Chinese media ‘racist’ video on India clash sparks anger
China / August 17, 2017

Chinese state media has released a propaganda video that lambasts India over a border dispute, sparking accusations of racism. The English-language clip, which accuses India of committing “sins”, features a Chinese actor in a turban, mockingly speaking in an Indian accent. Xinhua published the clip on Wednesday which is from a chat show discussing the ongoing Doklam stand-off. It has been met with both bewilderment and anger in India. What happens in the clip? Titled “7 Sins of India”, the video stars female presenter, Dier Wang, who lists out China’s grievances against India in the ongoing border dispute in the Doklam area, which borders China, India and Bhutan. It is the latest episode of an online series called The Spark, an English-language online chat show recently launched by Xinhua. Speaking in an amused yet indignant tone, she accuses India of “trampling international law” and “inventing various excuses to whitewash its illegal moves”. Image captionMs Wang uses casual language in the clip Her monologue is interspersed with dialogue from an “Indian”, depicted by a Chinese actor wearing a turban, sunglasses, and an obviously ill-fitting beard. In what appear to be attempts at humour, he waggles his head and speaks English in…

Chinese satellite sends ‘hack-proof’ message
China / August 11, 2017

China has successfully sent “hack-proof” messages from a satellite to Earth for the first time. The Micius satellite beamed messages to two mountain-top receiving stations 645 km (400 miles) and 1,200 km away. The message was protected by exploiting quantum physics, which says any attempt to eavesdrop on it would make detectable changes. Using satellites avoids some limitations that ground-based systems introduce into quantum communication. Weak signals Complicated optics on the Chinese satellite protect messages with entangled photons – sub-atomic particles of light manipulated so that some of their key properties are dependent on each other. The curious laws of the quantum realm dictate that any attempt to measure these key properties irrevocably changes them. By encoding a key to encrypt data using entangled photons, it becomes possible to send messages confident that they have reached a recipient free of interference. Ground-based encryption systems that use entangled photons have been available for years. However, the maximum distance over which messages can be sent securely is about 200km. This is because the fibre-optic cables through which they travel gradually weaken the signals. Repeater stations can boost distances but that introduces weak points that attackers may target to scoop up messages. By…

China earthquake: Sichuan tremor leaves least 19 dead
China / August 10, 2017

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake has killed at least 19 people and injured 247 in China’s south-western province of Sichuan. Six tourists are thought to be among the dead, with up to 45,000 people evacuated from the area. A separate 6.6-magnitude tremor struck the remote area of XinJiang, injuring 32 people. More than 87,000 people were killed in an earthquake in Sichuan province in 2008. The quake struck at about 21:20 (13:20 GMT) on Tuesday about 300km (180 miles) north of the provincial capital Chengdu, and was 10km deep. China’s Earthquake Administration (CEA) said more than 1,000 aftershocks had been detected, with the most powerful reaching 4.8 magnitude on Wednesday. Image captionMore than 1,250 soldiers have been deployed to the area to help local rescue efforts Photos showed damage to buildings including a hotel in Jiuzhaigou, home to one of China’s most famous nature reserves and a Unesco World Heritage site. Many tourists visiting the area remained outside overnight while waiting for evacuation on Wednesday. A restaurant owner in the town said this quake felt stronger than the 7.9 tremor in 2008, though there is no suggestion that the death toll could reach anywhere near the levels caused by that disaster. Image…

Deadly earthquake strikes China’s Sichuan province
China / August 9, 2017

An earthquake has killed at least five people and injured more than 60 in China’s south-western province of Sichuan, officials say. The 6.5-magnitude quake struck in the sparsely-populated north of Sichuan, the US Geological Survey said. Some reports suggest the death toll could be much higher. The epicentre was close to an area popular with tourists. Sichuan province is prone to earthquakes. More than 70,000 people were killed in a quake in 2008. The quake struck at around 21:20 (13:20 GMT) some 300km (180 miles) north of the provincial capital Chengdu, and was 10km deep. Photos showed damage to buildings, including a hotel, in Jiuzhaigou, home to one of China’s most famous nature reserves and a Unesco World Heritage site. A restaurant owner in the town said this quake felt stronger than the 2008 tremor, though there is no suggestion yet that the death toll could reach anywhere near the levels caused by that disaster. Tang Sesheng told the AFP news agency that many people had fled buildings in Jiuzhaigou county – which includes a national park – and were taking refuge in the main square. “People didn’t dare grab anything like money or clothes – we just all ran…

China holds drill to shut down ‘harmful’ websites
China / August 8, 2017

China has carried out an internet drill to practise closing down websites the authorities consider to be harmful. State run media said Thursday’s exercise was also aimed at forcing internet data centres to hand over contact details of website owners. China already operates a strict internet censorship regime. Analysts say it appears to be tightening controls ahead of an important political meeting later this year. Beijing also recently began cracking down on VPNs (virtual private networks) which allow internet users to circumvent censorship and surveillance. Thursday’s exercise involved officers from the internet surveillance department at the public security ministry contacting internet data centres and asking them to target websites that host content deemed harmful, state media said. The centres were asked to practise shutting down targeted web pages quickly and to report details of their owners to the police. The BBC’s John Sudworth in Beijing says that over a two-and-a-half hour period the drill reportedly shut down a number of sites. At least four participants confirmed the drill, including the operator of Microsoft’s cloud service in China, Reuters reported. Image captionChina tries to tightly control access to online content A document circulating online and attributed to a cyber police unit…

Chinese tourists arrested for Hitler salute in Germany
China / August 7, 2017

Two Chinese tourists were arrested in Berlin for making Hitler salutes outside the German parliament on Saturday. Criminal proceedings have been started against the middle-aged men for using symbols from a banned organisation. The pair have been released on bail of €500 (£450; $600) each. Germany has strict laws on hate speech and symbols linked to Hitler and the Nazis. The men – aged 36 and 49 – could face a fine or a prison sentence of up to three years, according to police. The same charges are most commonly used to prosecute members of the far right. A police spokeswoman told AFP news agency that the men could leave the country during the investigation and that if a fine is handed down, the bail money they had already paid would probably cover it. The visitors were seen taking pictures of each other with their mobile phones outside the Reichstag building, which houses the German parliament.

Chinese chatbots shut down after anti-government posts
China / August 4, 2017

A popular Chinese messenger app has ditched two experimental chat robots, or “chatbots”, which were apparently voicing criticism of the government. Messenger app Tencent QQ introduced chatbots Baby Q and Little Bing, a penguin and a little girl, in March. But they have now been removed after social media users shared controversial comments that they said were made by the bots. Some of the remarks appear to criticise the Communist Party. One response even referred to the party as “a corrupt and incompetent political regime”. ‘All the rage’ Baby Q and Little Bing were introduced by Tencent QQ to provide users with an automated chat service. They were designed to answer general knowledge questions, the official China News Service agency said in April. The bots could talk to users about the weather and horoscopes, but had also been programmed to answer light-hearted questions that came their way. For example, if a user asked Baby Q, “Have you eaten?” they would get the response, “I haven’t eaten; I don’t have an appetite.” China News Service said that while the bots were all the rage, they could be “extremely unstable and susceptible to attack”. Non-state media say the Tencent chatbots were not…

Why is Apple struggling in China?
China life / August 3, 2017

Apple has again posted strong quarterly earnings, but the one blemish on its stellar results is China. The company’s revenues there slipped 9.5% from a year earlier to slightly more than $8bn (£6.1bn). Apple’s flagship iPhone is losing market share to a slew of local competitors. The company also faces challenges in dealing with China’s strict internet censorship regime. The iPhone is no longer king China is important for Apple because it makes much of its hardware there, and it’s a major market for its products too. Globally, the company posted quarterly revenue of $45.4bn (£34.4bn), fuelled by the sale of 41 million iPhones. Image captionSpoiled for choice? The iPhone has lost market share as customers have shifted to cheaper alternatives. But research firm IDC said that iPhone shipments in China fell 27% year on year in the first quarter of 2017. The problem, it seems, is that local competitors like Oppo, Huawei and Xiaomi are cheaper, and their products have improved dramatically. Although the iPhone had the edge a few years ago, competitors like Huawei’s P10 now represent a comparable product, according to Jake Saunders, an analyst with technology market intelligence company ABI Research. “You can buy a clone…

Sri Lanka signs deal on Hambantota port with China
China / August 2, 2017

Sri Lanka has signed a $1.1bn (£837m) deal with China for the control and development of the southern deep-sea port of Hambantota. The deal had been delayed by several months over concerns that the port could be used by the Chinese military. The government has given assurances that China will run only commercial operations from the port, on the main shipping route between Asia and Europe. Sri Lanka’s government says money from the deal will help repay foreign loans. Under the proposal, a state-run Chinese company will have a 99-year lease on the port and about 15,000 acres nearby for an industrial zone. The plan envisages the eviction of thousands of villagers but the government says they will be given new land. China has pumped millions of dollars into Sri Lanka’s infrastructure since the end of a 26-year civil war in 2009. Protests against the agreement, which were organised by the Port Workers Union, took place on the streets of the capital, Colombo, on Saturday. A coffin was carried through the streets before cardboard cutouts of Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe were set alight. Image captionDemonstrators took to the streets of Colombo to protest against…

Apple defends complying with China over VPNs
China / August 2, 2017

Apple boss Tim Cook has defended his company’s decision to comply with the Chinese government’s demand it remove VPN software from the App Store. Virtual Private Networks are often used to skirt censorship and surveillance in countries with tight restrictions on internet use. The company has been heavily criticised for removing several VPN apps, and was accused of “aiding Chinese censorship efforts”. Apple said it disagreed with China’s position but had to comply with the country’s laws. “We would obviously rather not remove the apps,” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said on Tuesday. “But like we do in other countries we follow the law wherever we do business. Mr Cook said comparisons to a legal battle in the US last year – in which the firm refused to help the FBI unlock a dead terrorist’s iPhone – were unfair. “They’re very different,” he said. “In the case of the US, the law in the US supported us. I was very clear. In the case of China, the law is also very clear there. Like we would if the US changed the law here, we’d have to abide by them in both cases.” ‘Most drastic measure’ Activists and indeed regular citizens…