China S&T News Digest for August 9 - 22, 2017
GENERAL SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, & INNOVATION
Trump Administration Goes After China over Intellectual Property, Advanced Technology

President Trump signed an executive memorandum Monday afternoon that will likely trigger an investigation into China's alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property, a measure that could eventually result in a wide range of penalties as the administration seeks a new way to deal with what it calls Chinese violations of the rules of international trade. Despite the uncertainties, company executives and politicians widely greeted the investigation as an effort to address a problem that has bedeviled U.S. companies for decades: how to access the Chinese market without ceding their intellectual property to Chinese companies that might use it against them in the future. It's an issue that has persistently troubled U.S. high technology industries of all kinds -- with companies disputing treatment in fields ranging from nuclear power to automobiles to telecom. U.S. businesses have been hesitant to speak out about the issue for fear of drawing reprisal from the Chinese, negative press coverage or cyber security attacks. But privately, many American business leaders express frustration with a Chinese system that coerces them into transferring valuable U.S. intellectual property to Chinese companies, or allows it to be stolen outright.
 
Cabinet Outlines Curbs on 'Irrational' Outbound Investment

China's cabinet issued new regulations Friday on overseas deals by Chinese companies, imposing explicit restrictions on acquisitions in industries such as real estate and entertainment. At the same time, the new rules encourage investments in infrastructure projects under President Xi Jinping's ambitious Belt and Road initiative. The new guidelines specify categories of outbound investments that will be limited, banned or encouraged. The regulations formally endorse policies put in place over the past year that have already led to a dramatic drop in Chinese companies' overseas real estate spending spree. The new guidelines encourage overseas investment and cooperation with foreign technology companies, high-tech manufacturers, and energy and agriculture sectors.
 
Chinese Premier Wants Innovation to Play Bigger Role in Economic Transformation

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Tuesday that innovation should play a bigger role in facilitating structural transformation of the country's economy. During an inspection of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Li said the "torch of innovation shall be passed on in all sectors of society, and the benefits of innovation shall be shared by all."
 
Senior CPC Official Calls for Innovation in Science and Technology

A senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official called on the country's leading scientists to remain steadfast in making innovations in science and technology on Wednesday. Liu Yunshan, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks at a meeting with 57 scientists and experts who are enjoying a state-sponsored summer vacation at Beidaihe, a popular northern seaside resort near the Chinese national capital. Entrusted by President Xi Jinping, Liu extended greetings and good wishes to the scientists and experts.
 
China Moves Higher In Global Innovation Index: Report

China is steadily working its way toward a higher position on the world's innovation index ranking, as a report released Friday placed it 17th on the index measuring innovation capability out of 40 major ranked countries. The national innovation index report 2016-2017 by the Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development (CASTED) shows the top five countries as the United States, Japan, Switzerland, the Republic of Korea, and Denmark. China moved one place higher in 2016, surpassing Belgium. It is the only developing country among the top 20 on the index.
 
After Beijing and Shenzhen, Which Are China's Rising Tech Hubs?

Landlocked cities such as Guizhou and Chengdu are among the 17 tech hubs designated by Beijing to spur innovation and transition the country into a tech powerhouse.
 
China's Guizhou Province to Oversee Apple's Data Project

China's Guizhou province, where Apple Inc has set up its first data center in the country, plans to create a working committee chaired by communist party members to oversee the U.S. company's iCloud facility. China has started to police the Internet more closely and introduced a new cyber security law on June 1 that imposes tougher controls over data than in Europe and the United States, including mandating that companies store all data within China and pass security reviews. The Guizhou government said on its website (www.gzgov.gov.cn) that the Apple iCloud working committee would be made up of around 10 members, such as Guizhou's Executive Vice Governor Qin Rupei, Deputy Secretary-general Ma Ningyu and other officials.

INTERNET, IT, COMMUNICATIONS
China to Phase In 14nm Semiconductor Process in 2018, Says Top Tech Master

China is proceeding with systematic deployments in 14nm semiconductor fabrication equipment, process, packaging and materials, which will be fully industrialized in 2018. And the nation will render major support to the development of 5-7nm procesess and 3D memories under its 13th Five-year Development Plan running 2016-2020, according to Ye Tianchun, director of the Institute of Microelectronics under the Chinese Academy of Science.

The Next Generation AI Development Plan - What's Inside?

The State Council of China has issued the Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan (the plan) on 20th July. The plan is development-driven by setting up several goals through three stages up to 2030. In general by 2030, China's AI theories, technologies, and applications should achieve world leading levels. The objective is to make China the world's primary AI innovation center, achieving visible results in intelligent economy and intelligent society, laying an important foundation for becoming a leading innovation nation and an economic power. In detail, the goals consist of three aspects including technology, industry and policy.
 
China's Plan for World Domination in AI Isn't So Crazy After All

The nation is betting heavily on AI. Money is pouring in from China's investors, big internet companies and its government, driven by a belief that the technology can remake entire sectors of the economy, as well as national security. A similar effort is underway in the U.S., but in this new global arms race, China has three advantages: A vast pool of engineers to write the software, a massive base of 751 million internet users to test it on, and most importantly staunch government support that includes handing over gobs of citizens' data -- something that makes Western officials squirm.
 
China's Plan to 'Lead' in AI: Purpose, Prospects, and Problems

In this three-part brief, produced by a team of analysts with diverse backgrounds who have jointly translated the plan in full, we present three perspectives on the new document and China's AI development trajectory. In part one, Rogier Creemers of the Leiden Asia Centre puts the plan in the context of China's own framework for regulatory problem-solving. In part two, Paul Triolo of the Eurasia Group and Graham Webster of Yale Law School's Paul Tsai China Center describe the prospects for leadership in AI and China's policy world linked with the plan. And in part three, Elsa Kania addresses China's pursuit of indigenous innovation to enable its advances in next-generation AI.
 
Beijing's AI Strategy: Old-School Central Planning with a Futuristic Twist

Rarely do government policy documents come off as manifestos about the future. China's much-anticipated "Next-Generational Artificial Intelligence Development Plan," which was released last month (see an excellent translation from Rogier Creemers, Graham Webster, Paul Triolo, and Elsa Kania here), is an exception. For a country that releases a bevy of slogan-filled 'plans' each year, most of which are as vague as they are forgettable, the AI development plan is different. What the plan lacks in concrete details, it makes up for in vision and ambition. It depicts a future China overcoming the challenges of an aging population and resource constraints through integrating AI into everything from agriculture and manufacturing to governing and public security. Still, the plan also reveals that China's opening salvo in the global race to dominate AI will rely on old-school centrally guided economic development. The question is, will it work?
 
Computer-Chip Testing Firm Urges Blocking Sale of Rival to China Fund

The battle between the U.S. and China over computer-chip makers has expanded to a new front: the companies that test the technology. Citing national-security concerns, a U.S. semiconductor-testing company, Cohu Inc., is mounting a quiet campaign to derail the planned $580 million sale of an American rival, Xcerra Corp., to a Chinese state-backed group, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
AVIATION & SPACE
Ordinary Chinese Have More Say in Megascience Project

Both Chinese astronomers and the general public are interested in the development of the world's largest telescope. But controversy on social media over its design has delayed the progress. Chen Jiansheng, a senior astronomer at Peking University, sent a mass email to China's leading astronomers last week, opposing the existing design of the telescope. Two academicians, Cui Xiangqun, the telescope's chief engineer, and Su Dingquang, an astronomer at Nanjing University, jointly responded to Chen on social media, openly defending the original plan. The Chinese public has now been drawn into the scientific infrastructure development process and has shown interest in picking sides.

NUCLEAR
Venture to Float New Nuke Plants

A joint venture to develop and produce small, floating nuclear power plants has been set up by State-owned China National Nuclear Power Co and four other domestic companies, according to an announcement released late Thursday. The new venture would have 1 billion yuan ($150 million) in registered capital, the announcement said. Such marine plants can sail to where they are needed and be used for many different needs, industry experts say. The demand for such power plants is expected to grow, according to analysts. They can be used to operate drilling machinery for offshore oil and gas fields, meet heating and desalination needs and run nuclear powered icebreakers, the announcement said.
 
China Pips US in Race to Start the World's First Meltdown-Proof Nuclear Power Plant

At a small peninsula facing the East China Sea in Sanmen county in Zhejiang province sits the world's most advanced nuclear reactor, and China's clarion call to the clean energy industry. Some day over the next two weeks, the power plant will start loading more than 100 fuel assemblies into the honeycomb core of its AP1000 reactor with a pair of robotic arms, people at the site said. The arms will move at a snail's pace, not only because each assembly costs more than 10 million yuan, but their fine metal rods hold millions of thumb-size uranium pallets which together can emit enough heat for more than one gigawatt of electricity, enough to power Tibet's entire grid. Many people are waiting with bated breath for Sanmen to go online, because the AP1000 "is a simple, genius solution to reduce the risk of nuclear meltdown," said Xi'an Jiaotong University's nuclear science professor Shan Jianqiang, the author of several university texts on reactor safety and operation. The commencement of Sanmen "can be a shot to the arm for the nuclear industry, which has been mired in trouble at home and abroad," he said.


NEW MATERIALS
A New Ceramic Could Help Hypersonic Planes Take Off

FRICTION burns. And the friction of the air on something travelling at five times the speed of sound burns hot. The leading edge of such an object can easily reach a temperature of 3,000°C. Inconveniently, that is above the melting point of most materials used by engineers, which makes it hard to design things like wings and nose cones for aircraft intended to achieve hypersonic velocities. The lure of hypersonic flight is such, though, that many are trying to do so. The world's air forces would love such planes. And for civilians (at least, for those with deep pockets), the idea of being able to jet in a couple of hours from Britain to Australia sounds extremely attractive. Among those lured are Ping Xiao at the University of Manchester, in England, and Xiang Xiong at Central South University in Changsha, China, and their colleagues. And they think they have come up with a new material that might provide the answer. Their novel substance is a ceramic.

BIOSCIENCE
China Launches Brain-Imaging Factory

Neuroscientists who painstakingly map the twists and turns of neural circuitry through the brain are about to see their field expand to an industrial scale. A huge facility set to open in Suzhou, China, next month should transform high-resolution brain mapping, its developers say. Where typical laboratories might use one or two brain-imaging systems, the new facility boasts 50 automated machines that can rapidly slice up a mouse brain, snap high-definition pictures of each slice and reconstruct those into a 3D picture. This factory-like scale will "dramatically accelerate progress", says Hongkui Zeng, a molecular biologist at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, Washington, which is partnering with the centre. "Large-scale, standardized data generation in an industrial manner will change the way neuroscience is done," she says.

Produced by the IGCC Project on the
Study of Innovation & Technology in China

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