PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd and China Communications Construction Company Ltd have signed a supplementary agreement that will pave the way for the resumption of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project.

The signing was achieved after months of negotiations between the companies involved as well as the governments of Malaysia and China, said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

“We are pleased to announce that the construction cost of Phases 1 and 2 of the ECRL has now been reduced to RM44bil.

“This is a reduction of RM21.5bil from the original cost of RM65.5bil.

“This reduction will surely benefit Malaysia and lighten the burden of the country’s financial position,” said the PMO in a statement Friday (April 12).

The supplementary agreement covers the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning aspects of the ECRL, it added.

The PMO also said that further details of the improved deal will be made known at a press conference next Monday (April 15).

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is expected to give the press conference.

According to earlier reports, Phase 1 of the 688km rail line will be from Klang Valley to Kuantan while Phase 2 will cover Kuantan to Kuala Terengganu.

The project’s Phase 3 will see the rail line connecting Kuala Terengganu to Kota Baru and Tumpat. – Star, NST, MM

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New ECRL deal may become a case study for others


Putrajaya to be rail hub – Nation

Malaysia to ‘take advantage’ of ECRL deal to sell China more palm oil …

ECRL project revival to benefit many sectors – Business News

ECRL deal to include commitment from China to buy palm oil …

Improved ECRL deal a ‘solution’ to debt trap concerns

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Penang, a hub for 5G RF chip production

Significant role: Mini-Circuits’ manufacturing facility in Penang is expected to contribute about 10% of the group’s 5G RF chips production over the next few years.

PENANG is one of a handful of manufacturing sites in Asia with a 5G (fifth-generation mobile networks) radio frequency (RF) chip production facility. And the state has become an important production site for Mini-Circuits Technologies (Malaysia), a subsidiary of New York-based Scientific Component.

It is now producing one million 5G RF chips a month for use in 5G telecommunication base stations worldwide.

“We started 5G RF chip production in 2018.

“The plan is to increase the output to between 40 million and 50 million units in three years, depending on how fast telcos worldwide are able to implement 5G base stations,” says Datuk Seri Kelvin Kiew, president and chief executive officer of Mini-Circuits.

In Penang, Mini-Circuits produces 5G mmWave and sub-6 GHZ chips.

What is the fuss over 5G?

“In layman’s terms, 5G, the successor to 4G, is 100 times faster than 4G, with speeds that reach 10 gigabits per second.

“This would let consumers download a full-length high-definition movie in seconds.

“5G will have enhanced bandwidth, allowing it to accommodate the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) such as smart refrigerators to traffic lights to dog collars, enabling them to transmit and receive data.

Faster speed: The 5G technology will benefit both businesses and consumers, says Kiew.

“The potential benefits to 5G are vast for both businesses and consumers – for the former, the additional capacity and speed should allow for greater mobile working whilst for consumers, the speed should offer additional benefits within the ability of your smartphone. 5G is also crucial to the full implementation of AI (artificial intelligence) worldwide.

“For example, a business using a 5G network would mean employees can video conference from any location whilst for consumers, 5G could allow you to download a film to your smartphone in under a second,” Kiew says.

Penang is an important manufacturing site for Mini-Circuits, contributing about 10% of the 5G RF chips – valued at about US$350mil – to be shipped out by the group over the next few years.

“The value of the 5G RF chips shipped out from Penang is estimated to be about US$80mil for 2019, of which, about half of the amount is for the China market,” he says.

In the initial phase, the sub-6 GHZ application will dominate production, as it provides reasonable bandwidth speed and wider coverage.

“In the subsequent phase, the mmWave will be used in areas where there is a need for multi-gigabit communication services.

“The objective with mmWave is to increase the data bandwidth available over smaller, densely populated areas.

“It will be a key part of 5G in many cities, powering data in sports stadiums, malls, and convention centres, as well as basically anywhere that data congestion might be a problem.

“Out in rural towns and villages, sub-6 GHz and low bands below 2 GHz will probably play a more crucial role in ensuring consistent coverage,” Kiew says.

A problem with mmWave is that the signal cannot penetrate walls.

“However, the mmWave will leverage the support from 5G base stations to bounce around until a decent signal is transmitted.

“When it rains, the signal will be impacted.

“Our manufacturing site worldwide, including Penang, will work on improving both the mmWave and sub-6 GHZ band RF modules to overcome the limitations,” he adds.

According to Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA) forecast, by 2025, there will be 1.2 billion 5G connections worldwide, with 5G networks covering almost 40% of the global population.

Asia Pacific will account for more than half of these, or 675 million 5G connections, by 2025.

But when will 5G become a reality?

“The first 5G compatible phones will become available in the middle of this year, but consumers will not initially notice vastly faster speeds because 5G coverage will be limited to certain cities or neighbourhoods at first.

“Analysts predict it will be at least a couple of years before the network’s reach will be extensive enough to let you use your 5G phone without relying on current wireless standards most of the time,” he says.

“We had a record year in 2018 shipping over US$400mil worth of RF products that includes filters, power splitters, and amplifiers.

“Growth in 2019 will be between 5% and 10%, impacted by the trade war and the overall slow down in the handheld products.

“Our Malaysia facility is expected to ship US$150mil worth of RF products in 2019,” Kiew concludes.

By David Tan The Star



AI to nearly double the rate of innovation in 2021 | Focus Malaysia

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Bytedance, World’s Most Valuable Startup Is Home to a Complex Fortune

US$13bil man: Zhang is the youngest self-made billionaire in Asia on the Bloomberg index, which tracks the world’s 500 richest people. He is worth US$13bil. — Bloomberg

  • Ownership structure used by Zhang Yiming is popular in tech
  • Chinese authorities will soon allow so-called VIEs to list

The 35-year-old founder of Bytedance Ltd. is worth about $13 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, making him China’s 9th-richest person and one of the fastest in modern times to amass a mega-fortune.

The business, founded in 2012, has more than 1 billion active monthly users across eight mobile apps, including a news aggregator powered by artificial intelligence and a video-sharing platform.

Zhang is the youngest self-made billionaire in Asia on the Bloomberg index, which tracks the world’s 500 richest people. His rapid wealth accumulation is a sign that China hasn’t lost its knack for creating mega-rich company founders despite a slowing economy.

His rapid wealth accumulation — he’s now the world’s 98th-richest person — is a sign that China hasn’t lost its knack for creating mega-rich company founders despite a slowing economy. It also helps explain why authorities seem to be taking a more tolerant stance toward a corporate structure favored by the country’s technology tycoons, most of whom have chosen to list their businesses overseas.

Zhang’s fortune is harder to calculate than the founders of Baidu Inc. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. in part because his company isn’t yet public. It’s also difficult because Bytedance is structured in the same way as the two tech behemoths — a complicated ownership system known as a variable interest entity (VIE).

Of the 44 Chinese tycoons on Bloomberg’s wealth index, eight are tech moguls with VIEs listed outside China. The billionaires’ combined net worth exceeded $150 billion as of March 21, and their stakes weren’t publicly known until the companies filed with regulators ahead of going public in New York or Hong Kong.

VIEs have never been formally endorsed by the Chinese government. But in an acknowledgment of their importance, officials will soon permit VIEs to go public in the country, allowing them to list on a new technology-focused exchange set to launch in coming months.

Complex Structure

Bytedance is, for now, a closely held VIE with a complex structure that involves layers of holding companies.

Its main business, Jinri Toutiao, is ultimately owned by Zhang and Bytedance Senior Vice President Zhang Lidong through a Beijing-registered holding firm, according to China’s National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System.

Zhang pledged his 98.8 percent stake to another Beijing company, which in turn is owned by a Hong Kong-registered firm. That entity, where Zhang is a director, is owned by a company registered in the Cayman Islands. The principals won’t be disclosed unless there’s an IPO prospectus.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index calculated Zhang’s net worth by pegging his stake at 65 percent and using the company’s valuation of $20 billion, a figure provided in 2017 by people with knowledge of the matter. The analysis assumes his stake has been diluted through funding rounds.

Bytedance is said to have secured a $75 billion valuation in late 2018, making it the world’s most valuable startup — though the figure isn’t used in the net worth calculation because the details haven’t been confirmed.

Yin Ai, a Bytedance spokeswoman, declined to comment on Zhang’s wealth or the ownership structure.

Zhang uses a VIE because Chinese regulations limit foreign investment across more than 30 sectors including the internet, telecommunications and education. The VIE structure — which allows offshore companies to control domestic Chinese businesses through contractual agreements — circumvents the rules and allows, for example, Baidu’s holding company to be based offshore (and list in the U.S.) while still being a dominant force in China.

Internet giant Sina Corp. pioneered the VIE model so that it could transfer income from onshore operating businesses to an offshore holding company, an arrangement that meant the Cayman Islands entity could list on the Nasdaq Stock Market in 2000.

There are risks to the structure for foreign investors, said Donald Clarke, a specialist in Chinese law at George Washington University.

“A contract entered into for an unlawful purpose is invalid under Chinese law,” he said. “Any time the government wants to pull the plug, it can.”

Still, that hasn’t stopped more than 100 companies using VIEs in offshore IPOs, according to research by Zhou Fang, a Beijing-based partner at law firm JunHe LLP, who predicts that more companies will follow.

That growth helps explain why authorities are slowly embracing VIEs. Earlier this month, China enacted a foreign-investment law that allayed investor concerns about the future of such companies, while unicorn VIEs will be able to list on the new exchange in Shanghai, known as the Tech Board.

“To some extent, it shows the government easing concerns over VIEs — but they still care about who’s the ultimate controller of the company,” said Zhang Biwang, a partner at Allbright Law Offices. As long as the controller of the company remains a Chinese citizen, “the government won’t shut their eyes and ignore reality to make the companies give up VIEs.”


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China’s private companies reaching for the stars

Lift-off: A security cordon is placed around the launch site of an OS-X suborbital rocket, which was developed by OneSpace Technology Group Co Ltd, in northwestern China last May. —China Daily
SATELLITES have become the latest gold mine or private companies in China as they rush to reach for the stars in the space sector.

The country’s satellite industry, which used to be dominated by state-owned enterprises, is gradually changing and opening to private players.

More than 90 Chinese start-ups, mostly focused on satellites or rockets, have taken their first steps in the space industry in the past four years, a senior industry expert from a Beijing-based satellite startup, who wished to remain anonymous, told China Daily based on the start-up’s internal research.

“It means that on average, nearly two startups were founded every month in the past four years in China. It is significant if China is to grab a slice of the cake from the global competition in the budding space industry,” he said.

According to The Space Report 2018 issued by The Space Foundation, the total market of the global space economy was US$384bil in 2017, a year-on-year increase of 7.4%. Of that, commercial activities accounted for more than 80%.

Industry experts pointed out that China only accounts for 3%-5% of the space economy globally, but the country is gaining ground fast in terms of both scale and technology.

Since 2014, Chinese authorities have launched policies and called for private players to actively participate in the country’s space industry.

Earlier, the National Development and Reform Commission, along with the Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, also unveiled a 10-year blueprint to promote the commercial space sector.

LinkSure Network, a Chinese free internet access provider, announced a plan in November last year to launch China’s first Wi-Fi satellite in 2019.

It aims to send 272 satellites into space to provide free Wi-Fi globally by 2026. The first batch of investment will hit 3 billion yuan (US$447mil).

Similar to Elon Musk’s Starlink plan, the satellites will be used to expand internet coverage and boost internet speeds, the Shanghai-based internet firm said.

“The starting point of such a plan is to offer free internet connections to people around the world, especially those in underdeveloped areas or rough terrain,” said Wang Xiaoshu, rotating president of LinkSure Network.

The company, founded in 2013, became a unicorn – a startup valued at more than US$1bil – in 2015 by raising US$52mil in its A-round of financing.

“Satellite connection will be a great supplement to the ground network. The ground network, which relies on stations, has limitations due to, for example, weather and land form,” said An Yang, chief scientist of LinkSure’s satellite project.

“On a global scale, the number of satellites is far from meeting the huge demand for communication. The future of the communication sector must be a combination of space and ground,” he said.

Under the plan, revenue will come from services to high-end users as well as those provided to areas that the ground network is unable to reach, An said.

The space era: In this undated photo, An Yang, chief scientist of the satellite project at LinkSure Network, introduces the company’s satellite system at a news conference in Beijing. — China Daily

LinkSure is not the first. A string of startups have sent satellites into space for different purposes.

For instance, Guoxing Yuhang Co Ltd, or ADA Space, a private firm based in Chengdu, Sichuan province, launched two artificial intelligence satellites at the end of last year.

Though the country’s internet giants have not directly announced plans to develop, produce or launch satellites, they are showing a desire to do so.

Tech conglomerate Alibaba Group launched a communication satellite to support its online shopping gala last year while Baidu chief executive officer Robin Li said earlier that he hoped more support could be given to private companies in the civilian space segment.

Another tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd has also jumped on the bandwagon by investing in US startup Moon Express, which was founded in 2013 by a group of space entrepreneurs.

The US startup is looking to profit from the commercial space sector through leveraging core technologies including using drones to mine asteroids.

Compared with state-owned companies, private firms are better at commercialisation including attracting and using money and resources, which will greatly improve efficiency, said Yang Feng, chief executive officer of Spacety, a commercial aerospace company specialising in developing commercial micro and nano satellites.

“It is also a promising area that state-owned and private space companies can supplement and co-operate with each other,” he added.

Notably, some private players have also entered the overseas market. China Communication Technology Co Ltd in Shenzhen, a satellite-based communication services provider, has been beefing up its overseas presence to exploit foreign opportunities.

“We aim to extend our business to Africa this year and will tap into one or two Belt and Road economies each year,” said Wu Guangsheng, president of CCT.

CCT is currently offering services and products in the US, Europe, the Middle East and nine other countries and regions that are participating in the Belt and Road Initiative.

In 2017, its overseas revenue was about 9 billion yuan, which made up more than 60% of the total.

It also plans to further explore South-East Asian markets including Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, and promote its products in Central Asian economies such as Kazakhstan.

Last year, the company entered the Philippines by acquiring G Telecoms Inc, the third-biggest telecom operator in the local market.

“In the past, we could only co-operate with local (telecom) carriers in foreign countries by selling our equipment to them. But with this big step, we can operate independently, be it launching our own satellites or providing data-related services,” Wu said.

The business could have huge potential as some 75% of the Philippines’ 100 million population are aged 25 or under and they have a voracious demand for communication services.

So far, CCT has received orders from civil aviation and public security departments in the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.

In 2018, at least 15 private space companies disclosed their financing with the total amount estimated to reach more than 2 billion yuan, according to a report from 36Kr, a science and technology media group.

A report from China Money Network pointed out that seven private space companies had raised more than 1.66 billion yuan by August 2018.

MatrixPartners China, IDG Capital, China Growth Capital and Shunwei Capital were among the major investors.

Despite intensive capital support, industry insiders pointed out that there is still a long way to go for Chinese private firms to gain a lead.

For startups, money is still the bottleneck, said Jiang Yunwei, president of CITIC Juxin (Beijing) Co Ltd Capital Management, in a report.

“A company cannot earn money by launching a single satellite and the commercialisation of satellites needs a network of dozens of satellites, which costs a lot,” he said.

A satellite network requires at least 1.8 billion yuan to 2 billion yuan, according to Xie Tao, founder and chief executive officer of Beijing-based space startup Commsat Technology Development Co.

Facing such pressure, satellite startups are expected to address another challenge – to reduce the cost of developing and launching up satellites.

“Companies should change their approach of using costly accessories made only for space,” said Xie. “Private companies can leverage commercial components to replace expensive ones.

Zhang Jiacheng, an investor in space startup OneSpace, agreed.

“China is still at the starting point in the commercial space sector. A well-rounded system needs to be established to offer space startups affordable and sustainable services.” — China Daily/Asia News Network

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Than Hsiang – Engineering change for greater good

Guan Yin – Goddess of Mercy”

Than Hsiang Foundation was established in January 1990 to promote Buddhist education, welfare and cultivation based on the Conviction of: “The Young to Learn, The Strong and Healthy to Serve, The Aged and Sick to be Cared For, The Departed to Find Spiritual Destination.”
Ven Wei Wu (right) speaking at a dialogue commemorating the 25th anniversary of his renunciation on April 29, 2017.

Retiring engineer-turned-abbot has made big contributions to education, culture and welfare

BEFORE answering his calling to serve as a Buddhist monk, Neoh Kah Thong was a successful engineer, having done very well in Penang’s pioneer high-tech sector.

He learned Total Quality Management (TQM) from his Japanese teacher and friend, Prof Noriaki Kano, and implemented it successfully at his workplace in Penang, a sales office in Kuala Lumpur, and many government and private organisations.

For 19 years after graduating from a New Zealand university, Neoh worked tirelessly as an engineer, manager and consultant in New Zealand, Malaysia, Asia, the United States and Europe.

He also travelled extensively during this period and learned about the various cultures and acquiring knowledge while building up a wide network.

When he became a monk at 43, Neoh took up the name Venerable Wei Wu and continued to implement the TQM system at Bayan Baru’s Than Hsiang Temple which he founded with a group of friends working in Penang’s multi-national companies, mostly from Hewlett Packard.

“There was no looking back. With the help of my colleagues, friends, benefactors and supporters, we embarked on the mammoth task to build up the Buddhist organisation till today,” he said.

For many years, the Buddhist fraternity, especially those staying in Penang and the northern states, have regarded Ven Wei Wu as synonymous with Than Hsiang and vice versa. He is highly revered as a fatherly religious figure.

However, come March 16 this Saturday, Ven Wei Wu will retire as the Than Hsiang abbot at a ceremony where Ven Zhen Dian will be installed as the new abbot.

Born into a wealthy family, Ven Wei Wu, now 70, said his parents passed away before he was ordained.

“My eldest sister and foster mother were initially concerned about me abandoning my successful career. But they soon came to accept my decision and happily witnessed my ordination by Senior Ven Xiu Jing.”

Than Hsiang now has extensive ‘cradle to grave’ services and facilities including 10 kindergartens, Dharma classes for children and adults, Taiji classes, pre-marital courses, free clinics, vegetarian canteen, counselling centres, homes for senior citizens at several branches in the country as well as the International Buddhist College in Thailand.

He recalled that Than Hsiang was mooted at the Hewlett Packard canteen when his colleagues questioned him about his vegetarian diet.

“They also questioned me about Buddhism and its practices. We then started meditating and doing puja together in a colleague’s house before setting up a centre in Bayan Baru, which later became Than Hsiang.

“I received my higher ordination at the Hsi Lye Temple in the United States. I later received my Chan (Zen) Dharma transmission from Senior Venerable Bo Yuan in the Zhaodong Chan Dharma lineage,” he added.

Than Hsiang Temple was initially a place mainly for spiritual practice.

Later, it extended to play a social role in promoting education, welfare and cultural activities.

According to Ven Wei Wu, although Than Hsiang is a spiritual organisation, it is also active in education, social and cultural work.

“I believe that Than Hsiang will become better when I retire as abbot but I will still play a different (advisory) role.

Than Hsiang now has extensive ‘cradle to grave’ services and facilities including 10 kindergartens, Dharma classes for children and adults, Taiji classes, pre-marital courses, free clinics, vegetarian canteen, counselling centres, homes for senior citizens at several branches in the country as well as the International Buddhist College in Thailand.

Than Hsiang now has extensive ‘cradle to grave’ services and facilities including 10 kindergartens, Dharma classes for children and adults, Taiji classes, pre-marital courses, free clinics, vegetarian canteen, counselling centres, homes for senior citizens at several branches in the country as well as the International Buddhist College in Thailand.

“My successor Ven Zhen Dian was among the first batch of monks and nuns to be ordained at Than Hsiang Temple after me, so he is no stranger to the older devotees,” he said.

On his future plans, Ven Wei Wu said he would want to attain spiritual liberation, ultimately Buddhahood. He would also like to share the Dharma with friends in China and Western countries, if necessary to continue in future lives.

Than Hsiang started with about 20 members in the 80s, today it has 20,000 members and some 200,000 who support the organisation directly or indirectly in and outside Malaysia.

They have set up facilities such as a Metta Free Clinic, 10 kindergartens, two Mitra counselling centres and four senior citizens’ homes.

In Malaysia, there have branches in Penang, Kedah, Selangor, Wilayah, Negri Sembilan and Perak.

In Thailand, they have a Foundation and the International Buddhist College (IBC) which will be celebrating its 15th anniversary this year.

International Buddhist College IBC

IBC is an accredited institution offering BA, MA and PHD degree in English and Chinese mediums.

They have produced graduates from more than 30 countries. The students were recruited from top schools and universities such as Yale, Columbia, HKU, MU and NUS.

IBC graduates have been accepted into top universities of the world.

Currently, Than Hsiang is supporting the four Phor Tay schools financially as well as providing teachers with Buddhist classes.

The good work of Ven Wei Wu is the visible outcome of Than Hsiang’s noble mission: “For the young to learn, the strong and healthy to serve, the aged and sick to be cared for, and the departed to find spiritual destination.”

Source: Metro News


Huawei gaining support despite US ban

Charm offensive: To restore its international
reputation, Huawei’s top guns including the normally reclusive Ren began
to grant interviews to foreign media to address concerns and talk about
the group’s technology edge. — Huawei/AFP

CHINA’s Huawei, the world’s largest maker of telecom equipment and second largest manufacturer of smartphones, appears to have cleared some key hurdles with the might of its superfast 5G wireless technology amid relentless attacks by the United States.

The Trump administration has claimed that Huawei poses a potential national security threat. It is lobbying its allies to ban Huawei’s equipment, which Washington alleges could be used by the Chinese government for spying.

The US prosecutors have alleged that Huawei stole trade secrets and worked to skirt US sanctions on Iran. On Dec 1, with the help of Canada, it arrested Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei and daughter of the company founder. She faces extradition to the US to be charged for various offences.

Washington has repeatedly cited a Chinese law passed in 2017 allowing state intelligence agency to compel individual organisations to “provide necessary support, assistance and cooperation” as proof Huawei can’t be trusted.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned allies against using Huawei technology, saying it would make it difficult for Washington to “partner alongside them”.

There is also constant reminder that Huawei’s 74-year-old founder Ren Zhengfei was a former engineer in China’s army and joined the Communist Party in 1978, before setting up Huawei in 1987.

In the past one year, the international environment looked hostile and global picture looked grim for Huawei, when New Zealand, Australia and Japan followed the US to block Huawei in 5G involvement in their countries, while European nations led by Britain and Germany placed Huawei under scrutiny.

It looked like this global leader in the fifth generation wireless techno­logy, which has operations in 170 countries, was to lose many potential customers in this non-stop anti-Huawei campaign.

The Chinese tech giant has vehemently denied all accusations by the US, saying these allegations are baseless and not proven. The Chinese government has also denied these claims.

Still popular: Attendees excited by the new Huawei Mate X foldable 5G smartphone revealed at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. — AP

Still popular: Attendees excited by the new Huawei Mate X foldable 5G smartphone revealed at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. — AP

Public relations offensive

When taking a soft approach in response to US assault did not help to restore its international reputation, Huawei decided to go on an aggressive PR offensive recently.

Huawei’s top guns began to grant interviews to foreign media to address concerns and talk about the group’s technology edge.

In a recent interview with BBC, the founder of Huawei declared in Mandarin: “There’s no way the US can crush us. The world cannot leave us because we are more advanced. Even if they persuade more countries not to use us temporarily, we can always scale things down a bit.”

Indeed, Huawei has already built up such a strong lead in 5G techno­logy that it is practically irreplaceable, say analysts.

Huawei claims that its 5G techno­logy is at least one year ahead of its rivals, and many in the tech world agree.

The most successful private company in China is an important part of Beijing’s efforts to advance superfast 5G wireless networks.

Although under Chinese law, firms had to “co-operate with and collaborate in national intelligence work”, the serious-looking Ren told BBC that allowing spying was a risk he wouldn’t take.

“The Chinese government has already clearly said that it won’t install any backdoors. And we won’t install backdoors either. We’re not going to risk the disgust of our country and of our customers all over the world … Our company will never undertake any spying activities. If we have any such actions, then I’ll shut the company down.”

He described the arrest of his daughter Meng Wanzhou as “politically motivated” amid the year-long US-China trade war.

The US is pressing criminal charges against Huawei and Meng, including money laundering, bank fraud and stealing trade secrets. Huawei has denied any wrongdoing.

Huawei has also used the four-day 2019 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona held last week as a platform to further its media blitz.

Huawei’s chairman Guo Ping expressed hope “independent sovereign states will make independent decisions based on their own understanding of the situation and will not just listen to someone else’s order.”

He added that Huawei must abide by Chinese law and laws of countries where it operates.

“Huawei will never, and dare not, and cannot violate any regulations,” he pledged.

Faced with so much scrutiny, it is no wonder that Huawei’s issue overshadowed the launch of new products and other tech giants at the global trade fair.

To the delight of Huawei, GSMA – a global lobby representing more than 750 network operators and the Mobile World Congress organiser – has appealed to European policymakers not to ban Huawei in Europe’s 5G networks.

It urged countries to take “a fact-based and risk-based approach” in a statement that the US wireless industry did not endorse.

No evidence of spying

Amid Huawei’s PR offensive, which includes aggressive advertising and sponsorship of events, some good news started trickling in for the Shenzhen-based company that hires 180,000 people worldwide.

On Feb 12, it was reported that cyber-security chiefs in the National Cyber Security Centre of Britain had concluded that “any risk posed by involving Huawei in UK telecoms projects can be managed”.

This report is seen as casting doubt on US claim of the security threat from Huawei.

On Feb 19, independent tech news portal The Register reported that Europeans could not find any evidence of Chinese spying.

“No concrete evidence has so far emerged that Huawei equipment contains a backdoor or any other means for China to snoop on,” said the portal’s writer Kieren McCarthy, based in Los Angeles.

And according to media reports, Germany’s Cabinet has rejected American efforts to impose a global ban on Huawei, after its own security services reported that it has failed to find any evidence of spying.

Both the UK and Germany are huge markets for Huawei. UK’s mobile firms – Vodafone, EE and Three – have been working with Huawei on developing their 5G networks.

Huawei is said to command about 40% share in Europe’s telecom network and equipment market. Hence, banning Huawei could be disruptive in this continent.

As a clear leader in 5G technology, ditching Huawei could also mean falling behind on crucial innovation for Europe.

Indeed, Deutsche Telecom is predicting a two-year delay if Huawei is banned from 5G involvement in Germany.

In India, media reports have suggested that Delhi might ignore US pressure after establishing closer ties with China.

Huawei was allowed to participate in 5G trials in India last December.

Ignoring the anti-Huawei campaign, Maxis announced last week it was collaborating with Huawei to accelerate 5G in Malaysia.

Maxis, in a statement, said it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Huawei at the 2019 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

It highlighted that Huawei has signed over 30 commercial contracts and shipped more than 40,000 5G base stations across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

The MoU states that both parties will work to speed up the rollout of 5G technology in the country, working on full-fledged trials with end-to-end systems and services.

“Maxis has long started its 5G journey, and we are already focusing on live trials, investments and evolving our network infrastructure to be ready for a future where smart solutions will be part of everyday life,” said Maxis CEO-designate Gokhan Ogut.

Perhaps, the last thing Huawei expected was a tweet by US President Donald Trump on Feb 21 amid the US-China trade talks: “I want 5G, and even 6G, technology in the US as soon as possible. It is far more powerful, faster and smarter than the current standard. American companies must step up their efforts, or get left behind.

“I want the US to win through competition, not by blocking out currently more advanced technologies. We must always be the leader in everything we do, especially when it comes to the very exciting world of technology!”

Does this mean Huawei would be allowed enter the US market? But can Trump’s tweet be taken seriously by Huawei and Beijing?

China’s dream can’t be crushed

In fact, the onslaught against Huawei is creating big problems for mobile operators as they start building the next generation of wireless networks this year.

This will not only hurt Huawei but also its suppliers in the US and other players in the world, if the US has its way.

As expected, the anti-Huawei campaign has fanned up patriotism among Chinese consumers and the first casualty is Apple.

Demand for Huawei’s devices surged amid local campaigns to ditch US phones. Huawei sold 30 million phones in China in the last three months of 2018, nearly three times as many as Apple, whose sales plunged 20%.

The US-Huawei showdown is also hurting trade and diplomatic relations between China and the close allies of US.

Exports of Canada, Australia and New Zealand to China are seeing negative impact from retaliations from Beijing and tourism linked to Chinese has also taken a hit.

But Huawei’s success in 5G technology is more than geopolitics and competitive price. It represents the rapid rise of China as a tech power, which the US could not stomach.

There is fear by the US that China will control the technologies of the future. Already, China is advanced in AI (artificial intelligence) and has just become the world’s largest solar power producer.

China is the world’s second largest economy. Many analysts believe it will overtake the US to become the biggest economy by 2030, with the momentum created by its 2025 Made-in-China vision and other economic plans.

Huawei last year overtook Apple as the second biggest supplier of smartphones. The company is expected to overtake Samsung by 2020.

In Barcelona, Huawei announced that it expected to ship between 250 million and 260 million smartphones in 2019, up 20%-30% from 2018.

Judging from recent developments, the anti-Huawei campaign may put a brake to the rapid growth of this tech company, but it certainty will not crush Huawei and China’s ambition to lead in technology globally.

By Ho Wah Foon The Star


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