For equipment upgrades, China eyes fresh $69 bn credit in tech sector - Business Guardian
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For equipment upgrades, China eyes fresh $69 bn credit in tech sector



The Hong Kong-based ‘South China Morning Post’ (SCMP) newspaper, China has unveiled a plan to reintroduce two relending mechanisms previously utilized to mitigate the economic effects of Covid-19. The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) will facilitate loans through 21 banks to support small and medium-sized technology firms at an interest rate of 1.75 per cent. These loans can be extended twice, each extension lasting up to one year, as per the report. The move, announced on Sunday, comes amid challenges posed to the Chinese economy by a property crisis and geopolitical tensions with key trading partners. China’s policymakers are aiming to enhance liquidity and bolster confidence in the world’s second-largest economy.

Relending mechanisms these measures will allocate a combined 500 billion yuan (US $69.1 billion) to incentivise loans supporting technological innovation and large-scale equipment upgrades – two sectors that have been explicitly prioritised by the country’s leadership, said the report. The refinancing programme will cover 60 per cent of the principal amount for eligible loans extended to technology-focused small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and can be renewed twice, each time for an additional year.

By the end of last year, the PBOC had 17 active structural support tools with a cumulative outstanding size of 7.5 trillion yuan – equivalent to 16.4 per cent of central bank assets. What are China’s relending programmes? These targeted monetary instruments gained prominence in 2014 when pledged supplementary lending was first utilised to directly provide loans to commercial banks to renovate outdated residential buildings. Among the tools, 13 were introduced as temporary measures during the pandemic to support small businesses, toll roads, private firms, property delivery, logistics, and carbon emissions reduction. Seven of them have already expired.

SCMP said the move has sparked speculation among market participants regarding the extent to which Chinese authorities are willing to implement monetary easing, in light of the US Federal Reserve postponing anticipated interest rate adjustments and the Chinese economy concluding the first quarter of 2024 on a stronger footing. The previous relending mechanism for technology, with a quota of 400 billion yuan (US $55.2 billion), was initiated in April 2022 and has since concluded. Similarly, the earlier equipment renovation program, with a quota of 200 billion yuan (US $27.6 billion), was active from September to December 2022.


This relending programme aligns with Beijing’s guidelines for domestic banks, encouraging them to provide funding for five essential finance categories outlined by President Xi Jinping: technology finance, green finance, inclusive finance, pension finance, and digtal finance.

Furthermore, it corresponds with the objective of large-scale equipment upgrades mentioned during the February meeting of the Central Financial and Economic Affairs Commission. This objective serves dual purposes: Leveraging the country’s substantial fixed-asset investment to stimulate economic growth and advancing its vast manufacturing sector, the Hong Kong-daily said. The relending program and other structural measures aim to aid China amidst ongoing challenges in the property market and fragile investor sentiment.

These hurdles will scrutinize the country’s aspirations to attain a 5 percent economic growth rate this year, as reported by SCMP.

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AI Adoption Soars: Doubled users in 6 months, 75% of Global knowledge workers



The number of people using AI has nearly doubled in the last 6 months and around 75 per cent of global knowledge workers are using AI at workplaces, according to the “2024 Work Trend Index Annual Report” by Microsoft and LinkedIn.

The report highlights the increasing reliance on personal AI tools by employees, who are grappling with the overwhelming pace and volume of work.

However, while leaders recognize the importance of AI for business, many feel their organizations lack a clear strategy to effectively leverage AI to drive bottom-line results. The pressure to demonstrate immediate return on investment is also causing some leaders to hesitate, despite the inevitability of AI integration.

The survey in the report highlights that 90 per cent of AI users stated it helped them save time, 85 per cent were able to focus on their most crucial tasks, 84 per cent of AI users felt more creative, and 83 percent enjoyed their work more after using the AI.

In terms of the company leaders around 79 per cent agree that AI adoption is necessary for competitiveness, 59 per cent express concerns about quantifying its productivity gains.

Interestingly, AI users are no longer limited to younger generations or tech enthusiasts, with employees across all age groups embracing AI tools. The survey of the workforce in knowledge-based work indicates that Gen Z (age group- 18-28) leads with 85 per cent usage, followed by Millennials (age group 29-43) at 78 per cent, and Gen X (age group 44-57) at 76 per cent.

The survey shows that even older people have adopted AI and are using the tool according to their requirements.

Despite concerns about AI and job displacement, the report offers a nuanced perspective. While 45 per cent of employees worry about AI replacing their jobs, an almost equal share (46 per cent) are considering quitting jobs as they are getting better opportunities.

Additionally, LinkedIn studies in the US indicate a 14 per cent increase in job applications per role since last fall, with 85 per cent of professionals contemplating a job change this year. Employers and company leaders are also increasingly recognizing the importance of AI skills, with 66 per cent in the survey stating that they would not hire someone lacking these skills.

Furthermore, 71 per cent express a preference for hiring less experienced candidates with AI skills over more experienced ones without them. Additionally, 77 per cent believe that AI will enable early-career talent to take on greater responsibilities.

In the end, the report points out that AI is helping people be more creative and productive, and giving job seekers an edge. Over time, it will change every aspect of work, and companies that face the challenge head-on will surge ahead.

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Australia fights Musk’s platform over control of online content



In a courtroom battle that underscores the complex interplay between global tech giants and national regulatory frameworks, Elon Musk’s X, formerly known as Twitter, finds itself at odds with Australian law over the removal of graphic content depicting a terrorist attack.

At the heart of the dispute lies a fundamental question: to what extent should a platform like X be compelled to adhere to the laws of a specific country when it comes to content moderation? The legal showdown commenced as the eSafety Commissioner of Australia sought the removal of 65 posts showcasing a harrowing video of an Assyrian Christian bishop being stabbed during a sermon in Sydney, classified as a terrorist incident by authorities.

Tim Begbie, representing the cyber regulator, argued that while X has policies in place to remove harmful content, it cannot claim unilateral authority to decide what is acceptable under Australian law. He contended that X’s resistance to globally removing the posts challenges the notion of reasonableness within the scope of Australia’s Online Safety Act.

X’s stance, guided by its mission to uphold free speech, underscores a broader philosophical debate surrounding the jurisdictional reach of national laws in the digital realm. The company maintains that while it has blocked access to the posts for Australian users, it refuses to implement global removal, asserting that the internet should not be governed by the laws of a single nation.

However, Begbie argued that geo-blocking, the solution proposed by X, is ineffective due to the widespread use of virtual private networks (VPNs) by a significant portion of the Australian population.

Amidst the legal wrangling, X’s lawyer, Bret Walker, contended that the company had taken reasonable steps to comply with Australian laws while balancing the principles of free expression. He emphasized the importance of allowing global access to newsworthy content, cautioning against the suppression of information on a global scale. The implications of such an approach, he argued, extend beyond Australia’s borders, potentially setting a precedent for censorship on a global scale.

As the case unfolds in the Federal Court, Judge Geoffrey Kennett has issued a temporary takedown order for the posts, extending it until June 10 pending a final decision. The outcome of this legal battle is poised to have far-reaching implications, not only for the regulation of online content in Australia but also for the broader discourse surrounding internet governance and free speech in the digital age.

Beyond the legal arguments, the case underscores the evolving dynamics between tech platforms and regulatory authorities, highlighting the challenges of reconciling competing interests in an increasingly interconnected world. With the proliferation of digital platforms and the rise of social media, questions surrounding content moderation, censorship, and the balance between freedom of expression and societal harm have come to the forefront of public discourse.

In the digital era, where information knows no borders and online platforms wield immense influence over public discourse, the case of X versus Australian law serves as a microcosm of the broader tensions between technology, governance, and individual rights. As societies grapple with the complexities of the digital age, the need for robust legal frameworks, ethical guidelines, and international cooperation becomes ever more apparent.

As the legal battle between X and Australian authorities unfolds, it underscores the intricate relationship between technology, law, and societal norms in the digital age. At stake is not just the removal of graphic content depicting a heinous act but also the broader principles of free speech, censorship, and the jurisdictional reach of national regulations in a globalized world.

The outcome of this case carries significant implications for the future of online content moderation and regulation. On one hand, proponents of free speech argue that platforms like X should have the autonomy to determine their content policies without being unduly influenced by the laws of individual countries. They contend that a global approach to content moderation ensures consistency and prevents the fragmentation of the internet along national lines.

On the other hand, proponents of regulation argue that national laws play a crucial role in safeguarding citizens from harmful content and upholding community standards. They assert that while platforms may operate globally, they must abide by the laws of the countries in which they operate, particularly when it comes to content that poses a threat to public safety or incites violence.

Amidst these competing interests, the case highlights the need for a nuanced approach to content moderation that balances the principles of free speech with the protection of users from harm. It also underscores the importance of international cooperation and dialogue in addressing cross-border challenges in the digital realm.

Beyond the legal realm, the case has broader implications for the future of internet governance and the regulation of online platforms. As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, policymakers around the world face the daunting task of crafting regulations that are effective, enforceable, and adaptable to the ever-changing digital landscape.

Moreover, the case raises important questions about the role of tech companies in shaping public discourse and influencing democratic processes. With social media platforms serving as key channels for information dissemination and political engagement, the decisions made by companies like X have far-reaching consequences for the functioning of democratic societies.

Ultimately, the resolution of this case will have significant implications not only for X and its users but also for the broader digital ecosystem. It will shape the future trajectory of online content moderation, influence regulatory approaches to technology platforms, and set precedents for how governments and tech companies interact in the digital age.

As the legal proceedings continue, stakeholders from across sectors will closely monitor developments, recognizing that the outcome of this case has the potential to reshape the digital landscape for years to come. Whether it leads to greater clarity in content moderation policies, a re-evaluation of regulatory frameworks, or a deeper understanding of the complexities of governing the internet, the case of X versus Australian law represents a pivotal moment in the ongoing debate over the future of online governance and free speech in the digital age.

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Huawei’s new flagship increases use of China-Made parts, memory chip



Huawei’s latest high-end phone features more Chinese suppliers, including a new flash memory storage chip and an improved chip processor, a teardown analysis showed, pointing to the progress China is making towards technology self-sufficiency.

Online tech repair company iFixit and consultancy TechSearch International examined the inside of Huawei Technologies’ Pura 70 Pro for Reuters, finding a NAND memory chip they said was likely packaged by the Chinese telecoms equipment maker’s in-house chip unit HiSilicon and several other components made by Chinese suppliers.

Huawei’s resurgence in the high-end smartphone market after four years of U.S. sanctions is being widely watched by both rivals and U.S. politicians as it has become a symbol of growing U.S.-China trade frictions and China’s bid for technology self-sufficiency.

The firms also found that the Pura 70 phones run on an advanced processing chipset made by Huawei called the Kirin 9010 that is likely only a slightly improved version of the Chinese-made advanced chip used by Huawei’s Mate 60 series.

“While we cannot provide an exact percentage, we’d say the domestic component usage is high, and definitely higher than in the Mate 60,” said Shahram Mokhtari, iFixit’s lead teardown technician.

“This is about self-sufficiency, all of this, everything you see when you open up a smartphone and see whatever are made by Chinese manufacturers, this is all about self-sufficiency,” Mokhtari said.

Huawei declined to comment.

Huawei launched the Pura 70’s four smartphone models in late April and the series quickly sold out. Analysts say it will likely take more market share from iPhone manufacturer Apple, while policymakers in Washington are questioning the efficacy of U.S. curbs on the telecoms equipment giant.


Earlier analysis by teardown firms such as TechInsights of the Mate 60, launched in August last year, found the phone to be using DRAM and NAND memory chips made by South Korea’s SK Hynix.

SK Hynix said at the time it no longer did business with Huawei and analysts said the chips likely came from stockpiles.

The Pura 70 still contains a DRAM chip made by SK Hynix, iFixit and TechSearch found, but the NAND flash memory chip was likely packaged by Huawei’s HiSilicon unit this time around and was made up of NAND dies each with a capacity of 1 terabit. This is comparable to products made by major flash memory producers such as SK Hynix, Kioxia and Micron.

However, the firms were unable to definitively identify the manufacturer of the wafer as the markings on the NAND die were unfamiliar, they added.

But iFixit added that they believed that HiSilicon may have produced the memory controller as well.

“In our teardown our chip ID expert has identified it as a particular HiSilicon chip,” Mokhtari said.

SK Hynix reiterated that it was “strictly complying with the relevant policies since the restrictions against Huawei were announced and has also suspended any transactions with the company since then”.


IFixit and TechSearch’s analysis of the processor used by the Pura 70 Pro also suggests Huawei may have only made incremental improvements in its ability to produce an advanced chip with Chinese partners in the months since it launched the Mate 60 series.

The processor is similar to the one employed in the Mate 60 series that was produced for Huawei by Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) using the Chinese chip foundry’s 7 nanometer (nm) N+2 manufacturing process, they said.

“This is significant because news of the 9000S on a 7nm node caused a bit of a panic last year when U.S. lawmakers were confronted with the possibility that the sanctions imposed on Chinese chipmakers might not slow their technological progress after all,” iFixit said.

“The fact that the 9010 is still a 7nm process chip, and that it’s so close to the 9000S, might seem to suggest that Chinese chip manufacturing has indeed been slowed.”

Still, he cautioned against underestimating Huawei, saying that SMIC was still expected to make a leap to a 5nm manufacturing node before the end of the year.

SMIC did not respond to a request for comment.

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OnePlus May introduce Bloatware on premium smartphones



OnePlus is among the select smartphone brands that offer a clear user interface experience in its smartphones. However, this might change soon. Reportedly, the company has started the soft-preload cycle with the OnePlus 12 and OnePlus Open, pushing third-party apps on the devices with the new OxygenOS update.

According to a report by Android Authority, OnePlus presents a “Review additional apps” page during the setup process on the OnePlus 12 running the latest Oxygen OS. In addition to the Google apps such as Google Drive, Google Home, YouTube and more, OnePlus has added a new section on this page where four third-party apps are pre-selected for installation. These apps include LinkedIn, Policybazaar, Block Blast and Candy Crush Saga. While these apps can be deselected from the menu, it is difficult for a user to locate these pre-selected non-Google apps.

The report stated that these apps also appear during the setup process on the company’s premium foldable smartphone – OnePlus Open. The consumer technology news website stated that it has spotted evidence of references to other bloatware apps including a “Must Play” folder with games like Bubble Pop, Tile Match and more, within the Oxygen OS firmware. This suggests that OnePlus is planning to add more apps to the list on its premium smartphones.

Responding to Android Authority, a OnePlus spokesperson said “The soft-preloads on the OnePlus 12 was an error made during testing and has been rectified as of 6 May. The OnePlus 12 does not come pre-loaded with any of these apps and will continue to remain light, fast and smooth.”

However, Android Authority noted that the setup process remained unchanged even after OnePlus said that the error was rectified.

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Google eyes future in AI, Pichai acknowledges challenges, sets new goals



Alphabet Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer, Sundar Pichai, recently discussed the tech giant’s focus on artificial intelligence (AI), addressing issues such as errors in Gemini’s image generation feature and criticisms regarding his leadership style in an interview with The Circuit.

Pichai emphasized that AI has been a significant focus for Alphabet since 2016, despite acknowledging that the company may have missed certain opportunities in the past. He compared the current stage of AI development to the early stages of other technologies, stating, “I view this AI as we are in the earliest possible stages.”

Regarding errors in Gemini’s image generation feature, Pichai admitted to setbacks but reassured that the models are being retrained from scratch. He affirmed that once ready, the feature will be re-released to users in a few weeks.

Looking ahead, Pichai is expected to share Alphabet’s vision for the future at Google I/O, the company’s annual developers conference scheduled for next week.

The interview also touched upon criticisms of Pichai’s leadership style, with some former and current employees labeling him as “too cautious and consensus-driven.” In response, Pichai highlighted the importance of clarity in decision-making, particularly in a large organization like Alphabet. He emphasized the significance of consensus-building, noting that it enables maximum impact behind decisions.

Furthermore, Pichai addressed recent layoffs at Google, particularly the firing of engineers who protested the company’s cloud contract with the Israeli government. He described the protests as unacceptable disruptions of daily business and stressed the importance of maintaining focus on the company’s mission, particularly in the context of AI advancement.

Overall, Pichai’s statements underscore Alphabet’s commitment to AI development and the challenges associated with leadership in a rapidly evolving technological landscape. As Alphabet continues to navigate strategic challenges and pursue its mission, Pichai’s leadership approach and the company’s vision for the future remain critical factors shaping its trajectory in the tech industry.

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Truecaller announces updated subscription packages for its Verified Business Caller ID solution



Truecaller, the leading platform for verifying contacts and blocking unwanted communication, trusted by millions worldwide, has launched its updated subscription plans for the Verified Business Caller ID solution. Starting May 6, 2024, the revised subscription packages and pricing will apply to all new and current business customers upon their upcoming renewals or upgrades.

Truecaller’s Verified Business Caller ID Solution offers updated subscription packages, growth, and enterprise plans tailored to empower early/mid-stage companies as well as large enterprises. The Growth Plan is best suited for early or midsize companies looking to scale their business and establish a strong market presence, building trust and enhancing brand visibility through its flagship Verified Business Caller ID.

The Enterprise Plan is designed for large, established businesses that require scalable solutions to support their extensive user bases across various products, services, departments, or regions. These organizations need robust and adaptable systems to manage their operations effectively. The enterprise plan supports these businesses with advanced capabilities and deeper product integration with their communication infrastructure.

With more comprehensive analytics and advanced reporting capabilities, the updated subscription plans are designed to provide deeper insights and CX productivity, enabling businesses to refine their communication strategies effectively. Deeper integration capabilities, including call personalization APIs, are available to support large businesses with increasingly complex integration and customization needs.

The Truecaller Verified Business Caller ID solution empowers business calls with brand identity and context, fostering reliable customer communication. Over 2500+ active businesses across India and other vital global markets have benefited from the solution and other advanced communication capabilities. Besides improving business call efficiency, the solution has significantly reduced phone call-related frauds and scams, promoting heightened customer safety in business communications.

“We enable safe and relevant conversations between people and make it efficient for businesses to connect with consumers. Fraud and unwanted communication are endemic to digital economies, especially in emerging markets. We are on a mission to build trust in communication.”

Truecaller is an essential part of everyday communication for over 383 million active users, with more than a billion downloads since launch and close to 50 billion unwanted calls identified and blocked in 2023. Headquartered in Stockholm since 2009, we are a co-founder-led, entrepreneurial company with a highly experienced management team. Truecaller has been listed on Nasdaq Stockholm since October 2021.

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