12 minutes estimated reading time
Sony and Honda
Sony and Honda reveal plans to jointly make and sell electric vehicles | TechCrunch – this might also explain why Sony’s ‘concept’ car seemed to have a lot of money put into it, to make it look like a finished product a couple of years ago. Sony and Honda’s EV venture is a lesson for corporate Japan | Financial Times – the FT makes a number of good points about the relatively junior role that Honda is taking in the endeavour and that Sony making a decision to go independent indicates that consolidation of vendors in the electrical vehicle space is far off. I expect that the Sony and Honda deal in this respect is partly the pressures driven by the amount of ‘dumb capital’ chasing electric and automotive vehicles.
Sony and Honda likely see their deal as an antidote to that pressure. There were also fair comments made about relative software expertise between Sony and Honda, however I would argue that there is still a need for stable underpinnings of the software from the likes of QNX. But in the critique of the previous motor industry partnerships isn’t fair. For instance, Yamaha has a long history of taking concepts and designs to Toyota for them to build them. The most iconic of which was the Toyota 2000GT. So in many respects Sony and Honda are working on similar heritage to others.
It is interesting that we haven’t seen a similar pairing to Sony and Honda between Samsung and Renault, given their Korean car assembly joint venture. It is also interesting that Apple has failed to secure a similar partnership to Sony and Honda in its car efforts so far.
China’s Two Traps by Keun Lee – Project Syndicate – China’s economic slowdown suggests, the next phase of its development is rife with challenges. The country risks being ensnared by two traps: the “middle-income trap” (the tendency of fast-growing developing economies to lose momentum once they reach middle-income status) and the Thucydides Trap (when tensions between an insecure incumbent hegemon and a rising power lead to conflict)
Two sessions’ 2022: China sets GDP growth target of ‘around 5.5 per cent’ | South China Morning Post – defence budget rising by 7.1 percent to 1.3 trillion yuan
China’s President Xi reiterates grain security, urges for domestic dominance | Reuters – interesting how food security has been a recurring theme for Chinese policy makers over the past few years
50 Objects From Around the World #18: Chinese Kitchen God | Financial Times you can find the full set of objects here: The home in 50 objects from around the world | Financial Times
Why are Chinese students so keen on the UK? – BBC News – The initial attraction of Glasgow – as well as its solid academic reputation – to many was how the Victorian university buildings looked on the brochures, rather like Hogwarts from the Harry Potter films
Search Party — Real Life – the psychology that goes into Google’s ‘I’m feeling lucky’ button
How Russia’s airline industry was pushed to the brink in a week | Financial Times – the bit that this doesn’t mention is the large payments that the Russian government used to enjoy from foreign airlines going over its territory to reach east Asia
How China’s Ambitious Belt and Road Plans for East Africa Came Apart – The Diplomat – Chinese actors typically approach BRI deals with two contradictory assumptions: First, the political leadership with whom they are dealing is either too weak or too venal to challenge contract terms that decidedly favor China; and, second, these same leaders will be strong enough to fend off resistance to ambitious infrastructure projects by opposition politicians and civil society groups while also mobilizing the financial resources necessary to sustain expensive, long term projects. – they expect the kind of smooth running process that they would have in China, but not surprisingly don’t get it
Tory MPs urge bigger ‘floating’ wind target to boost energy security | Financial Times – I am surprised that tidal isn’t getting more prominence as an energy source
A reprieve for coal? Xi Jinping urges ‘realism’ on China’s road to carbon goals | South China Morning Post – Green transition can’t be made overnight and progress must be steady, he says. Focus on stability comes as fossil fuel use rises and Russia’s invasion pushes up energy prices – translation ‘all that green energy stuff we said at Davos was just to make anxious white people happy and get them off our back’. Its also interesting to see that Chinese subsidies on electric car purchases are being removed: China to end NEV subsidy policy at end of 2022
Chinese lenders squeeze African borrowers even harder | Financial Times – Chinese lenders are imposing even more stringent collateral requirements on low-income country borrowers than previously known as they seek to hedge risks from their extensive overseas development finance programme. Under a $200mn loan from China Eximbank for the expansion and modernisation of Entebbe airport, the Ugandan government is required to channel all revenue from the country’s only international airport into an escrow account, according to the contract obtained by AidData, a US-based research lab. The document highlights a long-running controversy over the loan to Uganda’s government, which damaged its relationship with the bank. And more here: China cobalt mine deal was ‘injustice’: my country did not get anything, ex-DRC leader says | South China Morning Post
Chinese fitness app Keep files for Hong Kong IPO · TechNode – interesting that this is going ahead given the kind of data that Keep would have. One only needs to look at the opsec failures that Strava revealed of American forces in the Middle East and Afghanistan
In 1961, MLK taught a college class. Its syllabus might be contentious today | Financial Times – Dr King’s course on classical political philosophy
Our New Cloud-Based Ruling Class by Yanis Varoufakis – Project Syndicate – Today, however, a new form of capital is emerging and is forging a new ruling class, perhaps even a new mode of production.
Rakuten Symphony acquires Kubernetes platform Robin.io | TechCrunch – likely an acquihire
The war in Ukraine is going to change geopolitics profoundly | The Economist – Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan joined in sanctions against Russia, as did Australia. The change of mood in Japan has been particularly striking. Over the past decades it has tirelessly wooed Russia, in part to counterbalance China but also in the hope of settling the problem of four northern islands seized by the Soviet Union. Abe Shinzo, the former prime minister, met Mr Putin 27 times, including a trip to an onsen bathhouse. Now, under Kishida Fumio, Japan has frozen the share of Russia’s central bank reserves held in the country and is urging fence-sitters to take a clearer stance against its former pal. The end of the cold war was never going to usher in perpetual peace. But the Ukraine crisis is giving new form to the possibilities for future conflict and ways in which it may be averted. It is raising the previously outré possibility of territory being stripped from a developed country by force. By bringing Russia and China closer together, it is putting a new burden on the system of American alliances that partially encircles them. It has started consolidating Europe’s belief in itself and its ideals, and may increase its willingness to fight for them; it may also be seeing Germany and Japan, a lifetime after their defeat in the second world war, taking on new martial roles – the military rise of Japan will be worrying for China
Metrology Primer – by Doug (mule) – Fabricated Knowledge – well worth reading if you want to know more about the ins and outs of semiconductor manufacturing
How a (Canadian-founded) company you’ve never heard of took control of the porn industry | National Post – great article on the rise of tube sites like Pornhub and the platform’s moderation problems Behind Pornhub’s decade-old moderation problems
Ukraine conflict risks uncontrollable escalation of cyberwarfare – Nikkei Asia – When and if Russia, or some other advanced-hacking state, pulls these tricks against a better-prepared adversary, resulting in a tit-for-tat escalation that could quickly spin out of control. Given the historical weakness of digital security in much of the U.S.’s civilian infrastructure, notably the electric utilities and grid, we can imagine a situation in which Russia or China, or some other entity causes not just inconvenience but casualties, including deaths. What would the U.S. do then? If Russia took down electricity from Boston to Washington, New York to Chicago, the American people would get very, very angry. What would an American government do next? The U.S. has said, with strategic vagueness, that an attack on critical infrastructure, including digital infrastructure, could ultimately trigger a military response. Then what? In 1962, futurist Herman Kahn published “Thinking the Unthinkable,” pondering nuclear-war scenarios in ways that few of the people who had control over those civilization-killing weapons had ever considered. No one wanted to prevent nuclear war more than Kahn, in part because he understood what it would mean. We do not believe that nearly enough thinking about cyber-unthinkables is taking place today, nor the escalation scenarios that would bring them on.
Chinese telecoms giant Huawei has been helping Putin’s efforts to stabilise Russia’s internet | Daily Mail Online – Huawei, which reportedly has five research centres in Russia, is said to have ‘rushed to Russia’s aid’ to support its internet network in the face of the attacks. A report, which appeared on a Chinese news site but was later deleted, claimed that Huawei would use its research centres to train ‘50,000 technical experts in Russia’. – The Mail on Sunday is now covering the kind of stories that previously only featured on the English language pages of late lamented Apple Daily Online published out of Hong Kong.
Grab Loss Swells as Pandemic Hampers Ride-Hailing Demand – Bloomberg and interesting analysis on Grab Telegram: Contact @finbiteinsights TL;DR cost of acquisition is too high
‘They took my world’: fashion giant Shein accused of art theft | Art and design | The Guardian – how will legal issues like this affect Shein’s ability to list on foreign stock exchanges like Singapore?
Arm China CEO asserts semiconductor joint venture’s right to pursue an IPO independent from its SoftBank-owned British parent | South China Morning Post – “Arm has written to Chinese authorities that Arm China won’t survive without [the British firm’s] support,” Wu said. He indicated, however, that Arm China has already developed the capability to continue its operations separately from Arm in the UK. The stand taken by Wu in Arm China forms part of a larger effort by the country’s semiconductor industry to overcome US trade sanctions and build a world-class chip supply chain. The dispute with Arm has not slowed down its Chinese joint venture’s business under Wu. Last year, Arm China generated US$700 million in total revenue, including intellectual property licensing and royalty fees. Arm’s share in its China venture was about US$500 million last year, according to Wu. “Arm can’t afford to lose its share of revenue from the Chinese market,” Wu said. He indicated that the Chinese joint venture has hit all its goals – including revenue, net profit, and research and development spending – which were set five years ago. Wu said Arm China’s biggest contribution to the Chinese chip design industry was to open the company’s source codes to domestic customers, “giving them freedom to develop their chips and raise their capabilities to a global level”. He also said he was displeased by Arm’s decision in May 2019 to cease business with Huawei Technologies Co, following Washington’s decision to add the Shenzhen-based telecommunications equipment maker to the US trade blacklist. – I suspect Mr Wu is working on behalf of the Chinese government in ‘war by other means’