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China says US investigation won’t hurt her high-tech industries

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By Zhao Yusha, Global Times
The US’ Section 301 investigation won’t harm China’s high-tech and advanced manufacturing industries, and China can easily cope with any challenge in the field of intellectual property rights (IPRs), Chinese experts and officials said.
“China’s achievements in the area of innovation were made not through stealing or plundering, but based on the efforts of the Chinese people,” Zhang Zhicheng, head of the department of IPR protection and coordination affairs under the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), was quoted by the Xinhua News Agency as saying on Sunday.
The claims of the US Section 301 investigation on China’s technology transfers and innovations are groundless, he said.
Zhang’s comments came after the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) on Tuesday published a proposed list of Chinese goods subject to an additional 25 percent tariff. The list is based on a so-called Section 301 investigation into alleged Chinese intellectual property and technology transfer practices, Xinhua reported.
Section 301 tariffs mainly focus on Chinese industries which benefit from Made in China 2025, Beijing’s industrial development plan, and exposes the US’ aim of deterring China from becoming an economic and technology superpower, Zhao Ying, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Industrial Economics, told the Global Times.
The US is worried that once China develops mature technologies and advanced manufacturing capacities in certain fields, it will directly compete with the high-tech industries of the US, and threaten or even surpass it, said Bai Ming, deputy director of the Ministry of Commerce’s International Market Research Institute.
Progress in China’s manufacturing capabilities and international competitiveness is attributed to the country’s huge investment in innovation and the competitive advantages of the manufacturing sector, including a sound industrial system and a large number of skilled workers and innovative enterprises, Zhang said.
The Chinese government has no restrictive rules on technology transfers, which is only voluntary on the companies’ part, Bai noted. Moreover, most manufacturing sectors in China have embraced international cooperation and competition, and China has developed a mature mechanism to review fair market competition, he added.

R&D focus

Even if the US slaps tariffs on these industries, China is prepared to face the challenges in IPR, as the country’s ability to innovate has greatly improved, its industries have upgraded and it possesses an enormous market, Zhao said.
To counter the investigation, China may focus more policy and funding support on the research and development of key technologies within the framework of WTO rules, and step up its effort to invest in research and development institutes, Zhao predicted.
US President Donald Trump said on his Twitter account on Sunday that “China will take down its Trade Barriers because it is the right thing to do. Taxes will become Reciprocal & a deal will be made on Intellectual Property. Great future for both countries!”
Trump has created a lot of tensions recently and made many in the US worried, so he needs to adjust his ways of expression, but that doesn’t mean he is backing down, said Wang Dong, deputy secretary general of the American Studies Center at Peking University.
“Negotiations are an art form where both soft and hard tactics are used. It also shows that Trump doesn’t dare force a showdown with China on trade,” Wang noted.

China’s role to revive Asian economic growth, intra-dependence

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By Ma Jingjing in Boao, Global Times

Asian regional economic integration shifted to center on China in 2017, based on previous arduous efforts and strong support from other Asian countries, according to a report on Asian competitiveness released by the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) on Sunday.
As the largest economy in Asia, China has made active efforts to propel Asian economic integration, Lin Guijun, vice president of the Beijing-based University of International Business and Economics and also one of the writers of the report, told the Global Times on the sidelines of the forum, which is being held in South China’s Hainan Province.
As a resource that has propelled the robust development of Asian regional economic integration in recent years, the China-proposed Belt and Road (B&R) initiative has fully displayed China’s wisdom and planning, the report said.
The B&R initiative is helping to form a pan Euro-Asia group as it gathers many crucial trade partners and is expanding international market increments, Lin said.
In 2017, the development dividends as projected by the B&R initiative started to bear fruit, benefiting the countries and regions along the routes. Chinese enterprises have established 56 economic and trade cooperation zones in more than 20 countries, creating $1.1 billion in tariff revenue and 180,000 jobs for these countries.
In 2018, China will push forward 10 free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations, kick off 10 FTA feasibility studies and will ensure the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations will achieve substantial progress.
China remains ninth in terms of comprehensive competitiveness among 37 Asian economies in 2017, while its economic vitality is in a leading position in Asia, said the report.

Declining interdependence
Asian economies continued to lead global growth in 2017, but the region’s trade, as well as financial markets, still face challenges due to rising protectionism and uncertainties, according to a report on the progress of Asian economic integration, also released on Sunday by the BFA.
“Asia’s trade growth saw modest signs of improvement year-on-year in 2017, but it is far away from its previous golden era. Asian countries’ trade interdependence is still seeing a declining trend amid rising global trade protectionism and uncertainties in the global value chain,” Lin said at the forum.
The region’s trade self-reliance continued to decline in 2016, with the dependency index dropping to 50.74 percent from 51.48 percent in 2015, said the report.
With complicated uncertainties in the region and the world, almost all major Asian economies except South Korea, India, Singapore, Malaysia and the US had reduced their trade dependence on Asia in 2016, it continued.
Besides, the region’s financial markets also encountered huge challenges, with Asia’s financial integration continuing to stagnate, according to the report.
There was a trend of capital flight in 2016 due to uncertainty over Asia’s future growth and higher economic and political risks, it noted, adding that the 10 largest Asian economies saw $689 billion in capital outflows, an obvious contrast to inflows of $570 billion.

Collective approach
Against this backdrop, experts called for coordinated efforts by Asian economies to cope with protectionist pressures from Western countries and to bolster faster economic growth in Asia.
Zhou Wenzhong, secretary-general of the BFA, was quoted as saying in the second report that Asia should work collectively to develop a common approach to external pressures both on the macroeconomic side and in trade to reverse the trend of “flight to safety” and to resist protectionist pressures from Western developed countries.
Asia should also work out clear policies to deal with structural changes to the global value chain, innovative ways to grow, and should spare no efforts to deepen the financial reforms of individual economies in a coordinated manner, Zhou noted.

Ford defies loss, insists it won’t leave Indian market

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Ford is reviving old partnerships in India as the company makes a fresh pitch to crack one of the world’s highest potential, but equally challenging car markets.
Having invested $2 billion but yet to make profits, the company has gone back to local heavyweight Mahindra & Mahindra to work out new products and partner on cost-effective technologies, including those related to electric powertrains.
Ford, whose sales in India have risen in recent months year over year, holds just a 2.7 percent market share. The company hopes that Mahindra will help it gain access to local suppliers while enabling cost-efficient development of vehicles, especially SUVs.
Ford entered India in 1995 and partnered with Mahindra — then itself a fledgling player in the passenger vehicle business — though this was short-lived. The two parted ways in 1998, as Ford drew up an ambitious plan, perhaps looking to find a stronger-run standalone as it also planned to use the India factories for meeting export needs.
However, Ford has managed little success and has remained — more or less — a two-car wonder in the Indian market. The Figo compact, launched in 2010 after an in-depth examination of the Indian consumer, was the first vehicle that got Ford into the heart of buyers. Figo managed to capture the fancy of the very-choosy local buyer, and was even successful in snatching market-share from the highly competitive Maruti (the local subsidiary of Japan’s Suzuki) and Hyundai, the country’s top two makers.
However, the success did not last, and Ford failed to repeat the same story with the subsequent products.
Now, it’s decided to continue seeking a foothold in the tough market, where General Motors abandoned efforts last year. The potential reward is strong. India is expected to surpass Japan within a few years as the world’s third-largest vehicle market, and sales are projected to double to 6 million a year.
EcoSport success
A turning point in the company’s India story came in the middle of 2013 when it launched the EcoSport, a mini SUV that once again managed to lure buyers into Ford showrooms, prompting the company to set up a new factory and double investment. When Ford announced EcoSport would be coming to the U.S., it said it would be made in India.
However, competitors in India have started hitting the segment hard – Maruti drove in the Vitara Brezza mini SUV and Hyundai the Creta.
Ford has now decided that a strong local partner that would help in realizing India’s famed frugal engineering may be its answer.
With Mahindra, Ford has struck a partnership for budget electric vehicles and SUVs. The deal follows an announcement in September 2017 in which the companies agreed to explore strategic cooperation for driving what they called profitable growth in India and other emerging markets.
In late March, the companies signed multiple memoranda of understanding to firm up plans that envisage joint vehicle development, while also looking at technology development and solutions around connected cars and vehicle safety.
For Mahindra, the renewed partnership with Ford follows a failed relationship that it had with France’s Renault that was dissolved in 2010.
Ford’s agreement with Mahindra comes as the company looks at budget electric-vehicle technologies and access to affordable suppliers. The Indian government has said that it wants companies to transition to electric vehicles by 2030 as it announces large orders for the clean vehicles in the intervening period.
For its part, the Mahindra group is seeking refinement and help in the area of vehicle development from Ford, especially when it comes to off-roaders, while also looking at cooperation in effectively targeting markets in Africa and other export regions.
Carefully selected executives from the two companies have been working on the joint efforts for the last few months. Mahindra’s negotiator was Managing Director Pawan Goenka while Jim Farley, president of global markets, represented Ford.
“Ford is committed to offering the best vehicles, technologies and services that fit the lifestyles and preferences of Indian consumers,” Farley said. “Listening to our customers and incorporating their future needs is the core premise of this collaboration. With utility vehicles and electrification as key focus areas, we are glad to see the progress our two companies have made.”
Mahindra’s Goenka called it “the next step in collaboration” between the two companies. “Both teams are working together on joint development areas in keeping with industry requirements and leveraging mutual strengths. We are excited about the synergies unveiled through this collaboration and the potential opportunities it will bring.”
Midsize SUV ahead
Ford and Mahindra said that they will co-develop a midsize sport utility vehicle that would later be sold under their individual badges. “Built on the Mahindra platform, the new SUV will drive engineering and commercial efficiencies and will be sold independently by both companies as separate brands,” the companies said.
Also on the agenda are plans to evaluate co-development of a compact SUV as well as an electric vehicle. It is believed that Mahindra has helped Ford develop an electric version of the Aspire mini sedan that it sells in India. Ford is understood to be looking at launching the vehicle in India next year, while it is yet not clear whether it also plans to export it to other markets.
Ford and Mahindra have also decided to explore the sharing of powertrain portfolios. The American company is looking at sourcing Mahindra powertrains for use on its product range, something that will help the companies attain economies of scale and price the vehicles more competitively.
Mahindra will be looking to learn a lot from Ford when it comes to refinement of products and their development. The company has been one of India’s top utility vehicle sellers, but is now increasingly facing intense competitive pressure.
Source: msn.com

China’s SenseTime, world’s highest valued AI startup, raises $600m capital

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The future of artificial intelligence (AI), the technology that is seen as potentially impacting almost every industry on the planet, is widely acknowledged to be a war between tech firms in America and China.
In a notable side-note to that battle, China now has the world’s highest-valued AI startup after SenseTime, a company founded in 2014, announced a $600 million Series C investment round. A source with knowledge of discussions told TechCrunch that the round values the company at over $4.5 billion, while it is also raising an extension to this round. That marks a hefty increase on the company’s most recent $1.5 billion valuation when it raised a $410 million Series B last year.
SenseTime CEO Li Xu said the company plans to use the capital to expand its presence overseas and “widen the scope for more industrial application of AI.”
Beyond the high figures involved — the round is a record fundraising for an AI company worldwide — SenseTime’s investment efforts are notable because of the names that have backed it.
Principally that’s Alibaba, the $429 billion e-commerce giant, which led this Series C round and is reportedly now SenseTime’s largest single investor, according to Bloomberg.
Beyond that, U.S. chipmaker giant Qualcomm signed up last year — seemingly as an early participant in this round — while Singapore’s sovereign fund Temasek and China’s largest electronics retailer Suning, which has taken investment from Alibaba, entered the round as new backers. Indeed, Suning’s push to for its store of the future, which was started by that Alibaba investment, uses SenseTime to power its facial recognition payment at staff-less checkouts and also for customer analysis using big data systems.
“SenseTime is doing pioneering work in artificial intelligence. We are especially impressed by their R&D capabilities in deep learning and visual computing. Our business at Alibaba is already seeing tangible benefits from our investments in AI and we are committed to further investment,” said Joe Tsai, Alibaba’s executive vice chairman.
SenseTime said it has more than 400 customers across a range of verticals including fintech, automotive, fintech, smartphones, smart city development and more that include Honda, Nvidia, China’s UnionPay, Weibo, China Merchants Bank, Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi.
Perhaps its most visible partner is the Chinese government, which uses its systems for its national surveillance system. SenseTime process data captured by China’s 170 million CCTV cameras and newer systems which include smart glasses worn by police offers on the street.
China has placed vast emphasis on tech development, with AI one of its key flagposts.
A government program aims to make the country the world leader in AI technology by 2030, the New York Times reported, by which time it is estimated that the industry could be worth some $150 billion per year. SenseTime’s continued development fees directly into that ambition.
“AI is really changing every profession and every industry. There’s almost nothing that won’t be touched by AI,” investor Kai-Fu Lee, formerly the head of Google in China, said at a TechCrunch event back in 2016.
Even two years ago, the potential was evident, with Lee explaining that teaching, medicine and healthcare were obvious areas for disruption.
Perhaps the main difference between the state of AI development in the U.S. and China is that, in America, much of the technology is being developed in big tech firms like Amazon and Google. In China, however, companies like SenseTime and its rival Megvii (which develops the Face++ platform) are independent entities that operate with the financial backing of giants like Alibaba.

This article originally appeared on TechCrunch
Taken by us from Yahoo News

Kim Jong Un willing to discuss denuclearization of Korean Peninsula

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By Lauren Thomas
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said he’s willing to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a Trump administration official familiar with the policy told NBC News on Sunday.
The news comes after Kim Jong Un went on an unofficial visit recently to Beijing, where he met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. If accurate, the move would effectively pave the way for a high level summit between Kim and President Donald Trump.
It was reported late last month that China said it had won a pledge from Kim Jong Un to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, where Xi Jinping pledged in return that China would uphold its friendship with its isolated neighbor.
Tensions between North Korea and the U.S. have been growing throughout the past few months. Trump has expressed a willingness to meet with the North Korean leader, and recently said Kim would “do what’s right” and get rid of any nuclear weapons.
“For years and through many administrations, everyone said that peace and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was not even a small possibility. Now there is a good chance Kim Jong Un will do what is right for his people and for humanity,” Trump wrote on Twitter last month.
The president still plans to meet with Kim Jong Un by the end of May, according to the White House. The two are expected to talk about lifting sanctions.
Source: cnbc.com