May 15

China Watch Blog reports the amount of money stolen from Internet bank accounts in Japan so far this year has already exceeded the annual record marked last year, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

Jiji Press reported that the amount in a four-month period through Friday stood at some 1,417 million yen, compared with 1,406 million yen in 2013. A total of 58 banks were hit by illegal money transfers this year, up from 32.

A growing number of regional and “shinkin” banks, as well as “shinyo kumiai” credit cooperatives, reported illegal transfers, while corporate bank accounts were hit by a surge in theft.
“Thieves are widening their targets and stolen amounts may grow in size,” an NPA official said. The police urged nine financial industry groups, such as the Japanese Bankers Association, on Thursday to strengthen preventive measures.

A total of 873 cases of illegal money transfers were confirmed by Friday, with victims in all Japan’s 47 prefectures except Tottori.

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Jan 08

China Watch Blog reports the leak of information via Alipay, China’s largest third-party payment platform, has sparked a public outcry over transaction security at a time when the Internet is soaring as a major shopping avenue.

“The leaked data revealed only transaction information before 2010. They excluded sensitive information such as usernames or passwords, which were ciphered through a sophisticated method that is not available to anyone,” according to a statement by Alipay on Sunday.

The China Daily reported that Alipay apologized for the leak, saying it has notified Chinese regulators and will keep the public informed about the investigation in a timely manner.

Alipay accounts for 61 percent of the country’s third-party payment market, according to IT consultancy iResearch. Currently, about 200 banks and 400,000 e-commerce vendors or online units of brick-and-mortar stores accept Alipay as an online payment channel, according to company statistics.

Earlier media reports said police have held a former employee of Alipay, who told police he downloaded 20 gigabytes of personal information in 2010 — including users’ names, cellphone numbers, e-mail addresses, home addresses and purchase records — and his accomplices sold the information to others. Industry insiders said the information was useful for some e-commerce websites who need to locate their potential customers.

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Aug 30

China Watch Blog reports that Vocefy, Inc. has announced the launch of Infinite English, a mobile learning app that will challenge all current approaches to learning English.

The app uses mobile smart devices and cloud processing to mimic a clever, animated personal tutor named “Vocefy.” The friendly online tutor lets users pick interesting content from anywhere, practice reading out loud and gives immediate feedback with infinite patience, anywhere and anytime. And she works cheap.

1.7 billion people worldwide study English as a second language. Through traditional avenues, students learn vocabulary and reading and writing, but because there are few opportunities to interact with native English speakers, they fail to develop conversational fluency.

That’s where “Vocefy” and Infinite English come in. “Vocefy” is an always available and infinitely patient tutor. She delivers feedback and assistance in very much the same way as a live native English tutor. The only difference is that she is always accessible and never tires or gets frustrated. She’s also infinitely accommodating and will work with whatever content is interesting to the student.

“The technology behind “Vocefy” is very complex”, said Founder and CEO Jim Behrens, “But we were determined to hide all the complexity and really mimic a native tutor and offer unlimited interesting content. “Vocefy” is all you see and hear.”

Assistant Professor Julien McNulty from Chosun University in Korea participated in the testing in early 2013 and became a believer:

“Infinite English is very powerful and convenient for my students. I just didn’t have sufficient resources and time to push students through the fluency barrier. Now I will be able to assign content, see results immediately and better direct their English efforts all from their smart devices at their own individual speeds and needs.”

English Language Director Wu Dan from Global Education, Kunming, China sees Vocefy as an example of how technology should be used to solve educational barriers.

“I see these students on their phones constantly and now I can envision tens of millions of them improving their fluency at the same time using Infinite English. The convenience and immediate feedback will be very valuable. I think they will love Vocey”.

Infinite English supports 64 languages and launched in August 2013 and is available in 130 countries from the Apple and Android App stores at a yearly fee of $9.99 for unlimited use. Infinite English is a product of Vocefy, Inc., headquartered in Golden, CO, USA.


Infinite English has been designed to change the way English is learned. This powerful and convenient on-the-go technology provides an animated, virtual tutor named “Vocefy” to address fluency – the most difficult part of mastering conversational English. “ Vocey” comes to life via a novel combination of a smart device and cloud technology. She is always available on the student’s smart device and utilizes whatever content the student chooses. She just might become your favorite tutor ever.

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Aug 15

China Watch Blog has learnt that sometimes breaking up in real life can be easier than removing all traces of an ex-partner from your virtual life.

A Shanghai Daily report said free online application designed to accomplish the romantic cleanup, designed by a Chinese computer student, can remove all traces of an ex on the renren networking site, China’s answer to Facebook.

“Renren breakup app,” for Google Chrome, is becoming popular among young people who tend to display their romantic lives on social networking sites. Click on “start breakup” the honeyed words and photos of the one you ditched, or who ditched you, are removed with no fuss, no muss.

The app was the idea of Xie Mengfei, a student majoring in computer science in Wuhan University in central Hubei Province.

Xie first publicized the app on his renren account a day after last year’s Qixi Festival, known as Chinese Valentine’s Day. But it didn’t really stick until he again posted it on this year’s festival, which was Tuesday. It can be downloaded on the renren site.

“You can have an easy breakup using the app,” he wrote.

Online reports show he had invented several other apps before, including one that helps others find nearby toilets.

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Jun 14

China Watch Blog has learnt that the former CIA employee who leaked top-secret information about US surveillance claims that China’s mainland and Hong Kong have long been surveillance targets of the US spy programs.

In an interview with the South China Morning Post newspaper, former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden claims the US has long been attacking a Hong Kong university that routes all Internet traffic in and out of the southern Chinese city.

Snowden said the National Security Agency’s 61,000 hacking targets around the world include hundreds in Hong Kong and China’s mainland, the paper reported. It said Snowden had presented documents to support those claims, but it did not describe the documents and said it could not verify them.

Snowden’s comments were his first since the 29-year-old American revealed himself as the source of a major leak of top-secret information on US surveillance programs. He flew to Hong Kong from Hawaii before revealing himself, and the SCMP said he was staying out of sight amid speculation the US may seek his extradition.

Snowden, who worked for the CIA and later as a contractor for the NSA, has revealed details about US spy programs that sweep up millions of Americans’ phone records, e-mails and Internet data in the hunt for terrorists. American law enforcement officials are building a case against him but have yet to bring charges.

The newspaper cited Snowden as saying the NSA had been hacking into computers in Hong Kong and China’s mainland since 2009, citing documents he showed the paper. It didn’t provide further details about the documents.

He said that among the targets was the Chinese University of Hong Kong, which hosts the Hong Kong Internet Exchange, the main hub for the city’s Internet traffic.

Set up in 1995, it allows all data between local servers to be routed locally instead of having to pass through exchanges in other countries, including the United States.

“We hack network backbones – like huge Internet routers, basically – that gives us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,” Snowden told the SCMP.

According to Snowden’s documents, other NSA hacking targets included Hong Kong public officials, students and businesspeople, as well as targets on the mainland, though they did not include Chinese military systems, the paper said, without giving details.

A large number of mainland businesses, including state-owned ones, have offices in Hong Kong. The People’s Liberation Army has a base in Hong Kong and the central government and foreign affairs department have offices there.

The university is also home to the Satellite Remote Sensing Receiving Station, which captures data and imagery used to monitor the environment and natural disasters in a 2,500-kilometer radius around Hong Kong, an area that includes most of the Chinese mainland and Southeast Asia.

The university said in a statement that “every effort is made to protect” the exchange, which is monitored around the clock to defend against threats. “The university has not detected any form of hacking to the network, which has been running normally,” it said.

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May 05

China Watch Blog has learnt that a disturbing new type of telecom blackmail has appeared in Shanghai, one that seems to operate through enforcement loopholes of telephone companies and police.

Criminals are using telephone software to make very frequent phone calls to a victim’s cellphone, and threatening to keep it up until they are paid off, the Shanghai Daily reported.

In a recent case, a salesman surnamed Zhang said he received more than 2,000 calls, with a call every one to two minutes over two days, and as soon as he picked up, the call ended, the Shanghai Morning Post reported.

According to a message sent to Zhang, the harassment would stop only if he transferred 500 yuan to a designated bank account.

Zhang called police, but was told the amount of money was too small to file the case, and it is hard to collect evidence as the suspects usually use software and a server outside the city or country to make the calls.

Zhang’s phone service said it could act against only those calling or sending messages using their service.

The harassment started on Friday last week when a call that appeared as “private number” showed up on Zhang’s phone.

“I tried to call back, but the other side hung up right after the call was put through,” Zhang said.

In just 10 minutes, Zhang got 16 such calls. Zhang did not pay the 500 yuan and he received more than 2,000 calls that weekend.

Zhang dared not turn off his phone for fear of missing important calls.

“I think they found my number on the Internet,” Zhang said. “I’m so frustrated. I don’t want to change my number and I’m afraid they are just going to ask for more if I pay.”

“The suspects are very crafty as they asked for only a couple of hundred yuan just to avoid criminal charges,” a police officer said.

The phone company suggested Zhang set up his phone to allow only calls from contacts in his phone, which Zhang said wasn’t a good answer, either.

During the May Day holiday, Zhang turned off his phone and received no more of the calls when he turned it on again. He’s hoping they don’t come back.

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Feb 19

China Watch Blog has learnt that China will pass the United States to become the world’s top country for active Android and iOS smartphones and tablets by the end of February.

According to US IT research firm Flurry, in a study that tracked more than 90 percent of the world’s smart devices, Flurry found that China added a staggering 150 million new devices from January 2012 to the same period this year, while the US just added 55 million units.

China Daily reported that China and the US had roughly the same active smart devices installed base in January 2013, 221 million in China versus 222 million in the US. But Flurry estimated that by the end of February, China will have 246 million devices compared to 230 million in the US.

The consultancy said it believes the US will not take back the lead, given the vast difference in population between the two countries. The only other country that might overtake China is India, but the country still has a long way to go, considering that it only has 19 million active devices now.

The study also showed that the US and China each have more than five times the active installed devices base than that of the United Kingdom, the world’s third-largest market. South Korea and Japan ranked fourth and fifth, with 30 million and 29 million smart devices nationwide, respectively.

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Feb 18

China Watch Blog reports that iOS 6.1 hasn’t been Apple’s finest hour.

According to Shelly Palmer, so far it’s been plagued with connection issues, battery woes, and now it’s sadly insecure, too. You can bypass any lockcode on an iPhone using this straightforward sequence of button presses. The instructions are pretty simple.

First you have to pretend to turn the phone off, then make an aborted emergency call, then a quick bit of off button and cancel pressing. That boots you into the full phone app where you can pretty much call or message anyone you like, or edit phone contacts.

It’s not the first time a trick like this has plagued an Apple device; a similar iOS 4.1 bug allowed the same kind of access. It was fixed with the release of iOS 4.2—which came out a month later. So if history holds true, it could be a month until we see this patched up.

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Feb 18

China Watch Blog has learnt that the Bane of Yoto by Joshua Viola is a transmedia experience that has it all! This four-time award-winning epic novel is now available as a comic App to millions of subscribers for the Nvidia Tegra platform for Android. Published by film, video game and TV music publisher and label FiXT, it features music by FiXT owner and cyber-rock artist Klayton of Celldweller.

A perfect blend of science fiction and fantasy, The Bane of Yoto’s action-packed plot keeps the adrenaline flowing at warp speed to the very end with dynamic, fully-developed original characters battling for their very existence in a brutal world.

Viola, art director for Leviathan Games and former professor of Game Art and Design, was “never impressed with comic apps I had installed.” Adding, “In my opinion, they didn’t work. So I wanted to approach that world in a different, revolutionary way.” And this visionary did just that with Dreamotion™ – Viola’s name for the process of taking numerous layers of traditionally generated 2D illustrations and artwork and bringing them to life in a fully-responsive 3D world.

“Dreamotion was our answer to that problem,” says Viola. “It’s all responsive to movement; when the user rotates their device, the world comes to life. The characters on screen animate and move as you are looking through every little detail in 3D — and all without glasses.”

“The Tegra audience consists of more hardcore consumers than most other markets,” says Viola. “They’re looking for something with depth that they can really get into. I think my comic App will allow them to do just that.”

While DC and Marvel comic book artists Tyler Kirkham, Nick Runge, and Steve Scott are responsible for some of the stunning visuals, the music was provided by Klayton of Celldweller, whose work has been featured in such films as “Iron Man 2,” “Spiderman 2,” “Ghost Rider 2,” “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” and more. Also available through FiXT is The Bane of Yoto merchandise, with PlayStation 3 Dynamic Themes, Sculptures, T-shirts, posters, and more.

Drawing rave reviews for both originality and vision, The Bane of Yoto has won awards from the 2012 New York Book Festival, the 2012 Hollywood Book Festival, and was winner in the Science Fiction category at the 2012 Halloween Book Festival. This is the first installment in a trilogy of science-fantasy novels by Viola. For more information on this extraordinary novel and 3D comic App, please see: and

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Feb 06

China Watch Blog reports Apple’s revenue may have missed expectations as sales of the iPhone reportedly disappointed. However, data from leading independent digital marketing agency, Greenlight, shows no slump in the number of online searches pertaining to iPhones, in the lead up to Christmas.

In fact, search volumes for the term ‘iPhone 5’ saw a dramatic 594% jump. However, the opposite was true for the term ‘Blackberry’. Just last week, its inventor, Research in Motion (RIM), showed off two new smartphones for its newly built BlackBerry 10 operating system.

According to Greenlight’s ‘Brown Goods Sector Report – Issue 14’, in November 2012, a total of 12 million searches were made on Google UK for Audio & Accessories, Cameras & Camcorders, PCs, Laptops and Tablets, Phones & Accessories and TVs & DVD Players, up 5 million on August 2012 levels.

Phones & Accessories-related search terms proved most popular. They accounted for 53% of all Brown Goods-related queries compared to 32% in August, when searches pertaining to PC’s, Laptops and Tablets dominated (48%).

‘iPhone 5’ search volumes see a six-fold rise

According to Greenlight, the term ‘iPhone 5’ was queried more than 4 million times, accounting for 34% of all Brown Goods-related searches in November, up from August’s 673,000.

In the case of ‘Blackberry’ however, the opposite was true. Greenlight’s data shows search volumes for the term totalled 246,000 compared to 301,000 in August.

Apple knocks Amazon UK off top spot to become the most visible site for Brown Goods

Greenlight also assessed which brands, retailers and review sites were the most visible in both Natural Search* and Paid Media** results and therefore had the greatest share of consideration when UK consumers searched on Google UK for Brown Goods in November.

Greenlight’s Integrated Search league table shows that Apple, which in August lay in fifth place, snatched Amazon UK’s lead to become the most visible website overall. In November, it achieved a dominant share of visibility across both the Natural Search and Paid Media listings – 60% and 72%, respectively.

Whilst Amazon UK was relegated to fourth place, it was one of just three sites that managed to hold on to a spot in Greenlight’s top ten, from August.

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