Displaying items by tag: China

TikTok rejects Microsoft, chooses Oracle as “tech partner”

Written on Monday, 14 September 2020 07:25

ByteDance has rejected Microsoft’s offer for its TikTok operations in the US and has reportedly chosen Oracle as “trusted tech partner”.

The Oracle bid would next need approval from the White House and Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, with both parties under the belief it would meet US data security concerns.

TikTok has been at the center of a diplomatic storm between the US and China, and President Donald Trump has given Americans a deadline to stop doing business with TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance – effectively compelling a sale of the app to a US company.

Microsoft had indicated at the beginning of August that it was interested in acquiring TikTok's US operations, but later announced that bid had been rejected.

Microsoft expressed disappointment in the rejection and said it was confident its proposal would have been good for TikTok users, while protection national security interests. 

"ByteDance let us know today they would not be selling TikTok's US operations to Microsoft," the US tech giant said in a statement.

 "We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok's users, while protecting national security interests," it added.

Under the deal with Oracle, at least some of ByteDance’s existing investors will get stakes in the venture. These investors include Sequoia Capital and General Atlantic. Meanwhile, Walmart said in a statement that it is thinking of joining Oracle and that it is still in talks with ByteDance “leadership and other interested parties.” 

Sources said Oracle is mainly interested in TikTok to boost its cloud-computing business. For Microsoft, owning TikTok would have helped the company build its presence among everyday consumers, and given it more data on young users.

Downloaded 175 million times in the United States, TikTok is used by as many as a billion people worldwide to make quirky, short-form videos on their cellphones. It has repeatedly denied sharing data with Beijing.

TikTok meanwhile has filed a lawsuit challenging the crackdown by the US government, contending that Trump's order was a misuse of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act because the platform is not "an unusual and extraordinary threat."

Controversially Trump has demanded that the US government get a cut of any deal, which critics contend appears unconstitutional and akin to extortion.

Bidding for TikTok comes amid a broader deterioration of relations between the world's top two economies in recent months, with the US and China locked in fierce recriminations over trade disputes, human rights and the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

Published in Finance

What happened to Google and Facebook’s subsea cable plans?

Written on Thursday, 10 September 2020 09:11

Following security concerns from US officials, it has been announced that Google and Facebook have scrapped plans for a giant subsea cable from Los Angeles to Hong Kong.

The Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) was first announced in 2016, with backing from Google, Facebook and other companies including Pacific Light Data Communication and TE SubCom.

The PLCN is a high-capacity fiber-optic undersea cable running for approximately 12,800km under the Pacific Ocean between Hong Kong and Los Angeles. In 2016, Google said that the PLCN would have an estimated capacity of 120TB per second, making it the highest capacity trans-Pacific route.

“In other words, PLCN will provide enough capacity for Hong Kong to have 80m concurrent HD video conference calls with Los Angeles,” the company said at the time.

The 12,800 km long cable has already been laid, costing hundreds of millions of dollars. However it needs permission from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in order to operate.

Breakdown of plans

A US government committee, known as Team Telecom, raised concerns about Dr. Peng Telecom and Media Group’s involvement, citing its "relationship with Chinese intelligence and security services".

While Google and Facebook can be considered the most high-profile stakeholders, much of the cable’s fiber optics belong to Pacific Light Data Communication, which is owned by Dr. Peng Telecom.

In light of these concerns and the delays they were causing, Google sought permission from the FCC to activate only the self-owned portions of the subsea cable network in February 2020, effectively cutting Pacific Light Data Communication from the project.

In April of this year, Google were awarded temporary authority for construction and testing. The FCC said it would allow the company to operate the segment of cable between the US and Taiwan – but not Hong Kong – for six months, pending a final disposition of the license application.

However, as tensions between the US and China continue to grow, it became increasingly likely that US officials would reject the use of the cable on the grounds of national security.

What’s happening now?

While the special temporary authority wasn’t due to expire until the end of September, Bloomberg reported a few weeks ago that Google and Facebook have dumped their original plans for a subsea cable between the US and Hong Kong.

Instead, the companies submitted a revised proposal that incorporates the links to Taiwan and the Philippines, but crucially leaves out Hong Kong-based Pacific Light Data Communication.

A spokesperson for Google told the BBC: “We can confirm that the original application for the PLCN cable system has been withdrawn, and a revised application for the US-Taiwan and US-Philippines portions of the system has been submitted.

“We continue to work through established channels to obtain cable landing licenses for our undersea cables.”

While the fight to use the PLCN drags on, Google also announced in July of this year that it is building another subsea cable, named the ‘Grace Hopper’ cable, connecting the UK, US and Spain.

The cable marks Google’s first investment in a private subsea cable route to the UK and its first ever route to Spain. Today, 98pc of international internet traffic is carried around the world by subsea cables.

Published in Infrastructure

TikTok’s CEO quits amid growing political tensions

Written on Thursday, 27 August 2020 06:18

TikTok’s CEO said he has quit the company as tensions soar between Washington and Beijing over the Chinese-owned video platform.

Kevin Mayer said that he was resigning after the company came under sustained pressure from the Trump administration over its alleged ties to China.

Mayer's resignation comes days after TikTok filed a lawsuit challenging a crackdown by the US government over claims the wildly popular social media app can be used to spy on Americans.

TikTok has been at the center of a diplomatic storm between the US and China, and President Donald Trump signed an executive order on August 6 giving Americans 45 days to stop doing business with TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance, effectively setting a deadline for a sale of the app to a US company.

TikTok, which has been downloaded 175 million times in the US and more than a billion times around the world, argued in the suit that Trump's order was a misuse of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act because the platform, on which users share often playful short-form videos, is not "an unusual and extraordinary threat."

Former Disney executive Mayer, who has only been in the post since May, said in a letter to staff that the "political environment has sharply changed" in recent weeks.

"Against this backdrop, and as we expect to reach a resolution very soon, it is with a heavy heart that I wanted to let you all know that I have decided to leave the company," he wrote.

"I understand that the role that I signed up for, including running TikTok globally, will look very different as a result of the US administration's action to push for a sell-off of the US business."

TikTok said in a statement: "We appreciate that the political dynamics of the last few months have significantly changed what the scope of Kevin's role would be going forward, and fully respect his decision. We thank him for his time at the company and wish him well."

Published in Reports

Oracle joins Microsoft, Twitter in race to buy TikTok

Written on Tuesday, 18 August 2020 08:08

Software giant Oracle is weighing a bid to join Microsoft and Twitter in the race to acquire part of TikTok, it is reported.

Oracle is “seriously considering” buying TikTok US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, according to the report.

The Financial Times sources added that ByteDance is also working with investment firms such as General Atlantic and Sequoia Capital to find a buyer. 

The US government has ordered TikTok parent ByteDance to sell off its US operations within 90 days. Under the emergency order, the US government will also have the final say on who gets to buy the Chinese company’s operations

China meanwhile slammed Washington for using "digital gunboat diplomacy" in the TikTok case.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said TikTok had done everything required by the US, including hiring Americans as its top executives, hosting its servers in the US and making public its source code.

But the app has been "unable to escape the robbery through trickery undertaken by some people in the US based on bandit logic and political self-interest," Zhao said at a regular press conference.

TikTok separately announced an alliance with music distribution platform UnitedMasters, playing to budding artists and their fans despite US steps to bar the popular app.

The deal to integrate UnitedMasters into TikTok promised to build on a trend of the platform being a way for musicians to be discovered by posting short-clip videos.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Published in Finance

US tightens restrictions on Huawei’s access to technology

Written on Tuesday, 18 August 2020 08:02

The Trump administration announced it will further tighten restrictions on Huawei, aimed at cracking down on its access to commercially available chips.

A Commerce Department statement added 38 Huawei affiliates around the world to the "entity list," claiming that the company was using international subsidiaries to circumvent the sanctions which prevent export of US-based technology.

Ramped-up US restrictions are likely to cut off the Chinese smartphone maker’s access to even off-the-shelf chips and disrupt the global tech supply chain once again, executives and experts cautioned.

“It will have a huge impact,” said Gu Wenjun, chief analyst at Shanghai-based consultancy ICWise, referring to tighter U.S. curbs. “It will throw off Huawei’s plans to obtain chips by purchasing them externally, rather than relying on HiSilicon.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Huawei and its affiliates "have worked through third parties to harness US technology in a manner that undermines US national security and foreign policy interests."

US officials have argued Huawei poses a security risk because of its links to the Beijing government, a claim denied by the company.

The toughening of sanctions comes amid heightened US-China tensions and claims by Washington that Chinese firms are being used for spying, despite repeated denials.

President Donald Trump has also sought to ban the wildly popular mobile application TikTok if it is not divested by its Chinese parent firm ByteDance.

5G

The Trump administration has banned Huawei from 5G wireless networks in the United States and has pressed allies to do the same.

In the meantime, Huawei became the largest global smartphone manufacturer in the past quarter, largely due to sales in the Chinese market, even as Washington moves to deny the company access to much of the Google Android system.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a separate statement that the Trump Administration "sees Huawei for what it is – an arm of the Chinese Communist Party's surveillance state."

Pompeo said the new sanctions were imposed "to protect US national security, our citizens' privacy, and the integrity of our 5G infrastructure from Beijing's malign influence."

The Commerce Department action affects Huawei affiliates in 21 countries including China, Brazil, Argentina, France, Germany, Singapore, Thailand and Britain.

The order blocks any of the companies from acquiring US-based software or technology used in products or components.

US officials said there would be no further extensions for the sanctions waivers from the Commerce Department which had been allowed to minimize disruptions.

The Semiconductor Industry Association said that “these broad restrictions on commercial chip sales will bring significant disruption to the U.S. semiconductor industry.”

“We are surprised and concerned by the administration’s sudden shift from its prior support of a more narrow approach intended to achieve stated national security goals while limiting harm to US companies,” the association said.

Published in Government

Huawei said it will invest $1.2 billion in a chip research and manufacturing center in Britain that has been strongly opposed by the United States.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Huawei’s Charles Yang deems US allegations ‘unfounded’

Written on Thursday, 20 February 2020 08:01

Charles Yang, President for Huawei Middle East, commented on the US allegations deeming them to be unfounded and reaffirms the tech behemoth’s commitment to value creation with local telecom, enterprise, and government partners.

Despite the challenges posed by a US entity list ban, Huawei’s top executive in the Middle East said at a press conference in Oman that the region’s geographic location is strategically beneficial for the company in the way that it works closely with both governments and the private sector to advance security, collaboration, and innovation for the digital era.

The comments by Charles Yang, President of Huawei Middle East, come at a time when Huawei remains the world’s largest telecommunications-equipment manufacturer, a top global smartphone and smart device brand, and a digital solutions provider to thousands of companies in sectors like finance, transportation, energy, and government.

Within the region, ICT is also becoming a national basic infrastructure as technologies like 5G, AI, and cloud computing act as drivers for digital transformation.

According to Yang, Huawei has been leading 5G expansion in the Middle East as part of the first wave of deployments worldwide, and will focus on vertical industry, ecosystem, and 5G talent development in 2020. This has been powered by investments of USD4 billion in 5G research since 2009.

The company is also bringing its 5G OpenLab concept to the Middle East, providing the local ICT sector with an environment in which it can experience, innovate, and verify the latest 5G applications with operators and partners.

“The downward pressure on many regional economies and even the global market has intensified in 2019 and the start of 2020. All of us need to dig deep into the opportunities presented by digital transformation. Most organizations across the Middle East now recognize the value that can be created by this transformation, and as such, it is a key region for Huawei in terms of technology collaboration, innovation, and developing business models suited to the digital era,” said Yang.

As a result of its R&D investment focus, Huawei has been able to lead the deployment of 5G technologies globally with more than 700 cities and 228 Fortune Global 500 companies having chosen Huawei as their digital transformation partner. As part of its efforts to lead new technology ecosystems, Huawei also recently released its Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) Core 4.0 platform, marking an important milestone for Huawei in building a set of applications and services for its consumer device ecosystem.

Central to its R&D strategy has been a long-term knowledge transfer program to develop talent in the Middle East, for the Middle East, according to Yang. That requires technology leaders working with customers, partners, developers, industry alliances, and standards organizations to build an interdependent ecosystem that fosters shared growth.

For its part, Huawei's flagship ‘Seeds for the Future’ program and annual ICT Competition program will continue in the Middle East in 2020 and support creativity among ICT students to increase national competitiveness.

Alongside 5G innovation and talent development, Yang recognized that cybersecurity does remain a vital issue for the region’s ICT industry.

When asked about the challenges posed to Huawei specifically by the current US administration, Yang responded, “Our Rotating Chairman, Eric Xu, recently observed that some state actors may continue to suppress the development of leading technologies. They are choosing to build walls rather than connecting people and ideas. Despite concerted efforts by some to keep us down, I think many of us feel a renewed sense of purpose and value at Huawei.”

He added that Huawei is only an equipment supplier and that accessing customer networks without their authorization and visibility would be impossible. On a practical level, Huawei does not have the ability to bypass carriers, access control, and take data from their networks without being detected by all normal firewalls or security systems.

“Today cybersecurity is an issue for all countries, governments, and companies. It is also a journey—not a destination. As such, we need measures in place applying to telecom operators and equipment suppliers so that there is an objective, verifiable basis for knowing which products and services are worthy of the public’s trust. Our customers and us see this as a strategic priority,” added Yang.

The executive noted that Huawei has long committed to helping partners in the region to address cybersecurity challenges and has been a partner of choice for telecom carriers for 5G network development through a broad range of end-to-end solutions. Yang also said that Huawei is ready to sign no-spy, no-backdoor agreements with any and all entities in the Middle East region.

In the last few months, Huawei has been approved to continue supplying 5G technologies in markets such as the UK and the European Union, with countries like Germany and France also accepting Huawei 5G despite US pressure. Abraham Liu, Huawei Chief Representative to the EU Institutions, has confirmed that Huawei is working with European governments to develop common standards to strengthen the security and reliability of those networks.

Huawei has also confirmed that it has no cooperation with the company Crypto AG. A recent report by the Washington Post noted that the CIA used Crypto AG to covertly access telecom networks worldwide, spying on other countries for decades.

Australia cybersecurity expert Hank Wolfe has also documented how the US National Security Agency rigged encryption systems sold by Crypto AG, enabling the agency to read the coded diplomatic and military traffic of more than 120 countries.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Huawei greenlighted for limited role in UK’s 5G network

Written on Wednesday, 29 January 2020 05:12

The UK has finally approved a limited role for Chinese telecoms giant Huawei in the country's 5G network, but underscored that "high risk vendors" would be excluded from "sensitive" core infrastructure.

The United States wanted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ban Huawei completely, arguing that Beijing could use the company’s equipment to spy on western counterparts. Huawei has strongly denied any involvement in espionage.

London's decision, following a meeting of the National Security Council chaired by Boris Johnson, came shortly after Brussels said it would allow Huawei a limited 5G role in the European Union. 

"We want world-class connectivity as soon as possible but this must not be at the expense of our national security," Britain's Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan said in reference to high-speed fifth generation networks that offer almost instantaneous and reliable data transfer.

"High risk vendors never have been and never will be in our most sensitive networks," she added.

Huawei’s VP welcomed news that it would have at least a limited role in building Britain's high-speed fifth generation networks, after Washington lobbied hard for the company to be sidelined completely on security concerns 

"Huawei is reassured by the UK government's confirmation that we can continue working with our customers to keep the 5G roll-out on track," said Huawei Vice-President Victor Zhang.

"This evidence-based decision will result in a more advanced, more secure and more cost-effective telecoms infrastructure that is fit for the future."

Unlike the United States, Britain has been using Huawei technology in its systems for the past 15 years. Johnson insisted that the UK can have "technological progress" while preserving national security. Huawei is widely viewed as providing the most advanced alternative for super-fast data transfers behind technologies such as self-driving cars and remotely operated factory robots.

Published in Telecom Vendors

The case of Huawei's Meng explained

Written on Friday, 17 January 2020 07:44

Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of the Chinese telecom giant and daughter of its founder Ren Zhengfei, was detained in the Canadian city on a US warrant in late 2018. Her arrest put the 47-year-old at the center of the US and China's battle over Huawei's growing global reach. Hearings into whether she can be extradited to the United States will begin on January 20 in Vancouver, in a case with potential repercussions for ties between the US, China and Canada.

Published in Government

US sets deadline for Huawei and ZTE designation

Written on Tuesday, 07 January 2020 11:07

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said it will accept public comments until Feb. 3 on its determination that China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp pose national security threats.

In a document published by the FCC, it reports that interested parties can submit responses on Huawei and ZTE’s designation, which aims to prevent money from the US Universal Service Fund being used to purchase kit from companies deemed a national security risk.

 “The FCC adopts a rule that prospectively prohibits the use of Universal Service Fund funds to purchase or obtain any equipment or services produced or provided by a covered company posing a national security threat to the integrity of communications networks or the communications supply chain.”

As the Commission stated in the Protecting Against National Security Threats Notice, the promotion of national security is consistent with the public interest, and USF funds should be used to deploy infrastructure and provide services that do not undermine national security.

In November, the FCC voted unanimously to bar U.S. rural wireless providers from availing of an $8.5 billion government fund to purchase Huawei or ZTE telecommunications equipment.

Last month, Huawei filed a petition with the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court in New Orleans challenging the FCC decision. The FCC will review public comments before finalizing the designations on Feb. 3.

Published in Reports
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