Yes to Belt and Road – Everyone will benefit from BRI


Centre of attraction: China’s President Xi Jinping greeting Dr Mahathir as he leaves with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the opening ceremony of the Second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China.

Dr M endorses the BRI – ‘Many countries are going to benefit from initiative’

With help from Chinese firms, Malaysia will have an AI park soon. That’s not all the good news that came from the Prime Minister’s trip to China. Businessmen are pleased that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has given the thumbs up to the Belt and Road Initiative. He says countries in its route will be the beneficiaries. And that means Malaysia too. WITH all of China as his stage, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad gave a massive endorsement to the country’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), saying all will benefit from the ease of travel and communication the development strategy will bring.

The Prime Minister said that with trade driving the world, it was only natural that land and sea passages be better developed.

“The Silk Road, the land passage between East and West, has not received much attention. Yet it must be obvious that with modern technologies the passage can be improved.

“Without a doubt, the utilisation of these passages will enrich all the littoral states along the way, as much as the great nations of the East and West. I am fully in support of the Belt and Road Initiative. I am sure my country, Malaysia, will benefit from the project,” he said in his speech at the High-Level Meeting of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held at the China National Convention Centre here yesterday.

The forum attracted over 5,000 participants from 150 countries including leaders from around the world, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Rodrigo Duterte (Philippine), President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi (Egypt) and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

The BRI, also known as the One Belt One Road (OBOR) or the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, is a strategy adopted by the Chinese government involving infrastructure development and investments in 152 countries and international organisations in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Latin America and Africa.

Dr Mahathir said just as massive trade by ships helped spawn the development of huge bulk carriers, the land passage should also “respond” to the increased trade between East and West. He also suggested that bigger trains be built for the purpose.

“If ships can be built bigger, why can’t trains be equally big to carry more goods and raw material and people? Have we reached the limit in terms of the size and length of trains? I think not,” he pointed out.

Dr Mahathir, who is on his second visit to China since becoming the 7th Prime Minister last May, said the world has the technology and funds to bring about such improvements.

He said freedom of passage along these routes was important and warned against bureaucratic hassles slowing down the speed of travel.

“It is essential therefore for these passages to be free and open to all,” he said, adding that the passages must be made safe as terrorism and wars would render the modern marvels and also delivering the benefits promised.

“Yes, the Belt and Road idea is a great. It can bring the landlocked countries of Central Asia closer to the sea. They can grow in wealth and their poverty reduced.

“As the sea routes and land routes improve, trade and travel will grow, and with this, the wealth of the world will increase for the betterment of everyone.

Dr M in Beijing: Everyone will benefit from Belt and Road initiative

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has endorsed the Belt and Road initiative by China, saying everyone would benefit from the ease of travel and communication that it would bring about.

He said this in his speech at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on Friday (April 26).

“Today, trade drives the world. It is only natural that the land and sea passages have to be better developed.

“The Silk Road, the land passage between East and West, has not received much attention. Yet it must be obvious that with modern technologies, the passage can be improved.

“Without doubt, the utilisation of these passages will enrich all the littoral states along the way, as much as the great nations of the East and West,” said Dr Mahathir..

According to the Prime Minister, just as the massive trade by ships helped spawn the development of huge bulk carriers, the land passage should also respond to the need from the increased trade between East and West.

He suggested that bigger trains be built towards this end.

“Although trains can now connect China with Eastern Europe, current trains are not designed for the increases in goods and people needing to travel along this passageway.

If ships can be built bigger, why can’t trains be equally big to carry more goods and raw materials and people?

“Have we reached the limit in terms of the size and length of trains? I think not,” he added.

The Prime Minister said the world had the technology and money to bring about such improvements.

He said freedom of passage along these routes, which pass through many countries via both sea and land, was important and warned against bureaucratic hassles slowing down the speed of travel.

“It is essential therefore for these passages to be free and open to all,” said Dr Mahathir.

He added that the passages must be made safe as terrorism and wars would render the modern marvels that enabled the Belt and Road incapable of delivering the benefits they promised.

“Yes, the Belt and Road idea is great.

“It can bring the landlocked countries of Central Asia closer to the sea. They can grow in wealth and their poverty reduced.

“As the sea routes and land routes improve, trade and travel will grow, and with this, the wealth of the world will increase for the betterment of everyone.

“Everyone will benefit from the ease of travel and communication that the development of the Belt and Road project will bring.

“I am fully in support of the Belt and Road initiative. I am sure my country, Malaysia, will benefit from the project,” said Dr Mahathir.

PM’s BRI backing allays fears over KL-Beijing ties

KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s full endorsement of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will allay concerns over Malaysia-China relations and lead to greater cooperation between both countries, according to China watchers here.

RHB Research Institute Sdn Bhd vice-president and head of Economic Research Peck Boon Soon said Malaysia was trying to mend its relations with China.

“It is safe to conclude that relations between our two countries are back to normal,” he said, referring to the suspension and cancellation of several China-linked projects last year.

Peck said the revival of East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and Bandar Malaysia projects and the Prime Minister’s presence at the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing yesterday would help restore confidence among businessmen from China.

He said it made perfect sense to have warm ties with China as the country was the largest export market for Malaysia.

ACCIM SERC Sdn Bhd executive director Lee Heng Guie said Malaysia’s expressed support of the BRI opened up mutual consultation, increased cooperation and connectivity benefits between both sides.

“With this strong endorsement, we expect the relationship to further deepen bilateral ties and enhanced economic relations based on the principles of mutual benefit,” he said.

Lee said Malaysia and its private sector could gain from the enlarged trade and investment opportunities along the passage and gateway of BRI, if the countries could adopt the freedom of passage along these routes through the easing of bureaucratic hassles.

National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia president Tan Sri Ter Leong Yap, who attended the Belt and Road CEO conference which was the first such conference at the forum, said the conference provided huge business opportunities for many companies in the region.

“This is a timely boost for the global economy,” he said, adding that there were nearly 1,000 participants from 90 of the world’s Top 500 companies, 78 of China’s Top 500 companies, more than 100 state-owned enterprises and 200 private companies at the conference.

Businessman Datuk Liu Thim Soon, who is vice-chairman to the United Nations Maritime-Continental Silk Road Cities Alliance, said the BRI was a visionary, long range direction by Chinese President Xi Jinping. “It is an enabler and platform for many developing smaller countries to be linked to investments, trade and tourism.

“With about 140 million China tourists travelling yearly, smaller developing countries can benefit and derive great economic potential if they can tap into this market,” he said. – By Yimie Yong

Who should you believe about BRI?

https://youtu.be/uK3-dhLp2yU

Deal inked to develop M’sia’s first AI park

MALAYSIA is to develop its first artificial intelligence (AI) park.

The park will serve as a platform for the development of AI solutions such as speech recognition, robotics and smart city technology.

It is also planned to be a regional epicentre for data management, research and development and commercial ecosystem.

An agreement was signed yesterday between Malaysian company G3 Global Bhd (G3) and its Chinese partners SenseTime Group Ltd and China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd (CHEC) on the setting up of the AI park, with the total investment at US$500mil (RM2.07bil).

The location of the park has yet to be identified.

The agreement was signed between G3 executive chairman Wan Khalik Wan Muhammad, SenseTime president for Asia-Pacific Business Group Jeff Shi, and CHEC chairman Lin Yi Chong.

The ceremony was held after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s visit to SenseTime’s office here.

The Prime Minister also tried his hands on the self-driving car system at the company, which specialises in AI technology.

G3 Global banks on AI 



Driven by technology: SenseTime Group Ltd founder Prof Tang Xiaoou with Dr Mahathir during the premier’s visit to SenseTime’s Beijing office.
Driven by technology: SenseTime Group Ltd founder Prof Tang Xiaoou with Dr Mahathir during the premier’s visit to SenseTime’s Beijing office.

From jeanswear maker to one of Malaysia’s rising artificial intelligence (AI) companies. That is the interesting story ofG3 Global Bhd that is unravelling today.

While many companies can attempt to boast the AI buzzword as a business focus, it is not an easy area to venture into.

First you need super computers. Then you need the AI software or algorithms.

And then you need to use that software on vast amounts of data in order to build the AI applications for real use.

While G3 Global may have made some inroads into building its own Internet of Things (IoT) platform, it has yet to achieve anything big by itself in the AI space. That was until it signed a deal with China-based SenseTime Group Ltd, touted as the world’s most valuable AI startup.

On April 11, G3 Global told Bursa Malaysia that it will partner with SenseTime to set up Malaysia’s first AI park, in collaboration with China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC).

The AI park is expected to see more than US$1bil (RM4.13bil) in investments over the next five years.

According to G3 Global executive chairman Wan Khalik Wan Muhammad, the AI park is vital in order to build AI research-related public service infrastructure as the base to promote AI technology in Malaysia.

“In addition, this becomes a place for talent to be trained on AI and machine learning,” he said.

On Friday, the culmination of the relationship between G3 Global and SenseTime took place, following Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s ongoing official visit to China.

Dr Mahathir, accompanied by several Malaysian ministers, visited SenseTime’s Beijing office where they got a first-hand experience of the latest AI technologies and its application in smart city solutions, autonomous driving technology and remote sensing, among others.

During this visit, G3 Global had inked memorandums of understanding (MoU) with SenseTime and CHEC in relation to the AI park project.

G3 Global said in a statement that as the local partner, it will coordinate efforts with the Malaysian authorities and regulators, form local partnerships as well as promote and develop the AI park project.

Meanwhile, SenseTime will serve as the AI technology provider for the partnership while CHEC will provide infrastructure engineering and construction services as well as management and maintenance of the park.

Valued at over US$4.5bil (RM18.67bil), SenseTime is the fifth national AI platform in China and is also the country’s largest AI algorithm provider.

Although it is only less than five years old, the company now serves over 700 customers and partners globally, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Qualcomm, NVIDIA, Honda, Alibaba, vivo and Xiaomi, among others.

Based on SenseTime’s website, the startup leads the AI market in “almost all vertical industries” such as smart city, smartphone, mobile Internet, online entertainment, automobile, finance and retail.

“SenseTime has independently developed a deep learning platform, supercomputing centers, and a range of AI technologies such as face recognition, image recognition, object recognition, text recognition, medical image analysis, video analysis, autonomous driving and remote sensing,” it says.

According to a recent Bloomberg report, SenseTime has been profitable for two years and the company has recorded triple digit revenue growth for the past four years.

The collaboration between G3 Global and SenseTime aptly serves what both companies need. By setting up an AI park in Malaysia, SenseTime will be able to expand its global presence further while G3 Global gets to go big into the booming AI scene.

Overall, the AI hub in Malaysia is a nice sounding plan. But how real will it be and how extensive will it be?

Speaking with StarBizWeek over the telephone, Wan Khalik says that the move into AI has been a natural progression of the company.

“With IoT as our core business, the only logical next move was to get into the field of AI. We had been in search for a good partner to fast-track out entry into AI, which has a high entry barrier.

“That’s how we got to do a deal with Sensetime, which took much effort on our part, considering how successful Sensetime already is,” he says.

Perfect partner

Wan Khalik: With IoT as our core business, the only logical next move was to get into the field of AI

Wan Khalik adds that SenseTime is the perfect partner, considering that they are one of the biggest AI companies in the world and have their own AI algorithm as well as products and services.

“Their products are already deployed in the commercial world,” he points out.

While acknowledging that AI is still nascent in its growth in Malaysia and still suffers from a lack of understanding and appreciation, Wan Khalik points out two important aspects that the deal with Sensetime will bring about.

“First is that the lab will become an education tool to showcase what AI is all about and the benefits it brings. Second is the fact that we intend to address the issue of developing talent in Malaysia in the AI space.”

In the press release announcing the strategic partnership between G3 and SenseTime, it was revealed that SenseTime will be assisting in the development and deployment of training syllabus for universities in Malaysia.

Wan Khalik says that SenseTime has designed and developed part of the AI syllabus that is currently being taught in schools across China.

“The good news is that the Malaysian government has expressed strong interest in AI and it wants industry to get involved in AI. But we need to invest in buidling up the talent in this field,” he adds.

The little-known G3 Global’s journey is an impressive one.

Its diversification into the information technology scene began less than four years ago after G3 Global (formerly known as Yen Global Bhd) acquired IoT solution provider Atilze Digital Sdn Bhd in December 2015.

Green Packet Bhd , image: https://cdn.thestar.com.my/Themes/img/chart.png , a mobile broadband and networking solutions provider, emerged as a major shareholder in G3 Global after it acquired a 22% stake in August 2016.

A year later, Green Packet boosted its equity interest in G3 Global to 32%.

The G3 Global stock’s trend has been rather flattish since mid-2017. However, since the start of April this year, shares of G3 Global surged by 106% to its record-breaking high of RM1.62.

On April 25, the company hit limit-up and was issued with an unusual market activity query from Bursa Malaysia, in relation to the rapid advances in its share price.

While the reasons behind the sharp increase in G3 Global’s share price were unclear, it seems to have some correlation with G3 Global’s partnership with SenseTime.

G3 Global also saw the entry of Wan Khalik as shareholder, after he assumed control of private vehicle Global Man Capital Sdn Bhd, which currently has the largest stake in G3. Global Man Capital increased its holdings of G3 Global to a 32.04% stake following an acquisition of 32.15 million shares in April, edging out Green Packet’s 32% stake.

On April 5, G3 Global appointed Wan Khalik as its new executive chairman.

Wan Khalik, who is also a substantial shareholder in DWL Resources Bhd, has some notable Sarawak connections, having been the principal private secretary to the Sarawak State government between 2013 until July 2018.

Wan Khalik’s background also includes experiences in corporate planning, public administration, IT strategic planning, and business development.

When asked on why did he pick DWL and G3 Global as companies to invest into, he says, “For DWL we see opportunities in project management of jobs of major infrastructure projects that the country is embarking on. That is why we have teamed up with the likes of Gadang to prepare to jointly bid for such jobs. As for G3 Global, it is even more interesting because of the future of AI. As you probably already know, AI is the world’s next great technological revolution. It is changing the way information is gathered, stored and used. We will not be able to do without it, whether as individuals, organisations, companies and governments. We believe our deal with Sensetime puts G3 Global on solid footing to bring AI to Malaysia and the Asian market.”

G3 Global recorded a net loss of RM17.15mil in the financial year of 2018 ended Dec 31, against a turnover of RM29.4mil. Both of its apparel and ICT business segments were in the red for the 12-month period.

“The ICT business continues to show growth potential despite incurring losses due to business development costs and we hope to see better contribution to sales from this division in the new financial year.

“The setting up of various new subsidiaries will drive the growth in the ICT business including the provision of IoT solutions and services like connected commercial vehicles and sensor hubs, and AI smart cameras. The group will be well positioned to take advantage of improving prospects of the ICT industry for the current financial year,” G3 Global said in a filing.

Moving forward, with the AI venture with SenseTime, the company is clearly on a new trajectory, especially considering the way AI is going to flood all our lives.

According to a recent study by Microsoft and IDC Asia Pacific, only 26% of organisations in Malaysia have embarked on their AI journeys, although about 70% of the business leaders polled agreed that AI is instrumental for their organisations’ competitiveness.

The immense untapped potential in the domestic AI market offers promising opportunities for local AI companies, including G3 Global.

With a strong backing from SenseTime, G3 Global could rise to become a leading AI solutions provider in the region.

By ganeshwaran kana The Star

Related post:

Deal inked to develop M’sia’s first AI park

MALAYSIA is to develop its first artificial intelligence (AI) park.

The park will serve as a platform for the development of AI solutions such as speech recognition, robotics and smart city technology.

It is also planned to be a regional epicentre for data management, research and development and commercial ecosystem.

An agreement was signed yesterday between Malaysian company G3 Global Bhd (G3) and its Chinese partners SenseTime Group Ltd and China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd (CHEC) on the setting up of the AI park, with the total investment at US$500mil (RM2.07bil).

The location of the park has yet to be identified.

The agreement was signed between G3 executive chairman Wan Khalik Wan Muhammad, SenseTime president for Asia-Pacific Business Group Jeff Shi, and CHEC chairman Lin Yi Chong.

The ceremony was held after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s visit to SenseTime’s office here.

The Prime Minister also tried his hands on the self-driving car system at the company, which specialises in AI technology.

G3 Global banks on AI

Driven by technology: SenseTime Group Ltd founder Prof Tang Xiaoou with Dr Mahathir during the premier’s visit to SenseTime’s Beijing office.
Driven by technology: SenseTime Group Ltd founder Prof Tang Xiaoou with Dr Mahathir during the premier’s visit to SenseTime’s Beijing office.
From jeanswear maker to one of Malaysia’s rising artificial intelligence (AI) companies. That is the interesting story ofG3 Global Bhd that is unravelling today.

While many companies can attempt to boast the AI buzzword as a business focus, it is not an easy area to venture into.

First you need super computers. Then you need the AI software or algorithms.

And then you need to use that software on vast amounts of data in order to build the AI applications for real use.

While G3 Global may have made some inroads into building its own Internet of Things (IoT) platform, it has yet to achieve anything big by itself in the AI space. That was until it signed a deal with China-based SenseTime Group Ltd, touted as the world’s most valuable AI startup.

On April 11, G3 Global told Bursa Malaysia that it will partner with SenseTime to set up Malaysia’s first AI park, in collaboration with China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC).

The AI park is expected to see more than US$1bil (RM4.13bil) in investments over the next five years.

According to G3 Global executive chairman Wan Khalik Wan Muhammad, the AI park is vital in order to build AI research-related public service infrastructure as the base to promote AI technology in Malaysia.

“In addition, this becomes a place for talent to be trained on AI and machine learning,” he said.

On Friday, the culmination of the relationship between G3 Global and SenseTime took place, following Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s ongoing official visit to China.

Dr Mahathir, accompanied by several Malaysian ministers, visited SenseTime’s Beijing office where they got a first-hand experience of the latest AI technologies and its application in smart city solutions, autonomous driving technology and remote sensing, among others.

During this visit, G3 Global had inked memorandums of understanding (MoU) with SenseTime and CHEC in relation to the AI park project.

G3 Global said in a statement that as the local partner, it will coordinate efforts with the Malaysian authorities and regulators, form local partnerships as well as promote and develop the AI park project.

Meanwhile, SenseTime will serve as the AI technology provider for the partnership while CHEC will provide infrastructure engineering and construction services as well as management and maintenance of the park.

Valued at over US$4.5bil (RM18.67bil), SenseTime is the fifth national AI platform in China and is also the country’s largest AI algorithm provider.

Although it is only less than five years old, the company now serves over 700 customers and partners globally, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Qualcomm, NVIDIA, Honda, Alibaba, vivo and Xiaomi, among others.

Based on SenseTime’s website, the startup leads the AI market in “almost all vertical industries” such as smart city, smartphone, mobile Internet, online entertainment, automobile, finance and retail.

“SenseTime has independently developed a deep learning platform, supercomputing centers, and a range of AI technologies such as face recognition, image recognition, object recognition, text recognition, medical image analysis, video analysis, autonomous driving and remote sensing,” it says.

According to a recent Bloomberg report, SenseTime has been profitable for two years and the company has recorded triple digit revenue growth for the past four years.

The collaboration between G3 Global and SenseTime aptly serves what both companies need. By setting up an AI park in Malaysia, SenseTime will be able to expand its global presence further while G3 Global gets to go big into the booming AI scene.

Overall, the AI hub in Malaysia is a nice sounding plan. But how real will it be and how extensive will it be?

Speaking with StarBizWeek over the telephone, Wan Khalik says that the move into AI has been a natural progression of the company.

“With IoT as our core business, the only logical next move was to get into the field of AI. We had been in search for a good partner to fast-track out entry into AI, which has a high entry barrier.

“That’s how we got to do a deal with Sensetime, which took much effort on our part, considering how successful Sensetime already is,” he says.

Perfect partner

Wan Khalik: With IoT as our core business, the only logical next move was to get into the field of AI
Wan Khalik adds that SenseTime is the perfect partner, considering that they are one of the biggest AI companies in the world and have their own AI algorithm as well as products and services.

“Their products are already deployed in the commercial world,” he points out.

While acknowledging that AI is still nascent in its growth in Malaysia and still suffers from a lack of understanding and appreciation, Wan Khalik points out two important aspects that the deal with Sensetime will bring about.

“First is that the lab will become an education tool to showcase what AI is all about and the benefits it brings. Second is the fact that we intend to address the issue of developing talent in Malaysia in the AI space.”

In the press release announcing the strategic partnership between G3 and SenseTime, it was revealed that SenseTime will be assisting in the development and deployment of training syllabus for universities in Malaysia.

Wan Khalik says that SenseTime has designed and developed part of the AI syllabus that is currently being taught in schools across China.

“The good news is that the Malaysian government has expressed strong interest in AI and it wants industry to get involved in AI. But we need to invest in buidling up the talent in this field,” he adds.

The little-known G3 Global’s journey is an impressive one.

Its diversification into the information technology scene began less than four years ago after G3 Global (formerly known as Yen Global Bhd) acquired IoT solution provider Atilze Digital Sdn Bhd in December 2015.

Green Packet Bhd , image: https://cdn.thestar.com.my/Themes/img/chart.png , a mobile broadband and networking solutions provider, emerged as a major shareholder in G3 Global after it acquired a 22% stake in August 2016.

A year later, Green Packet boosted its equity interest in G3 Global to 32%.

The G3 Global stock’s trend has been rather flattish since mid-2017. However, since the start of April this year, shares of G3 Global surged by 106% to its record-breaking high of RM1.62.

On April 25, the company hit limit-up and was issued with an unusual market activity query from Bursa Malaysia, in relation to the rapid advances in its share price.

While the reasons behind the sharp increase in G3 Global’s share price were unclear, it seems to have some correlation with G3 Global’s partnership with SenseTime.

G3 Global also saw the entry of Wan Khalik as shareholder, after he assumed control of private vehicle Global Man Capital Sdn Bhd, which currently has the largest stake in G3. Global Man Capital increased its holdings of G3 Global to a 32.04% stake following an acquisition of 32.15 million shares in April, edging out Green Packet’s 32% stake.

On April 5, G3 Global appointed Wan Khalik as its new executive chairman.

Wan Khalik, who is also a substantial shareholder in DWL Resources Bhd, has some notable Sarawak connections, having been the principal private secretary to the Sarawak State government between 2013 until July 2018.

Wan Khalik’s background also includes experiences in corporate planning, public administration, IT strategic planning, and business development.

When asked on why did he pick DWL and G3 Global as companies to invest into, he says, “For DWL we see opportunities in project management of jobs of major infrastructure projects that the country is embarking on. That is why we have teamed up with the likes of Gadang to prepare to jointly bid for such jobs. As for G3 Global, it is even more interesting because of the future of AI. As you probably already know, AI is the world’s next great technological revolution. It is changing the way information is gathered, stored and used. We will not be able to do without it, whether as individuals, organisations, companies and governments. We believe our deal with Sensetime puts G3 Global on solid footing to bring AI to Malaysia and the Asian market.”

G3 Global recorded a net loss of RM17.15mil in the financial year of 2018 ended Dec 31, against a turnover of RM29.4mil. Both of its apparel and ICT business segments were in the red for the 12-month period.

“The ICT business continues to show growth potential despite incurring losses due to business development costs and we hope to see better contribution to sales from this division in the new financial year.

“The setting up of various new subsidiaries will drive the growth in the ICT business including the provision of IoT solutions and services like connected commercial vehicles and sensor hubs, and AI smart cameras. The group will be well positioned to take advantage of improving prospects of the ICT industry for the current financial year,” G3 Global said in a filing.

Moving forward, with the AI venture with SenseTime, the company is clearly on a new trajectory, especially considering the way AI is going to flood all our lives.

According to a recent study by Microsoft and IDC Asia Pacific, only 26% of organisations in Malaysia have embarked on their AI journeys, although about 70% of the business leaders polled agreed that AI is instrumental for their organisations’ competitiveness.

The immense untapped potential in the domestic AI market offers promising opportunities for local AI companies, including G3 Global.

With a strong backing from SenseTime, G3 Global could rise to become a leading AI solutions provider in the region.

By ganeshwaran kana The Star

Related post:

Highlights of Xi’s keynote speech at second Belt and Road Forum
https://youtu.be/qB80PG8C-I0 https://youtu.be/VWid1poNGuk https://youtu.be/L67WJiO_CQk https://youtu.be/eWOMhvTrrOg C

Highlights of Xi’s keynote speech at second Belt and Road Forum


Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing on Friday. Here are the highlights:
On Belt and Road Initiative
Xi said that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aims to build a trade and infrastructure network, adding that joint building of the Belt and Road has opened up new space for the world’s economic growth.
Based on the principles of equality and mutual benefit, the BRI focuses on connectivity and practical cooperation to achieve win-win outcomes and common development.
The principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits should be upheld, Xi said, and open, green and clean approaches should be adhered to.
The goals of high-standard, livelihood-improving and sustainable development should be achieved, according to Xi.
China will work with other parties to promote a coalition of sustainable cities and an international coalition for green development under the Belt and Road Initiative, Xi said.
High-quality infrastructure under BRI
Xi highlighted building infrastructure of high quality, sustainability, risk resilience, reasonable pricing, inclusiveness and accessibility under the BRI.
Calling infrastructure the cornerstone of connectivity and a bottleneck of  evelopment confronting many countries, Xi said building infrastructure with such standards could help countries give full play to their advantages in resources and better integrate into the global supply, industry and value chains for interconnected development.
On people-to-people connectivity
China will support 5,000 people from the innovation sector in Belt and Road countries in conducting exchanges, training programs and joint research over the next five years.
China will work with other participants of the Belt and Road Initiative to promote scientific and cultural exchanges, set up joint science labs, build science and technology parks, and promote the transfer of technologies, Xi said.
A total of 10,000 representatives of political parties, think tanks and non-governmental organizations from countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative will be invited to China for exchanges in the next five years.
On trade and opening-up
Xi said that China will increase imports of goods and services on a larger scale, slash its negative list on imports and will negotiate and sign high-standard free trade agreements with more countries.
China will further lower its tariff rates and the country would continuously open up its market and welcome quality products from around the world.
China is also willing to import more competitive farm produces, finished products and services and will allow foreign investors to operate businesses in more sectors with
controlling or full stake.

China prohibits forced technology transfer

China will step up protecting the legitimate rights and interests of foreign owners of intellectual property rights, and prohibit the forced transfer of technology, Xi said.
It will create a business environment in which the value of knowledge is respected, Xi said.
(With input from Xinhua)

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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

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

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Spotlight on virtual banking licenses


Bank Negara’s plan to issue up to three virtual banking licences has excited the local financial sector which otherwise has begun to look a little lethargic.

 
BANK Negara’s announcement this week which
stated that it is looking to issue up to three virtual banking licences has excited the local financial sector which otherwise has begun to look a little lethargic.

The announcement comes at the same time as Hong Kong’s move to issue three licences of this type to a combination of companies partnering finance firms, namely Standard Chartered, BOC Hong Kong Holdings Ltd and online insurance company ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance Co.

Five more of such licences in the city are being processed.

In Malaysia, the announcement by Bank Negara is significant also because the central bank has not issued any new banking licences for many years now.

That said, both Hong Kong and Malaysia’s move to encourage pure online banking ventures is very much in line with the fact that fintech innovations are slowly but surely seeping into the daily lives of people globally, providing cheaper and more easily accessible financial services.

The idea of virtual banks – which theoretically means a bank without any physical branches whatsoever – however, is not entirely new.

In fact, many countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom have attempted it.

Some have failed, others continue to operate, taking deposits and giving out loans much like traditional banking outfits.

Closer to home, India, China, South Korea and Japan have ventured into this model.

Japan, for instance, went for the zero branch strategy as far back as the 1990s with the setting up of Japan Net Bank.

There have been other Internet banks there since then such as Seven Bank which has been providing financial services via ATMs across 7-Eleven convenience shops in Japan since the early 2000s.

In South Korea, the then-chair of the Financial Services Commission, Yim Jong-yong gave initial approval for the setting up of the country’s first two virtual banks back in 2015.

K Bank was its first, starting operations in April 2017 followed a few months later by kakaobank, which started with some W300 billion (about RM1.077bil) in start-up capital.

To be sure, virtual banks, which primarily target the retail segment including the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), have existed even before the concept of fintech – which is basically using technology to provide improved financial services – gained prominence over the last few years.

The rise of fintech in recent times can be attributed to consumers becoming increasingly tech-savvy and more demanding when it comes to convenience on-the-go.

It also stems from the fact that there are millions of individuals who are unbanked or underbanked but who now have access to the Internet.

In China alone, mobile payments run in trillions of yuan.

It is perhaps this increasing savviness that is contributing to regulators the world over wanting to push for more virtual banks and easing guidelines to fit the concept in.

It is noteworthy that within the Asean region, Malaysia is among the first to attempt this virtual bank model.

Timo, Vietnam’s first bank sans any traditional branch, was officially launched in 2016 while nearest neighbour Singapore currently does not have any banks purely of this nature.Even so, Bank Negara governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus has said that the central bank is currently working towards releasing licensing guidelines for such operations only by the end of this year.

She has stressed that discussions with the few parties interested in setting up virtual banks in Malaysia are still at the preliminary stage.

Still, that’s not stopped industry people from raising questions, many of which are valid.

For starters, notwithstanding theoretical definitions, what will be the exact definition of a local virtual bank ?

 What are the rules?

“Who can apply to operate such banks and will these guys be subject to the same rules that apply to traditional banks such as those involving capital requirements and such?” asks one senior banker attached to a regional bank.

While the jury is still out on rules that will apply in Malaysia should the idea materialise, a broad idea on this can be gleaned from the guidelines that have been set out by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).

According to the HKMA, firstly, a “virtual bank is defined as a bank which primarily delivers retail banking services through the Internet or other forms of electronic channels instead of physical branches”.

HKMA’s guidelines include rules such as virtual banks having to play an active role in promoting financial inclusion when offering their banking services.

“While virtual banks are not expected to maintain physical branches, they should endeavour to take care of the needs of their target customers, be they individuals or SMEs,” it says, adding that virtual banks should not impose any minimum account balance requirement or low-balance fees on their customers.

In terms of ownership, the HKMA says that because virtual banks will mostly be focused on retail businesses covering a large pool of such clients, “they are expected to operate in the form of a locally-incorporated bank, in line with the established policy of requiring banks that operate significant retail businesses to be locally-incorporated entities”.

It also says that it is generally its policy “that a party which has more than 50% of the share capital of a bank incorporated in Hong Kong should be a bank or a financial institution in good standing and supervised by a recognised authority in Hong Kong or elsewhere”.

While the guidelines cover a lot more, it is worthwhile pointing out that the HKMA is of the view that “virtual banks will be subject to the same set of supervisory requirements applicable to conventional banks”, with some of the rules being changed in line with technological requirements.

It adds that in terms of capital requirement, “virtual banks must maintain adequate capital commensurating with the nature of their operations and the banking risks they are undertaking”.


Noticeable absence of tech players

Interestingly, in the first round of licences given out by the HKMA, there was a noticeable absence of major Chinese tech companies like Tencent Holdings Ltd and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Ant Financial, which many would have thought make obvious choices given their experience in carving out game-changing fintech-centric services especially in their home country of China.

“Mobile payment services offered by the likes of WeChat and Alipay are possible with Internet giants like Alibaba and Tencent behind the entire ecosystem, the fact that they were not included raised some eyebrows,” says one Hong Kong-based banking analyst.

In the same vein, Hong Kong has been criticised for not being proactive enough when it comes to encouraging financial start-ups and being overly protective of conventional banks as evident in its fintech sandbox programme of 2016, which was reportedly introduced to help traditional financial institutions try out new technology instead of supporting fresh start-ups.

“Still, a start is better than no start and we are looking forward to when these virtual banks start operating in nine months’ time,” says the analyst.

He adds that as long as security is not an issue, he hopes that virtual banks will be able to provide what traditional banks are “still not good at”, namely personalised customer service and cheaper services.

While it is early days yet in Malaysia, the general feedback is that virtual banks will be good, specifically for consumers who will have more choices.

But this will come at the expense of increased competition within the banking sector.

Analysts in Hong Kong have predicted that about 10% of revenue belonging to traditional banks there will be “at risk” over the next ten years because of the setting up of virtual banks.

Whether or not it will be the same for Malaysian banks remains to be seen.

A lot of this will depend on the guidelines that the central bank plans to set out in the months to come.

By Yvonne Tan The Star

Breaking ground with new banking concept

Backed by Ma: MyBank is backed by billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Alibaba affiliate
company Ant Financial owns 30% of the online lender. (Photo: AFP)

(The Star Online/ANN) – DURING the height of the fintech revolution that’s been taking place over the last few years, one prominent banker in Malaysia made an interesting comment during a private dinner.

The banker said that while he welcomes fintech companies into the market, he wasn’t really afraid of losing any significant business to them. What he really feared, if anything, were the technology giants turning on a banking facility for the millions of users they have on their platforms.

“This Facebook Bank, Google Bank or Whatsapp Financial Group,” he quipped in half jest.

The logic is simple: with those platforms even then having had the myriad users globally, they are able to tap that user group to offer financial services.

But banking remains a highly regulated space. Not every technology company will be able to fulfill those criteria or even have such intentions.

Still, there are a number of virtual banks that have sprung up globally.

Here are some of the more notable ones in this part of the region.

China: WeBank

WeBank is China’s first private digital-only bank, launched in early 2015.

It is backed by tech giant Tencent Holdings – China’s biggest messaging and social networking company, which is also the operator of WeChat

Besides Tencent, its other backers include investment firms Baiyeyuan and Liye Group.

According to its website, WeBank provides consumer banking services through digital channels, as well as microcredits and other loan products.

The Internet-only lender had turned in a profit one year into operation thanks to surging demand for microloans among blue-collar workers and small entrepreneurs.

In 2017, WeBank made a net profit of 1.4 billion yuan or US$209mil, while its return on equity came in at 19.2%.

Its total lending in that year was nearly twice that of closest rival MyBank for the same period.

A recent stake sale of the bank values the company at US$21bil, making it one of the world’s largest “unicorn” companies.

Banking Tech recently reported that the lender is now eyeing an Australian expansion to compete with payments company Alipay, which is its largest rival.

MyBank

MyBank is backed by billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Alibaba affiliate company Ant Financial owns 30% of the online lender.

Not unlike WeBank, it has a focus on consumer and small and medium-sized enterprises, a sector underserved by traditional banks in China.

It uses credit data from the e-commerce giant’s AliPay product to conduct analysis for loans.

By circumventing human involvement, the bank said it was able to deliver loans to borrowers faster and up to 1,000 times less than it would cost brick-and-mortar banks to do so.

Like WeBank, it turned profitable one year into operations due to its less capital-intensive model.

Ant Financial is reportedly looking to go public in the near future.

India: Digibank

Singapore’s banking giant DBS Bank launched Digibank in April 2016 – a move that has enabled it to penetrate the Indian retail banking market.

Breaking away from conventional banking norms with their onerous form-filling and cumbersome processes, Digibank incorporates a host of ground-breaking technology, from artificial intelligence to biometrics.

DBS CEO Piyush Gupta expects the mobile-only bank to break even in three to four years, which according to him is not such a bad deal as compared to the traditional branch model, which needs 15 to 20 years to break even.

Digibank has over 1.5 million customers and it is handling them with 60 people rather than the 400-500 staff members it would normally need under the traditional model. Its cost-to-income ratio is in the low 30s.

Following its Indian venture, DBS went on to launch a similar mobile-led bank in Indonesia where the government expects the country’s digital economy to reach US$130bil or about 12% of its gross domestic product in 2020.

Other Singaporean lenders have also jumped on the bandwagon. United Overseas Bank (UOB) said it would launch “digital banks” for its five key markets in Asean, starting in Thailand. It aims to have three to five million customers in the next five years

Elsewhere, OCBC is also reportedly pursuing a similar idea in Indonesia.

Japan

Established in 2008, Jibun Bank reached profitability in less than five years. The outfit is a joint venture between Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and local mobile network operator, KDDI.

The story goes that instead of competing with each other, the two organisations decided it would make more sense creating a “separate bank” that complement their goals.

The Asian Banker in a case study on Jibun Bank noted that in its first year, the lender had accumulated over 500,000 new customers. By 2015, Jibun Bank’s asset volume surpassed that of Japan’s oldest Internet bank, Japan Net Bank. Asian Banker also noted that the lender’s deposit volume has grown to a size that is comparable to that of a mid-tier regional bank – all of this without the help of a branch footprint.

 South Korea: K-bank and Kakao Bank

The two South Korea’s online-only banks have signed up new customers by the millions since beginning operations in 2017.

Kakao Bank is run by mobile messaging Kakao and Korea Investment Holdings, while K-bank is operated by telco KT.

The authorities there are hoping that K-bank and Kakao Bank would spur growth in a banking industry that has stagnated amid rising credit costs, narrowing interest margins and heavy regulation.

The Financial Times in an October 2017 report wrote that about 300,000 new accounts were opened with Kakao Bank in the 24 hours following its launch in late July. This figure was more than what traditional banks in South Korea got in a year through online channels. And as at end-September that year, it had already garnered 3.9 million users.

The news agency said that Kako Bank users can wire money abroad for just a tenth of typical commission fees.

Its peer K-bank, meanwhile, attracted over half a million users in the few months following its April 2017 launch.

In contrast, international banks operating traditional branch networks in the country were looking at downsizing their branches.

Early this year, Shinhan Financial Group inked a deal with mobile app maker Viva Republica to set up an Internet-only bank, making it the third player in the game.

by gurmeet kaur The Star

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SC to regulate digital assets


Good move: Lim says many people have bypassed Malaysia because the policy was not clear about digital assets

Move seen to spur growth in digital currency sector

Regulatory oversight of digital currencies and tokens, which kicks in from today, offers timely clarity and transparency to various players in the fledgling industry.

Omni Capital Partners Sdn Bhd managing director Scott Lim said everything would be above board with the regulation and governance under the Securities Commission (SC).

“Digital assets in Malaysia have been underwhelmed mostly. A lot of people have been bypassing Malaysia because the policy was not clear about it.

“Certainly, now that this is regulated by the SC, it’ll be good. We shall wait for the guidelines,” he said.

Celebrus Advisory co-founder Edmund Yong said the regulation is very much welcomed and one which is needed, as it would spur growth in the industry.

Celebrus is a compliance-first blockchain consultancy firm.

He added that the statement by the Finance Ministry was very accommodative with the intention to use tokens and the recognition of it as a fund-raising tool.

“In fact, it can be an indirect source of foreign direct investment, a borderless method to raise funds.

“But from now until March 31, there will be a twilight period. Many activities will be stopped in their tracks because they don’t know where they stand.

“Some would possibly even move offshore because of the draconian RM10mil and 10-year imprisonment punishment,” said Yong.

He said digital tokens could also be for points in computer games or reward points, and it too would be quite draconian if it is all painted with the same brush.

The Capital Markets and Services (Prescription of Securities) (Digital Currency and Digital Token) Order 2019 kicks in today and any person operating unauthorised initial coin offerings (ICOs) or digital asset exchanges faces up to a 10-year jail term and up to a RM10mil fine.

Digital currencies and digital tokens are collectively known as digital assets, which will now be prescribed as securities.

The SC is putting in place relevant regulatory requirements for the issuance of ICOs and the trading of digital assets at digital asset exchanges in the country.

This is expected to be launched by the end of the first quarter this year.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the offering of such instruments, as well as its associated activities, would require authorisation from the SC and needed to comply with relevant securities law and regulations.

“The Finance Ministry views digital assets as well as its underlying blockchain technologies as having the potential to bring about innovation in both old and new industries.

“In particular, we believe digital assets have a role to play as an alternative fund-raising avenue for entrepreneurs and new businesses, and as an alternative asset class for investors,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Any person offering an ICO or operating a digital asset exchange without the SC’s approval will face an imprisonment term not exceeding 10 years and a fine not exceeding RM10mil.

Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad mooted the idea of the Harapan Coin last year, which would be the world’s first political fund-raising platform using blockchain and cryptocurrency technology.

In November last year, shareholders of Country Heights Holdings Bhd approved the company’s plan to conduct an ICO to issue its own cryptocurrency, called “horse currency”.

Country Heights founder and chairman Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew had said that the company would like to be the first to launch cryptocurrency in the country when the regulations are ready.

The company’s plan is to eventually issue one billion horse currencies backed by RM2bil worth of physical assets held by the holding company, with an initial 300 million open to the public for circulation.

StarBizBy ROYCE TAN roycetan@thestar.com.my

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SC to regulate cryptocurrencies from tomorrow | Free Malaysia Today


 

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Huawei unveils server chipset as China cuts reliance on imports


New chip: A Kunpeng 920 chip is displayed during an unveiling ceremony in Shenzhen. Huawei is seeking growth avenues in cloud computing and enterprise services. — AP

HONG KONG: Huawei Technologies Co Ltd has launched a new chipset for use in servers, at a time when China is pushing to enhance its chip-making capabilities and reduce its heavy reliance on imports, especially from the United States.

Huawei, which gets the bulk of its revenue from the sale of telecommunications equipment and smartphones, is seeking growth avenues in cloud computing and enterprise services as its equipment business comes under increased scrutiny in the West amid worries about Chinese government influence over the firm.

Huawei has repeatedly denied any such influence.

Chinese firms are also seeking to minimise the impact of a trade dispute that has seen China and the United States slap tariffs on each other’s technology imports.

For Huawei, the launch of the chipset – called the Kunpeng 920 and designed by subsidiary HiSilicon – boosts its credentials as a semiconductor designer, although the company said it had no intention of becoming solely a chip firm.

“It is part of our system solution and cloud servicing for clients. We will never make our chipset business a standalone business,” said Ai Wei, who is in charge of strategic planning for Huawei’s chipsets and hardware technology.

The Shenzhen-based company already makes the Kirin series of smartphone chips used in its high-end phones, and the Ascend series of chipsets for artificial intelligence computing launched in October.

It said its latest seven nanometre, 64-core central processing unit (CPU) would provide much higher computing performance for data centres and slash power consumption.

It is based on the architecture of British chip design firm ARM – owned by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp – which is seeking to challenge the dominance in server CPUs of US maker Intel Corp.

Huawei aims to drive the development of the ARM ecosystem, said chief marketing officer William Xu. He said the chip has “unique advantages in performance and power consumption”.

Xu also said Huawei would continue its “long-term strategic partnership” with Intel.

Huawei’s new ARM-based CPU is not a competitor to the US company’s x86 CPUs and servers, but complementary, Xu added. Redfox Qiu, president of the intelligent computing business department at Huawei, said the company shipped 900,000 units of servers in 2018, versus 77,000 in 2012 when it started.

Huawei was seeing “good momentum for the server business in Europe and Asia Pacific” and expects the contribution from its international business to continue to rise, Qiu added.

Huawei also released its TaiShan series of servers powered by the new chipset, built for big data, distributed storage and ARM native applications.

The firm founded chip designer HiSilicon in 2004 to help reduce its reliance on imports.

In modem chips, Huawei internally sources 54% of those in its own devices, with 22% coming from Qualcomm Inc and the remainder from elsewhere, evidence presented at an antitrust trial for Qualcomm showed. — Reuters

Related:

Huawei’s revenue growth rebounds despite `storm-tossed’ 2018

From trade war to global anarchy?


https://youtu.be/03D-0uDOj_c
https://youtu.be/N8IyDSrMY3w

The arrest of a top Huawei executive may spark a conflict that could cripple America’s rival and unleash chaos in the world order.

WE shouldn’t be misled into thinking that the “trade war” between the United States and China is being resolved following their presidents’ recent meeting.

Instead, President Donald Trump is taking the conflict way beyond tariffs into many other areas in a comprehensive attempt to stop or slow down China’s economic development. This has implications not only for China and countries like Malaysia, which are integrated into the Chinese production chains.

The evolving conflict spells the end of the Western countries’ belief in the win-win benefits of trade and investment liberalisation. It accompanies the emergence of an alternative view that China and some other countries are not partners after all but rivals that must be checked.

Just as Trump and China Presi­dent Xi Jinping were sitting down for dinner on the sidelines of the G20 summit to thrash out a “truce” to their tariff war, the Canadian authorities were arresting the daughter of the owner of Huawei, China’s giant technology company whose smartphone sales are now bigger than that of Apple’s iPhone and second globally only to Samsung phones.

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was in transit at Vancouver airport when she was detained at the request of the US on the grounds that her company violated US sanctions against Iran years ago. Only after many days was she released on bail, and she has to wear an electronic tracker.

The Chinese government called the action “very nasty” and Chinese citizens are outraged. It would be equivalent to China arresting Melinda Gates, co-head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for alleged violation of China’s regulations on healthcare. In the whole Western world, there would have been a tremendous outcry and threats of very dire consequences.

Yet the Chinese are supposed to accept Meng’s arrest as a routine matter that is unrelated to the trade war. It cannot be sheer coincidence that years after the alleged crime, the arrest took place at the exact hour that Xi was having dinner with Trump to work out a truce.

The incident reminds us of the US accusation against another Chinese tech leader, ZTE Corp, in 2017 of breaking the same sanctions. A ban was imposed on ZTE from buying telecom chips from US company Qulcomm, which paralysed the company for weeks. Only much later was a political deal struck, with ZTE paying a fine before resuming production.

With China, Trump is concerned not so much with his country’s big trade deficit, but more with the threat to America’s global supremacy.

Suspicions over China’s global ambitions became certainty in the fevered minds of Trump and his hawkish advisers when Xi moved from the rhetoric of the Chinese dream to the concrete industrial plan of Made in China 2025.

This was to get Chinese firms to be world leaders in 10 high-tech sectors, including artificial intelligence, robotics, semiconductors, electric cars and aerospace.

Alarmed by the prospect of Chin­ese domination of the commanding industries of the future, Trump has been countering the ways by which China is developing its world-class companies. This is through trade, investments, subsidies and support, and acquisition of technologies and intellectual property.

The extra tariffs are meant to inhi­bit Chinese exports. The new Export Control Reform Act increa­ses powers to regulate US exports of emerging and foundational technologies of importance to national security, and can be used to ban sales of components and technologies to China.

To prevent Chinese companies from buying into US companies (and acquiring their technologies), the review powers of the US Com­mittee on Foreign Investment have been strengthened.

Last month, new national security rules were passed to allow review of small minority investments into sensitive US technologies, including biotechnology, nanotechnology and wireless communications equipment. The aim is to hinder Chinese firms from buying even small stakes in US tech start-ups.

The US has also been blocking attempts by Chinese firms to take over or buy controlling stakes in US companies, also on national security grounds. For example, the same com­mittee recently refused to app­rove a US$1.2bil (RM5bil) deal bet­ween Money Gram, a US money transfer company, and Ant Financial, a Chin­ese electronic payment company.

European countries and Australia are also increasingly restricting Chinese companies from investing in or taking over domestic firms.

Moreover, the US has banned the use of Huawei’s 5G-related equipment, with Australia and New Zealand following suit.

US officials have also been touring Europe to warn against choosing Huawei equipment, leading to growing concerns over the risk of Chinese spying and the security of 5G networks that use Huawei technology.

When slapping extra tariffs on Chinese products, Trump accused China of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer.

The US actions cited national security grounds or used the unilateral Section 301 of its domestic trade law. Most World Trade Organ­isation (WTO) law experts view these actions to be a violation of various WTO laws.

Many countries have taken cases against the US in the WTO.

Perhaps feeling that the WTO rules constrain several of its planned actions, the US has moved to cripple the organisation’s dispute settlement system by blocking its appellate body from adding new members.

By the end of 2019, that body will not have enough members left and the WTO will become ineffective as it loses its strongest function.

There would be no more formal way within the multilateral trade system to legally challenge the US actions against China or other countries. Or for any country to challenge the actions of another. The system would break down.

Then the global trade order would slip from rules-based to each country for itself. America first, France first, Britain first, are already in vogue, and many others will follow suit.

The trade war that started with some aluminium and steel may thus snowball into a world of anarchy, where only might prevails.

It is an awful scenario, but not an unrealistic one to ponder upon as 2018 draws to a close.

It is not too late to halt this trend, but something has to give or change drastically in the US, if we are to have even a small chance to avoid disaster.

Image result for Martin Khor the Third World Network logo/images
Global Trends  by martin khor

Martin Khor is adviser of the Third World Network. The views expressed here are entirely his own.

About TWN – Third World Network

Escalating US-China trade war threatens global trading system

 

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