January 18, 2019

Huawei founder slams indigenous innovation


Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei sat down with Chinese media on Thursday, his second media appearance of the week (see Wednesday’s Tip Sheet).

Ren’s unprecedented media blitz comes amidst a global backlash, which only got worse on Thursday:

The US is opening an investigation into the company (WSJ).US lawmakers are looking to ban chip sales to the company (SCMP).Germany is considering a ban on Huawei 5G equipment (Reuters).Oxford University is banning donations from the company (Guardian).On Thursday, Ren took aim at China’s “indigenous innovation” policy.

Some context: The policy was introduced in the mid-2000s and has been widely condemned by foreign businesses and government for unfairly advantaging domestic firms.

Ren’s view (21st Century Biz):“I think it’s okay to emphasize more indigenous innovation in cutting edge and unknown [areas].”But we can't emphasize indigenous innovation at a low level – must screws be indigenous?”Ren was scathing:“That everything must be done by oneself is peasant mentality.”He also took aim at those who see everything as a Western conspiracy:“Protecting intellectual property rights benefits the country’s long-term development.”“It’s not some excuse by the West to choke us [by the neck].”

Get smart: Ren thinks Huawei is collateral damage of bad government policy.

21st Century Biz: 关于华为,你想知道的,任正非都回答了(附问答全文)
WSJ: Federal prosecutors pursuing criminal case against Huawei for alleged theft of trade secrets
SCMP: US lawmakers seek to ban chip sales to China’s Huawei and ZTE for ‘violating American sanctions’
Reuters: Germany considering ways to exclude Huawei from 5G auction: report
The Guardian: Oxford places ban on donations and research grants from Huawei

AI surveillance goes to school

AXIOS Future Steve Levine

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios


A new breed of intelligent video surveillance is being installed in schools around the country — tech that follows people around campus and detects unusual behaviors.

Axios' Kaveh Waddell reports: This new phase in campus surveillance responds to high-profile school shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida, last February. School administrators are now reaching for security tech that keeps a constant, increasingly sophisticated eye on halls and classrooms. One drawback: a major blow to student privacy.

Background: Schools are experimenting wildly with technology in order to secure students, deploying facial recognition, license plate readers, microphones for gunshot detection and even patrol robots.

At a news conference today, officials in Broward County, Florida — where Parkland is located — announced that they have spent more than $11 million on security cameras over the past year.Read this fact: There are now more than 12,500 cameras in Broward County schools, said Superintendent Robert Runcie, and the district signed an agreement this week to share real-time video with the county sheriff's office.Now, the school district is considering buying a next-generation surveillance system for more than $600,000, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

The tech the district wants is benignly branded "intelligent video analytics." It's already popular with police and retailers; now, it's appearing in schools.

It represents a sea change in how video surveillance works. Where once a lone security guard would sit bored in front of dozens of security feeds, scanning for abnormal activity, unblinking artificial intelligence now monitors the videos.It can detect unusual motion — such as a person in a hallway that is usually empty at a given time — and can search footage by peoples' appearance.

One company, Avigilon, sells these capabilities to school districts and universities, in addition to banks, hospitals and airports. Another, Pelco, announced last April that it will provide schools with an IBM version of intelligent video.

Every public school in Fulton County, Georgia, will soon include Avigilon tech, according to a flyer posted online.School districts in Tennessee, Montana and Missouri are listed among the company's "case studies" for school deployments.

Increased surveillance stirs upsome worry among students, teachers and privacy advocates.

On an online forum for teachers, some wrote that students shouldn't be monitored — or even that they felt uncomfortable being watched — while others said footage helped to settle arguments.In an October town hall meeting, UCLA studentsraised worries about breaches of privacy, according to the university's student newspaper."You have to ask whether you want to raise a generation that is used to growing up in environments where they're electronically monitored by AI agents," the ACLU's Jay Stanley tells Axios.Avigilon declined to comment to Axios.

Kenneth Preston, a Broward County high school student, says he supports surveillance tech that excludes facial recognition. (Broward County says it's not installing facial recognition.)

But technology should be an "absolute last precaution," he tells Axios.Preston, who has been deeply critical of the county and school district, calls for a better system in which teachers and counselors identify threatening students in advance, rather than technology that helps to solve a crime after the fact.

Just east of Nashville, in Wilson County, Tennessee, schools are brimming with security tech. Several schools have cameras in every classroom, teachers have panic buttons at hand, and students' online communication is monitored 24/7.

"We're like every other school district" trying to keep students safe, says Jennifer Johnson, a spokesperson for the school system. "We're just throwing darts at the wall to see what sticks."

January 16, 2019

The Baloch Coast and Saudi interests

*Writer:  Reyasat Khan Baloch
From news desk of *(The Balochistan Post)

Divided among Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Baloch people lack a state of their own. In 1839, The English army invaded and occupied the sovereign state of Balochistan, from the day next to this invasion and occupation and so on the English rulers faced several waves of uprisings and militancy in different parts of Balochistan. Having a large land mass and largely being mismanaged, it was impossible for the Britishers to rule Balochistan with ease.

So, the Britishers divided The Baloch territory into 3 different parts. The basic purpose behind this division was to maintain stability, controlling and managing the area properly and to crush the local resistance, which were bothering Britishers time and again.

A question comes in mind that what was the actual reason behind Britain’s concern over a region with no markets for business and industries where they could do business or have their colonial interests.

And answer to this question is simple, The English wanted security for one of their important colony “India”, basically, which could only be threatened if a party may had controlled the Indian ocean, and for doing that the Coast of Balochistan was the easiest route one could use.

After many years of the British withdrawal from the region, much seem to have changed, from the military and political to the economic dynamics, everything has changed but not the fate of the people living across Balochistan.

Balochistan still remains a gateway to the Indian Ocean, controlling the warm waters of Balochistan means controlling the business and markets of Central Asia and the Gulf countries. Controlling the strait of Hormuz and regulating the whole trade done in the region and this is what The Bejing wants, for the last two decades the Bejing has come forward as an active and a key player to have a share of all this.

China wants to expand its business and wants to have easy access to the big but untouched markets of Asia and Europe and for them, the easiest way is through Balochistan.

China has recently unleashed its biggest project ever “One belt One road” through which China hopes to rebuild the ancient silk route for trading purposes and The CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) being its core component.

Besides the trade objectives, there are military objectives too linked with China Pakistan economic corridor, China if succeeds in building the CPEC, it will pose a permanent threat to the western and Indian interests in the region.

But for the last few months, Saudi Arabia has also joined hands with China and Pakistan in investing in CPEC projects. A few days ago some Saudi officials visited the port city of Gwadar (the main port for CPEC) uttering to be interested in investing.

Saudi Arabia has a long presence in the region by arming its Islamic proxies such as Jaish ul Adal and others but by being in CPEC Saudi wants its military presence to counter its arch-rival, Iran.

Just as India, west and Iran, the local Baloch population fears its dangerous implications on them as well, the Baloch considers the Pakistani presence in Balochistan as illegitimate as they claim Pakistan an occupier.

The Baloch nationalists are unhappy with China investing in their historic homeland without their consent and fear a demographic change which grows stronger with each passing day.

The recent attacks on Chinese interests within Balochistan and in Karachi by Baloch insurgents are a clear indication by the nationalists that they would use everything they have to counter the Chinese designs and plans in the region, and of course, Saudi will be a target too if it persisted to invest.


The new age of hostage diplomacy


Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios


Poland's arrest of a Huawei executive on charges of spying for China escalates an already-fraught dimension of the turbulent new era of geopolitics.

A spate of arrests has broken out, with detentions of Americans and Canadians in China, Iran and Russia, and Chinese people jailed in Canada and now Poland. It appears to be unprecedented — political hostage-taking amid a modern trade war.As we’ve reportedthe tit-for-tat jailings in part suggest a new stage of hostility in the U.S.-China race for technological and economic dominance in the coming decades.“The Chinese have set a very troubling precedent. You don’t like it when one of your citizens gets arrested, you nab a few folks from that country," said Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group. 

Driving the news: Poland announced today that it had arrested a man it identified only as "Weijing W.," a former diplomat in China's consulate in Gdansk. Authorities there said they also detained a former Polish security official, and charged both with spying for China, per AP.

Given China's actions to date, the Polish arrest seems bound to trigger a ferocious response from Beijing.Already, China on Monday will begin trying Robert Schellenberg, a Canadian facing the death penalty for alleged international drug trafficking.Schellenberg is one of three Canadians whom China has jailed since Dec. 1, when Canada arrested a senior Huawei official on charges of violating sanctions against Iran, reports the Globe and Mail. Huawei's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, is out on bail now.

"It’s the first time to my knowledge that tariffs and a trade war have led to arrests/de facto hostage taking."

— Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group

Thought bubble from Bill Bishop, writer of Axios China: "There is not a big Polish population in China, and I don’t want to say anything irresponsible. But if I were a Pole in China, I would be nervous."

The practice is broader:

In an announcement today,Russia said it had filed formal espionage charges against Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine. The move follows U.S. spying charges filed against Maria Butina involving the 2016 election. Last month, Butina pleaded guilty.On Wednesday, Iran said it is holding Michael R. White, a U.S. Navy veteran, for unspecified reasons, the fifth American known to be currently under detention in the country.

Wrapped up in spying and general longstanding rivalry, the Iran and Russia cases differ from the U.S.-China-Canada cases.

But they resemble each other in being part of how geopolitics is played now.The "risk is once this becomes a tit for tat process, it provokes a downward spiral in relations that is tough to break," said Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser to George W. Bush.

Ivo Daalder, president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, said President Trump had erred by publicizing when hostages have been released. "Such public attention elevates the importance of hostages and gives nefarious actors an incentive to capture Americans in order to draw attention to their demands and causes," he said.