Apr 25

China Watch Blog reports that just three days before International Workers’ Memorial Day, honoring workers around the world who have died as a result of their jobs, two groups — Green America and China Labor Watch (CLW) — will hold a demonstration at the Apple Store on 5th Avenue in New York City to protest worker poisoning in the factories that supply Apple’s iPhones and iPads.  The event will take place at 12:30 p.m. on April 25, 2014.

The planned protest stems from the “Bad Apple Campaign,” launched jointly by Green America and CLW on March 12, 2014. To date, the campaign has collected nearly seventeen thousand signatures urging Apple’s CEO Tim Cook to remove dangerous chemicals in an effort to protect the young Chinese workers who manufacture Apple’s products. See http://www.greenamerica.org/bad-apple/ for more information.

The protests’ location at Apple’s “Cube” store, near Central Park, is significant in that the store is one of Apple’s most profitable retail locations, grossing more than $350 million per year.  Industry experts estimate that Apple could remove benzene and other dangerous chemicals from production for as little as $1 dollar per device.

Smartphones and other electronics are made with thousands of chemicals, many of which are known to be harmful to human health such as benzene or n-hexane.  Occupational exposure to benzene can lead to leukemia.  Apple is profiting at the expense of the workers who assemble their iconic products in China, even though safer chemical alternatives are available.  The campaign is calling on Apple to lead the way in protecting worker health and safety.

In April 2012, Greenpeace hosted an action at this store to call attention to Apple’s wasteful energy practices. As a result, one year later, Apple announced a plan to use 100% renewable energy at its data centers.

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Apr 24

China Watch Blog reports a growing number of Shanghai couples are choosing to live together before marriage, according to the results of a survey released by Fudan University on April 21.

In the poll of 2,330 people aged between 25 and 34, 43 percent of the married respondents said they had cohabited before getting wed, according to a Shanghai Daily report.

“Cohabitation no longer has the negative connotations it once had in China,” said Chen Binbin, a psychology lecturer at the university who helped to compile the study.

Almost 70 percent of the married respondents said they began living with their partners after less than a year of dating, while 82 percent said they lived together for less than a year before tying the knot.

More and more people are choosing to cohabit as they want to see what life will really be like and whether they can cope with living with someone else, Chen said.

“In China, it’s seen as a trial marriage,” he said.

Almost 95 percent of the married respondents said they were already engaged or had a clear plan to get married before moving in together.

The survey also found that people who had cohabited for more than 18 months prior to marriage were generally happier after getting wed then than those who had not had such an experience.

Of all the respondents, 44 percent were single and 1 percent were divorced. Just 8 percent of the single respondents said they had no plans to get married.

Almost 96 percent of the people polled said they hoped to have one or two babies, while 2 percent said they wanted more than three and the remainder said they didn’t want any.

The study was carried out as part of the Fudan Yangtze River Delta Social Transformation Survey, which aims to map changes in Chinese society by tracing the lives of people born in the 1980s through their education, marriages and jobs.

The 1980s generation represents a special group of people in China as they are considered to have been born and lived during a period of great social and economic change.

Academics at Fudan University hope the results of the study will be of use to future governments in developing social and economic policies.

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Apr 21

China Watch Blog has reported that a message in a bottle tossed in the sea in Germany 101 years ago and believed to be the world’s oldest has been presented to the sender’s granddaughter, a German museum said on Monday.

A fisherman pulled the beer bottle with the scribbled message out of the Baltic off the northern city of Kiel last month, said Holger von Neuhoff of the International Maritime Museum in the northern port city of Hamburg, theguardian.com reported.

“This is certainly the first time such an old message in a bottle was found, particularly with the bottle intact,” he reportedly said.

Researchers then set to work identifying the author and managed to track down his 62-year-old granddaughter Angela Erdmann, who lives in Berlin. “It was almost unbelievable,” Erdmann reportedly told the German news agency DPA.

She was first able to hold the brown bottle last week at the Hamburg museum. Inside was a message on a postcard requesting the finder return it to the writer’s home address in Berlin, the report said.

“That was a pretty moving moment,” Erdmann said. “Tears rolled down my cheeks.”

Von Neuhoff said researchers were able to determine based on the address that it was 20-year-old baker’s son Richard Platz who threw the bottle in the Baltic while on a hike with a nature appreciation group in 1913, according to the report.

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Apr 19

China Watch Blog reports that Tianhe-2 has started to provide computing services to the public while in-system debugging is ongoing. The first beneficiaries are users of the previous pilot system.

Located in Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, in Guangdong Province, Tainhe-2 is regarded as the world’s fastest supercomputer.

On November 18, 2013, Tianhe-2 topped the TOP500 list of the fastest supercomputers in the world. The computer beat the second-placed Titan by a margin of nearly 2 to 1. Titan is housed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Tianhe-2 was built by China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT).

Tianhe-2 possesses 16,000 computer nodes, carries 32,000 XeonE5 main processors and 48,000 XeonPhi coprocessors, and counts a total of 3,120,000 cores. It was delivered to the National Supercomputing Center in Guangzhou (NSCC-GZ) on the east campus of Sun Yat-sen University after the completion of the first installation.

Currently, the Tianhe-2 host system is undergoing commissioning and operation trials, and providing computing services to some users. Guangzhou Supercomputing Center will hold an application promotion and make preparations to formally provide computing services.

Successful exploitation of Tianhe-2 will require a large number of professionals, especially interdisciplinary talents who possess professional knowledge and understand supercomputing.

According to personnel from the Guangzhou Supercomputer Center, there is a shortage of supercomputing professionals in China. In addition to introducing overseas supercomputing talent, an interdisciplinary supercomputer application research institute will be established in Sun Yat-sen University in the future for the domestic training of interdisciplinary supercomputing professionals.

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Apr 18

China Watch Blog reports Shanghai’s banking regulator has tightened measures relating to bank employees who have committed fraud.

The Shanghai Office of the China Banking Regulatory Commission said that it has upgraded an existing database of fraud committed by bank employees into a system that will store records of penalties imposed on them. This added feature will be an important reference to financial employers to check the background of potential employees.

The system has kept over 2,600 records of misconduct since 2005. The penalties are categorized into criminal, administrative, extra judicial disciplinary, internal and others.

The system will keep the penalty records for five years after the punishment has been served, except for criminal penalties and senior director dismissals and lifetime bans ordered by the local banking regulator, the statement said.

Data will also be shared with the Shanghai Public Credit Information Service Platform.

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Apr 11

China Watch Blog has learnt that the heart of the Internet is “bleeding” from a bug in widely-used encryption technology, according to security experts.

The online threat, code-named Heartbleed, could affect millions of Chinese computer users by exposing their passwords, credit card numbers and other sensitive information to potential theft by computer hackers.

“Heartbleed is the No. 1 online threat this year,” said Shi Xiaohong, a security expert with Qihoo 360.

Shi likened it to a “nuclear crisis in the Internet landscape” due to its potential for damage.

More than 30 percent of domestic websites requiring web log-ins — covering online payment, e-commerce, online bank and e-mail services — have been affected by the bug. Users can’t protect their information if they have used the services of websites with OpenSSL encryption technology, even if their computers are well protected by anti-virus tools, according to Qihoo 360.

The security researchers who uncovered the threat are particularly worried about the breach because it had gone undetected for more than two years. Hackers may have been exploiting the problem over that period.

Domestic websites, including Taobao, the online shopping site, and train ticket site12306.cn, and global sites such as Yahoo were found to have the bug. By yesterday evening, most websites had been upgraded to fix the bug.

“All of our websites, including Taobao, Alipay and Tmall are safe now with system upgrading,” Alibaba said.

Beijing-based Qihoo 360 sent alerts to around 120,000 website owners in China urging them to upgrade their systems.

The Heartbleed bug was found by Google Inc and US security firm Codenomicon, and prompted the US government’s Department of Homeland Security to advise businesses to review their servers to see if they were using vulnerable versions of OpenSSL, Reuters reported.

Ordinary computer users are advised to change passwords or at least not to access websites that haven’t been upgraded.

Yahoo, which has more than 800 million users worldwide, said most of its most popular services — including sports, finance and Tumblr — had been fixed, but work was still being done on other products it didn’t identify.

In a statement, it said it was “continuously working to protect our users’ data.”

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Apr 06

China Watch Blog reports that authorities around the world should set up emergency communication teams to manage the amount of misinformation circulating on social media during disasters, terrorist attacks and other social crises.

A study on the use of social media in three major incidents, including the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, by Dr Onook Oh, of Warwick Business School, Manish Agrawal, of the University of South Florida, and Raghav Rao, of the State University of New York at Buffalo, revealed that Twitter is emerging as the dominant social reporting tool to report eye-witness accounts and share information on disasters, terrorist attacks and social crises as a collective effort to make sense of what is happening.

But when it is the online community who are creating and exchanging the news rather than official news channels, this can not only exaggerate the unfolding situation, but also unintentionally turn it into misinformation, diverting attention from the real problems.

Dr Oh, Assistant Professor of Information Systems, believes authorities or organisations involved in a disaster or terrorist attack need to set up an emergency communication centre to provide speedy, relevant information on the unfolding crisis and to confirm or dispel misinformation circulating on social media.

The study, which is the first application of rumour theory to social media and community intelligence, analyses three large Twitter data sets: the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, where a group of gunmen killed 165 and injured 304 people, the May 2012 shooting of five people by a gunman in Seattle and the recall of four million cars by Toyota in 2009 and 2010 because of a faulty accelerator pedal.

Within minutes of the initial terrorist attack in Mumbai, a local resident posted a stream of pictures on photo sharing website Flickr. Almost concurrently, a group of people voluntarily formed a Twitter page with a link to the Flickr site and spread eyewitness accounts of the terrorist attacks with texts, photos, and links to other sources.

While the flurry of social media activity had many positive outcomes, enabling people to contact family members, encouraging blood donations and providing eyewitness accounts, it also caused many rumours to circulate.

In total 20,920 tweets were analysed on the Mumbai attacks in the study, ‘Community Intelligence and Social Media Services: A Rumor Theoretic Analysis of Tweets During Social Crisis’ published in MIS Quarterly, from the moment the terror attack occurred on November 26 until November 30.

Dr Oh said: “Natural disasters and crises such as terrorist attacks provide the optimum conditions for rumours to spread which can exacerbate the situation for emergency response operations and cause panic amongst the public. For example, during the Mumbai terrorist attacks, the police control room was flooded with incorrect reports of explosions at leading hotels.

“Misinformation on the internet was also influencing what was being reported on official news channels. In fact, the BBC was forced to admit they had made a mistake after using Twitter coverage of the Mumbai terror attacks as a source of their official news.”

Dr Oh believes the main motivation for people turning to Twitter in a crisis is to find out what is happening in their immediate area or to acquaintances, so in order to control the flow of misinformation, emergency communication centres need to be set up quickly to respond to misinformation through social media channels.

“People use mainstream media to try to make sense of the situation but it usually provides general information or repeatedly broadcasts a few sensational scenes over and over again,” said Dr Oh, who cites the US Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Rumour Control Centre website during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 as an example of one way of using emergency communication centres. “Whereas what people involved in the crisis really want is very localised information in real time to aid their decision-making. Hence they rapidly realise that mainstream media do not provide them with local information that they desperately need to overcome the extreme situation, hence, they turn to social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

“Emergency response teams need to put in place prompt emergency communication systems to refute the misinformation and provide citizens with timely, localised, and correct information through multiple communication channels such as website links, social network websites, RSS, email, text message, radio, TV or retweets.

“In cases of community disasters, emergency responders need to make extra effort to distribute reliable information and, at the same time, control collective anxiety in the community to suppress the spreading of unintended rumour information. This includes the setting up of an ‘emergency communication centre’ in the local community who would monitor social media very closely and respond rapidly to unverified and incorrect rumour information.

“Given that the motivation of rumouring is fundamentally to make sense of uncertain situations such that people can deal with a possible threat, the provision of timely and certain information may lead to successful crisis management in partnership with voluntary online citizens.

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Mar 25

China Watch Blog reports that team LISANew capital acquired in 2013 enables the company not only to carry on the AKOYA program towards LSA certification, but also to develop itself internationally.

The company, its headquarters, its team, its beliefs and projects remain located in the heart of the French Alps in Savoie; just like its activities of design, assembly and marketing airplanes, as well as services and products related to mobility. What expands is our commercial presence.

Besides the fresh momentum, this new partnership with our investors opens the doors of a market with unique potential for LISA. During the last year, we had the opportunity to introduce the AKOYA to several Chinese of varied aviation backgrounds, including professionals and aviation enthusiasts. Although general aviation is currently far from liberalization, there is little doubt that many AKOYAs will fly in the Asian skies in the coming years. China is driven by an astounding desire to develop light aviation in its territory, and the actions recently launched by the government to open the airspace show that a very promising market is about to bloom.

With this in mind, LISA decided to open its first sales office in Chengdu, in the Sichuan Province in Western China. The objectives are, on one hand to welcome customers wishing to obtain additional information about the AKOYA and to increase our international influence, and on the other hand to better understand the light aircraft certification requirements in China.

This presents us with the opportunity to participate in the creation of a favorable environment necessary to develop light sport aviation. Except for airlines, aviation is in its infancy; all the infrastructure, services (airfields, maintenance centers, flying schools and other related services) are yet to be created.

Yao ZHANG has been instrumental in connecting LISA with China and the creation of this office. An aviation enthusiast, Yao was a member of the national Chinese scale-model team and is a glider pilot. He at first considered becoming an aeronautical engineer but later decided to come to France in 2006 where he received his diplomas from SciencesPo Paris (Paris Institute of Political Studies) and from l’école des Hautes Etudes des Sciences Sociales (School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences), two very prestigious French schools. In 2012, he launched consultancy activities in China at the benefit of relations between French and Chinese SMEs, mainly in innovation and sustainable development.

On his first meeting with LISA, Yao was seduced by the company, its airplane, its projects, and its team. “Taking part in LISA’s development is a true pride because it gathers my passions for aviation and new technologies and my entrepreneurial desire while combining French and Chinese culture that are both close to my heart.”

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Mar 25

China Watch Blog reports that twenty-five distinguished scholars and internationally recognized experts have been appointed to the Global Commission on Internet Governance’s (GCIG) new Research Advisory Network (RAN).

The Global Commission is a two-year initiative launched in January 2014, by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and Chatham House. Chaired by Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, the commission will produce a comprehensive stand on the future of multi-stakeholder Internet governance.

The commission’s RAN, led by CIGI Senior Fellow Laura DeNardis, will assist in identifying and prioritizing Internet governance and Internet policy related issues within the commission’s mandate. Members of the RAN will provide expert briefings to the members of the commission and conduct research and analysis for the commission’s preparatory work and final report.

“The research advisory network will be an indispensable component of the Global Commission on Internet Governance,” said Fen Osler Hampson, co-director of the commission and director of CIGI’s Global Security & Politics program. “Under the direction of Laura DeNardis, the RAN will be of great benefit to this initiative’s critical analysis and findings. I’m grateful that these experts have agreed to participate.”

The twenty-five member network consists of:

Sunil Abraham
Izumi Aizu
Peng Hwa Ang
Subimal Bhattacharjee
David Clark
Sadie Creese
Leslie Daigle
Oleg Demidov
William Dutton
Lorraine Eden
Laurent Elder
Patrik Fältström
Tobias Feakin
Urs Gasser
Clem Herman
Jeanette Hofmann
Konstantinos Komaitis
Ronaldo Lemos
Meryem Marzouki
Carolina Rossini
Michael Schmitt
Emily Taylor
Rolf H. Weber
Andrew Wyckoff
Christopher S. Yoo

Additional RAN members will be confirmed over time. For more information on the GCIG, including its twenty-nine commissioners and twenty-five research advisers, please visit: www.ourinternet.org. Follow the commission on Twitter @OurInternetGCIG.

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Mar 24

China Watch Blog reports that the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s new “Today in Energy” brief looks at how China surpassed the United States to become the world’s biggest net importer of crude oil and other liquids.

“In September 2013, China’s net imports of petroleum and other liquids exceeded those of the United States on a monthly basis, making it the largest net importer of crude oil and other liquids in the world.

The rise in China’s net imports of petroleum and other liquids is driven by steady economic growth, with rapidly rising Chinese petroleum demand outpacing production growth.”—-EIA’s Today in Energy

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