One Nation Mostly Unaffected by the Crowdstrike Outage: China

The BBC reports that “while most of the world was grappling with the blue screen of death on Friday,” there was one country that managed to escape largely unscathed: China.

The reason is actually quite simple: CrowdStrike is hardly used there. Very few organisations will buy software from an American firm that, in the past, has been vocal about the cyber-security threat posed by Beijing. Additionally, China is not as reliant on Microsoft as the rest of the world. Domestic companies such as Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei are the dominant cloud providers.

So reports of outages in China, when they did come, were mainly at foreign firms or organisations. On Chinese social media sites, for example, some users complained they were not able to check into international chain hotels such as Sheraton, Marriott and Hyatt in Chinese cities. Over recent years, government organisations, businesses and infrastructure operators have increasingly been replacing foreign IT systems with domestic ones. Some analysts like to call this parallel network the “splinternet”.

“It’s a testament to China’s strategic handling of foreign tech operations,” says Josh Kennedy White, a cybersecurity expert based in Singapore. “Microsoft operates in China through a local partner, 21Vianet, which manages its services independently of its global infrastructure. This setup insulates China’s essential services — like banking and aviation — from global disruptions.”
“Beijing sees avoiding reliance on foreign systems as a way of shoring up national security.”
Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader hackingbear for sharing the article.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

UK Tech Overtakes China as World’s Second Largest Country for Startup Funding Raised

“China may be the world’s second-largest economy,” writes Fortune’s news editor, “but when it comes to startup funding, the U.K. is punching above its weight.”

Startups in the U.K. raised $6.7 billion in funding during the first half of 2024, helping dethrone China and propelling the U.K. to second place globally for funds raised, according to a new report. Crucial to the U.K.’s success were a dozen funding rounds worth over $100 million each, including those of digital bank Monzo ($620 million), lender Abound ($862 million), and automated driving startup Wayve ($1.05 billion).

While the overall U.K. figure was down 2% year on year, according to data from global market intelligence platform Tracxn, it remained more robust than that of China, whose funding sat at $6.1 billion in H1 2024, helping the U.K. move into the No. 2 spot globally. The win is a milestone for the U.K. tech sector, which has remained under pressure owing to a string of challenges, including Brexit, COVID-19, and the subsequent global economic slowdown.

Only the U.S. saw startups raise more capital in H1, with a combined $54.8 billion raised across some 2,654 funding rounds in the first half of the year.

The article’s last line? “With the arrival of new U.K. Prime Minister Keir Starmer, many will be hoping that the first Labour government in 14 years will continue to support the U.K.’s position as a critical player in the global tech landscape.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Nvidia Forecasted To Make $12 Billion Selling GPUs In China

Nvidia is expected to earn $12 billion from GPU sales to China in 2024, despite U.S. trade restrictions. Research firm SemiAnalysis says the GPU maker will ship over 1 million units of its new H20 model to the Chinese market, “with each one said to cost between $12,000 and $13,000 apiece,” reports The Register. From the report: This figure is said by SemiAnalysis to be nearly double what Huawei is likely to sell of its rival accelerator, the Ascend 910B, as reported by The Financial Times. If accurate, this would seem to contradict earlier reports that Nvidia had moved to cut the price of its products for the China market. This was because buyers were said to be opting instead for domestically made kit for accelerating AI workloads. The H20 GPU is understood to be the top performing model out of three Nvidia GPUs specially designed for the Chinese market to comply with rules introduced by the Biden administration last year that curb performance.

In contrast, Huawei’s Ascend 910B is claimed to have performance on a par with that of Nvidia’s A100 GPU. It is believed to be an in-house design manufactured by Chinese chipmaker SMIC using a 7nm process technology, unlike the older Ascend 910 product. If this forecast proves accurate, it will be a relief for Nvidia, which earlier disclosed that its sales in China delivered a “mid-single digit percentage” of revenue for its Q4 of FY2024, and was forecast to do the same in Q1 of FY 2025. In contrast, the Chinese market had made up between 20 and 25 percent of the company’s revenue in recent years, until the export restrictions landed.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Chinese AI Stirs Panic At European Geoscience Society

Paul Voosen reports via Science Magazine: Few things prompt as much anxiety in science and the wider world as the growing use of artificial intelligence (AI) and the rising influence of China. This spring, these two factors created a rift at the European Geosciences Union (EGU), one of the world’s largest geoscience societies, that led to the firing of its president. The whole episode has been “a packaging up of fear of AI and fear of China,” says Michael Stephenson, former chief geologist of the United Kingdom and one of the founders of Deep-time Digital Earth (DDE), a $70 million effort to connect digital geoscience databases. In 2019, another geoscience society, the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), kicked off DDE, which has been funded almost entirely by the government of China’s Jiangsu province.

The dispute pivots on GeoGPT, an AI-powered chatbot that is one of DDE’s main efforts. It is being developed by Jian Wang, chief technology officer of e-commerce giant Alibaba. Built on Qwen, Alibaba’s own chatbot, and fine-tuned on billions of words from open-source geology studies and data sets, GeoGPT is meant to provide expert answers to questions, summarize documents, and create visualizations. Stephenson tested an early version, asking it about the challenges of using the fossilized teeth of conodonts, an ancient relative of fish, to define the start of the Permian period 299 million years ago. “It was very good at that,” he says. As awareness of GeoGPT spread, so did concern. Paul Cleverly, a visiting professor at Robert Gordon University, gained access to an early version and said in a recent editorial in Geoscientist there were “serious issues around a lack of transparency, state censorship, and potential copyright infringement.” Paul Cleverly and GeoScienceWorld CEO Phoebe McMellon raised these concerns in a letter to IUGS, arguing that the chatbot was built using unlicensed literature without proper citations. However, they did not cite specific copyright violations, so DDE President Chengshan Wang, a geologist at the China University of Geosciences, decided not to end the project.

Tensions at EGU escalated when a complaint about GeoGPT’s transparency was submitted before the EGU’s April meeting, where GeoGPT would be introduced. “It arrived at an EGU whose leadership was already under strain,” notes Science. The complaint exacerbated existing leadership issues within EGU, particularly surrounding President Irina Artemieva, who was seen as problematic by some executives due to her affiliations and actions. Science notes that she’s “affiliated with Germany’s GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel but is also paid by the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences to advise it on its geophysical research.”

Artemieva forwarded the complaint via email to the DDE President to get his view, but forgot to delete the name attached to it, leading to a breach of confidentiality. This incident, among other leadership disputes, culminated in her dismissal and the elevation of Peter van der Beek to president. During the DDE session at the EGU meeting, van der Beek’s enforcement actions against Chinese scientists and session attendees led to allegations of “harassment and discrimination.”

“Seeking to broker a peace deal around GeoGPT,” IUGS’s president and another former EGU president, John Ludden, organized a workshop and invited all parties to discuss GeoGPT’s governance, ongoing negotiations for licensing deals and alternative AI models for GeoGPT’s use.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Huawei Wants To Take Homegrown HarmonyOS Phone Platform Worldwide

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Register: Huawei plans to expand its native HarmonyOS smartphone platform worldwide, despite coming under US-led sanctions that have deprived it of access to key technologies. “We will work hard to build up the HarmonyOS app ecosystem in the China market first, then, from country to country, we will start gradually pushing it out to other parts of the world,” Huawei’s rotating chairman Erik Xu told attendees at its 21st Analyst Summit in Shenzhen last week. Part of this process will involve porting apps to HarmonyOS and encouraging other app developers to code for the platform.

“In the China market, Huawei smartphone users spend 99 percent of their time on about 5,000 apps. So we decided to spend 2024 porting these apps over to HarmonyOS first in our drive to truly unify the OS and the app ecosystem. We are also encouraging other apps to be ported over to HarmonyOS,” Xu said. According to Huawei’s rotating chairman, more than 4,000 of those apps are already in the process of being transferred, and the company is “communicating with developers” on the 1,000 or so apps that remain. “This is a massive undertaking, but we have broad support in the industry and from many app developers,” he claimed. “Once we have these first 5,000 Android apps — and thousands of other apps — up and running on HarmonyOS, we will have a real HarmonyOS: a third mobile operating system for the world,” Xu said. That number could reach up to 1 million apps in the future, he claimed. According to Counterpoint Research, HarmonyOS accounted for 4 percent of global market share in the fourth quarter of 2023, and exceeded 16 percent market share in China. That makes it the third largest mobile OS by handset sales, behind Android and iOS.

It remains to be seen whether there will be much of a market for HarmonyOS outside of China, given the current sanctions and sour US/EU-China relations.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple iPhone Sales In China Plummet As Huawei Soars

Huawei is back from the dead after recording a sales jump of 64% in the first six weeks of 2024 compared to a year earlier. Meanwhile, Apple’s iPhone sales in China fell by 24% during the same period. The BBC reports: Aside from a resurgence of Huawei sales at the more expensive end of the Chinese phone market, Apple was also “squeezed in the middle on aggressive pricing from the likes of Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi,” Counterpoint Research’s Mengmeng Zhang wrote. China, which is one of Apple’s biggest markets, also saw overall smartphone sales shrink by 7% in the same period, the report said. Huawei struggled for years due to US sanctions but its sales surged after releasing its Mate 60 series of 5G smartphones in August. It came as a major surprise as the Chinese firm was cut off from key chips and technology required for 5G mobile internet.

Honor, which is the smartphone brand spun off from Huawei in 2020, was the only other top-five brand to see sales increase in China during the period, according to the report. Sales of Vivo, Xiaomi and Oppo also fell in the first six weeks of the year, Counterpoint said. Its report also said Apple’s share of the Chinese smartphone market dropped to 15.7% from 19% last year, putting it in fourth place as it fell from the number two spot. Meanwhile, Huawei rose to second place as its market share grew to 16.5% from 9.4% a year earlier. Despite its sales falling by 15% over the last year, Vivo remained China’s top-selling smartphone maker, Counterpoint said.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.