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May 26 2011
China Cranks Up Heat on Nuclear Fusion By Jonathan Shieber
Is China’s latest technological drive going to end up producing yet another Sputnik moment for the U.S.?
That has to be one question on the minds of scientists, researchers and politicians in the U.S. as China unveils its latest attempt to reach for one of science’s brass rings: viable nuclear fusion technology.
According to a report in the state-run China Daily, the central government is planning to train 2,000 experts to pursue research and development into magnetic confinement fusion, which seeks to use magnetic fields to create the high-pressure conditions necessary for fusion.
A number of research institutes and private companies around the world are racing to perfect magnetic confinement.
Wu Bangguo (L), Chinese National People’s Congress Standing Committee Chairman, and Kaname Ikeda of Japan (R), General Director of International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), visit the construction site for ITER in Saint-Paul-les-Durance, southern France, July 13, 2010.
China is already a signatory and participant in the France-based International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, that is perhaps the largest project pursuing magnetic approach. Arguably one of the most world’s ambitious multinational scientific undertakings, the project has a price tag of at least $21 billion and involves hundreds of scientists from China, the European Union, Japan, India Korea, Russia and the United States.
One concern among Chinese scientists is that the nation is not getting enough value out of its investment the ITER project. “China is trying to dispatch more qualified scientists to work on” the project, Cao Jianlin, vice-minister of science and technology, told China Daily.
Right now China provides 10% of the funding for the project, but supplies only 5% of the scientists, which means the country is missing out on valuable training for its would-be fusion experts.
Chinese engineers and scientists are currently responsible for building components such as heating, diagnostic and remote maintenance equipment for the project, as well as transporting it to Cadarache in the south of France, where the ITER reactor will be built.
Another researcher quoted by the China Daily thinks it’s not nearly enough and complained about the lack of exposure Chinese scientists are getting to the new technologies that could reshape the energy market.
“The ITER is related to 34 core scientific engineering technologies and management subjects,” Wan Yuanxi, dean of the school of nuclear science and technology under the University of Science and Technology of China, said. “Chinese researchers only work on 11 of them, which means we have no involvement in more than 60 percent of its core scientific engineering technologies and management subjects.”
In addition to its international efforts, China is also pursuing its own research into fusion technologies in research around the country, including at a laboratory in Chengdu.
An April guideline issued jointly by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Education, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the China National Nuclear Corp. recommends the government subsidize at least 200 researchers who intend to pursue doctorates in magnetic controlled fusion.
Currently there are 1,254 researchers have been involved with magnetic controlled fusion-related projects in China, according to the China Daily report.
Not to be outdone, the U.S. has spent billions of dollars on fusion research, in addition to the work it is doing to promote ITER projects domestically and on the main project in France, although funding for the European project has been a political football in the past. Like China, the US is responsible for around 9% of the ITER project’s total costs, with the EU has taking on the bulk of financing.
Indeed, institutions globally are all racing to find some way to commercialize technology that seems almost too good to be true – providing cheap, nearly unlimited power with no harmful emissions.
It’s a quest that has created some strange bedfellows. In the U.S., supporters of fusion technology range from the original “Penthouse” magazine publisher Bob Guccione to some of the nation’s premiere technology investment firms.
January 3 2011
China claims breakthrough in nuclear technology
Chinese scientists have made a breakthrough in spent fuel reprocessing technology that could potentially solve China's uranium supply problem, Chinese television reported on Monday.
The technology, developed and tested at the No.404 Factory of China National Nuclear Corp in the Gobi desert in remote Gansu province, enables the re-use of irradiated fuel and is able to boost the usage rate of uranium materials at nuclear plants by 60 folds.
"With the new technology, China's existing detected uranium resources can be used for 3,000 years," the China Central Television reported.
China, as well as France, the United Kingdom and Russia, actively supports reprocessing as a means for the management of highly radioactive spent fuel and as a source of fissile material for future nuclear fuel supply.
But independent scientists argued that commercial application of nuclear fuel reprocessing has always been hindered by cost, technology, proliferation risk and safety challenges. China has 171,400 tonnes of proven uranium resources spread mainly in eight provinces -- Jiangxi, Guangdong, Hunan, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Liaoning and Yunnan.
China is planning a massive push into nuclear power in an effort to wean itself off coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel. It now has 12 working reactors with 10.15 gigawatt of total generating capacity.
China has set an official target of 40 gigawatts (GW) of installed nuclear generating capacity by 2020, but the government indicated it could double the goal to about 80 GW as faster expansion was one of the more feasible solutions for achieving emissions reduction goals.
As such, China will need to source more than 60 percent of the uranium needed for its nuclear power plants from overseas by 2020, even if the country moves forward with a modest nuclear expansion plan, Chinese researchers say.
October 31 2010
China's ZTE wins US's
Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2 security validation
security certificate vital for it to supply sensitive US firms
ZTE Corp (SEHK: 0763), which has raised security concerns among politicians in
the United States, apparently burnished its credentials in the market after
obtaining a key certification for its wireless equipment from American security
The Shenzhen-based company said yesterday it was the first mainland maker of
telecommunications equipment to receive the Federal Information Processing
Standards (FIPS) 140-2 security validation by the National Institute of
Standards and Technology.
FIPS 140-2 is an information-technology security accreditation programme for
so-called cryptographic modules produced by telecommunications systems suppliers
such as ZTE, who seek to have their products certified for use in government
departments and regulated industries - including financial services and health
care - that collect, store, transfer, share and disseminate sensitive but
Cryptographic libraries are commonly used on ZTE's wireless infrastructure
products for security.
The official certification comes about two months after eight US senators asked
the Obama administration to look into a bid by Huawei Technologies to supply key
telecommunications infrastructure to Sprint Nextel Corp, which operates
America's third-largest wireless communications network.
The lawmakers expressed concern that national security might be compromised in
light of claims that Huawei does business with the Revolutionary Guard in Iran
and is closely associated with the People's Liberation Army.
Their action inevitably served as another red flag for US network service
providers to reconsider their purchase of infrastructure from mainland
"We don't think the US is an open market; it is a closed market," Xu Ming, ZTE's
vice-president for wireless product business, said last month when asked to
describe the hurdles that mainland telecommunications equipment suppliers must
overcome in the US.
Following the successful security certification, however, the rhetoric from ZTE
has been toned down.
"ZTE, which has been providing products and services to more than 500 carriers
across more than 140 countries, regards transparency as the key to maintaining
trusted business relationships," its chief of US operations, Cheng Lixin, said.
A spokeswoman from ZTE headquarters in Shenzhen yesterday also noted the
company, the mainland's No 2 telecoms equipment maker, will continue to invest
in the US. ZTE, for example, will buy US$3 billion worth of semiconductor
components over the next three years from five US companies.
Shanghai-based technology consultancy RedTech Advisors described the chip
purchases as "a sweetener" that ZTE hoped would enhance its expansion in the US.
October 28 2010
China's supercomputer faster than US' No 1
China's Tianhe-1 has overtaken Nebule to regain top spot as China's fastest
computer, according to a new list of China's Top 100 supercomputers released
On the biannual world TOP 500 list published in June, China's Nebulae machine
took the second spot only after the US's Jaguar system, while Tianhe-1 took
Housed at the National Center for Supercomputing in northern port city of
Tianjin, Tianhe-1, meaning Milky Way, has a sustained computing speed of 2,507
trillion calculations, or 2.507 petaflops, per second.
It has a theoretical speed of 4.7 petaflops per second, according to a R&D
research member of Tianhe-1. A petaflop is equivalent to 1,000 trillion
Nebulae housed in Shenzhen is capable of sustained computing of 1.271 petaflop
per second (PFlop/s) on the Linpack benchmark, a measure for ranking
supercomputers in world Top 500 list.
The US leads the world in supercomputing and is home to more than half of the
top 500 supercomputers. The Jaguar system at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in
Tennessee has a speed of 1.75 PFlop/s, now slower than China's Tianhe-1.
The enhanced Tianhe-1 has upgraded Intel CPUs, NVIDIA GPUs, and new domestically
developed FeiTeng-1000 CPUs have been installed, the developer the National
University of Defense Technology (NUDT) said.
Tianhe-1 has begun trial use among target clients including Tianjin
Meteorological Bureau and the National Offshore Oil Corporation data center. "It
can also serve the animation industry and bio-medical research," said Liu
Guangming, director of the National Center for Supercomputing in Tianjin.
In September 2009, the NUDT created Tianhe-1 with a sustained computing speed of
0.5631 PFlop/s, the fastest supercomputer in China at that time.
The new technical data of Tianhe-1 has been submitted to the world Top 500 list
and the next list will be released in November.
September 25 2010
Calling All Smart Movers
Earlier this year, Apple announced plans to open retail outlets in Hong Kong –
part of its strategy to launch 25 new stores in the Chinese mainland and Hong
Kong by the end of 2011. The American consumer-electronics giant is responding
to demand: according to industry research, the cellular take-up rate is more
than double the global average, and more than half of all Hong Kong mobile phone
users will own a smartphone within the next year.
for the bigger picture, the mainland is already the world’s largest mobile phone
market by subscribers, with an estimated 796 million users. Subscription to 3G
service is skyrocketing, more than doubling this year alone, according to the
Chinese Ministry of Information.
More than one-third of Hong Kong
consumers will replace their mobile phone this year
While locations of the new Apple stores have yet to be announced, Hong Kong
offers plenty of choice to a brand renowned for entering markets only where the
location is perfect. This means top-end shopping malls or prominent street-level
frontage, both of which are available in Hong Kong’s major business districts.
Driven by smartphone demand, Apple is
opening its first Hong Kong store
Nokia chose a prominent Times Square, Causeway Bay location to open its first
Asia flagship store in July 2006. The brand followed with a second Hong Kong
store, in Central’s prestigious ifc mall, in December 2008. Bruce Lam, Nokia’s
General Manager, Markets, Hong Kong and Macau, said Hong Kong is a great market
for Nokia. “In Hong Kong, the market for smartphones is among the highest in the
world. Many people use their phones to check emails, browse the Internet and
visit social networks. This shows Hong Kong consumers are savvy in the use of
mobile phone technology, and they are eager to learn about the latest
Nokia was one of the first mobile
phone manufacturers to launch localized applications in Hong Kong
Canada’s Research In Motion (RIM), maker of the BlackBerry, recently shored up
its Hong Kong market share though a distribution tie-up with US company
Brightstar Corp, a global leader in services and solutions for the wireless
industry. Citing Hong Kong as “one of the world’s most dynamic and advanced
mobile markets,” Brightstar will distribute BlackBerry smartphones to multiple
retail channels in the city.
Arturo Osorio, President of Brightstar Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa,
said Hong Kong would expand on the success achieved with RIM in other regions
worldwide. “Hong Kong is one of the areas where consumers and businesspeople
alike demand the most cutting-edge wireless technology. The BlackBerry brand is
well-recognised around the world for leading-edge wireless communications, and
we’re pleased to bring BlackBerry smartphones to customers in Hong Kong.”
Arturo Osorio, President of Brightstar
Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa
According to the TNS Global Telecoms Insights Survey 2010, Hong Kong consumers
are at the forefront of global smartphone usage. Nearly half (48 per cent) of
respondents in Hong Kong own a smartphone, more than double the global rate of
23 per cent.
“Until fairly recently, smartphone or PDA phones were owned by a very specific
group of consumers – mainly tech geeks and business road warriors,” said Marc de
Lange, Director, Technology Sector. “But in the coming year, Hong Kong will
reach an important milestone, as more than half of all mobile-phone owners start
to carry a smartphone in their pockets.”
Marc de Lange, TNS Director,
He described Hong Kong consumers as very tech savvy, genuinely interested in new
mobile phones and wanting to try out new technology as soon as it’s available.
“The Hong Kong market is also coming back from a year of delayed product
purchases in 2009 due to the financial crisis. According to our studies, 39 per
cent of Hong Kong consumers hope to replace their mobile phone within 2010.”
The importance of owning a smartphone is changing how users choose their mobile
phones, Mr de Lange added.
“Smartphone users are increasingly accessing features such as pull email (32 per
cent), push email (25 per cent), mobile Internet (52 per cent) and Microsoft
Office (28 per cent) applications. There is also demand for the Qwerty keyboard
(11 per cent), but more popularly for touch screen (51 per cent).”
Look and feel are the predominant deciding factors for 32 per cent of Hong Kong
consumers purchasing a mobile device, followed by brand, at 19 per cent.
Similarly, 19 per cent of consumers say content and application will be equally
important, surpassing the global percentage of 14 per cent.
“Today’s consumers can access a wider range of mobile services than ever before
through smartphones. So in choosing a mobile device, consumers care more and
more about which content and applications they will be able to access,” said Mr
de Lange. “Companies must consider the new dynamic in their go-to-market
strategies and leverage the equity generated by these new mobile brands to drive
He added that it’s no surprise the big brands are expanding in Hong Kong.
Selling the Experience
Having an Apple-owned store in Hong Kong makes great business sense, according
to Mr de Lange. “If you ever visit their store in 5th Avenue in New York, you'll
see they really sell an experience rather than a product. Hong Kong is a very
important market in Asia for technology brands. It is one of the key cities in
Asia where brands launch their products. More than domestic consumers, consumers
in Hong Kong include a large number of tourists and visitors from around Asia
and the world that specifically purchase the latest technology,” Mr de Lange
said. “Brands simply cannot afford not to be in Hong Kong.”
When it comes to consumer electronics, young people in Hong Kong have the
highest ownership of gadgets among their peers in the region. The Young Asians
2010 survey by global research agency Synovate, released in August, shows Hong
Kong youth own, on average, 4.1 devices – two more than the regional average.
They lead the pack with mobile phones (87 per cent overall, and 93 per cent in
the 12-14 age group), desktop computers (66 per cent), digital still cameras (50
per cent), hand-held video games (40 per cent), and TV game consoles (25 per
In some cases, these rates of ownership are well above the regional average,
which stands at 64 per cent for mobile phones, 32 per cent for desktop
computers, 17 per cent for digital still cameras and 25 per cent for TV game
The survey found that 63 per cent of Hong Kong youth are engaged in social
networking. They are the region’s top bloggers (53 per cent, against a regional
average of 39 per cent), and are the most likely to participate in forums or
discussion groups (47 per cent).
Susanna Lam, Research Director of Synovate in Hong Kong, said young people today
are “inseparable” from their phones. She added that, in an affluent market like
Hong Kong, families can afford multiple mobile phones. “Coupled with cheaper
mobile-phone plans, there is every reason for youth to have a mobile.
Interestingly, it also seems that for youth in these markets, mobile phone
ownership is a sign of growing up in the world.”
September 24 2010
China to be No 1 in internet-based TV services By Bien
China is poised to become the world's biggest market for internet-based
television services next year, surpassing global leader France.
The combined mainland, Hong Kong and Macau market overtook the United States as
the second-leading user of so-called internet protocol television (IPTV)
services in the second quarter, according to industry group Broadband Forum.
"China dominates the Asian IPTV market with more than 6.7 million subscribers,"
Broadband Forum marketing director Laurie Adams Gonzalez said on the sidelines
of the group's meeting in Hong Kong.
The Broadband Forum is a non-profit, international consortium with about 200
members, including leading telecommunications service providers, network
equipment manufacturers, semiconductor companies and software suppliers. It
develops key technical specifications through consensus, defines next-generation
solutions and provides input to industry standards bodies.
Members in Asia include China Telecom Corp (SEHK: 0728), China Mobile (SEHK:
0941, announcements, news) , PCCW (SEHK: 0008), ZTE Corp (SEHK: 0763), Samsung
Electronics, Singapore Telecommunications, Chunghwa Telecom and Fujitsu.
The Broadband Forum reported on Monday that the number of fixed-line broadband
subscribers worldwide passed the 500 million mark in July, up from about 467
million at the end of last year.
British research firm Point Topic said China, including the special
administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, contributed to that milestone by
being the world's fastest-growing broadband market. It accounted for about 120.6
million lines, about a quarter of the total.
Gonzalez credited the steady expansion in and adoption of broadband
infrastructure for the strong uptake in IPTV services, of which there were a
total of about 38.5 million subscribers worldwide as of June.
IPTV uses a high-speed broadband connection to the internet, instead of cable,
to deliver video services. "China ... represented the market with the most IPTV
net additions in the second quarter, recording a total of 421,000 new
subscribers," Gonzalez said. She said the market was expected to add IPTV
subscribers at five times the rate of the industry leader France, so "it is
likely to be the leading IPTV market next year".
France had about 9.4 million IPTV subscribers as of June, while third-ranked US
had 6.5 million.
PCCW, which runs Hong Kong's biggest fixed-line telecommunications network,
reported earlier that subscribers to its internet-based Now TV grew 4 per cent
to more than 1 million in the first half of the year.
November 24 2008
World factory faces chips demand boom - Despite crisis, foreign players rush
Whether as a consumer or supplier, the mainland has a huge impact on the
global semiconductor industry. Today's complex chips, or integrated circuits,
play an important role in running and powering many of the devices and digital
infrastructure people use - from mobile telephones, personal computers,
refrigerators, cars and banking systems to the various networks that make up the
When large manufacturing capacity began shifting from the United States and
Europe to low-cost production sites in the past decade, the mainland became the
world's largest consumer electronics production site and fastest-growing
Consumption has apparently grown so fast the semiconductor industry now faces
the challenge of meeting that demand, despite the current economic slowdown.
"Semiconductor consumption in the Chinese market is growing at a faster pace
than what the industry has anticipated," said Raman Chitkara, a global
semiconductor leader at consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.
"However, growth in production is not keeping pace with consumption, resulting
in a widening gap between [chip] consumption and production in that market." In
the latest update of the study series China's Impact on the Semiconductor
Industry started in 2004, researchers at PricewaterhouseCoopers estimate the
country's appetite for semiconductors has grown an average of 31.5 per cent a
year since 2001, the last so-called bottom of the semiconductor business cycle.
For the same period, the worldwide market reached only a 10.6 per cent annual
average growth rate. The mainland semiconductor market has two distinct parts:
the domestic and the much larger export segment. Growth in exports is the
dominant driver of integrated circuit use in the country. About 69 per cent of
chips consumed last year went to various electronic products made for export, up
from 64 per cent in 2005.
Semiconductor consumption surged 23 per cent last year to US$88.1 billion, or
34.4 per cent of the worldwide market, according to data from Beijing's CCID
Consulting and the Semiconductor Industry Association in the United States.
It was the third consecutive year the mainland exceeded consumption in all other
markets and the first time it reached a milestone by consuming more than 33 per
cent of the chip industry's annual production. "While the Chinese government is
implementing initiatives in the hope of increasing local production, we predict
that this disparity is likely to continue in the near future," Mr Chitkara said.
That gap - the difference between integrated circuit consumption and
semiconductor industry revenue - has grown from US$5.9 billion in 1999 to
US$54.9 billion last year, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. Mainland
authorities expect the gap will continue expanding until at least 2010, which
would motivate the government to boost chip production.
Chip consumption on the mainland would keep growing many times faster than the
worldwide market average because of the continuing transfer of worldwide
electronic equipment production to the country and the high average integrated
circuit content of each electronic device, PricewaterhouseCoopers said.
It noted the country's share of worldwide electronic equipment production had
increased from 9 per cent in 2000 to 20 per cent in 2005 and 27 per cent last
year. The semiconductor content of electronic devices made on the mainland
averaged 25 per cent in 2006 and 24 per cent last year, against the worldwide
average of 20 per cent in those two years.
Amid the global credit crunch, analysts see the large, deep-pocketed foreign
chip companies moving to bolster their presence on the mainland. Some of them
could even go into buying up loss-making domestic semiconductor firms - fabless
outfits that design chips and outsource manufacturing to foundries.
Vincent Gu, an analyst at market research firm iSuppli Corp, predicted that more
than 100 of the 550 fabless domestic integrated circuit firms competing on the
mainland would be gone in the next two years.
"Many companies are seeking buyers and four have already been acquired by
foreign semiconductor firms in the past 12 months," Mr Gu said.
Slower chip sales growth on the mainland this year has apparently made things
more difficult for those companies. ISuppli estimates the country's chip sales
will rise only 6.7 per cent to US$81.7 billion this year, after years of
"China's fabless [integrated circuit] industry is polarised, with about 50
companies achieving success and the remainder struggling to survive," Mr Gu
By contrast, US chip companies frequently win in emerging markets such as the
mainland because of their advantages in technology and innovation. Taiwanese
fabless companies, compared with their mainland competitors, have effective cost
controls and are highly integrated, according to iSuppli.
Although large mainland manufacturers, such as computer maker Lenovo Group (SEHK:
0992, announcements, news) , dominate domestic chip consumption, the largest
suppliers continue to be multinational semiconductor companies.
Market leader Intel Corp has kept investing in the country; it is building a
US$2.5 billion fabrication plant in Dalian that will become operational in 2010,
when the global economy will hopefully be on the rise again.
PricewaterhouseCoopers notes that many leading semiconductor companies will need
to expand their presence on the mainland to fuel new growth. So far, much of the
growth in the mainland's semiconductor industry is being driven by
multinational, foundry and package, assembly and test enterprises.
PricewaterhouseCoopers says 32 of the world's top 70 semiconductor suppliers
last year still had below-average shares of the mainland market.
October 21 2008
Sequoia funds Cernet expansion program
Sequoia, a United States venture capital firm that invested in Yahoo and Google,
has provided financing for the expansion plans of Cernet Koncept Network, a
mainland internet company targeting the country's 27 million college students,
sources said. Cernet Koncept, operator of cdrean.com, is a subsidiary of the
China Education and Research Network, a state-backed agency in charge of
internet infrastructure construction on college campuses nationwide.
Neither Sequoia nor Cernet would disclose the financing amount but it was
definitely a double-digit million US dollar capital infusion, according to
Cernet Koncept chief executive Kuang Peng.
"Cernet is a one-of-a-kind company that enjoys a monopoly in its area," said
Neil Shen, founding managing partner of Sequoia Capital China. "We are bullish
on its outlook."
The fund would be used to develop new valued-added services to cater to mounting
demands for information and recreation among college students, Mr Kuang said.
On the mainland, telecommunications operators provide customers internet access
but the Ministry of Education set up the China Education and Research Network to
build "information highways" for university students. Nearly 27 million students
connect to the internet via the separate network, which covers 3,500 schools and
research institutions nationwide.
"Basically, investors shun internet-related companies nowadays because it is
difficult to create a profitable model," said Lu Liang, a manager at Hotung
Venture Capital. "But it seems that Cernet Koncept can make a difference with a
monopoly in the education market."
Sinomonitor, a business data supplier, estimates that college students spend 300
billion yuan (HK$341 billion), or 11,860 yuan per head, a year. "The media
platform will also be appealing to big companies who want to advertise on it
because university students are potentially the major powerful purchasers in
future," Mr Kuang said.
"We hope to launch an initial public offering in 2011," he said. "The priority
is the A-share market."
June 10 2008
ATTENTION ALL QHTB'S
Tax Filing Deadline for N-317 June 30th
The deadline for filing the new on-line N-317 is June 30th. Two critical reasons
for filing on time:
1. The penalty for not filing is $1,000 per month up to $6,000.
2. The data Do Tax receives from industry will be critical in the discussion on
the renewal of Act 221/215.
Visit the Do Tax site home page
http://hawaii.gov/tax/ and look for "E-File Login" for instructions.
March 8 2008
Matsushita tries out home
Masanori Naruse jogs every day, collects miniature cars and feeds birds in his
backyard, but he is proudest of the way his home and 2,200 others in Japan
obtain their electricity and heat water — with power generated by a hydrogen
fuel cell. The technology — which draws energy from the chemical reaction when
hydrogen combines with oxygen to form water — is more commonly seen in
futuristic cars with tanks of hydrogen instead of petrol, whose combustion is a
key culprit in pollution and global warming. Developers say fuel cells for homes
produce one-third less of the pollution that causes global warming than
conventional electricity generation does.
“I was a bit worried in the beginning whether it was going to inconvenience my
family or I wouldn’t be able to take a bath,” said the 45-year-old Japanese
businessman, who lives with his wife, Tomoko, and two children, 12 and 9. But,
as head of a construction company, he was naturally interested in new technology
Tomoko Naruse, 40, initially worried the thing would explode, given all she had
heard about the dangers of hydrogen. “Actually, you forget it’s even there,” her
husband said. Their plain grey fuel cell is about the size of a suitcase and
sits just outside their door next to a tank that turns out to be a water heater.
In the process of producing electricity, the fuel cell gives off enough warmth
to heat water for the home.
The oxygen that the fuel cell uses comes from the air. The hydrogen is extracted
from natural gas by a device called a reformer in the same box as the fuel cell.
But a byproduct of that process is poisonous carbon monoxide. So another machine
in the gray box adds oxygen to the carbon monoxide to create carbon dioxide,
which — though it contributes to global warming — is not poisonous. The entire
process produces less greenhouse gas per watt than traditional generation. And
no energy is wasted transporting the electricity where it is actually going to
Nearly every home in Japanese cities is supplied with natural gas for cooking or
heating, which could make it relatively easy to spread fuel cell technology
there. The potential for widespread use of fuel cells in bigger or more sparsely
settled countries is less certain. Many American homes do not have gas service,
for example. “There are not any real show-stoppers for this technology being
used in the US,” said electrical engineering professor Roger Dougal at the
University of South Carolina.
Mr Dougal said fuel cells were no more hazardous than any stove or water heater.
Their major drawback was cost. “Ultimately, I expect that some fraction of homes
will use this technology, but it will be a very long time before a sizable
fraction does,” he said in an e-mail. Mr Naruse is paying one million yen
(HK$74,000) for a 10-year lease on a test fuel cell for his home southwest of
Tokyo from Matsushita Electric Industrial.
Matsushita, which sells Panasonic brand products, plans to offer fuel cells
commercially next year. Other Japanese companies working on fuel cells for homes
include Toyota Motor, which is developing fuel-cell vehicles, and electronics
maker Toshiba. Vehicle maker Honda Motor is working with Plug Power, a fuel cell
company in the US, to test a home fuel cell generator that also provides
hydrogen as fuel for fuel-cell vehicles.
Honda hopes domestic use of fuel-cell generators will help make fuel-cell
vehicles become more widespread because owners can refuel at home. It plans to
start marketing the FCX Clarity fuel-cell vehicle this year in California; it
will lease for about US$600 a month.
Fuel cells are expensive in part because they do not last very long. The latest
model from Matsushita, for example, lasts about three years. But the technology
is improving. Matsushita says the savings from using fuel cell-generated power
will vary by household and climate, but it promises a cost drop of about US$50 a
Mr Naruse’s family — with three TV sets, a dishwasher, clothes washer, dryer,
personal computer and air conditioner — saves about 10,000 yen a month. At the
same time, conventionally generated electricity remains available to them,
should the power generated by their fuel cell run low.
The Japanese government is so bullish on the technology it has earmarked 32.4
billion yen a year for fuel cell development and plans for 10 million homes —
about one-fourth of Japanese households — to be powered by fuel cells by 2020.
Professor Bruce Rittman, director for the Centre for Environmental Biotechnology
at Arizona State University, says the biggest benefit of fuel cell technology is
that it emits only water — when there is a clean source of hydrogen. “Fuel cells
are wonderful devices because they provide combustion-less, pollution-free
electricity,” he said.
Tomoko Naruse said she might never have chosen a fuel cell if her husband had
But she is happy her children are proud of it because they are learning about
the threat of global warming in school. “I think my children are thinking about
the future,” she said.
February 25 2008
Chatting with friends through a personal
computer could soon be a thing of the past. To track buddies and locate points
of interest while on the go, all you will need is your handset.
By Bien Perez
Your online social network will soon have a new home: your mobile phone.
Rather than using a personal computer to chat with friends or upload photos and
video clips to online communities, new social networking technology encourages
users to create and share content, connect with communities, search for people
and points of interest and get maps and directions - through their handset.
Industry experts say the race is on to replicate the success of online social
networking sites in the mobile phone space.
Leading the charge is GyPSii. At this month's Mobile World Congress, an annual
industry trade show held in Barcelona, Spain, the Netherlands-based software and
services provider unveiled its platform for connecting people and their online
communities across networks and devices.
"GyPSii adds a new dimension to the social networking phenomenon. The device we
all carry in our pocket, the mobile phone, is now empowered to record your life
- where you are and what you do - and share it within your chosen social
networking communities," says Dan Harple, founder and chief executive of GyPSii.
The technology relies on the satellite-based Global Positioning System (GPS),
which can be used by friends to track each other and by all users to locate
points of interest, such as shops, sporting venues and restaurants.
The GyPSii application, available in English, simplified and traditional
Chinese, Korean, German, Spanish, French, Italian and Russian, is fully
compatible with Windows Mobile operating-system-based handsets and Nokia's
flagship, Symbian operating-system-based smartphones - the N95, N82, N73 and
6110 Navigator. It is also available for the BlackBerry range from Canadian firm
Research In Motion.
A demonstration of GyPSii's geo-location mobile social networking capabilities,
using the N95 smartphone, can be viewed on YouTube (keywords: "GyPSii demo on
"GyPSii takes a virtual connection with your friends and turns it into a real
connection," says Harple, who touts GyPSii as a lifestyle-changing application.
A GYPSII USER FROM overseas - let's call him Dan - strolls through the shops
along Canton Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, mesmerised by the local colour and bargains.
A trainers enthusiast, he spots some China-exclusive athletic footwear in a
store. He takes pictures with his camera-phone, geo-tagging each subject with
the time, location and his impressions. Dan then uploads the images from his
phone to a personal eDiary, his space on the GyPSii website.
Dan can use a proximity search to see whether any members of his social network
are in Hong Kong. GyPSii's friend-finder service reports that one of his
Facebook buddies lives near Lan Kwai Fong. Dan sends a quick text message to
confirm a meeting place and time. He views the map for the precise spot and
starts on his journey across Victoria Harbour. Guided by the map and a personal
navigation service that provides turn-by-turn directions, Dan finds his friend
sitting in a cafe.
Having used a local mobile search, the two settle for dinner at a nearby
Japanese restaurant. But there's a treat for Dan. The restaurant, which appeared
among the sponsored mobile search results, has a special offer on his favourite
dish. Dan praises GyPSii to high heaven for making his trip perfect - or so the
sales pitch goes, anyway.
"Geo-location mobile social networking is still in the very early days. A lot
still needs to be done but the potential is huge," says Bena Roberts, founder
and chief analyst at British market intelligence firm BKI Media. "Everyone is
looking at it because presence services are vital for mobile social networking
and triggering advertising and coupons." ABI Research, in the US, claims there
are more than 50 million active mobile phone network-linked community members
worldwide. Operator SmarTone-Vodafone in Hong Kong, for example, has an
initiative called iShow, which allows its users to create private forums and
share their interests among friends via the internet on their mobile phones.
But it takes more than a theme to make mobile social communities strong. The
demand is for real-time connection, mobile search capabilities,
location-specific services and advertisement opportunities for the operator.
"Traditional search on the internet, the driver for advertising-based revenue,
has no real-life location-based context," says Harple. "Our platform provides a
level of geo-targeting and advertising targeting that is unprecedented in the
Recent findings from industry watchers seem to lend credence to that optimism.
US-based research firm eMarketer forecasts the global mobile advertising market
will amount to US$13.8 billion worldwide by 2011.
Advertisers are currently experimenting on Facebook, MySpace and niche social
networks, according to eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson. This year,
advertisers are expected to spend about US$1.6 billion on such sites - a more
than 70 per cent jump from the US$920 million they spent last year. "Social
networking may get more than its fair share of media attention but it is not a
fad," says Williamson.
US market research consultancy Ipsos Insight says the mobile phone has started
its journey to become the dominant internet platform; 28 per cent of mobile
phone owners worldwide used their handsets to go online in 2006. Another US
research firm, iSuppli, projects a significant increase in global shipments of
GPS-equipped mobile phones. These are expected to reach 444 million units by
2011, up from an estimated 161.9 million units last year.
Keen to drive consumer adoption faster, GyPSii has focused on the world's two
fastest-growing mobile phone subscriber markets: China and India. For the
mainland, it has partnered with Taiwan-based Dopod, a leading supplier of
Windows Mobile-based smartphones and personal digital assistant devices. GyPSii
software will be available for free download directly to Dopod users' handsets
via the Dopod Club website (club.dopod.com) next month. The club is an online
community for mainland Dopod users.
In India, GyPSii is working with Mumbai-based Broadway and India Online Netcom.
The launch is scheduled for this first quarter.
"I think the Asia-Pacific region will become the leader, as more subscribers are
linked to capable devices," says Roberts of BKI Media. But she points out there
must be strong demand from mobile phone network operators to justify the cost of
producing more GPS-enabled handsets.
There are other advanced location-based mobile social networking platforms to
consider, including those from Loopt and Intercasting Corp, in the US, and
Roamware and m-spatial, in Britain. At present, Hong Kong cellular network
operators provide limited social networking capabilities to their subscribers.
"I think location-based mobile social networking services have the potential to
create great value for all of us," says Stephen Chau, chief technology officer
at SmarTone-Vodafone. "However, it requires all operators to adopt a common
platform to raise interest and market awareness."
Xinao founder bets 10b yuan on solar
energy. Denise Tsang
Wang Yusuo, founder of liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplier Xinao Gas Holdings (SEHK:
2688), is betting 10 billion yuan on solar energy equipment production, making
further forays into this fledgling and costly renewable energy segment.
Mr Wang is capitalising on the state policy of promoting sustainable energy
sources. So far, 1.4 billion yuan in private funds have been spent on building a
factory in Langfang, Hebei province.
It is expected to start producing thin film solar cells by the end of the year,
said the chairman of the Hong Kong-listed, mainland-piped LNG supplier.
The state policy not only boosts demand for equipment on wind and solar power,
but also lets investors achieve a viable return through incentives including
preferential loans and a system whereby electricity distributors are obligated
to buy renewable energy rather than energy derived from fossil fuel, Mr Wang
"The return [of my venture] is very high, partly because government subsidies
and sweeteners help offset the greater economics of the investments," he said.
His plan is to expand the venture into a 10 billion yuan investment within five
years, with factories to be set up in the group's Langfang headquarters and
other cities in Hebei.
Funding would come mainly from a listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange and
low-interest loans from China Development Bank, a policy lender, he said.
"We will seek a listing for funding of the venture, probably in Hong Kong in
three years," he said. "This will differentiate the venture from Xinao, which
focuses on piped-gas supply."
For clientele, Mr Wang targets electricity producers on the back of Beijing's
call for Chinese independent power producers to increase green energy
Beijing also wants to increase the nation's solar generation capacity from the
existing 80 megawatts to 300 MW by 2010 and 1,800 MW by 2020. Last year,
industry policy planner the National Development and Reform Commission granted
about 260 million yuan in subsidies to renewable energy power projects, largely
related to wind and solar energy.
Although solar power is known as the costliest form of renewable energy -
estimated to be four to five times more expensive than power generated from
fossil fuels - JP Morgan analyst Carrie Liu projected that the installed
capacity of solar power would grow by at least 25 per cent each year in the next
three to five years as a result of government support and growing awareness.
June 26, 2007
Mobile TV launch in mainland China next year
Mobile broadcast television, which uses television networks to transmit program
signals to mobile gadgets, is to be launched in the mainland as early as next
year ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games, said Angela Chan, the managing director
of Beijing-based mobile television solution provider i-Vision. "The Beijing
Olympics is a catalyst for the launch of mobile [broadcast] TV in the capital
city by early next year. A total of three to four cities are testing the
systems," said Ms Chan.
Government-controlled Beijing Television is working with i-Vision and
mobile-telephone operators China Mobile (SEHK: 0941, announcements, news) and
China Unicom (SEHK: 0762, announcements, news) , to allow people to view their
favourite television programmes on their telephones and other hand-held devices.
Other services, such as booking cinema tickets, buying sportswear or accessing
information from government or other sources, were also included in the package,
Ms Chan said. Guangdong Television was working with partners to try out similar
services in its region, said an industry source.
The government has issued several mobile television licences to the country's
television stations, including Central China Television, Shanghai Media Group (SMG),
the country's second-largest media group by revenue, and Beijing Television.
The country's first mobile television service operating in Shanghai, Dragon New
Media, a unit of SMG, formed partnerships with China Mobile and Unicom to
officially launch mobile television services in the city last month, after a
trial of more than a year. Subscribers pay 10 yuan per month.
For SMG's service, programs are delivered to mobile telephones by streaming or
downloading video clips over the existing 2.5 generation mobile-telephone
network. "The quality is not very good. It also uses a lot of bandwidth. If too
many people are using the service at the same time, it can slow down the
service," said Ms Chan.
The mobile broadcast television, on the other hand, "is like a regular
television set, which gets its signal from the air", said Ms Chan.
June 2, 2007
Customers queue to be scanned by
a body scanner at a jeans shop in Beijing on Thursday, May 31, 2007. The body
scanner can tell precise body shape of people and recommend fit jeans for them.
Experts call for action on climate change in HK
More than 300 meteorologists, environmental engineers, scientists and
representatives from 26 countries or regions Thursday appealed to people of the
world to take immediate action to mitigate impacts brought by global warming.
The delegates attending the International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC)
2007 here, however, failed to send a strong signal to G8 countries' leaders who
are going to meet next week in Germany to discuss issues like Kyoto Protocol and
"The warming of the climate system is unequivocal," said a tone-softer "Call for
Action on Climate Change" passed by the conference when ending here Thursday.
"Rapid and continuing progress in ...human and natural drivers of climate change
has led to very high confidence that human activities are responsible due to
increase in man-made greenhouse gas concentrations."
"Discernible human influences now extend to other aspects of climate, including
ocean warming, temperature extremes, and wind patterns as well as many physical
and biological systems," it said.
ICCC did try to send out a message to the world by urging members of
governments, the private, scientific and professional sectors to take immediate
action to face up to climate change, saying it is "a matter of urgency." The
ICCC "Call for Action" appealed to governments of the world to set energy and
climate policies incorporating principles of sustainable development, and
ensuring that climate change and its management underpins all policies and to
commit to targets in energy efficiency, carbon emissions capping and reduction.
"We did hope consuls of industrialized countries will send such messages back to
their countries," Pro. Ir Otto Poon, chairperson of the Organizing Committee of
ICCC, told Xinhua. "But we are not sure."
"Because the conference was organized by professionals, instead of governments,"
ICCC was co-organized by the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental
Management Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, the Institution of
Civil Engineers, Hong Kong Association and the Institution of Mechanical
Engineers, Hong Kong Branch. During the three-day conference, engineering and
environmental professionals addressed over topics on climate change, including
the science of climate change and its correlation and impacts on carbon and
markets, business sector, land and water, energy and infrastructure, buildings,
and the responses and visions at global, national and community levels.
The conference also highlighted discussions on the United Nations'
Intergovernmental Penal on Climate Change's work on the "Fourth Assessment
China to build national hydrology databank
China will establish a national hydrology databank of water volume, quality and
groundwater, so that authorities can share information efficiently, Vice Water
Resources Minister E Jingping said on Wednesday. E said China's hydrologic
regulations will take effect from June 1.
With absence of rules, it has for years been difficult for China to regulate
hydrological monitoring, as the work involved various sectors, including water
resources, power supply, land resources, construction, transport, agriculture
and environmental protection. Hydrological data was collected by each of the
sectors and not shared.
To make full use of the data, the hydrology regulations stipulate that
hydrological institutions should store, process and compile data in accordance
with requirements of the economic and social development. The data should be
printed and published, according to the new rules.
February 8, 2007
Hong Kong Technology chief
defends hi-tech status
Broadband services in Hong Kong had a penetration rate of 68 per cent - among
the highest in the world - Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology
Joseph Wong Wing-ping said on Wednesday. Legislative Councillor Tsang Yok-sing,
of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, had
asked Mr Wong for details on Hong Kong's broadband status, noting that the
city's computer network facilities had come in for criticism recently.
"It has been reported that during the International Telecommunication Union
TELECOM WORLD 2006 held in Hong Kong in December last year, some representatives
of the exhibitors criticised that the computer network facilities in Hong Kong
were lagging behind those in other places," Mr Tsang told Legco.
But Mr Wong disagreed, replying that Hong Kong's facilities were world-class.
"We have four third-generation [3G] mobile service networks which are capable of
providing high-speed data transmission and wireless internet access services,"
he stressed. The technology secretary revealed that the number of 3G mobile
service users exceeded 1.2 million. The overall penetration rate of Hong Kong's
mobile services was 133 per cent, with more than nine million mobile accounts in
a population of seven million - among the highest globally.
"Hence, overall speaking, we do not agree to the remarks that the computer
network facilities in Hong Kong are lagging behind those in other places,"
emphasised Mr Wong. He noted that as of February 1, 27 companies had registered
as class licensees for provision of public wireless local area network services
in Hong Kong.
"Altogether, they have set up 1, 071 hotspots for wireless internet access in
various districts." Mr Wong listed the hotspot tally for Legco: Central and
Western 226,Wan Chai 106, Eastern 126, Southern 33, Sham Shui Po 36, Kowloon
City 64, Wong Tai Sin 30,Yau Tsim Mong 199, Kwun Tong 64, Islands 32, Kwai Tsing
37, North 2, Sai Kung 14, Sha Tin 27, Tai Po 7, Tsuen Wan 22, Tuen Mun 28 and
Yuen Long 18
He said the hotspots for wireless internet access were operated by the industry
on a commercial basis. We understand that the hotspots in the Passenger Terminal
Building of the Hong Kong International Airport are providing service free of
charge. "For other hotspots, we have no information as to whether they are
providing paid or free services," added Mr Wong. He explained that the
government believed the industry operated best when left to market forces.
"In fact, one of the local fixed telecommunications network service operators
announced its plan last week that it would boost the number of hotspots for
wireless Internet access to 3,000." Mr Wong also said the Office of the
Telecommunications Authority (Ofta) had now streamlined licensing procedures.
"The government would consider proactively making available government
facilities, such as lamp poles, at nominal rents to facilitate operators to
install equipment for provision of wireless internet access services in public
places." Ofta would launch another public consultation on licensing arrangements
for broadband wireless access services soon, he said.
September 28, 2006
Neusoft Group Ltd, a leading Chinese software and solutions provider, announced
yesterday that Intel Corp has agreed to invest 40 million U.S. dollars in the
company to help it strengthen its presence in the health care and financing
April 14, 2006
vs. Redberry in China
By Arik Hesseldahl
Fresh from the resolution of a
bitter patent dispute in the U.S., Research In Motion is bracing for another
battle in the world's most populous nation
Hot on the heels of the settlement of a rancorous patent
dispute, Research In Motion may have a new fight on its hands. Canada's RIM this
year plans to launch its iconic BlackBerry wireless e-mail device in China,
where it will go toe-to-toe with China Unicom, the state-run telecommunications
), which in February agreed to pay a $612.5 million settlement with U.S. holding
company NTP, has confirmed it's on track to introduce the BlackBerry in China by
the middle of the year. Not to be outdone, China Unicom (CHU
) has launched its own BlackBerry-like wireless e-mail service.
And here's where it gets weird. China Unicom's service is not only patterned
after the BlackBerry, but its name is inspired by the BlackBerry as well. "China
Unicom's Redberry brand not only continues the already familiar 'BlackBerry'
image and name, it also fully reflects the symbolic meaning of China Unicom's
new red corporate logo," the Chinese company says in a statement.
MANY RIVALS. Having competitors with seemingly
similar offerings is nothing new to RIM. With some four million BlackBerry
devices in use around the world, RIM competes with Palm (PALM
), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ)
, Nokia (NOK
) and Motorola (MOT
) on the device front. Meanwhile its software rivals include privately held Good
Technologies, and Microsoft (MSFT
), among others.
RIM has been negotiating for the right to do business in China for several years
and according to published reports is poised to announce a deal with China
), a Hong-Kong based carrier with 284 million subscribers, compared with China
Unicom's 121 million.
The technology behind the Redberry service comes from a Beijing-based outfit
called Facio Software, which sells a software product it calls Uni Pushmail. The
company didn't immediately respond to requests for comment, but its chief
executive is Tony Chan, a Microsoft alum whose career includes stints at
Rhapsody Software, which was acquired by Brocade (BRCD
) in 2003 and Vitalsigns, which was later acquired by Lucent Technologies (LU
So could RIM pick a trademark fight with China Unicom? RIM isn't commenting on
the matter, but a source familiar with the company's thinking says RIM doesn't
consider the Redberry service much of a threat.
FAME FACTOR. Still, should RIM opt to battle in
court, it could, says Jim Fang, a lawyer with the Seattle-based firm of Davis
Wright Tremaine who specializes in helping western firms navigate China's legal
system. "The key to asserting a trademark in China is whether or not the
trademark you're asserting is famous," he says. "If your trademark is famous
you're on stronger ground, even if your trademark isn't registered."
But litigating in China is not for the timid, says Stephen Baker, a trademark
lawyer with New York-based Baker and Rannels. Baker's firm is working on a case
involving the golden fleece logo popularized by apparel maker Brooks Brothers. A
Chinese company began using the logo even though Brooks Brothers was established
with retail stores in the country.
"It's a clear case where the logo came from, and we'll probably win, but just
presenting our evidence has taken reams and reams of paper," says Baker. In
another case, it's taken a year for the Chinese trademark office to even respond
to legal filings, he says.
SMALL DANGER. Meanwhile, analysts aren't paying
much attention to the prospect of a RIM rival in the vast Chinese wireless
market. "The reality is that there are already a lot of competitors out there,
and they're trying to set up their own solution," says James Faucette, who
covers RIM for Pacific Crest Securities in Portland, Ore.
"RIM makes a healthy monthly profit per subscriber, and anyone who thinks they
can provide 80% of the solution and capture some portion of the market that RIM
is going after will give it a try," Faucette says. "But I don't think there's
anything more ominous here than what's already available from Good or
RIM could use a successful Chinese launch. The company, which generated $2
billion in fiscal 2006 sales, finished its fourth quarter with an $18 million
profit on revenue of $405 million. The period was marred by the payout to NTP to
end long-fought patent litigation (see BW Online, 3/03/06,
"BlackBerry Won't Get Squashed"). The dispute had
threatened to shut the service down in the U.S., causing uncertainty that slowed
sales. A beachhead in China -- Redberry or no -– could go a long way to helping
RIM bounce back.
April 12, 2006
China Phone Operators under pressure -
The convergence of mobile and fixed-line services and devices is making life
difficult for carriers. Phone calls over the internet were dismissed not long
ago as a fringe service for a tech-savvy few that mainstream telecoms could
But as estimates for Skype users reach 75 million worldwide and providers such
as Yahoo and MSN enter the fray - often with video services as well - this is no
longer the case.
Service providers that lack their own network infrastructure are not just taking
away traditional voice revenue from carriers but are forging a new generation of
highly price-sensitive and demanding consumers.
This makes planning a network for a converged fixed and mobile marketplace much
more challenging for carriers.
One trend in the Asia-Pacific is an increase in price sensitivity among
consumers due to competition from non-facilities-based providers, according to
Alcatel Asia-Pacific president Christian Reinaudo.
He identified two other key end-user trends: a demand for multimedia and video
services and a desire for simplicity and mobility where the same service was
available on any device. Such a combination of rock bottom prices and converged
mobile and fixed services might sound good for customers but makes life
difficult for operators.
"Customer price sensitivity means carriers must squeeze [operating and capital
expenditures] at a time when networks are asking for substantial investment to
develop new services," Mr Reinaudo said.
Matt Crokett, general manager of the wired division at Telecom New Zealand, said
expectations among customers had grown substantially. "[Service] must be simple
and complete. That means complex and nasty for us."
Vendors such as Alactel expect more carriers to commit to "transformational"
network upgrades to satisfy new customer demands. But with the telecoms industry
facing a period of unprecedented change, such investments will not be for the
faint of heart.
According to Telstra chief technology officer, Hugh Bradlow, making technology
invisible to use and manage for customers was crucial for success. He cited
Telstra research that showed customers watching video on demand would pay only
for the convenience of the application - but would not pay a premium above the
cost of renting from a video store.
The experience of Hong Kong incumbent PCCW, which operates in a significantly
more competitive market than Telstra faces, might show that customers demand
even more. PCCW has recently been offering free pay-TV and now free 3G services
to win customers.
Industry experts warned that convergence of fixed and mobile services and
devices was a global trend that would only intensify competitive pressure for
operators. If a study by industry consultant Ovum is correct, Hong Kong will be
at the forefront of this trend. The regulatory road map has a consultation paper
on moving to a unified licensing regime expected later this year.
Alcatel director of global marketing, David Hills, said that while technology
was playing a part in fixed-mobile convergence, the driving force was "a
competitive dynamic based around revenues". He said fixed voice revenues
peaked globally in 2003 and mobile operators now faced the prospect of growth
stagnating for voice services.
While mobile operators generally did well in this period as they won voice
traffic from fixed-line operators, the shoe could now be on the other foot with
converged fixed and mobile services. New devices that can operate on
multiple broadband and wireless networks such as BT's Fusion phone will become
increasingly common as a strategy for fixed operators.
David Kennedy, senior analyst at Ovum Consulting, said mobile operators would
develop more proactive fixed-mobile strategies, led by location-based pricing.
New approaches are emerging. Some operators in Europe are using the high
capacity of 3G networks for cheaper voice at home that allows call substitution.
Hutchison Whampoa's 3 service has begun offering Skype calls on its 3G network
April 8, 2006
Venture capital key for
high-tech industry in China
Developing the venture capital market is crucial for China's fledging
high-technology industry, the minister of science and technology said yesterday.
Xu Guanhua said China must speed up its stock exchange reform and develop
venture capital funds to transform the country into a global technological
power. Mr Xu, attending the eighth China Venture Capital Forum in Shenzhen, also
called for more small and medium-sized enterprises to be listed on the Nasdaq-style
second board in Shenzhen.
"Small and medium enterprises are the backbone for high-technology development,"
he said. "About 66 per cent of patents filed in China [last year] were by small
and medium-sized enterprises. They are our main source of technological
innovation." However, he said the high risk and uncertainty of technological
innovation made it difficult for such firms to borrow money from commercial
banks, and it was unreasonable to ask the government to fund all the research
efforts. Mr Xu said China should build up a vibrant venture capital market
similar to that in the United States or Europe.
"Venture capital funds could provide money for the SMEs and reduce the risks
through risk-sharing. It has been proven to be the key to successful hi-tech
development in many countries," he said. China's worldwide ranking in the
development of information technology fell nine places to 50th position last
year, losing touch with regional leaders such as Singapore, South Korea and
arch-rival India, according to a study released by the World Economic Forum last
month. Lack of readily available venture capital was one reason.
Mr Xu said China's capital market had many structural problems and badly needed
He said many Chinese companies had to go overseas to raise capital and the lack
of a mature capital market had become a great obstacle for the country's
His view was echoed by National People's Congress vice-chairman Cheng Siwei, who
said the mainland's venture capital market was dominated by foreign players and
China should build up its own sector.
"We lack expertise in this field and we don't have enough qualified
specialists," Mr Cheng said. "We also need to improve our system and establish
an exit mechanism for venture capital.
"Foreign investors are not here for charity. Their investment could help us
develop new technology. But at the same time, they are also entitled to share
the fruits of our technological innovation and profits."
Mr Cheng also called for the lifting of the ban on initial public offerings on
the mainland stock exchanges so as to encourage venture capitalists to invest in
SMEs. The government imposed the ban last year as it introduced reforms to make
US$250 billion of state-owned shares tradable.
"It would be difficult to allow mega-offerings such as China Construction Bank
and Bank of China to float on the domestic bourse. But for SMEs, each would
raise a mere 200 million to 300 million yuan," Mr Cheng said. "The impact is
small but the funding would help these firms grow."
March 21, 2006
China 'blocking VoIP calls
for two years'
China has moved to protect its fixed telephone line business by banning free
internet telephone services for at least two years, the Financial Times reported
on Tuesday. Wang Leilei, chief executive of Chinese internet portal group Tom
Online, which has a joint venture with Luxembourg-based telephony provider
Skype, said China would not issue any licenses for computer-to-telephone calls
The government "is not going to issue VoIP [Voice over Internet Protocol]
licenses until 2008," Mr Wang told the newspaper.
The move would probably be major setback to Skype, which was reportedly in talks
last year with Chinese telecom operators to launch its computer-to-telephone
service, SkypeOut. Mr. Wang, whose company is controlled by Hong Kong's
wealthiest businessman Li Ka-shing, played down the decision.
For Tom Online, "our strategy is to grow our user base. With a big user base,
there is a lot you can do. Revenue [from SkypeOut] is not important to us
because we have not put in a lot of cost," he said. Skype is a leader in VoIP
and provides a subscriber service that enables Web users to make ultra-cheap or
free phone calls using an Internet connection on their computers.
Skype's computer-to-computer calls are free while computer-to-telephone calls
are charged at rates often much less than with fixed line services. China
Telecom has described Skype's services as illegal and the newspaper said last
year that China was experimenting with software in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou
and Shenzhen to block them.
Fixed-line operators are concerned that SkypeOut could undermine their core
business. Last September United States technology group Verso Technologies
admitted that it had sold software to an unnamed major Chinese telecoms firm
that would allow China to block such telephony services.
March 13, 2006
China awash in venture
capital By STUART BIGGS and MICHAEL LOGAN
Record fund-raising combined with a dearth of deal-making has caused a
venture capital (VC) overhang in China, leading to higher valuations and some
observers to warn of a boom and bust in the most competitive sectors.
According to China-based venture capital research company Zero2IPO, mainland and
foreign venture firms raised a record US$4 billion last year while investments
fell 16.7 per cent over the previous year to US$1.057 billion.
A venture capital overhang results from too much cash chasing too few deals, and
while the situation seems like a boon for China's entrepreneurs it is widely
regarded as a negative for the industry due to spiralling deal valuations and a
tendency to concentrate on blockbuster expansion investments over traditional
start-up venture funding. The relative nascent history of VC funding in China is
characterized by multimillion-dollar deals with companies already boasting
proven records in revenue and earnings. Online gaming company Shanda Interactive
received funding from Japan's Softbank on this basis in 2003. Softbank also
invested in Focus Media's first round in the same year when the display
advertising company was already making profits.
Last week, the mainland's Oak Pacific Interactive secured US$48 million in late
stage financing - the largest ever VC deal in China. "The tendency to go
with proven track records and proven revenue models was the right one in the
past. There were many companies that had already developed through several
rounds of self- or local government-raised capital, so when it came to securing
institutional financing they already had proven track records," said Duane Kuang
of Qiming Venture Partners.
"In addition, the multiples from investing in start-ups did not make them worth
the risk [at around five times revenue compared with two or three times for
established firms]." Mr. Kuang said multiples were now right for more
traditional "Silicon Valley-style early stage investments" at about 20 times.
But he warned the most popular sectors, internet and wireless services, were
already showing signs of overheating.
Vincent Chan, chairman of the Hong Kong Venture Capital and Private Equity
Association and vice-president of Jafco Investment, said an influx of US venture
capital firms was pushing up valuations. "The pot is getting bigger. [Valuations
have] gone up even higher. United States VCs are setting up new offices in
Beijing and Shanghai every month," he said.
But much of the focus was concentrated on mid- to late-stage investments. "There
are still some VCs willing to invest in the early stage or pre-revenue stage,"
he said. "However, many former small fund managers have been able to raise much
larger funds [this year and last]. "There is a general tendency for them to work
on bigger deals. Some have changed focus from venture into growth capital and
compete with the traditional expansion capital investors.
"I believe there is a funding gap between early stage and late stage." That may
be putting it mildly. Shanghai-based venture capitalist Adam Bornstein warned of
"a massive glut" in mid-stage funding.
"In the US there are well-organized angel investor communities and a number of
early stage VCs nurturing young entrepreneurs that ensure a fertile middle
ground," he said. "However, in China there really isn't anything like this. The
reality of the situation is that this overhang ... is polarizing the market,
whereby funding is flowing to ventures with higher valuations while starving
promising early-stage opportunities."
This trend is not surprising. With so many VCs raising substantial funds in the
past 12 months, including Qiming, SAIF Partners, Sequoia Capital China, Intel
Capital and IDG Technology Venture Investments, the onus is now on them to
deploy the capital.
Time frames might differ but large funds usually chased larger deals of at least
US$4 million, Mr. Bornstein said. If the process of due diligence was the same
for small deals as well as large ones, it made sense to concentrate on the
"These VCs [also] can't justify dipping into ventures priced below US$4 million
[pre-money] because if they did the VC would end up owning a majority of the
company, and there would be little upside for the entrepreneur." But few
venture capitalists interviewed by the South China Morning Post seemed unduly
put off by the higher valuations in the most sought-after sectors. Jafco this
month has poured an undisclosed amount into a mainland mobile advertising firm
that had been incorporated only in January.
But Mr. Chan said not every deal could be early stage because of the time and
resources involved in guiding their development. Cadol Cheung, Asia managing
director for Intel Capital, acknowledged expectations of higher valuations among
China's entrepreneurs was increasing but argued that whether they had become
unrealistic ultimately depended on the value gained at the exit.
"If the exit market is good then the valuations will rise accordingly," he said.
"Wireless is hot right now in VC interest, but it is also a strategic interest
for Intel." Others saw opportunities away from the buzz, such as Mr. Kuang, who
predicted better value and good growth prospects in semiconductors and software.
Meanwhile Mr. Bornstein, a smaller player in comparison with the large
international funds, appears to enjoy looking at opportunities others overlook.
"We get to pick the ripest ideas and most talented management teams," he said.
December 21, 2005
Top mainland leaders have voiced strong
support for homegrown third-generation mobile communication technology.
Their backing removes a major stumbling block
and allows for the long-delayed issuance of 3G licences as early as the first
quarter of next year.
President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have both stressed the need to
support the largely home-grown wireless communications technology TD-SCDMA (time
division synchronous code division multiple access) despite strong market
preferences for the other two international standards, W-CDMA and CDMA2000,
according to industry officials.
They made up their minds after leading mainland scientists supported the TD-SCDMA
standard and wrote to the leaders asking for their support. Among the proponents
are Lu Yongxiang , president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xu Kuangdi ,
president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and Zhou Guangzhao, chairman of
the China Association for Science and Technology, representing the mainland's
three highest bodies of scientists.
The clear support from the top is expected to end intense internal debates over
TD-SCDMA and stiffen the resolve of the officials at the Ministry of Information
Industry to favour the homegrown technology when issuing 3G licences.
China Telecom and China Netcom, the two major fixed-line operators, are expected
to receive TD-SCDMA licences in the first quarter of next year, ahead of other
Xi Guohua , a deputy minister of the Ministry of Information Technology, said on
Monday that 3G technology had matured and several key technological components
of TD-SCDMA had proved capable, which meant it deserved a place in China's
It remains unclear when, or if, the other two standards representing leading
western technologies might be authorised. But the general market consensus was
that China Mobile, which operates extensive GSM (global system for mobile
communications) networks, will be authorized to adopt the W-CDMA standard for
3G, and China Unicom, which has a large CDMA network, will be able to use the
CDMA2000 standard for 3G.
The government has been faced with intense lobbying from the foreign telecom
companies supporting the W-CDMA and CDMA2000 standards, which are in use in the
US, Europe and Japan.
December 9, 2005
Beijing had approved a homegrown
audio-video standard, state press reported on Thursday, a move that could
challenge current DVD coding formats and pave the way for China to set new
global industry standards.
Beijing had approved a homegrown audio-video
standard, state press reported on Thursday, a move that could challenge current
DVD coding formats and pave the way for China to set new global industry
standards. The approval for commercial use of the digital coding and decoding
technology known as AVS would also save China more than US$1 billion (HK$7.8
billion) in royalty fees, the China Daily said, citing the Ministry of
The new standard could further add oil to the fire in the battle between two
competing formats - HD DVD and Blu-ray disc being developed by Japanese giants.
Both technologies are vying to become the next generation of audio-visual
technology used in digital TVs, laser discs, digital video, video conferencing
and 3G-based data services.
HD DVD is a format supported by semiconductor and software giants Intel,
Microsoft and Toshiba while the Blu-ray disc is backed by Sony, Apple Computer,
Hewlett-Packard and Dell. AVS, which is compatible with the HD DVD system, is
expected to begin operating by the end of December in mobile TV services. The
report estimated that Chinese demand in the next decade could eventually range
between 300 million and 500 million coding chips.
"We expect it to be widely used in domestic industries and hopefully become the
national standard," Huang Tiejun, secretary-general of the AVS working committee
at the ministry, was quoted as saying in the report. The announcement marks
China's latest attempt to leverage its growing manufacturing might to dictate
its own terms and free itself from royalty fees paid for patents held by
European and United States companies. It has been a bumpy road so far as Chinese
engineers have researched home-bred technologies in DVD, 3G mobile phone systems
and wireless computers.
In 1999 China began experimenting with its own DVD standards, creating EVD, an
effort that failed to take hold commercially due to legal wrangling between
developers and manufacturers. Two years ago China tried to force foreign
companies wanting to sell wireless computer (WiFi) equipment to support its
proprietary and secret encryption standard called WAPI.
Beijing was forced to scrap its plans for the system when companies such as
Intel threatened to stop selling their products in China. For AVS to succeed the
standard would have to be widely adopted. That may occur as it has been included
in China's 11th five-year plan, meaning it will receive the full-backing of the
government until 2010.
China's IT investment balloons - Gartner
sees country accounting for quarter of business technology spending in
Asia-Pacific - BIEN PEREZ
China's growing competitiveness will lead to another record year of investments
by mainland businesses on communications and information technologies, says
research firm Gartner. Total enterprise information technology spending -
including hardware, software, telecommunications and IT services - is expected
to grow 8.6 per cent on the mainland next year to US$62.28 billion (HK$486
billion) from an estimated US$57.324 billion this year.
The mainland would continue to account for more than a quarter of total business
IT spending in the Asia-Pacific next year, according to Dion Wiggins, Gartner
vice-president and the group's Hong Kong-based research director. "The growth of
China's IT market is continuing to accelerate because of its efforts to become
more competitive," Mr Wiggins said.
He predicted China would have the largest English-speaking population in Asia by
2008, which would have a significant impact on business and IT worldwide. With
the language barrier removed, mainland firms are expected to rival India and
other English-speaking markets in the region in working on a wider range of
markets and business segments. "Research and development in China is also rising
as a percentage of its GDP," Mr Wiggins said, noting that the growth in this
segment of IT spending had come from both domestic and multinational businesses.
These included IT players such as Lenovo, Huawei Technologies, IBM, Sun
Microsystems and Microsoft.
That view was endorsed by Scott Kriens, chief executive at United States-based
security appliance and router maker Juniper Networks, as he noted: "All of our
wireless security software development is done by our engineers in Beijing." Mr
Wiggins also stressed an oft-repeated prediction that Hong Kong, traditionally
the gateway to China, would see a decrease in its importance in favour of
Beijing and Shanghai.
The negative outlook for Hong Kong is already reflected in the forecast
enterprise IT spending for the city next year, which is down 1.6 per cent to
US$6.492 billion from US$6.598 billion this year. Gartner forecast overall
enterprise IT spending in the Asia-Pacific would reach almost US$210 billion
next year, as worldwide enterprise IT spending hits US$1.768 trillion the same
But in the event the avian flu threat turned into a full-blown outbreak in China
and other parts of the world, Mr Wiggins said: "All bets are off."
August 16, 2005
difficulties for China's lunar probe
If there is no major problem, Chinese people will have their long-cherished moon
dream realized in 2007, said Luan Enjie, chief commander of China's lunar
orbiting program on August 15. Luan said, before that, three technological
obstacles need to be conquered.
First, orbits designing. Since the program involves the earth, the moon and the
satellite, the designing for the orbit of the moon-probe satellite is more
complicated than that for the relative movement of earth and satellite. Luan
said, deep space exploration is characterized by the limited "launch window" (a
term used to describe a time period in which a particular mission must be
launched). The moon, the earth and the launching complex are all moving so a
proper position for all of them is needed, but the period for timing is rather
Second, the tracking system. The most difficult test for lunar probe is on the
tracking system, whose transmission should be able to reach far enough.
Currently the longest distance China's satellites ever reached on geosynchronous
orbit is about 40, 000 kilometers. But the moon is about 400, 000 kilometers
from the earth. This brings a challenge to the transmission capability of the
tracking system. "During the lunar exploration, we should be able to hear and
see what's going on with the probe, and the moon orbiter Chang'e-I should also
be able to hear us. This is also a challenge to China's deep space tracking
technology," said Luan.
Third, environment. Luan said, the moon probe is made on the earth, but the
temperature difference is 300 degree. It must be guaranteed that the materials,
equipment and machinery work well under such a condition. This is a test for
China's aerospace technology, the designing capability of technicians as well as
the comprehensive ability of China in space activities.
Sources say, these difficulties are as well the areas of innovation. Expert
says, the scientific and technological questions mentioned above must be solved
for the program to succeed. However, since they involve the forefront areas, if
China solves them, it will achieve a leap forward, which will be a strong
driving-force for the country's scientific and technological development.
August 3, 2005
China's fuel cell
technology advanced in the world
Zhang Huamin, research fellow at Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, CAS, said
recently China has made many breakthroughs in recent years on the innovation of
key fuel cell materials and technologies and has joined the rank of countries
advanced in this respect.
According to Zhang, in future energy systems centered on hydrogen, fuel cells
using hydrogen as fuel would no doubt be the key.
Zhang said the Chinese government places great importance on the research and
development of fuel cells. In recent years China has developed 100-watt level to
30-kilowatt level hydrogen-oxygen fuel electrodes and fuel cell electric cars
etc. Fuel cell technologies, particularly the proton exchange membrane fuel cell
(PEMFC) technology, achieved fast progress, having developed PEMFC batteries of
many specifications such as those of 60-kilowatt and 75 kilowatt.
China also developed fuel cell engines with a net output of 40 kilowatt for
electric sedans and of 100 kilowatt for urban passenger cars, making China's
fuel cell technology one of the most advanced in the world.
April 13, 2005
China launched the APstar 6 at the
Xichang Satellite Launching Center in the southwestern province of Sichuan on
Tuesday. It was the country's first commercial launching of telecommunications
satellite since 1999. At 20:00, a Long March 3-II rocket carrier sent the APstar
6 into the skies. Twenty-five minutes later the rocket and the satellite
separated as planned.
The Long March 3-II is the most powerful of the Long March rocket family, being
able to bring a load of as much as 5.1 tons into orbit, which can meet different
demands of commercial launchings in the world market. It was the 84th launch of
the Long March series and the 42nd successful operation of Long March rockets
since October 1996.
The APstar 6 is manufactured by the French company Alcatel for the owner and
operator the APT Satellite Company Ltd., Hong Kong. The China Great Wall
Industry Company is the general contractor of the project. The company will also
launch the APstar 6B with a Long March 3-II, according to sources with the Great
Wall. The APstar 6 is 4.6 tons in weight and has 38 C channel transmitters and
Ku channel transmitters.
March 5, 2005
Energy law benefits
equipment making - Wang Ying
Renewable energy utilization equipment manufactures will expect a host of
business opportunities, benefiting from the renewable energy law passed last
Monday, according to an official from the National People's Congress (NPC).
"Output of China's renewable energy equipment manufacturing industry is expected
to top 100 billion yuan (US$12 billion) by 2020," Wang Fengchun, deputy
director-general of the Research Department under the NPC's Environment
Protection and Resources Conservation Committee yesterday told an expert forum
on the renewable energy law. "That will be a five-fold increase from the current
level," Liang Zhipeng, deputy director of the Centre for Renewable Energy
Development of Energy Research Institute under the National Development and
Reform Commission (NDRC), told China Daily.
According to Liang, the production of China's renewable energy equipment
manufacturing industry totals some 20 billion yuan (US$2.4 billion), more than
10 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) of which comes from the solar energy equipment
"The budding industry of renewable energy equipment production," said Wang,
"will also provide more than 2 million job opportunities for the country."
The new law, after more than two years' preparation, will take effect next year
and aims to encourage the use of renewable energies including solar, wind and
bio-mass energies. A series of incentives like tax reduction, favorable policies
and financial allowance will be adopted to activate the renewable energy
equipment making market, according to Liang. The major obstacle that hobbles the
renewable energy equipment making industry is the disadvantaged technologies,
according to industry analysts, except the sectors of solar energy utilization
for water heating and hydra-power.
NDRC's Liang told China Daily: "The country's technologies in the two sectors
sit on the world's cutting edge."
China's production of solar energy water heaters accounts for 76 per cent of the
world's total, said Huang Ming, president of Himin Solar Energy Co Ltd in East
China's Shandong Province. Huang said the newly-passed energy law would bring
more opportunities to his company. Himin, the country's largest solar energy
product maker, has invested 1 billion yuan (US$120 million) to cash in on the
solar power generation industry,
Liang with NDRC pointed out that the country, however, lags behind the world's
leading countries in wind energy utilization equipment production, as the usage
of wind power is not very popularized yet.
March 3, 2005
Renewable energy law
creates new opportunity
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China endorsed on
Feb 28 the Renewable Energy Law, four months earlier than expected. To have a
better understanding of significance of the law and the way to boost development
of the renewable energy in China, the PD journalist interviewed Feng Zhijun,
vice director of the Environment and Resources Commission of the National
People's Congress of China.
Huge potentials for development of renewable energy in China
According to Feng, renewable energy refers to non-mineral fuels that can be
maintained in a constant supply over time from the nature, including wind power,
solar energy, geothermal energy and marine energy etc. This type of energy does
not cause pollution and discharge no green house gases basically.
Within the future 20 to 30 years, the renewable energy that can be exploited and
applied equasl to 800 mln tons of standard coal annually in China. In 2003 the
installed capacity of wind power generator had reached 570, 000 kilowatt in
China. China's production and application of solar energy heaters is leading the
world. A total of 52 mln square meters have been applied in 2003, representing
40 percent of the total amount of the world. The annual production has amounted
to 12 mln square meters. The installed capacity of biomasses energy generator
has reached 2 mln kilowatts. Researches and experiments to extract solid and
fluid fuel from biomass are underway. To sum up, China has already attained
preliminary technology and laid foundation for application of renewable energy
and has created conditions for large-scale commercialization of renewable
There is still difference compared with foreign countries - Despite the progress
made in this regard, China still falls behind of most developed countries in
terms of growth rate and quality. It is even behind of developing countries like
India and Brazil. In the past China lacked laws and regulations that support
development of renewable energy. The economic policies were not constant and
stable in supporting the renewable energy. Part of key equipments was dependent
The Baoding Tianwei Yingli New Energy Resources Co., Ltd is just one instance.
The company is established as a model program for the solar energy industry by
the State Commission of Planning. In 2004 its production capacity expanded to 70
mln watts by applying foreign investment of 400 mln yuan, hence ranked No. 3 in
the world. But more than 90 percent of its products are exported to Europe and
America. This doesn't suggest China is not in need of solar energy, but showing
laws and favorable policies for renewable energy have boosted demands for
renewable energy in foreign countries.
Bright prospect - Judging from the development trends in all localities and
China's objectives, the consumption of renewable energy will probably increase
to 10 percent of the country's gross energy consumption by 2020. The renewable
energy will hopefully undergo great development and become one of important
substitute energies following coal, natural gas and petroleum should the
government backs it with policies. It will play an important role in securing
China's energy safety, supporting sustainable development of economy and society
of China, said Feng.
At present production and consumption of petroleum energy produce about 90
percent of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, and 70 percent of dust in China.
Enormous environmental benefits will be attained if China achieves the goal it
set in renewable energy by 2020.
The Renewable Energy Law stipulates responsibilities of the government and
society in developing and applying renewable energy; establishes a series of
policies and measures, including objective for long and mid-term quantity and
development plan, encourage development of renewable energy industry and
technical research, put up special fund for the renewable energy. The law will
guide and motivate economic bodies home and abroad to participate in development
of renewable energy; boost long-term development of the renewable energy, making
it important in the energy structure. It will effectively eliminate
environmental problems caused by burning of mineral fuel and promote sustainable
February 28, 2005
Girija P. Pande
from Indian firm TATA delivers a speech at the first China-India Software
Industry Summit, held yesterday in Beijing. China and
India's software industries are forging closer ties, as the world's two most
populous countries are becoming the most favoured offshore software outsourcing
destinations. Beijing is extending a warm welcome to Indian software and service
suppliers, in the hope that they will set up shop in the lucrative information
technology market of the nation's leading software hub.
December 31, 2004
Cow calf born to China's first cow cloned
from frozen cells
China's first cow cloned from frozen somatic cells two years ago gave birth to a
healthy cow calf Wednesday in east China's Shandong Province, a local zoologist
confirmed on Thursday. The calf, born at 9:06 a.m., weighed 45.5 kg and was 80
cm long at birth, said Zhang Qingyun, managing director of Kelong Animal
Husbandry Industrial Co., Ltd. based in Liangshan County. An hour after birth,
the calf stood up, measuring 90 cm tall, and drank up one kg of her mother's
foremilk. The calf's mother, Wei Wa, became pregnant on March 20, 2004, through
artificial insemination and has remained healthy all during her pregnancy,
according to Zhang.
Wei Wa was born on the same farm on Oct. 16, 2002. Her birth caught the
attention of worldwide zoologists because she was China's first cattle ever to
be cloned from frozen somatic cells of an adult cow. She was cloned from frozen
epidermal cells extracted from the ears of a most productive dairy cow on the
farm, under a high-tech program between the Shandong company and China
Agricultural University in Beijing. The Shandong company has cloned 26 more
cattle with the same technology over the past two years and three of Wei Wa's
"younger sisters" are between six and eight months pregnant. Company sources say
they expect more calves to be born after February 2005.
Liangshan County of Shandong Province is home to a major gene modification
research center under China's High and New Technology Research and Development
Program (Program 863).
September 24, 2004
China's largest telecommunications equipment maker, is not your average mainland
firm. From its slick campus headquarters on the outskirts of Shenzhen and its
bevy of pricey Western management consultants to its marching drills, Maoist
slogans and collectivist ownership, this is one Chinese company that stands out
from the pack. It has also become a serious international player in a high
technology business - a feat accomplished by very few of its mainland peers
September 8, 2004
The Pakistan government will soon
invite foreign companies, including Chinese equipment suppliers Huawei
Technologies and ZTE Corp, to participate in the country's biggest
telecommunications privatization plan.
The Hong Kong government is to adopt
a stringent new policy to streamline public sector information technology
investments. The move is designed to sharpen the focus of the bureaus and
departments on the return on investment of e-government activities.
Acer chairman, chief executive and
founder Stan Shih once wrote that many strategies employed by the companies in
the west cannot be applied directly in Asia. And true to form as a creative
industry leader, Mr Shih, in his final year at Acer, named Gianfranco Lanci as
the firm's new president.
July 22, 2004
A man checks his messages on his
mobile in Xian. The new mainland telecom law will require different carriers to
co-operate with each other.
China Mobile (Hong Kong), the
world's largest mobile carrier by subscriber numbers, posted its second
consecutive month of weak subscriber growth, adding just 2.71 million users in
Telecommunications Corp Ltd, the listing arm of China Unicom Corp in the
domestic A share market pledged yesterday that the massive 4.5 billion yuan
(US$542) it raised through share placements would fuel its expansion and further
enhance its competitiveness.
The Royal Philips
Electronics is to make itself over from a technology and manufacturing-driven
company to a market-driven one with a new positioning of its brand. China has
become a trial ground for that strategy, said a top company executive.
July 10, 2004
China telecommunications suppliers
are grabbing overseas sales by targeting Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East
and former Soviet republics - price-sensitive markets often skipped by major
China's decision to scrap tax breaks
for domestic semiconductor manufacturers after pressure from the United States
would only have a limited impact on chipmakers, industry experts said.
July 6, 2004
Microsoft is pursuing an aggressive
staff recruitment drive in China with an eye to creating one of the most
formidable software research and development facilities outside of the United
More than 500 days since taking the
helm at IBM's worldwide Linux business, Jim Stallings says the deployment of
open-source software is reaching critical mass in Asia because of government
March 16, 2004
China rules: It is up to foreign firms to comply with China's Wapi standard
because of China's right to set rules for its industries, says Avaya chief
executive Donald Peterson.
A lengthy trade crisis over China's
wireless local area network (WLAN) encryption standard might benefit the
information technology rivals of Intel and other firms adversely affected by the
mainland policy, industry experts said.
The dotcom bubble may have burst but
the local internet domain-name business is witnessing a slow revival. Last week,
Hong Kong company Essatte sold the domain name spamzilla.com to United States
software developer International Software Systems Solutions for US$35,000.
IBM has unveiled a dedicated
information technology services programme to help small Hong Kong firms exploit
business opportunities across the border.
February 26, 2004
US promotes "smart" shipping with high-tech containers
The US government is bent on
taking the cargo container upmarket, so as to track and monitor ever-moving
containers, to heighten security. "Smart" container technology is near to being
commercially introduced, with logistical and cost implications for suppliers
around the world.
It is expected that the "smart"
container will be able to detect when a seal is broken and have the ability to
communicate irregularities to a shipper or receiver via satellite or radio
Some envisage cargo containers
having an arsenal of sensors to show temperature, air pressure, motion, chemical
or biological contamination or location.
The US Department of Defense
currently has a scaled-down version of such a container, using radio frequency
identification technology (RFID) to track about 25,000 containers a day. The
system includes a radio transmitter and receiver attached to the container,
which is linked to a central data system.
True "smart' containers are a
step up from there. They can be located in seconds, worldwide. They can inform
their owners they are delayed at a port, or relay information about their
For the owner, there is the added
benefit of tracking the position and transit movement of goods for inventory
control and checking for damage or theft.
The drawbacks include the
possibility of false alarms that can lead to inefficiencies and the increased
cost of containers. These could add US$50 to US$1,800 to the cost of a
Additionally, the Washington
DC-based World Shipping Council has issued a white paper, which concludes that
"e-sealing" won't solve the container security problem.
The commissioner of the US Bureau
of Customs and Border Protection says that many officials prefer to arrive at a
minimum standard for "smart box" technology, perhaps including a high-strength
bolt to secure a container's doors and a device to detect whether the box has
been opened by unauthorized people.
One possibility in the field is
the NaviTag Technologies' device, which pinpoints the position of a container in
real-time visibility tracking anywhere on Earth.
Boeing is opting for motion
detection technology and developing its own RFID device.
Savi Technologies, set up by the
US Defense Department, is perfecting its version of such devices, while the
controversial Skybitz, which has been accused of pyramid selling, is proposing
to use satellites as its main communication tool.
There is increasingly less
likelihood that such devices will be ignored in the future, and could indeed add
value to services near term.
February 12, 2004
Wuxi-based chipmaker CSMC Technologies plans to use the proceeds from its April
IPO to fund expansion, including the building of a US$1 billion, 200mm-wafer
One of China's top chipmakers,
Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC), has filed a preliminary
prospectus with US securities regulators to raise US$714 million in an initial
public offering in Hong Kong and New York.
United States internet search giant
Google is building its mainland presence, unveiling a keyword advertising
service for both simplified and traditional Chinese characters.
February 3, 2004
A Chinese company, Evermore Software
from Wuxi city in Jiangsu province, will soon be the first domestic firm to go
head to head with Microsoft in the overseas office software market. The firm is
about to release an English-language edition of Integrated Office (EIOffice), a
suite of productivity software.
January 27, 2004
Hong Kong Computer Society president Daniel Lai says e-learning is a market with
vast economic potential for Hong Kong. A group of information technology
associations has asked the government to back a plan that would establish Hong
Kong as an e-learning hub for China.
Government plans to cut its higher
education budget have dampened prospects for the territory's leading
supercomputing initiative, at the University of Hong Kong (HKU).
Anti-virus firm MessageLabs will
launch a fraud protection message filtering service in Hong Kong this week to
help internet home-users fight against "phishing" scams designed to trick users
into disclosing valuable information.
December 11, 2003
Online game developer Shanda
Networking is the mainland's fastest-growing company in the telecommunications,
media and technology (TMT) industry this year, according to Deloitte Touche
Ningbo Bird, the mainland's largest
domestic manufacturer of mobile phones, hopes to ship 20 million handsets next
year as overseas sales account for a greater portion of its revenue.
November 24, 2003
The number of mobile-phone users
in the mainland has exceeded that of landline subscribers for the first time,
according to the Ministry of Information Industry.
Spending by Asia-Pacific
countries on information technology (IT) security will rise sharply in the
coming years due to growing internet usage and increased business uncertainty, a
Yahoo! has expanded its China
operations by paying US$120 million to acquire the Hong Kong-based software
provider of a leading mainland internet firm.
November 18, 2003
Greater China has moved up the
ranks of owners of the world's fastest supercomputers by increasing the number
of its top-ranked sites to 17, led by high-performance systems from the
mainland's Legend Group.
November 14, 2003
Mainland chipmaker Shanghai
Belling will proceed with a 383 million yuan (HK$355.8 million) plan to make
eight-inch silicon wafers despite failing to secure a strategic foreign partner
in the joint venture.
ZTE, China's largest publicly traded phone equipment maker, aims to boost mobile
handset sales volume by 40 per cent next year, helped by increased marketing
spending and lower-priced models. ZTE has hired action movie star Jet Li as a
spokesman and introduced cheaper handsets to challenge giant handset makers like
Motorola and Nokia.
Mergers and acquisitions among
telecommunications operators in the region were expected to increase next year
as their credit ratings stabilize, said French credit rating agency Fitch
November 6, 2003
Wireless Mobility: Cellular versus WiFi
By Alan Lam
Since I saw my first WiFi (802.11)
network at a COMDEX 3Com display back in 1998, WiFi has exploded on the market,
primarily due to dramatic decreases in hardware cost. Previously a WiFi access
point cost approximately $1,500; Now they are priced as low as $120. A WiFi card
for your laptop was about $600, but now some cards are only $50.
The cellular "data link"
suppliers originally charged the customer for each minute of connection time.
Now many cellular plans offer unlimited access.
Though both cellular and Wi-Fi offer mobility to laptop
users, the technology, speed, usage cost and coverage are very different.
WiFi (Wireless Fidelity)
The Wi-Fi radio frequency is the same frequency as your
wireless phone. In practical terms it has a range of only a few hundred feet,
but it provides Ethernet speed: "firehose" capacity when you may only need
Internet "garden hose" speed. One major misconception, however, is that WiFi is
free if you can find a signal. The fact is that it is free only if the
provider of the signal allows you access to their site. It's sort of like having
a public phone at the gym. Most providers of WiFi access will charge you for the
use of their Internet access, but it provides you with a high speed wireless
connection just like your office or home DSL or cable modem. So, when you are
out of your home or office, it's probably well worth it.
Cellular phone data cards are simply wireless modems
that connect to the Internet via the same cell sites that your cell phone uses,
but instead of transmitting your voice, it transmits data only. A recent
significant advancement is the Sprint PCS Data Card. It has a connection speed
two to four times faster than the conventional "dial-up" network, and you are
completely "wireless and mobile" in the field, airports, outer islands, and
mainland ... in other words, wherever you can use your cell phone.
Which is your best business choice: None, one, or both?
If you are a "Desk Warrior" with minimal business travel then "none" is probably
OK. If you in the field and know there are enough WiFi "Hotspots" in your area
of travel, and you are willing to "stay put" there for your connection, then
WiFi is for you. If you are moving throughout the day by car, going inter-island
or to the mainland, and/or travel frequently, then a Sprint data card is for
If you need the best of both worlds-high speed wireless
access and almost unlimited local and national mobility, then both WiFi and
Sprint cards will meet your needs. This is the solution I use for my business.
You will have the tools of your office: fax, documents on the server, email,
and phone communications without ever having to return to the office just to
get information. You just return to the office occasionally to get the "water
My company offers wireless service plans from several
cellular providers. Please call us for attractive and competitive business plans
Alan H. Lam is the president
of Quorum LLC,
He can be reached via email at:
Consulting and Integration"
350 Ward Avenue, Suite 106, Honolulu, Hawaii 96814
808-261-7761, 808-261-6625 fax
November 5, 2003
plant in Shenzhen, where low- priced routers are made. This year Huawei expects
to export $1 billion of equipment - an 80 per cent increase. Huawei
Technologies, which began as a seven-person start-up making analogue parts for
telephone switchboards, today has 22,000 employees, sells equipment in 40
countries and is pushing into the US through its partnership with 3Com.
networks giant Ericsson hopes the launch of next-generation mobile networks by
Chinese carriers will make the mainland the company's largest revenue
October 24, 2003
Leading contract microchip maker
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) will invest US$10 billion in a
Shanghai industrial park in the next 10 years, state press reported on Thursday.
The Asia-Pacific semiconductor
industry was on the rebound and could look forward to annual sales growth of
more than 15 per cent in the next four years, technology research house Gartner
said on Thursday.
October 16, 2003
Software giant Microsoft is
tackling the mainland's growing domestic demand by forming a new unit that, for
the first time, will develop and launch software for the Chinese market.
Spending on telecommunications
networks will start to pick up in Asia-Pacific next year, with mainland carriers
expected to lead the way as they deploy next-generation mobile networks,
according to International Data Corp (IDC).
October 13, 2003
Despite all the hype about the
abundant and cheap pool of talent on the mainland, Hong Kong technology
companies are cautious about setting up research and development (R&D) centres
Cisco Systems, the world's
largest maker of internet routing equipment, is optimistic it can stem a loss of
market share in Asia to lower-cost rivals such as China's Huawei Technologies.
Two Russian-trained pilots have
been tipped as the leading candidates for China's first manned space flight -
although only one is likely to be selected for the mission.
Manufacturing Company (TSMC) said on Thursday it had invested NT$1.89 billion
(US$56 million) in its China subsidiary as part of its plan to set up a NT$33.75
billion (US$1 billion) semiconductor plant in the mainland.
Wavecom plans to move production
of its mobile phone modules to the mainland, hoping to take advantage of
increased demand amid government efforts to encourage Chinese manufacturers to
source more of their parts domestically.
Hong Kong software firms to take on government-backed technology projects in the
mainland may also benefit foreign high-technology companies.
Technology and education are
coming together in Shanghai in an attempt to realize the city's goal of becoming
a bilingual city by 2010, according to Asia Broadband, a company at the
forefront of using advanced technology for educational purposes.
With worldwide sales in handheld
devices in its third consecutive year of decline, Palm is turning its eye to
China which has become the largest market in the Asia-Pacific, outside Japan.
Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC), China's earliest
foreign-invested chipmaker, has raised US$630 million from a private placement
amid speculation of its imminent acquisition of a stake in Motorola's Tianjin
equipment maker Datang Telecom revealed government plans yesterday to
financially back an indigenous mobile phone technology that could limit and
delay opportunities for rival Western systems.
Siemens and Huawei Technologies
plan to form a US$100 million joint venture to develop the mainland's
third-generation mobile-phone Time Division Synchronous Code
Nokia, the world's largest
manufacturer of mobile phones, has unveiled its long-awaited CDMA (code division
multiple access) handsets for China Unicom's 2.5 generation network.
Idea Expert's Robert Chan says his firm first conceptualized the Twin-TV two
years ago, primarily as a solution for salespeople who spend a lot of time on
the road, lugging heavy laptops for presentations.
July 7, 2003
3Com North Asia chief David Tang sees the
venture becoming the leading enterprise networking equipment supplier in China.
Networking gear maker 3Com, which has suffered several years of diminishing
sales, hopes to turn its fortunes around through its joint venture with the
mainland's Huawei Technologies.
Hong Kong has risen in the ranks
of owners of the world's fastest supercomputers by doubling the number of its
high-performance computing sites over the past six months.
July 2, 2003
Hawaii Investment Survey
is being conducted through a Social Enterprise Endowment of Harvard Business School, with the support
of the China-Hawaii Chamber of Commerce, and
Enterprise Honolulu, an economic development organization.
of the survey is to collect aggregate data on the current and potential
investment capital flows into the state of
Hawaii. This research is being
conducted to identify investment trends and make recommendations to improve the
future investment climate in
collected in the survey is strictly confidential and will be reported only in
aggregate form (with all company-specific information withheld). It is
important to note that your response is greatly appreciated, whether or not your
company has made past investments in
Participants will receive a free copy of the
research findings upon conclusion of the project in September 2003.
Johnson W. K. Choi, MBA, RFC.
President & Executive Director
June 4, 2003
Tens of thousands of jobs and
billions of dollars were lost in Hong Kong and the mainland last year due to
software piracy, according to a US survey.
Microsoft has launched the
QTek 7070 Smartphone in Hong Kong in an effort to secure its foothold in the
mobile phone market. The QTek is the first mobile phone to use Microsoft's
Smartphone 2002 operating system.
The government is stepping up
efforts to persuade people to use its online services, with MTR stations hosting
a roadshow to publicize what is available.
June 1, 2003
AOL Time Warner, the world's
largest media company, will use US$750 million from a legal settlement with
Microsoft Corp to pay debt, according to chief executive Richard Parsons.
Kevin Flanagan was a casualty
of the Internet's phenomenal equalizing power, the power to transfer jobs from
rich countries to poor ones because location has been rendered irrelevant.
March 30, 2003
Germany's Infineon Technologies said on Thursday it had extended a deal with
Shanghai-based Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) to boost
its output of computer memory chips. The move, which builds on a production deal
agreed between the two companies in December, reflects Infineon's strategy of
concluding manufacturing agreements with foundry partners, allowing it to
increase output while keeping fixed costs down.
manufactures standard computer memory chips for Infineon at its 200mm wafer
plant in Shanghai, using technology from the German company that allows chip
circuits as small as 0.14 micron to be produced on a chip. The extended deal
will allow Infineon to increase its overall capacity by about 15,000 wafer
starts per month at a new plant using more advanced 300mm wafer technology that
SMIC is currently building in Beijing. Infineon said the agreement, which adds
more capacity to a market which is already chronically oversupplied, would
consolidate its position as the world's third-largest manufacturer of dynamic
random access memory (DRAM) chips. A spokeswoman said the deal was unrelated to
Infineon's dispute with its estranged Taiwanese partner Mosel Vitelic over their
ProMOS joint venture and said lost production from ProMOS would be made up
elsewhere. The new 300mm technology, which Infineon is already using at its own
production plant in Dresden, Germany, allows significantly more chips to be
produced from a single silicon wafer, boosting efficiency and cutting production
Watching its once
world-beating computer manufacturing industry ebb away to China, is striving to
acquire a new specialty - research and development.
Taiwan faces a tough task in
transforming its manufacturing economy into a knowledge-based one, despite its
early victories in luring household names like HP, Dell and Sony to set up R&D
big question marks are Taiwan's lack of a large talented labor force and meagre
domestic corporate spending on research. "I am kind of doubtful about the plan
because the personnel problem can be a major obstacle," said Lin Chu-chia, an
economics professor at National Chengchi University. "The quality of our R&D
people in the design and application sector is not bad, but there aren't many of
them," he said.
March 9, 2003
China had developed
its own digital signal processing chip used in mobile phones and digital cameras
in an effort to reduce reliance on imports, the official Xinhua news agency said
on Thursday. The chip, which translates information such as sights and sounds
into digital data, was the result of a two-year effort led by Professor Chen Jin
of Shanghai's Jiaotong University, it reported. Taiwan-backed Chinese chip maker
SMIC has said it may produce the digital chips at its Shanghai foundry once they
are fully developed. China, eager to prove its technological savvy by launching
domestically produced microprocessing chips, a next-generation mobile service
and astronauts into space, has imported digital chips worth about US$1.22
billion a year since 2000. China's 16-bit chip is capable of conducting more
than 200 million instructions per second.
February 4, 2003
Microsoft admitted running losses in
China for the past 10 years and was likely to continue to lose money for at
least five more, according to a Forbes magazine report due for release in the US
suitable for countries with large rural populations, the deployment of broadband
satellite services in China still faces a number of hurdles. "Currently, the
penetration of satellite broadband in China is limited to schools and
enterprises due to the lack of knowledge about the technology," said Maurice Liu
Tsun-wai, Asia-Pacific sales director for New Skies, a satellite provider based
in the Netherlands.
January 24, 2003
A Taiwan Semiconductor
Manufacturing Company (TSMC) engineer inspects a silicon wafer. The Taiwan
chipmaker plans to invest US$898 million to build a factory outside Shanghai. Taiwan
Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has received preliminary government
approval to become the island's first chipmaker to open a factory in China,
clearing the first hurdle in its bid to end a decades-old ban.
The University of Science
and Technology (HKUST) has called for further private sector investment in its
information technology (IT) park in Guangdong to help promote economic
development in the Pearl River Delta. Its vice-president for research and
development Otto Lin said yesterday further growth in the region could provide
more industrial support for research in local universities, faced with a
possibly heavy cut in government funding due to the huge budget deficit.
Accusing the government of spending only paltry sums on research and
development, he said the struggling economy had caused a reduction in research
funding from the industrial sector. He said the Nansha Information Technology
Park in Panyu, Guangdong, could help with technological development and training
of mainland talent in the region. "There could also be more collaboration
between industries and local universities as the economy develops there." He
pledged that HKUST would take the lead in promoting economic and technological
co-operation between Hong Kong and the rest of the delta. "Companies can do
product development at much lower costs in the park." But he questioned why
there was such a huge budget deficit, estimated at about $70 billion for this
financial year. Investment in scientific research was necessary for improving
Hong Kong's competitiveness in a knowledge economy, he said. Hong Kong ranked 45
out of the 49 countries polled in the world competitiveness study carried out by
the Swiss-based Institute for Management Development in 2001. It invested only
0.25 per cent of its gross domestic product on research and development, lagging
behind Taiwan, which ranked 10th, and Singapore, in 14th place. The Nansha IT
Park, a joint venture which was set up between the Fok Ying Tung Foundation, set
up by tycoon Henry Fok Ying-tung, the Guangzhou government and HKUST, provides
support for technological development and professional training in hi-tech
January 2, 2003
Cisco Systems reigns as the
biggest seller of machines used to direct Internet traffic, but new rivals -
such as PC maker Dell and Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei - want to eat
into its meat-and-potatoes business with lower prices.
Machines said it had closed a deal to sell its hard-disk drive assets to Hitachi
for US$2.05 billion as part of IBM's effort to cut non-performing assets.
December 23, 2002
Sun Microsystems won a
major antitrust victory against Microsoft on Monday when a federal judge ordered
Microsoft to distribute Sun's Java programming language in its Windows operating
November 27, 2002
PalmSource, developer of the Palm operating system, plans to announce
partnerships in China that will see the Chinese version of Palm 5.0 appearing in
communicators - devices that support wireless voice and data. The company, which
sees its software going beyond hand-held computers and smart phones to more
commonly used gadgets such as wristwatches, expects to announce the partnerships
in the second week of December.
October 11, 2002
Microsoft licensing upsets
Microsoft made mistakes when
it introduced a new software licensing plan this year that encourages customers
to sign up for locked-in upgrades with fixed payments, chief executive Steve
Ballmer has admitted.
"We still have customers today
who tell us, 'Look, we can't understand your end-user licence agreement. It's
long and complicated. We don't understand.' So we're looking to simplify those,"
Mr Ballmer told the Gartner technology conference.
Mr Ballmer said Microsoft
would make some changes to the way it sold its software to businesses after
making mistakes when it introduced a system of locked-in upgrades and fixed
Complete Story from South China Morning Post Hong Kong
February 22, 2002
Microsoft Licensing &
Pricing - Critical to act before July 31, 2002
Enterprises wishing to upgrade
Microsoft products in the next 12 to 24 months that do not take advantage of
Upgrade Advantage "UA" offering available until July 31, 2002 risk having to
re-purchase all of their Microsoft Licenses.
I have attended a "Microsoft
Pricing & Software Contract Negotiations" seminar sponsored by the
Gartner at the Hawaii Prince Hotel on Feb 21, 2002. I think some of the
information is crucial for some business using Microsoft products, please go to
Gartner's website to obtain detail information.
Impact of change:
- For frequent upgraders, the
cost to "get current" and then maintain licenses under Software Assurance "SA"
is significantly more expensive than purchasing a Version Upgrades Products "VUP"
- For infrequent upgraders,
the cost to repurchase the license is also more expensive than purchasing a
- SA, as a percentage of the
license cost, is more expensive than Microsoft's competitor's maintenance
- SA does not include
technical support as do most of competitors' offering
There were three
Microsoft representatives at the meeting, one of the representative has asked
the attendees to contact her directly for questions email@example.com
November 18, 2001
To Succeed in business
in Hawaii, you must understand the isles
- (THINK INC) Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
Sunday, Nov 18, 2001 Section E2, Written by Johnson W. K. Choi, President and
Executive Director, Hong Kong China Hawaii Chamber of Commerce
Some of Guy’s speeches are listed on
Streaming Video on Guy's Speeches
(October 15, 2001)
Technology 'increasingly important' to Hong Kong competitiveness
Alan Siu, Deputy Secretary, IT and
Broadcasting Bureau, HKSAR.
We launched the Digital 21 strategy in
November 1998. The focus at the time was to build our infrastructure - hardware
like our telecommunications network and software like the electronic
transactions authorization systems that allow for secure transactions. After
three years we have more or less successfully completed those initiatives. Now
it's time for us to make use of the infrastructure.
That's why we published the 2001 Digital 21 Strategy, changing the focus from
infrastructure now to developing applications. We are also trying to encourage
the community and the private sector to pay more attention to IT, to make wider
use of it in the community.
Technology can't take a backseat, in fact, it
is increasingly important. With the development of Hong Kong into a
knowledge-based economy, we will depend more on e-commerce. In order to maintain
and sharpen our competitiveness, we have to make continuous investment in these
It's not enough that bureaucrats talk
about e-commerce and encourage people to adopt IT, we need to set a good example
for the private sector and community to follow.
We are trying to provide more government
services online to set a good example for the private sector. If they have
confidence that the government has successful transactions with the general
public, they will adopt e-commerce themselves with their own clients in the
One of the major focal points of our
2001 strategy is to develop e-government. In doing this, we hope that, first, we
can enhance our own efficiency and productivity, and second, that we can send a
clear message to the general public that this is the way to go and we hope they
can also engage in the adoption of IT.
Notwithstanding the slowdown of the
economy and the slowdown of private sector investments, the government is
maintaining its investment in technology. In fact we're increasing it because in
driving forward our e-government strategy we are rolling out more projects to
the private sector. This will help to groom the development of the IT industry.
One example is the Smart ID card project that
is undergoing tendering with a lot of interest in the market. With this project
alone, we're talking about $1.5 billion spread over a few years.
Since our online service delivery was
rolled out in December last year, the uptake has gradually increased. The
average number of visitors is around 70,000 per day, the average number of hits
is over a million, with 6,000 to 7,000 transactions, so it's growing. You're
talking about switching to an entirely different mode of transaction so you need
to give time for the public to adjust.
The type of transactions that we rolled
out initially were tax returns and driving license applications, which you only
do once a year or every ten years. Our next step is to roll out transactions
that are related more to the every day life of the people - such as booking
tennis courts or subscribing to government publications - so they are more
likely to use the service more often. The new services that we will introduce by
the end of the year will help to further enhance the utitilisation of this
We are also trying to provide a more
comprehensive service. One of our objectives is to encourage the development of
e-commerce in the private sector, to make use of the same information
infrastructure to encourage the development of similar services in the private
In the future, you'll book government training
courses online but also tickets from commercial entertainment companies. This
will make the content more attractive and enriching for the general public.
When the transaction volume builds up
then we will review the existing provision of counter services to see whether
the present scale is still required. Within three years, we'll look at the
conventional provision to see whether a substantial number of users have
switched to electronic mode. In which case, we can look at cutting down some of
our conventional services.
If you're talking about a counter
transaction, the unit cost is much more expensive compared with the unit cost of
an electronic transaction.
So, there will certainly be a cost reduction.
Or to put it another way, there will be an increase in demand in the future, but
we won't need to put in that many resources to cope with increasing demand
because we've already adopted the electronic mode.
First, do we have sufficient quality IT
manpower to complete all these developments? Our recent IT manpower report sets
out a series of measures to ensure we have sufficient IT manpower to meet our
Immediate measures include the admission
of mainland IT professionals. For longer-term measures, we are discussing with
universities how to increase the IT element of their curriculum and increase
their IT student output.
Another challenge is to encourage the
SMEs in the business sector to adopt the technology. We don't need to do
anything with the big corporations. They are very good in their use of IT. It's
the smaller companies we need to focus on.
SME's make up over 90% of our enterprises, and
they are the backbone of our economy. The recent SME report on setting up
various funds to help them enhance their competitiveness - funds to help them
purchase equipment and provide training to their staff.
We're now in a globally connected world.
We have competition with very many places, and we can't afford to stand still.
That's why we have this updated 2001 strategy that sets the agenda for the next
When you have a slow down of the
economy, some sectors slow down their investments. Others think differently.
[They think] ...we need to enhance our competitiveness. We need to make
investments to make us more productive, more efficient and more innovative.
There are companies that will make investments so they can meet the next wave of
e-revolution and reap the greatest benefit when the next opportunity comes.
We certainly see that there are more and
more conventional companies not related to the IT field that are moving into the
IT sector, diversifying their business and making use of IT to enhance their
It's not about dotcom companies any more. Now
you have robust conventional companies moving into IT in order to better compete
in the digital economy.