that is destined to land on the far side of the moon. — AFP

China’s robotic Chang’e 4 spacecraft streaked away from Earth today (Dec. 7), launching atop a Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at about 1:23 p.m. EST (1823 GMT; 2:23 a.m. on Dec. 8 local China time).

If all goes according to plan, Chang’e 4 will make history’s first landing on the lunar far side sometime in early January. The mission, which consists of a stationary lander and a rover, will perform a variety of science work and plant a flag for humanity in a region that remains largely unexplored to date.  [China’s Moon Missions Explained (Infographic)]

China’s Chang'e 4 lunar probe lifts off the pad at Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Dec. 7, 2018 (Dec. 8 local Chinese time).
China’s Chang’e 4 lunar probe lifts off the pad at Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Dec. 7, 2018 (Dec. 8 local Chinese time).

The moon is tidally locked to Earth, meaning the natural satellite takes about the same amount of time to spin once on its axis as it does to orbit our planet. So, here on Earth, we always see the same face of our cosmic neighbor.

That would be the near side. The far side remains forever out of view, and that explains why this obscured surface has yet to welcome a robotic visitor.  Communicating with a far-side lander or rover is difficult, because the entirety of the moon’s solid, rocky body would block direct signals traveling to and fro.

The far side of the moon and distant Earth, imaged by China's Chang'e 5 T1 mission service module in 2014. The Chang'e 4 mission will launch toward the far side on Dec. 7, 2018.

The far side of the moon and distant Earth, imaged by China’s Chang’e 5 T1 mission service module in 2014. The Chang’e 4 mission will launch toward the far side on Dec. 7, 018. Credit: Chinese Academy of Sciences

 To solve this problem, China launched a satellite called Queqiao this past May. Queqiao has set up  shop at the Earth-moon Lagrange point 2, a gravitationally stable spot beyond the moon from which  the satellite will be able to relay  communications between mission control and Chang’e 4. 

The spacecraft’s signals will likely be coming from the floor of Von Kármán Crater,  a 115-mile-wide (186 kilometers) hole in the ground that’s the mission’s expected landing site. Von Kármán is part of the South Pole-Aitken Basin, one of the biggest impact features in the solar system; it spans a whopping 1,600 miles (2,500 km) from rim to  rim.

China's Yutu moon rover, photographed by the Chang'e 3 lander in December of 2013. The lunar far-side mission, Chang'e 4, which launched on Dec. 7, 2018, was designed as a backup for Chang'e 3.China’s Yutu moon rover, photographed by the Chang’e 3 lander in December of 2013. The lunar far-side mission, Chang’e 4, which launched on Dec. 7, 2018, was
designed as a backup for Chang’e 3. Credit: CASC/China Ministry of Defense

Chang’e 4 features a total of eight scientific instruments. The landers’ are called the Landing Camera (LCAM), the Terrain Camera (TCAM), the Low Frequency Spectrometer (LFS), and the Lunar Lander Neutrons and Dosimetry (LND), which was provided by Germany.

The rover sports the Panoramic Camera (PCAM), the Lunar Penetrating Radar (LPR), the Visible and Near-Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (VNIS), and the Advanced Small Analyzer for Neutrals (ASAN), a contribution from Sweden.

This gear will allow Chang’e 4 to characterize its surroundings in great detail. For example, the LFS will return data about surface composition, while the LPR will tease out the layered structure of the moon’s subsurface.

Such information could help scientists better understand why the lunar far side is so different from the near side. For example, huge, dark basaltic plains called maria cover much of the near side but almost none of the far side. (By the way, don’t call the far side the “dark side”; it receives just as much sunlight as the near side.)

Chang’e 4 will also conduct some radio-astronomy work, taking advantage of the peace and quiet on the far side, which is shielded from the radio chatter coming from Earth. Queqiao is collecting astronomy data as well, using an onboard instrument called the Netherlands-China Low-Frequency Explorer.

The spacecraft carries a biological experiment as well: a small tin containing silkworm eggs and seeds of tomato and Arabidopsis plants. Researchers will keep tabs on how these organisms live and develop on the lunar surface. [Moon Master: An Easy Quiz for Lunatics]

Chang’e 4 marks the latest step in China’s ambitious, long-term moon-exploration strategy.

The nation launched the Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2 spacecraft to lunar orbit in 2007 and 2010, respectively. In December 2013, Chang’e 3 put a lander and a rover named Yutu down on the moon’s near side. (Chang’e 4 was originally developed as a backup to Chang’e 3 but was repurposed after the latter’s success.)

And in October 2014, China launched Chang’e 5T1, which sent a test capsule on an eight-day trip around the moon that ended in a parachute-aided touchdown here on Earth.

All of this is leading up to the Chang’e 5 sample-return mission, which could launch toward the near side as early as next year. (The nation’s line of robotic lunar missions is named after Chang’e, a moon goddess in Chinese mythology.)

And then there’s the crewed side of things. Chinese officials have said they want to land people on the lunar surface, though the timeline for this goal is unclear. The moon is not China’s human-spaceflight focus in the near term; the country is working to get a crewed space station up and running in Earth orbit by the early 2020s.

Source:
 Space.com. by

Mike Wall, Space.com Senior Writer

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Huawei CFO arrest violates human rights as US takes aim at Huawei, the real trade war with China


In custody: A profile of Meng is displayed on a  computer at a Huawei store in Beijing. The Chinese government, speaking through its embassy in Canada, strenuously objected to the arrest, and  demanded Meng’s immediate release. — AP

China urges release of Huawei executive

– In violation of universal human rights

Chinese officials are urging the US and Canada to clarify why Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive of Huawei Technologies, has been detained and to immediately release her, slamming the arrest as a violation of her rights.

Experts said on Thursday that Meng’s detention is a move by the US to heat up the ongoing trade war between China and the US.

Meng, who is Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei, was detained as she was transferring flights in Canada, according to information provided by Huawei, one of China’s tech giants.

Meng’s detention was made following a request by the US, which is seeking her extradition on as yet unspecified charges made by prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York, a Huawei spokesperson told the Global Times on Thursday.

Meng was arrested in Vancouver on Saturday, the New York Times reported on Thursday, citing a spokesperson from Canada’s Justice Department.

“China has demanded that the US and Canada immediately clarify the reasons for Meng’s detention and to release her,” Geng Shuang, spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told a daily press briefing on Thursday.

He noted that Chinese consular officials in Canada have already provided assistance to Meng.

Meng’s detention, made without any clearly stated charges, is an obvious violation of her human rights, said Geng.

The Chinese Embassy in Canada also said on Thursday morning that it firmly opposes and has made strong protests over the action which has seriously curtailed the rights of a Chinese citizen.

“The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the US and Canadian side, and urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal freedom of Meng Wanzhou,” the Chinese Embassy in Canada said in a statement published on its website.

A Canadian source with knowledge of the arrest was quoted in the Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail on Thursday as saying that US law enforcement authorities allege that Huawei violated US sanctions against Iran but provided no further details.

Although Meng’s detention stems from terms of the US-Canada extradition treaty, the US should not be taking such legal action without providing concrete evidence, especially when it has been trying to restore relations with China, Hao Junbo, a Beijing-based lawyer, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Chinese officials and experts criticized the US for its long-arm jurisdiction, which not only hurts individuals but also enterprises.

Rising obstacles

Huawei has been targeted by the US for many years, from patent infringement lawsuits to political pressure, Xiang Ligang, chief executive of the telecom industry news site cctime.com, told the Global Times on Thursday.

“As the Chinese company grew stronger, it faced more obstacles in foreign markets as it is considered as a threat to local players,” he said.

Cisco Systems filed the first lawsuit against Huawei in 2003. Motorola filed a lawsuit accusing Huawei of theft of trade secrets in 2010, according to media reports. The company also faced investigation by the US Congress on security issues.

Since at least 2016, US authorities have been probing Huawei’s alleged shipping of US-origin products to Iran and other countries in violation of US export and sanctions laws, Reuters reported in April.

The US also asked its major allies to say ‘no’ to Huawei equipment, as it was worried about alleged potential Chinese meddling in 5G networks, the Wall Street Journal reported on November 23.

While the company faces rising difficulties in the US market, it has been actively exploring other markets such as the EU and Africa.

It became the world’s largest telecom equipment provider in 2017, surpassing Ericsson and ZTE, industry website telecomlead.com reported in March, citing IHS data.

Huawei has a 28 percent market share in the global telecom infrastructure industry, followed by Ericsson and Nokia, which have 27 percent and 23 percent respectively, said the report.

Escalating trade war

The US will not stop countering China’s rise in the technology sector and will never drop its hostility toward China’s “Made in China 2025” strategy, Wang Yanhui, head of the Shanghai-based Mobile China Alliance, told the Global Times on Thursday.

“Huawei has become another card for the US to play against China in the ongoing trade war,” he said.

China and the US announced a trade truce following a meeting between the two countries’ top leaders in Buenos Aires on Saturday.

But experts warned that China should be prepared for a long-lasting and heated trade war with the US, as it will continue to attempt to counter China’s rising power.

“The latest Huawei incident shows that we should get ready for long-term confrontation between China and the US, as the US will not ease its stance on China and the arrest of a senior executive of a major Chinese tech company is a vivid example,” Mei Xinyu, a research fellow with the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Huawei said there is very little information about specific allegations and that the company is not aware of any misconduct by Meng.

“The company complies with all laws and regulations in the countries in which it operates, including export control and sanctions laws applied in the UN, the US and the EU,” Huawei said. – Global Times by Chen Qingqing

Canada’s treatment of Meng Wanzhou in violation of human rights

We hope that Canadian authorities handle the case seriously and properly. We also hope that Ms Meng will be treated humanely and will be bailed out. We would like to see Meng’s case being handled properly, so that she can regain her freedom as soon as possible. Chinese society has always respected Canada, and it is sincerely hoped that the way how Canadian authorities handle this matter will live up to Chinese people’s expectation and impressions regarding the country.

 With executive’s arrest, US wants to stifle Huawei

The Chinese government should seriously go behind the US tendency to abuse legal procedures to suppress China’s high-tech enterprises. It should increase interaction with the US and exert pressure when necessary. China has been exercising restraint, but the US cannot act recklessly. US President Donald Trump should rein in the hostile activities of some Americans who may imperil Sino-US relations.

US takes aim at Huawei

 Arrest of telecom giant’s CFO escalates US-China tech battle

THE Trump administration’s efforts to extradite the chief financial officer of China’s Huawei Technologies Co over criminal charges mark the start of an even more aggressive phase in the technology rivalry between the United States and China and will increase pressure on Washington’s allies to shun the telecommunications company.

Armed with a US extradition request, Canadian authorities arrested Meng Wanzhou on Dec 1, the same day as President Trump was holding a summit with Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping. But White House officials said Trump had no advance knowledge of the arrest, indicating the action was on a separate track from trade talks currently under way between Washington and Beijing.

Meng’s detention underscores a sense of urgency, at the Justice Department and other US agencies, to address what they see as a growing threat to national security posed by China’s ambitions to gain an edge in the tech sector. For years, Washington has alleged the Chinese government could compel Huawei, which supplies much of the world with critical cellular network equipment, to spy or to disrupt communications.

Huawei has long said it is an employee-owned company and isn’t beholden to any government, and has never used its equipment to spy on or sabotage other countries. The Chinese government, speaking through its embassy in Canada, strenuously objected to the arrest, and demanded Meng’s immediate release.

US prosecutors made the extradition request based on a sealed indictment for alleged violations of Iran sanctions that had been prepared for some time, people familiar with the matter said. A federally appointed US overseer, formerly charged with evaluating HSBC Holdings PLC’s anti-money-laundering and sanctions controls, relayed information about suspicious Huawei transactions to federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York, some of the people said.

Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, is now in custody in Vancouver, and a bail hearing has been scheduled for Friday, according to a spokesman for Canada’s justice department.

Some worried a lack of coordination on the various strands of the Trump administration’s China initiatives could be counterproductive, especially if Trump decides to use the detention of Meng as leverage to extract concessions in the trade talks. The two sides agreed on a 90-day window from the Dec 1 summit to settle a trade dispute that has seen the two sides exchange tit-for-tat tariffs on each other’s goods.

“I’m very concerned that that’s just going to ratchet this trade war and make negotiations much more difficult,” said Gary Locke, former US ambassador to China. “This is I think a really hot-button, almost a grenade with respect to the 90-day negotiations.”

China has a long history of reading darker motives into US actions. “The risk is conspiracy theories in Beijing,” said China scholar Michael Pillsbury at Hudson Institute, who consults regularly with the Trump trade team. He compares the events to when China rejected US explanations that the United States had made a mistake when it bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999 during the Kosovo war.

The arrest indicated the Justice Department had significant evidence against Meng, and that additional charges were likely, said Brian Fleming, a trade and national security lawyer at Miller & Chevalier. “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

The arrest could also add ammunition to an extraordinary US government campaign to persuade wireless and Internet providers in allied countries to stop using telecommunications equipment from Huawei, said national security experts. US officials say they are intensifying efforts to curb Huawei because wireless carriers world-wide are about to upgrade to 5G, a new wireless technology that will connect many more items—factory parts, self-driving cars and everyday objects like wearable health monitors – to the Internet. US officials say they don’t want to give Beijing the potential to interfere with an ever-growing universe of connected devices.

 

By Kate O’keeffe and Bob Davis

 

Huawei reveals the real trade war with China

Tech rivalry: The high-tech trade war shows that for all the hoopla over manufacturing jobs, steel autos and
tariffs, the real competition is in the tech sector. — Reuters

IF you only scan the headlines, you could be forgiven for thinking that the US-China trade war is mainly about tariffs.

After all, the president and trade-warrior-in-chief has called himself “Tariff Man”. And the tentative trade deal between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping was mainly about tariffs, especially on items like automobiles.

But the startling arrest in Canada of a Chinese telecom company executive should wake people up to the fact that there’s a second US-China trade war going on – a much more stealthy conflict, fought with weapons much subtler and more devastating than tariffs. And the prize in that other struggle is domination of the information-technology industry.

The arrested executive, Wanzhou Meng, is the chief financial officer of telecom-equipment manufacturer Huawei Technologies Co (and its founder’s daughter). The official reason for her arrest is that Huawei is suspected of selling technology to Iran, in violation of US sanctions.

It’s the second big Chinese tech company to be accused of breaching those sanctions – the first was ZTE Corp in 2017. The United States punished ZTE by forbidding it from buying American components – most importantly, telecom chips made by US-based Qualcomm Inc.

Those purchasing restrictions were eventually lifted after ZTE agreed to pay a fine, and it seems certain that Huawei will also eventually escape severe punishment. But these episodes highlight Chinese companies’ dependence on critical US technology.

The United States. still makes – or at least, designs – the best computer chips in the world. China assembles lots of electronics, but without those crucial inputs of US technology, products made by companies such as Huawei would be of much lower quality.

Export restrictions, and threats of restrictions, are thus probably not just about sanctions – they’re about making life harder for the main competitors of US tech companies.

Huawei just passed Apple Inc to become the world’s second-largest smartphone maker by market share (Samsung Electronics Co is first). This marks a change for China, whose companies have long been stuck doing low-value assembly while companies in rich countries do the high-value design, marketing and component manufacturing.

US moves against Huawei and ZTE may be intended to force China to remain a cheap supplier instead of a threatening competitor.

The subtle, far-sighted nature of this approach suggests that the impetus for the high-tech trade war goes far beyond what Trump, with his focus on tariffs and old-line manufacturing industries, would think of. It seems likely that US tech companies, as well as the military intelligence communities, are influencing policy here as well.

In fact, more systematic efforts to block Chinese access to US components are in the works. The Export Control Reform Act, passed this summer, increased regulatory oversight of US exports of “emerging” and “foundational” technologies deemed to have national-security importance. Although national security is certainly a concern, it’s generally hard to separate high-tech industrial and corporate dominance from military dominance, so this too should be seen as part of the trade war.

A second weapon in the high-tech trade war is investment restrictions. The Trump administration has greatly expanded its power to block Chinese investments in US technology companies, through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

The goal of investment restrictions is to prevent Chinese companies from copying or stealing American ideas and technologies. Chinese companies can buy American companies and transfer their intellectual property overseas, or have their employees train their Chinese replacements.

Even minority stakes can allow a Chinese investor access to industrial secrets that would otherwise be off-limits. By blocking these investors, the Trump administration hopes to preserve US technological dominance, at least for a little while longer.

Notably, the European Union is also moving to restrict Chinese investments. The fact that Europe, which has opposed Trump’s tariffs, is copying American investment restrictions, should be a signal that the less-publicised high-tech trade war is actually the important one.

The high-tech trade war shows that for all the hoopla over manufacturing jobs, steel, autos and tariffs, the real competition is in the tech sector.

Losing the lead in the global technology race means lower profits and a disappearing military advantage. But it also means losing the powerful knowledge-industry clustering effects that have been an engine of US economic growth in the post-manufacturing age. Bluntly put, the United States can afford to lose its lead in furniture manufacturing; it can’t afford to lose its dominance in the tech sector.

The question is whether the high-tech trade war will succeed in keeping China in second place. China has long wanted to catch up in semiconductor manufacturing, but export controls will make that goal a necessity rather than an aspiration. And investment restrictions may spur China to upgrade its own homegrown research and development capacity.

In other words, in the age when China and the United States were economically co-dependent, China might have been content to accept lower profit margins and keep copying American technology instead of developing its own. But with the coming of the high-tech trade war, that co-dependency is coming to an end. Perhaps that was always inevitable, as China pressed forward on the technological frontier. In any case, the Trump administration’s recent moves against Chinese tech – and some similar moves by the EU – should be seen as the first shots in a long war.

— Bloomberg by Noah Smit

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Huawei to sell servers with own chips in cloud computing push

Huawei to sell servers with own chips in cloud computing push

 

Powerful signals expected from tommorow, Dec 8 ’18 rallies: advocating human rights, Malay rights, Islam to divide the nation


NGOs criticise govt on ICERD flip flop
At Malay Rights Rally, Lokman Calls D https://youtu.be/XJf8SfrO87s

THE line in the sand will be more clearly drawn than ever after tomorrow, with the predominantly Malay political opposition on one side and a more mixed ruling coalition on the other.

The anti-Icerd rally engineered by PAS and Umno has all the signs of being the biggest Malay-Muslim street protest the country has ever seen in recent times.

Parallels are being drawn to the mammoth Islamist rally in Jakarta last weekend that turned the biggest intersection in the Indonesian capital into a sea of people, all wearing white.

At the same time, an alternative rally organised by Suhakam to mark human rights day, aims to send out the message that Icerd or the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination also has support among fair-minded Malaysians.

Clarity is good in politics but not in this case because the line in the sand indicates the deepening cleavage in Malaysian politics.

The spark for the anti-Icerd rally was lit by opposition to the government’s move to ratify the United Nations’ human rights charter.

But it has since evolved into what looks to be a show of force by Malay-Muslim political parties and NGOs.

They want to tell the powers-that-be to be more sensitive and respectful when it comes to issues of race and religion.

“Let the Icerd issue be a lesson, so that there won’t be anything like that again in the future, said PAS deputy information chief Roslan Shahir.

There is also the deniable element of opportunistic politics, given that the main drivers of the rally are PAS and Umno.

It is no secret that both parties are keen to measure their support in New Malaysia.

“We are not going to pretend that it is not about politics.

“We want to show that two-thirds of Malays are not with Pakatan Harapan,” said Roslan.

And, as he pointed out, Bersih began as a movement for free and fair elections and grew into a movement to topple the Barisan Nasional government.

Size matters in politics, and everyone is anxious to see the turnout at the two rallies.

“I don’t think the wider Malay public is taking the (anti-Icerd) rally seriously now that the government has decided not to ratify Icerd.

“But it gives Umno and PAS supporters an outlet to vent their emotions against the government,” said Merdeka Centre director Ibrahim Suffian.

Given that, Ibrahim said ordinary Malays may not come out in large numbers, and the anti-Icerd rally is more likely to attract hardcore supporters of both parties.

However, if the level of organising behind the anti-Icerd rally is anything to go by, it will not be a small or quiet affair.

No less than former IGP Tan Sri Musa Hassan and retired Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad have expressed support.

Abdul Hamid, who is not in good health, had dramatised his support by arriving for an anti-Icerd forum in an ambulance and speaking on stage in a wheelchair.

The optics this Saturday will be quite powerful, and it will be exhilarating for some and worrying for others.

Just as the Bersih protests became a manifestation of the dislike for Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s government, the anti-Icerd rally will be a gauge of Malay sentiments towards Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s government.

According to a senior Malay journalist, the furor over Icerd also has to do with the build-up of Malay undercurrents over other issues such as the appointments of the Attorney General and Finance Minister.

“Then Icerd came along and it became too much for them to swallow.

“Dr Mahathir realised that if he pushed ahead with Icerd, his government will fall in the next general election,” said the journalist.

The Suhakam rally, to be held in Petaling Jaya, is likely to draw a moderate crowd but will reportedly feature Dr Mahathir and his Cabinet ministers.

“The Prime Minister has to show that no single side has monopoly over the Malay ground.

“He has to be seen out there because keeping quiet would suggest that you have surrendered or lost,” said political commentator Khaw Veon Szu.

Pakatan’s image has also been dented by its inability to defend Icerd.

Many equated New Malaysia with a future where there is greater equality and where policies are not based on race or religion.

They are disappointed that Dr Mahathir who took on the Malay Rulers and survived religiously-tinged issues like Memali, has been unable to push ahead with Icerd.

Likewise, DAP’s silence on Icerd has surprised its supporters given the party’s famous rallying cry of “Malaysian Malaysia”.

Critics out there complain that it took MCA 60 years to become cowed by Umno but it took DAP only six months to become like MCA.

Given the mix of emotions over Icerd, some are wondering whether it is a good idea for Dr Mahathir to launch the Suhakam gathering.

His coalition is struggling with Malay support and what he says at the rally will be misinterpreted and twisted in the less-than-wonderful world of social media.

For instance, Dr Mahathir’s latest blog posting, where he used a broad brush to paint Malay culture as corrupt drew caustic reactions from netizens asking him to justify the immense wealth of his children.

Dr Mahathir has been an experienced and reliable pair of hands in a Cabinet dominated by greenhorns and less than competent people but his second coming has not been as smooth as expected.

He is struggling to deliver.

In a sense, the anti-Icerd rally is a personal challenge to his leadership as the top Malay and Muslim leader.

The two biggest Malay political parties in the country are flexing their muscles and Dr M will have a chance to assess the extent of their support tomorrow.The Star by Joceline Tan

Related:

Landslide nation, Malaysia ranks highly for landslides


We’re a country with the 10th highest number of landslides in the world. Heavy rainfall and rugged topography are the reasons – but these are secondary. The main cause is man-made.

 

Malaysia among countries especially prone to landslides

Malaysia sits among the top 10 countries that had a high number of landslides over the past decade.

According to data from the US National Aeronautics Space Administration (Nasa), Malaysia had 171 landslides between 2007 and March 2016, making the country ranked the 10th highest in frequency of landslides.

Ranked first is the United States (2,992), followed by India (1,265) and China (426).

Titled the Global Landslide Catalog (GLC), the one-of-its-kind dataset was compiled based on online and media reports, and scientific journals since 2007.

The Star analysed the dataset and found that the number of landslides have been increasing in Malaysia, almost with each year, reaching a peak of 33 occurrences in 2014.

On average, in the past 10 years, Malaysia experienced 18.5 landslides annually.

The high number of landslides means that Malaysia ranked 5th for landslides per square kilometre among countries that have a land area greater than 100,000sq km.

Nepal is the country with the highest number of landslides per square kilometre, followed by the Philippines, Britain and Guate­mala.

Most of Malaysia’s landslides occur between October and January, which coincides with the months with the highest rainfall. This is according to data on average monthly rainfall between 1991 and 2015 from the World Bank.

Sabah leads with the most number of landslides (42), followed by Kuala Lumpur (26), Sarawak (25), Selangor (22) and Penang (14).

Latitude and longitude data point towards certain areas that landslides commonly occur. These include Ranau in Sabah, Ringlet in Cameron Highlands, Bukit Antarabangsa in Selangor and Tanjung Bungah in Penang.

Nasa’s satellite view showed that most landslide occurrences in Malaysia are packed around the peninsula’s west coast, and Sabah and Sarawak.

Hardly any red dots could be seen in the Kalimantan region, south of Sabah and Sara­wak, which could indicate that the landslides are caused by over-development.

Based on Nasa’s GLC website, since 2007, it has recorded some 10,000 landslides around the world, leading to more than 20,000 deaths, mostly in South-East Asia.

Data on Malaysia showed that most landslide fatalities are in Kuala Lumpur (18), followed by Pahang (17) and Selangor (eight).

The GLC project, first published in 2010, was to provide scientists with a dataset to analyse how, why and where landslides are likely to occur.

It remains the largest publicly available repository of global landslides.

According to the Meteorological Department, the country will be experiencing the northeast monsoon until the end of March, with heavy rains forecast along the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, eastern Johor and Pahang.

A higher than average rainfall level of between 250mm and 350mm is also forecast for certain places in Sabah such as Kudat and Sandakan. In Sarawak, Kuching, Samarahan, Bintulu and Kapit are forecast to receive an average rainfall level that exceeds 500mm.

‘Main cause is man-made’

Malay­sia’s rugged topography and high rainfall coupled with human activities are behind the country being among the top 10 countries with the most number of landslides.

Institute of Geology spokesman Ng Chak Soon said Nasa’s data was correct.

“This is due to a combination of natural factors and human activities. Natural factors comprise periods of high rainfall and rugged topography while human activities relate to the cutting of slopes,” he said in an interview.

Asked if the high frequency could also be due to the type of soil in Malaysia, Ng said this was true only for Sabah such as in Ranau.

“Sabahan soil seems to have a high percentage of expandable clay which absorbs more water and expands more when wet. It shrinks when dry,” he said, adding that earthquakes were also a new factor in the state.

Not a country with typhoon or volcanic eruptions, Ng said the country’s only threat came from landslides.

“And, this is mostly man-made.

“Practically every major landslide in this country is linked to engineering works where slopes have been cut or built or filled with material,” he said.

To a question whether Malaysia had to change its type of development work such as slope cutting to reduce landslides, Ng said: “Apart from the coastal plains, most of our country is hilly.

“That means slope cutting is inevitable.”

He said there was a lack of in-depth understanding of the underlying factors behind landslides among “experts” in the country.

Whenever a slope failed as part of engineering works, he said it was engineers who looked into the causes of failures or what could have been overlooked, overestimated or underestimated in their calculations.

“It is unfortunate that most of these reports (into landslides) are not freely available for public scrutiny,” said Ng, adding that this made it difficult to identify the causes and to prevent similar mistakes from recurring.

He also claimed there was a lack of appropriate geological input in the study into the causes of landslides.

In many countries landslides come under the ambit of their geological survey departments.

“Malaysia is the exception where the Geoscience and Minerals Department is not playing this key role and there is a very good reason for this,” said Ng. “Landslide as a geological phenomenon is a topic under engineering geology which is itself a branch of geology.

“Landslides began to be considered a problem only after the collapse of the Highland Towers in 1993.

“So, it is relatively new in Malaysia.

“To really have a better understanding of why slopes fail, we have to get the geologists involved,” he said.

Penang Apartment dwellers live in fear

 

Cause for concern: A view of the construction site where the paired road project is being built in Paya Terubong.

GEORGE TOWN: For the first time in the 10 years that he has stayed in his apartment near the Bukit Kukus paired road project, 62-year-old S. Santhara is worried.

That was where nine people died due to a landslide last month.

The retired fireman never had to worry about landslides because the hills behind his apartment in Paya Terubong were covered with trees.

“We knew the hills facing our block would not crumble as the trees held down the soil,” he said.

That was before the hills were cleared for the construction of the paired road project.

“As they started to clear the hills near my home last year, I worried about the stability of the slopes and whether there would be a landslide.

“Then, the Tanjung Bungah landslide occurred in October 2017 and I fear this place could be next,” he said.

On Oct 19, the landslide at the construction site for the paired road hit 12 containers that housed construction workers.

Besides the foreign workers who were killed after being buried alive, four others were injured.

The Tanjung Bungah landslide that struck the site of an affordable housing project in Lengkok Lembah Permai killed 11 workers, including a Malaysian.

A special committee, set up by the Penang state government, will begin investigations into the cause of the Nov 8 landslide at the Bukit Kukus project site in Paya Terubong.

Inquiry into the Tanjung Bungah landslide has yet to be completed.

The Bukit Kukus landslide, said Santhara, had taken place right behind the hill facing his apartment block.

Now, he said it was worrying whenever it rained.

“Anything can happen at any time. If I have the opportunity, I will move out,” he said at his home.

Already, he said, there was landslip on parts of the hill after the trees were cleared.

“There was erosion. It (the hill) has now been covered with sheets but we still worry when it rains.

“During rainfall, a lot of mud water wash down and drains overflow, spilling onto the road,” he said.

On the day of the landslide, K. Kalaiselvan, 43, who lives on the 18th floor of an apartment in the vicinity, heard a loud crash.

“It sounded like rocks and sand falling. Later, I realised it was a landslide.

“I am worried we could be next,” he said, adding that the slopes were bare and threatening.

“I run a coffee shop and have lived here for the past 15 years. This is my home.

“As I live on a really high floor, it is worrying whenever it rains,” he said.

Engineers: Put plan for a centralised agency into motion

PETALING JAYA: Set up a centra­lised national agency to really control slope safety, suggests the Institution of Engineers.

Its president David Lai (pic) said IEM had proposed the setting up of such a body years earlier and hoped that the government would look into this urgently.

“We had actually put in a position paper in 2002 on the classification of slopes into four categories according to the height and angle of the slope.

“We also had an update on the policy in 2009,” he said in an interview, adding that the two papers were conveyed to the Housing and Local Government Ministry that looked into building by-laws.

“We are still actively pursuing this matter,” said Lai.

He said there should also be a slope information management system put in place to identify risky zones.

“The government must take the lead in coming up with such a system. We can give recommendations but the government is the statutory body,” said Lai.

He was responding to Nasa data that put Malaysia among the top 10 countries with the most frequent landslides in the world between 2007 and 2016.

Lai said Malaysia should learn from Hong Kong which had to deal with several landslides in the 1980s until it set up a geo office.

“From then, they started to repair the old slopes and impose new guidelines. Now, they have managed to control slope failure,” he said.

He said IEM, which had some 48,000 members, had put in a recommendation that for development on critical slopes between 25° and more than 35° angle, there should not only be a submissions engineer but also a geo-technical specialist to check on the design.

Asked if there was a need for engineers to change their designs such as cutting or fortifying the slopes, Lai said: “We actually don’t need to change.

“We just need to make sure to put in place the required safety procedures.

“We just need to get the correct people and whether all these procedures have been implemented.”

He added that enforcement was a necessity.

He said with more hillside development, there was a need now for specialised geo-technical engineers, who knew soil conditions and behaviour, and incorporate this into slope design.

PWD working to keep landslides down

The Public Works Department (PWD) has been carrying out landslide prevention works on slopes along federal and state roads beginning this year.

The works, undertaken by its Slope Engineering Branch, will go on until 2020.

Among the measures being undertaken include evaluation, danger and risk mappings, and setting up of an early warning, real-time system for landslides.

Its director Zulkifly A. Ghani said the prevention works also included fortifying high-risk slopes along federal roads.

“For slopes along federal reserve and state roads, monitoring is being carried out by the district PWD via the visual method, such as site visits and inspections,” he said in an interview.

Zulkifly was responding to a question on the action taken by the department to monitor the slopes, particularly during the rainy season.

Last year, former works minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said 946 of the 16,454 slopes along federal roads in Peninsular Malaysia were classified as “very high hazard” while 1,551 others were “high hazard”.

Zulkifly concluded this with the latest technology of Light Detection and Ranging and drones.

“The Early Warning System is being developed,” he said.

Zulkifly said the EWS was being developed using monitoring techniques such as rain gauge, robotic total stations as well as the Global Navigation Satellite System.

“The equipment will continuously monitor any slope movement and the data transmitted to a server for analysis and displayed on a special website.

“Should the movement reach the danger limit, it will send a message to the officer via SMS. The officer will then decide what to do,” he said.

Forty-eight rain gauges had been installed at risky slopes.

“The real time warning limit is displayed on a special early warning website for landslides, which however is still being developed and improved on by the branch,” he said.

Source: The Star by Sim Leoi Leoi, Adrian Chan, and N. Trisha

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