Let’s go back to basics


The right fundamentals: By cutting out the ‘fanciful non-productive’ elements, we can beef up our core curriculum that would increase the standards of our education at no additional cost overall.

 

Reforming Malaysian education can be affordable and simple – if we put our minds to it.

THIS piece was prompted by a very interesting exchange during a “townhall” dialogue session with the Education Minister at the Malaysian High Commission in London last month. In the said townhall, the Minister had reportedly alluded that “70% of education budget is spent on salaries, hence the remaining 30% is not sufficient to radically revolutionise and reform our education agenda”.

This reminded me of an open letter by the Perlis Mufti, Datuk Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, to the Prime Minister and Education Minister on Dec 22 last year.

Now I am not prone to quoting muftis and ulamaks, but when one makes sense, I will acknowledge it. This letter makes so much rational and economic sense that it is amazing that it has been basically ignored by the government and the mainstream media.

The Mufti lamented the breakdown of social harmony between the various races, attributing it towards an education system that is – from Year One – “by habit” (“secara tabiat”) exclusive in character to a specific race or religion, be it Malay-Islam, Chinese or Indian.

He even conceded that we could not deny that our national school (Sekolah Kebangsaan) environment has become Malay-Islam dominant.

In a nutshell, here are the Mufti’s proposals:

1. One school system for all, being the national schools, must be truly Malaysian in character, which would allow all race and religions to learn in comfort.

2. Eliminate all religious elements that tend to produce unconducive learning environment for all races in the schools.

3. Carry out Islamic education outside of the normal school session, not during the hours where children of all races and religions are learning.

4. Revamp the Islamic education content such that it is enhanced and improved, and it does not disturb the character of the national schools, which is the domain of all races and religions.

5. All costs for Islamic education should be borne only by Muslims from zakat and/or the respective Islamic state departments. The same should be for other religions, borne by their respective communities.

6. All Islamic schools, Chinese and Tamil primary schools can carry on as supplement to the national schools as an evening session after the main school sessions are over.

Tell me now, is that not one of the most progressive and impactful ideas forwarded by anyone in a long, long time with respect to Islamic education and its possible impact on our school system, children and society?

We need our Government to take these ideas seriously. It is consistent with our Constitution’s requirements that funding for religious activities should only in principle be from that community itself.

There is, however, one issue that needs to be thought about when implementing these suggestions. The Chinese national-type schools have today became a refuge for students from all races wanting to have a more secular and challenging learning environment compared to our national schools. In fact, even the Tamil schools are becoming more credible primary learning institutions compared to before. They are no longer a place where parents seek ethnic identity but more a place where the parents feel more assured of its standard of education than the national schools.

In fact, the educational standards at the national schools has eroded so much that Chinese national-type schools are the school of choice for demanding parents who cannot afford international private education. Therefore, while the aspirations for a single-school system devoid of religious classes and environment are laudable, we need to also address:

1. A transitional strategy to convert Chinese national-type schools into a single-school system without losing their high standards.

2. Strategies and plans on how to raise the standards at national schools.

We cannot do one without the other. In fact, the second need is more important and critical and must be achieved first, i.e. that the standards at national schools be raised first such that a single-school system would be of high standards overall.

To do that, we need a revamp of the school curriculum. A secular and scientific school curriculum and learning content will achieve such objectives. Recall that prior to the 80s, that was the emphasis of our primary and secondary schooling.

We need to remember that primary and secondary educations are basic education. A time to learn the fundamentals of thinking and basic methodology and principles of the different disciplines – through subjects like mathematics, science, biology, physics, chemistry, history, geography, art and language (or literature). Our students completed their O-Levels or SPM in those days and had no trouble being accepted in tertiary institutions all over the world. It is not that hard. We just need to return to the old fundamentals of education, the way we did it in the 70s. Specialised knowledge and skills are for tertiary education – vocational, colleges and universities.

This then takes us back to the Education Minister’s claim that since 70% of his budget is for salaries, therefore the remaining 30% is insufficient to revamp and revolutionise our education system. This cannot be further from the truth.

If we were to implement the proposal put forward by the Perlis Mufti – to remove Islamic classes and any other religious influence activities from national schools – no additional cost would be incurred; in fact the budget would be reduced. This would allow us to allocate the freed cost to increase other classes that would raise the standard of national schools – mathematics and science related ones, especially.

We would be able to enhance our curriculum for even primary students to encompass a more in-depth learning in the sciences such as in history of science, evolutionary biology and genetics, astronomy and cosmology, and modern technology that would perk their interests going into their secondary schooling.

And as suggested by the mufti, the religious classes provided as an option in the evening or outside the formal educational curriculum or session for the national schools will be financed by the religious bodies, including funds from zakat.


Everybody wins.

I would like to point out another aspect to our primary and secondary national education, which in my opinion is excessively unnecessary. We put our children through too many hours of Bahasa Melayu and English. There is no necessity for that. Language is learned primarily by practice, not by attending classes. Reading is the biggest contributor to learning a language. The next one, will be listening and practising. That should be the emphasis in the learning of Bahasa Melayu and English.

We can again halve the hours spent in language classes and beef up our other core curriculum that would increase the standard of our education at no additional cost overall.

My 70s and 80s Malaysian education served me well then and so did it for my friends, who took up very difficult disciplines in science, medicine, engineering, business and many other challenging vocations.

Malaysian primary and secondary education needs to return to its fundamental roots, curriculum and teaching. It needs to rid itself of all the fanciful non-productive elements of religion and those associated with it. It needs to focus on what is real knowledge and preparing our children with the thinking methodology and skills needed for them to survive and progress and be competitive as world citizens in the 21st century.

siti kassimGo back to basics.

by Siti Thots

Siti Kasim

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Penang Lang: Feeling increasingly displaced in Penang, sad the demise of colourful language


槟城人(Penang Lang) – Home | Facebook

Feeling increasingly displaced in Penang, too

DATUK Seri Wong Chun Wai’s article expressed my sentiments exactly (“Feeling lost in Penang”, On The Beat, Focus, Sunday Star, Jan 27; online at bit.ly/star_hokkien /A banana’s feeling lost in Penang, fearing will be illiterate in future).

I attended primary and secondary school at Convent Green Lane, and later went on to do my Sixth Form at St Xavier’s. Needless to say, I do not speak any Mandarin either. I, too, feel increasingly displaced in Penang, and am so sad to see Hokkien perceptibly fading away.

In preparing for my sociolinguistics class with undergraduates, I came across an interesting website by the Persatuan Bahasa Hokkien Pulau Pinang, speakhokkien.org. Others are concerned too.

(By the way, my class was studying concepts of language loss and language death, and I picked Penang Hokkien as a case to highlight the issue. In my demo, I spoke some and we all had a great big laugh – my personality inexplicably transforms when I speak Hokkien!)

One of the last bastions of Penang Hokkien could possibly be the Sg Ara market. During a visit sometime last year, I could still hear quite a bit of this beautiful dialect being spoken, to my great delight.

Thank you for highlighting the issue from a heartfelt personal perspective. I will include it in the reading list to help my students understand that language loss is not some abstract theoretical construct but is real and happening in our own backyard in Penang.

(By the way, wah ah boey khi bank gia ang pow long. Wah boh eng! Ah bo wah khi pasak bey kah ho :-)) (I haven’t gone to the bank to get ang pow packets. I am not free! Maybe it’s better that I go buy them in the market.)

JOY QUAH Kuala Lumpur The Star

Sad to see the demise of a colourful language

FIRSTLY, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai’s article, “Feeling lost in Penang /A banana’s feeling lost in Penang, fearing will be illiterate in future ”.

I was sent a link to the article by an old Auckland University friend who now lives in Singapore.

I’m a “banana” still living in Auckland after 40 years. And like Wong, I get pretty lost in Penang whenever I return.

Being ex-Penang Free School, I never learnt Mandarin. I worked in Shanghai for a year-and-a-half and my colleagues there used to tease me, “You can’t read Mandarin? You can’t write Mandarin? You can’t speak Mandarin? You must be illiterate!”

Penang is now starting to feel like China.

I find it’s more common nowfor Chinese youngsters to converse in Mandarin than in Hokkien. I speak Hokkien to the hawkers and get told that I must be from overseas! The Penang sing-song Hokkien will soon disappear. It’s a shame.

Like Wong, I too avoid Penang during Chinese New Year – it’s just too hectic. My wife and I visit mid-year when there are no events, celebrations or festivals. This year, it’s May/June. Wonder if there’s durian around then!

Have a Happy New Year, Keong Hee Huat Chai!

MICHAEL ONG Auckland, New Zealand The Star

Related post:

Children admiring a Hokkien glove puppet
theatre performing ‘Journey to the West’ on a portable wooden stage at
the Little Pe
.

A banana’s feeling lost in Penang, fearing will be illiterate in future


Children admiring a Hokkien glove puppet theatre performing ‘Journey to the West’ on a portable wooden stage at the Little Penang Street Market.

 

Its decline has been progressive, but Penang’s Hokkien heritage is at its closest to death’s door as 2019 takes off. 

LAST week, I returned to my hometown, Penang, to celebrate Chinese New Year. The family reunion meal with my father (who turns 94 this year) and (87-year-old) mother is an annual event I always look forward to.

It’s not possible to have my brothers (now in their mid-60s to 70 years old), their wives, children and grandchildren with us at the family event every time, but we get as many of them as we can. I have made it a point to host these pre-CNY meals because for the last few years, I have avoided being in Penang during the first two days of the actual celebrations.

That’s when Penang island’s roads get choked up and traffic comes to a complete standstill, the city desperately dealing with the homecoming of Penangites and tourists, especially during the second day of CNY.

The temperature on the island during the CNY season always seems to spike and at times, the scorching heat is almost unbearable. And that’s another reason why I withdraw from the otherwise lovely island during this festive period. As much as I yearn for my Penang hawker fare, I don’t want to jostle for a plate of char koay teow with tourists. But on this recent trip home, it hit me that I have become a stranger in my proud Hokkien-speaking island. The loss of the distinct northern-accented Hokkien has been apparent in the last few years but now it looks like its death may come sooner than feared.

It’s worse for a “banana” like me – a term to denote a person of Chinese origin who can’t speak or write Chinese, and instead, identifies more with Western culture. The term is derived from the fruit, which is “yellow on the outside, white on the inside”.

Those like me are regarded a disgrace to the Chinese-speaking community because I can’t read or write Chinese or speak Mandarin.

Their horror turns to disgust when I confess that I can’t even write my name in Chinese.

My decade of education was at St Xavier’s Institution, a Catholic establishment, and despite the religious background of the premier school, it had a liberal and open- minded culture that moulded most of its students, and this, us former students are enormously grateful for and proud of.

The multi-ethnic mix of the school’s population also means we had real friends from all races, developed and tested over a decade. So we always felt sorry for those who studied in Chinese, Tamil or Islamic-based schools then, because we felt their set up was mono-ethnic. And no matter how much the products of these schools claim they had friends from other races, we know they didn’t have the deep ties or bonds that those of us in English-medium schools developed.

Fast forward to 2019! Just like The Last Of The Mohicans – the James Fenimore Cooper historical novel realised in the 1992 movie about the last members of the dying Native American tribe, the Mohicans – it dawned on me last week that I could well be among the Last Of The Bananas in Malaysia.

At the Air Itam wet market, I asked for the price of the thee kuih, or kuih bakul, in Hokkein and the stall keeper, in turn, replied: “Oh, nee yau (you want) nian gao.”

A few steps away, another trader was loudly hawking ang pow packets, which, in previous times, would be referred to as “ang pow long” (red packets), but this time, I was hearing “hong bao feng”.

By the time I sat down at a coffee shop, the waiter was already taking down my order, again, in Mandarin, and quoting prices in that language, too. It was no longer “kopi” but “ka fei” now.

If there’s one clear feature that separates Penangites from the rest of the ethnic Chinese in Malaysia, it has always been the melodious Hokkien, with its rich sprinkling of Malay words that reveals its nonya-baba linguistic roots.

Penangites – at least from the older generation – are fiercely proud of their Hokkien, as it completely differs from the one spoken in Singapore, Taiwan or Xiamen in China, and even that in Melaka or Johor. Call us smug, snooty or parochial but we sometimes dismiss the Hokkien spoken elsewhere as somewhat crass and unrefined.

Only the Hokkien spoken by the Chinese in Medan closely mirrors Penang Hokkien, presumably because of the proximity between the island and the Indonesian city.

Whether rightly or wrongly, or plainly out of ignorance, Penangites feel the sing-song delivery is easier on the ears.

Words such as balai (police station), balu (just now), bangku (stool), batu (stone), cilaka/celaka (damn it), campur (to mix), jamban (toilet), gatai/gatal (itchy) gili/geli (creepy), sabun (soap) and kesian (pity), are an integral part of the Penang Hokkien dialect.

If the person is not from Penang, then he or she is likely from Kedah, Perlis or Taiping in Perak, to be able to converse in the northern-accented Hokkien. Which brings me to my point: As the daily use of the dialect is rapidly being replaced by Mandarin, I am feeling the impact the most. It is worse for the “bananas” who are feeling lost and out of place – in their home town.

It doesn’t help that many of the present Penang state and federal leaders aren’t from Penang, having been born and raised in either Melaka, Johor or Selangor.

The Penang Monthly bulletin, in its May 2017 issue, dramatically headlined the situation: “Penang Hokkien on life support”.

In an interview with the publication, Penang Hokkien Language Association secretary Ooi Kee How lamented that “our creativity, our cultural identity, will decline. A lot of innovations will disappear, because different languages shape the way we think differently.”

But the wide use of Mandarin and the decline of the dialects is not just endemic to Penang. Cantonese is spoken less in the Klang Valley, too, and is suffering the same sad fate as northern Hokkien. The random stranger who calls up, irritatingly “inviting” us to take up a loan having been “specially selected”, speaks to me in Mandarin because it’s assumed I can speak the language since I have a Chinese name. Likewise, the sales staff who stops us at the shopping mall also speaks to me in Mandarin, likely led by the same deduction.

So, as a “banana” who thinks and dreams in English, I am starting to suffer from anxiety. I am embarrassed by my inability to communicate in an important language – with huge economic value – and worse, the national language of my ancestral country.

At the rate, the Chinese language is being used, even by non-Chinese, I fear that I will be regarded illiterate in future. “Bananas” in the past ridiculed and mocked the Chinese-educated for not being able to speak English sufficiently, or roll their tongues well enough to produce the “r” sound, but now, it looks like the tables have turned on the “bananas”, instead.

A whole generation of Malaysian Chinese has been educated in Chinese schools, at least at primary level. It has been widely reported, from various surveys, that up to 90% of Chinese parents send their children to Chinese primary schools, and the balance to national medium schools.

As I have written here before, this is unlike the experience of the older generation of Penangites like me, now in their 50s, who attended schools using English as a medium of instruction. In the absence of Mandarin, we spoke mainly Hokkien and English, but people in their 30s and 40s are more comfortable conversing in Mandarin, and certainly not English.

Then there is the huge impact of Chinese TV shows, especially on Astro. They are entirely in Mandarin – with shows from mainland China and Taiwan – and Hokkien, which is spoken in a manner closer to that used in Melaka, Johor and Singapore.

It’s no surprise that the sales staff at malls also expect the Chinese community to speak Mandarin, and understandably, they will begin the conversation in Mandarin – because you are expected to know the language.

There is also the impact of China as the new economic powerhouse of Asia, if not the world. Mandarin has become the dominant language with economic value, and certainly prestige. That’s how it is now, but this may well come at the expense of a rich heritage.

The harsh reality is that the unique “sing-song” style of Penang Hokkien might no longer be heard decades from now if this frightening trend continues. Even worse, what’s certain is that the “bananas” will be history very soon.

Well, what can I say, except to wish you “xin nian kwai le” (happy new year) and “gong xi fa cai” (may you attain greater wealth) this festive season!

by Wong Chun Wai On The Beat

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.
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I am a pig, so what?

UEC recognition, unequal wealth distribution between ethic groups, TAR UC funding


 UEC recognition: Malays’ feelings must be respected,  PM. Mahathir says while it is very easy for the governmentSee more: http://www.sinchew.com.my/node/1826751

MCA and DAP voice concerns over Dr M’s UEC remarks

MCA and DAP have voiced strong concerns over Tun Dr
Mahathir Mohamad’s remarks on the Unified Examination Certification
(UEC) recognition.

MCA vice-president Datuk Tan Teik Cheng said the issue must take into account the feelings of the Chinese community too as their sentiments about the recognition of the certification appeared to be ignored.

“The people who supported (Dr Mahathir) include Malays, Chinese, Indians and other ethnic groups.

“UEC is not just a Chinese but a national issue, but the government only takes into account the feelings of the Malays and not the Chinese,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Tan questioned why the feelings of the Chinese were not considered in the issue.

“Is it because he considers the Chinese second-class citizens in Malaysia?” he asked.

Selangor DAP secretary and Sungai Pelek assemblyman Ronnie Liu said he read Dr Mahathir’s remarks “with concern” and expressed his disappointment.

“Excuse me but recognising the UEC was part of the Pakatan Harapan pledge. This was a promise made to the voters.

“You can’t just turn around after the election and say you can’t fulfil your promises because you are concerned about how some people might feel about it.

“I’m very disappointed with this and I hope Pakatan leaders will speak up about the importance of keeping promises,” he said.

Dr Mahathir in an interview with Sin Chew Daily said the government needs to address the unequal wealth distribution between ethnic groups before  recognising the UEC. http://www.sinchew.com.my/node/1826751

“Recognising UEC is easy, just sign. But we need time to bring two to three racial groups, including natives in Sabah and Sarawak, onto the same position of economic development.

“They (Malays) feel that they are getting lesser, and this kind of imbalance is getting bigger,” he said. – The Star

Why TAR UC should still receive government funding?

Helping TAR UC will heal the nation – Letters | The Star Online

Private universities have no political interference because their owners are private citizens. TAR UC is an entity created by a political party and in that sense, I see no difference between it and UiTM. The huge elephant in the room is that TAR UC was gracious enough to allow my niece, daughter and my friend Salahuddin to study at an affordable price while the other allows in only one race.

Helping TAR UC will heal the nation – Letters | The Star Online

By Prof Dr Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi

I read with sadness that this year, Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC) will not be getting some of the financial assistance it received over the past 50 years.

The Pakatan Harapan government, on Dec 6, said in Parliament that the government would only provide TAR UC with a development fund of RM5.5 million, not the RM30 million matching grant it had been getting under the previous Barisan Nasional government.

The reason for this retraction of funding was that TAR UC has political ties with MCA. My utmost respect to the principle behind the reason given, as well as to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng who has foiled critics who would like us to think that he favours one race.

But I would like to go on record to say I believe the funding for TAR UC should be continued. My reasons are as follows.

Firstly, TAR UC has never indulged in any extremist activities that would destroy our nation-building efforts to create a harmonious society.

I have read that Universiti Teknologi Malaysia once held a seminar attacking the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, while Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) held a conference attacking our fellow Christian citizens. Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia also held a forum on the conditions to kill Malaysian citizens who are considered, under Pahang mufti Abdul Rahman Osman’s classification, “kafir harbi”.

These three shameful acts of bigotry and extremism have no place in a Malaysia where tolerance and respect for diversity form its two main anchors of co-existence. I do not remember TAR UC acting in this shameful manner, which is a testament to its commitment to producing level-headed Malaysians devoid of a sense of bigotry or racial and religious extremism.

Secondly, TAR UC has been providing high quality education at a most affordable fee that has put hundreds of thousands of young Malaysians into the job market and created a good and tolerant society.

Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Salahuddin Ayub is one such character. A man of strong Islamic faith and commitment, he follows the true path of Islam, not the brand touted by his former party, PAS, which supports leaders who have been tainted with massive corruption and hurtful messages of extremism.

I, too, sent my niece and daughter to TAR at one time. My niece was studying for a certificate in fashion design and my daughter took a diploma in Mass Communications. Both have turned out to be well-rounded citizens. My niece once worked in the office of former Skudai assemblyman Dr Boo Cheng Hau while my daughter became a journalist with BFM and is now a full-time lecturer at First City University College, having obtained a masters degree from Monash University.

Neither of them ever said a word to me about being discriminated against while they were there. Both enjoyed studying there and have no qualms about recommending TAR to other Malay families.

For that, I wish to credit MCA for being a party that has put the interest of the country above any racial ideology, although the party is one which supports a race-based philosophy.

I would like to go on record again to say that I am against any race-based or religious party and would not hesitate to support a law that disallows any political party to be based on religious or ethnic grounds. I would not hesitate to sign a memorandum outlawing the existence of parties like Umno, MCA, MIC, PPBM and PAS.

Although each of these political parties, except for the new PPBM, has made great contributions to its members and the country, we must move on and disregard these entities as we enter a new future. Having said that clearly and in no uncertain terms, I praise MCA for being a moderate party which contributed greatly to nation-building during Malaya’s formative years, and for its sacrifice in setting up and sustaining TAR UC until now.

With respect to Lim’s principle that TAR UC can be given funding if it severs ties with MCA, I would say that while the minister’s principle is most admirable and idealistic, non-political interference in some universities in Malaysia is impractical.

As long as UiTM exists, there will always be political interference. As long as public universities have 80% funding and not 50%, there will be interference simply because these entities belong to the people of Malaysia.

Private universities have no political interference because their owners are private citizens. TAR UC is an entity created by a political party and in that sense, I see no difference between it and UiTM. The huge elephant in the room is that TAR UC was gracious enough to allow my niece, daughter and my friend Salahuddin to study at an affordable price while the other allows in only one race.

I therefore have no problem with TAR UC being “politically connected” to MCA. Has MCA ever raised a sword in the halls of TAR UC, shouting slogans of abuse against Malays and Islam? Have its vice-chancellors spoken to derail our nation-building efforts by uttering statements that would jeopardise national harmony? I seem to recall one vice-chancellor of UiTM indulging in racial statements that, to me, were totally unbecoming of a civil servant of the nation.

Finally, if for nothing else, I wholeheartedly believe that TAR UC’s funding should be continued in memory of the father of our nation, the humble and easy-going but hardworking Tunku Abdul Rahman. The Tunku was a unique individual who did not indulge in building mega projects such as the Petronas Twin Towers, the Penang Bridge or a whole city called Putrajaya. His simple sense of tolerance, compassion and balanced political experience brought him the trust of all communities. There were other leaders during his time but they were too “ultra-Malay” to gain the trust of the whole nation of diverse faiths, cultures, languages and expectations.

The simple concrete building of TAR UC boasts no special architectural characteristics. The landscaping of the campus boasts no requirement of maintenance like Putrajaya. The students drive Kancils and Myvis as opposed to the Vios and Civics seen at other private universities. The whole atmosphere of the campus is compact, full of simple life and gurgling with enthusiasm for study towards an assured future.

The Tunku promised that we would live a life of calmness, dignity and happiness in a moderate existence of financial stability, social respectability and political honesty. TAR UC, in my opinion, speaks volumes of the legacy of the Tunku.

Let us all continue to support TAR UC as a manifestation of the true spirit of Malaysia. – Malaysia Today

 

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Ministers and leaders who benefited from UTAR & TAR UC, removed matching grants to varsity 

Politicising education hurts the Chinese 

 WHEN Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, in his Budget 2019 presented early this month, removed the RM30mil matching grant for Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC), it hurt not just the MCA but also the Chinese community. The government will provide a mere RM5.5mil as development fund to TAR UC.

Risk of rising McCarthyism warned amid China-US spat


Photo: VCG

China’s business people, researchers, scholars say they ‘feel the chill’ in US

Growing China-US tensions have affected technology cooperation as Chinese scientists and researchers in cutting-edged sectors such as big data and artificial intelligence have seen rising obstacles in working with US counterparts this year.

Tensions have intensified after Canada announced the detention of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou at the request of the US.

This move is believed to be part of the US’ intentions of dampening Chinese companies and investment, which aroused worries that McCarthyism is back in Washington.

“Some open-sourced platforms developed by American firms, such as in the machine learning algorithm sector, have started to limit access or charge fees for tapping into those platforms,” a senior scientist in a Shenzhen-based AI company, who asked for anonymity, told the Global Times on Thursday.

“Some Chinese scientists were denied visas this year when they planned to attend academic meetings in the US, and the US’ cautious attitude toward Chinese engineers has become more obvious,” he said.

The Chinese academic community has felt the chill in relations since the beginning of this year, and the recent arrest of Meng has escalated conflict between the US and China. Some industry representatives even deemed the arrest as a long-term plan by the US to curb China’s rise in high technology.

Meanwhile, the effects of the tension have also expanded to business. Hong Kong political risk consultancy SVA said they noticed a remarkable increase in inquiries from US-based companies about potential problems of traveling to China after Meng’s detention for fear of China’s retaliation, the Japan-based Nikkei Asian Review reported on Tuesday.

A Hong Kong-based financial technology company also moved two investor meetings from Shanghai to Manila to avoid being affected by Meng’s case in consideration of its US co-founder, according to the Nikkei report.

The Trump administration has been restricting visas for the Chinese academic community studying in sensitive research fields to one year since June 11, reflecting its efforts to stop alleged intellectual property theft and hinder China’s push for technological supremacy, the New York Times reported in July.

“The consensus of curbing China’s influence has been forged inside the US government, and Chinese companies should be well prepared for confrontation in the long term,” Sun Qingkai, partner of the major Chinese AI firm CloudWalk, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Sun’s remarks are echoed by the tendency of Americans to habitually doubt anything related to China, particularly to Huawei at this moment.

The Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, released a report in October 2017 on safe cities. The report, supported by Huawei, speaks highly of a new policing technology implemented in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi and the Chinese city of Lijiang but failed to mention that the technology was provided by Huawei.

An opinion piece of The Washington Post published on December 7 listed financial support from Huawei to Brookings and interactions between the writer of the report, Darrell M. West, who is also Brookings vice president, and Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei.

It then said that such relationship raises doubts over West’s scholarship practices and represents “a worrying example of China’s influence on one of America’s leading think tanks” without providing any hard evidence.

China’s cooperation with other countries was also negatively affected, especially those in high-tech sectors. An example is the Japanese government’s recent ban on Huawei and ZTE from official contracts. The move followed an earlier warning from the US about security risks involved in using Chinese-made equipment, Washington Post reported on Monday.

McCarthyism warning

The current US strategy of blaming China for its own domestic economic and social problems reflects the country’s anxiety and myopia facing these problems, which would only worsen the situation, Zha Xiaogang, a research fellow at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Zha warned that although it seems impossible for the US to return to the McCarthy-era “red scare,” when the anti-communism campaign penetrated all aspects of US society, such risks remain if the situation continues to escalate.

“There is already a dire ripple effect from the US-China trade war, which will hurt the US itself and global technology collaboration,” said the Shenzhen-based senior scientist.

However, technology companies have been urging more cooperation instead of confrontation, which would hurt global advancement in this sector.

Major tech giants such as US firms Google and Apple, and China’s Huawei have highlighted the importance of global collaboration, which will be the driving force for technology advancement.

Google Vice President Jay Yagnik told the Global Times in an earlier interview in September that technology has been a greater “uniter” globally from a historical view. Instead of thinking about competition, companies should think about it in terms of bringing the world together and taking society to the next level.

It is in everyone’s best interest that the US and China reach an agreement on trade and future intellectual property and technology collaboration, Chris Dong, global research director at International Data Corporation, told the Global Times on Thursday.

“A more open market with less government intervention, and with mutual respect and reciprocity, will benefit not only a healthier US and China trade relationship, but also the talent and knowledge exchanges,” Dong said.- Global Times

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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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China leads the way as world’s billionaires get even richer


The United States created 53 new billionaires in 2017, down from 87 five years ago
China produced around
two new billionaires a week last year as the fortunes of the world’s
ultra-rich soared by a record amount, a report said Friday.Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-10-china-world-billionaires-richer.html#jCp
China produced two new billionaires a week last year as the fortunes of the world’s ultra-rich soared by a record amount – AFP

China produced around two new billionaires a week last year as the fortunes of the world’s ultra-rich soared by a record amount, Swiss banking giant UBS and auditors PwC said.

Billionaires’ wealth enjoyed its “greatest-ever” increase in 2017, rising 19 percent to $8.9 trillion ($7.8 billion euros) shared among 2,158 individuals, said the report by Swiss banking giant UBS and auditors PwC.

But Chinese billionaires expanded their wealth at nearly double that pace, growing by 39 percent to $1.12 trillion.

“Over the last decade, Chinese billionaires have created some of the world’s largest and most successful companies, raised living standards,” said Josef Stadler, head of Ultra High Net Worth at UBS Global Wealth Management.

“But this is just the beginning. China’s vast population, technology innovation and productivity growth combined with government support, are providing unprecedented opportunities for individuals not only to build businesses but also to change people’s lives for the better.”

The report said China minted two new billionaires a week in 2017, among more than three a week created in Asia.

In the Americas region, the wealth of billionaires increased at a slower rate of 12 percent, to $3.6 trillion, with the United States creating 53 new billionaires in 2017 compared to 87 five years ago.

Currency appreciation saw European billionaires’ wealth grow 19 percent although the number of billionaires rose by just 4.0 percent to 414.

Wealth transition from just five families accounted for 30 percent of the continent’s wealth expansion, the study said.

It warned of lower economic growth in the United States and China if the trade war between the two countries escalates.

“US and Asia ex-Japan equities could fall by 20 percent from their mid-summer 2018 levels.”

Asia challenging US dominance

For China’s young billionaires “the country’s fundamentals of a huge population and rising technology will continue to offer fertile conditions for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses,” the study said.

It there were only 16 Chinese billionaires as recently as 2006.

“Today, only 30 years after the country’s government first allowed private enterprise, they number 373 – nearly one in five of the global total.”

It said 97 percent of them are self-made, many of them in sectors such as technology and retail.

Billionaires from Asia, especially in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, are now challenging the traditional dominance of Americans as technology entrepreneurs.

“In 2017, they equalled America’s level of venture capital funding for start-ups, registered four times as many Artificial-Intelligence-related patents and three times as many blockchain and crypto-related patents as their US counterparts.”

Ravi Raju, head of Asia Pacific Ultra High Net Worth at UBS Global Wealth Management, said Asia’s billionaires “are young and relentless. They are constantly transforming their companies, developing new business models and shifting rapidly into new sectors.”

The report said that globally, self-made billionaires have driven 80 percent of the 40 main breakthrough innovations over the last 40 years.
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Asia’s billionaires see fastest wealth growth: report 
September 17, 2014 

 

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Asia’s billionaires see fastest wealth growth: report



September 17, 2014

Asia’s billionaires led by Chinese tycoons enjoyed the
fastest increase in their wealth this year compared to their peers in
the rest of the world, a report said Wednesday.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-10-china-world-billionaires-richer.html#jCp

 

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