Beijing, Dec 8 (AP/UNB) — China launched a ground-breaking mission Saturday to land a spacecraft on the largely unexplored far side of the moon, demonstrating its growing ambitions as a space power to rival Russia, the European Union and the U.S.
A Long March 3B rocket carrying a lunar probe blasted off at 2:23 a.m. from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province in southwestern China, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
With its Chang'e 4 mission, China hopes to be the first country to make a soft landing, which is a landing of a spacecraft during which no serious damage is incurred. The moon's far side is also known as the dark side because it faces away from Earth and remains comparatively unknown. It has a different composition than sites on the near side, where previous missions have landed.
If successful, the mission would propel the Chinese space program to a leading position in one of the most important areas of lunar exploration.
China landed its Yutu, or "Jade Rabbit," rover on the moon five years ago and plans to send its Chang'e 5 probe there next year and have it return to Earth with samples — the first time that will have been done since 1976. A crewed lunar mission is also under consideration.
Chang'e 4 is also a lander-rover combination and will explore both above and below the lunar surface after arriving at the South Pole-Aitken basin's Von Karman crater following a 27-day journey.
It will also perform radio-astronomical studies that, because the far side always faces away from Earth, will be "free from interference from our planet's ionosphere, human-made radio frequencies and auroral radiation noise," space industry expert Leonard David wrote on the website Space.com.
It may also carry plant seeds and silkworm eggs, according to Xinhua.
Chang'e is the goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology.
China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, making it only the third country after Russia and the U.S. to do so. It has put a pair of space stations into orbit, one of which is still operating as a precursor to a more than 60-ton station that is due to come online in 2022. The launch of a Mars rover is planned for the mid-2020s.
To facilitate communication between controllers on Earth and the Chang'e 4 mission, China in May launched a relay satellite named Queqiao, or "Magpie Bridge," after an ancient Chinese folk tale.
China's space program has benefited from cooperation with Russia and European nations, although it was excluded from the 420-ton International Space Station, mainly due to U.S. legislation barring such cooperation amid concerns over its strong military connections. Its program also suffered a rare setback last year with the failed launch of its Long March 5 rocket.
Dhaka, Dec 6 (UNB) - Dhaka Power Distribution Company Ltd (DPDC) on Thursday signed a contract with an Australian firm to conduct a feasibility study in the area under its jurisdiction to replace overhead power cables with underground ones.
As per the deal, Energytron will do the job at a contract value of Tk 22.54 crore within the next one year.
The job includes conducting survey, feasibility study, preparing underground distribution system design, billing materials and estimating the cost to take the 132 kV, 33 kV, 11 kV and 11/0.4 kV electric cables underground.
Addressing the contract-signing ceremony held at the Bidyut Bhaban in the city, State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid said it will be a biggest challenge for the Australian firm as overhead power cables pass through very narrow locations in the DPDC area.
He also urged Energytron to complete the work in the stipulated time. “You should appoint very efficient people to do the job as the nature of the areas is different from Sydney or any other Australian city. So, it needs people having communicative skills to make proper design of the job,” he said.
Nasrul Hamid urged all other power distribution utilities to take initiatives to replace overhead power cables with underground ones, saying the government has planned to turn Dhaka city into a developed one.
He said the entire power distribution system should go underground maintaining safety and security.
The state minister said China has offered a substantial fund to take the overhead cables underground. “If the project proves to be successful, the other utilities will be encouraged to do so,” he said.
With DPDC chairman Shafiqullah in the chair, the function was also addressed by Power Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, PDB Chairman Khaled Mahmood and DPDC managing director Bikash Dewan.
Dhaka, Dec 6 (AP/UNB)- Internal Facebook documents released by a U.K. parliamentary committee offer the clearest evidence yet that the social network has used its enormous trove of user data as a competitive weapon, often in ways designed to keep its users in the dark.
Parliament's media committee accused Facebook on Wednesday of cutting special deals with some app developers to give them more access to data, while icing out others that it viewed as potential rivals.
In other documents, company executives discussed how they were keeping the company's collection and exploitation of user data from its users. That included quietly collecting the call records and text messages of users of phones that run on Google's Android operating system without asking their permission.
The U.K. committee released more than 200 pages of documents on the tech giant's internal discussions about the value of users' personal information. While they mostly cover the period between 2012 and 2015 —the first three years after Facebook went public — they offer a rare glimpse into the company's inner workings and the extent to which it used people's data to make money while publicly vowing to protect their privacy.
The company's critics said the new revelations reinforced their concerns over what users actually know about how Facebook treats their data.
"These kinds of schemes are exactly why companies must be required to disclose exactly how they are collecting and sharing our data, with stiff penalties for companies that lie about it," Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said in a statement.
Facebook called the documents misleading and said the information they contain is "only part of the story."
"Like any business, we had many internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform," the company said in a statement. "But the facts are clear: We've never sold people's data."
In a Facebook post , company CEO Mark Zuckerberg sought to put the documents in context. "Of course, we don't let everyone develop on our platform," he wrote. "We blocked a lot of sketchy apps. We also didn't allow developers to use our platform to replicate our functionality or grow their services virally in a way that creates little value for people on Facebook."
The U.K. committee seized the documents from app developer Six4Three, maker of a now-defunct bikini-picture search app. Six4Three acquired the files as part of a U.S. lawsuit that accuses Facebook of deceptive, anti-competitive business practices. The documents remain under court seal in the U.S.
In a summary of key issues pertaining to the documents, the committee said Facebook "whitelisted," or made exceptions for companies such as Airbnb and Netflix, that gave them continued access to users' "friends" even after the tech giant announced changes in 2015 to end the practice.
"Facebook have clearly entered into whitelisting agreements with certain companies, which meant that after the platform changes in 2014/15 they maintained full access to friends data," the committee said in a statement. "It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted or not."
The documents "raise important questions about how Facebook treats users' data, their policies for working with app developers, and how they exercise their dominant position in the social media market," said committee chair Damian Collins. "We don't feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents."
The cache includes emails from Zuckerberg and other key members of his staff. The emails show Zuckerberg and other executives scheming to leverage user data to favor companies not considered to be threats and to identify potential acquisitions.
Collins said the emails raise important issues, particularly around the use of the data of Facebook users. "The idea of linking access to friends' data to the financial value of the developers' relationship with Facebook is a recurring feature of the documents," Collins said.
The committee's summary said Facebook collected data about the mobile apps its users favored to help it decide which companies to acquire. It also said Facebook knew that an update to its Android mobile app phone system — which allowed the Facebook app to hoover up user call logs and text messages — would be controversial.
"To mitigate any bad PR, Facebook planned to make it as hard as possible for users to know that this was one of the underlying features of the upgrade of their app," the summary said.
In a post Wednesday, Facebook continued to stand by its stance that the feature was "is opt in for users and we ask for people's permission before enabling."
The Android data collection practice was unearthed in April as the Cambridge Analytica scandal roiled Facebook. The data mining firm, employed by the 2016 Trump campaign, exploited lax Facebook data-sharing policies to obtain data on millions of users without their consent.
Facebook executives clearly understand the material is valuable. An unsigned memo setting policy for a system upgrade known as "Platform 3.0" laid out a case for shutting out any app developer who could be construed as a competitor.
"There are a small number of developers whom no amount of sharing to FB or monetary value can justify giving them access to Platform," the memo said. "These developers do not want to participate in the ecosystem we have created, but rather build their own ecosystem at the expense of our users, other developers and, of course, us. That is something that we will not allow."
The documents also suggest Facebook would jealously safeguard its interests. In a January 2013 email exchange, Zuckerberg signed off on cutting access to Twitter's Vine video-producing app, which had allowed users to find their friends on Vine by pulling in data from Facebook.
"Unless anyone raises objections," Facebook Vice President Justin Osofsky wrote, the company would cut Vine's access to users' friend networks. "We're prepared reactive PR."
"Yup, go for it," Zuckerberg replied.
The documents also suggest robust internal discussions about linking data to revenue.
"There's a big question on where we get the revenue from," Zuckerberg said in one email. "Do we make it easy for (developers) to use our payments/ad network but not require them? Do we require them? Do we just charge a (revenue) share directly and let (developers) who use them get a credit against what they owe us? It's not at all clear to me here that we have a model that will actually make us the revenue we want at scale."
Beijing, Dec 6 (AP/UNB)— China on Thursday demanded Canada release a Huawei Technologies executive who was arrested in a case that adds to technology tensions with Washington and threatens to complicate trade talks.
Huawei's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, faces possible extradition to the United States, according to Canadian authorities. The Globe and Mail newspaper, citing law enforcement sources, said she is accused of trying to evade U.S. curbs on trade with Iran.
The timing is awkward following the announcement of a U.S.-Chinese cease-fire in a tariff war over Beijing's technology policy. Meng was detained in Vancouver on Saturday, the day Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping met in Argentina and announced their deal.
Asian stock markets tumbled on the news, fearing renewed U.S.-Chinese tensions that threaten global economic growth. Market indexes in Tokyo and Hong Kong by 1.9 percent and 2.8 percent and Shanghai was off 1.7 percent at midday.
The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa said Meng broke no U.S. or Canadian laws and demanded Canada "immediately correct the mistake" and release her.
"The Chinese side expresses firm opposition and strongly protests this serious violation of human rights," said an embassy statement.
Huawei Technologies Ltd., the biggest global supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies, has been the target of deepening U.S. security concerns. Washington has pressured European countries and other allies to limit use of its technology.
The U.S. sees Huawei and smaller Chinese tech suppliers as possible fronts for Chinese spying and as commercial competitors that the Trump administration says benefit from improper subsidies and market barriers.
Trump's tariff hikes this year on Chinese imports stemmed from complaints Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology. But American officials also worry more broadly about Chinese plans for state-led industry development they worry might erode U.S. industrial leadership.
U.S. leaders also worry that Beijing is using the growth of Chinese business abroad to gain strategic leverage.
"The United States is stepping up containment of China in all respects," said Zhu Feng, an international relations expert at Nanjing University. He said targeting Huawei, one of the most successful Chinese companies, "will trigger anti-U.S. sentiment in China."
"The incident could turn out to be a breaking point," Zhu said.
Last month, New Zealand blocked a mobile phone company from using Huawei equipment, saying it posed a "significant network security risk." In August, Australia banned the company from working on the country's fifth-generation network due to security concerns.
The Wall Street Journal reported this year that U.S. authorities are investigating whether Huawei violated sanctions on Iran. The Chinese government appealed to Washington to avoid any steps that might damage business confidence.
Huawei's Chinese rival, ZTE Corp., was nearly driven out of business this year when Washington barred it from buying U.S. technology over exports to North Korea and Iran. Trump restored access after ZTE agreed to pay a $1 billion fine, replace its executive team and embed a U.S.-chosen compliance team in the company.
Huawei is regarded as far stronger commercially than ZTE. The company based in Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, has the biggest research and development budget of any Chinese company and a vast portfolio of tech patents, making it less dependent on American suppliers.
It also has a growing smartphone brand that is one of the top three global suppliers behind Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc. by number of handsets sold.
Meng was changing flights in Canada when she was detained "on behalf of the United States of America" to face "unspecified charges" in New York, according to a Huawei statement.
"The company has been provided very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng," the statement said.
A U.S. Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.
Huawei said it complies with all laws and rules where it operates, including export controls and sanctions of the United Nations, the United States and European Union.
Meng is a prominent member of China's business world as deputy chairman of Huawei's board and the daughter of its founder Ren Zhengfei, a former Chinese military engineer.
Despite that, her arrest is unlikely to derail U.S.-Chinese trade talks, said Willy Lam, a politics specialist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
"I think too much is at stake for Xi Jinping. He desperately wants a settlement," said Lam. "So I don't think this will have a really detrimental impact on the possibility of both countries reaching a deal."
Longer term, however, the case will reinforce official Chinese urgency about developing domestic technology suppliers to reduce reliance on the United States, said Lam.
Trump has "pulled out all the stops" to hamper Chinese ambitions to challenge the United States as a technology leader, Lam said. That includes imposing limits on visas for Chinese students to study science and technology.
"If the Chinese need further convincing, this case would show them beyond doubt Trump's commitment," said Lam.
David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said U.S. and Canadian business executives could face reprisals in China.
"That's something we should be watching out for. It's a possibility. China plays rough," Mulroney said. "It's a prominent member of their society and it's a company that really embodies China's quest for global recognition as a technology power."
Mulroney said Canada should be prepared for "sustained fury" from the Chinese and said the arrest will be portrayed in China as Canada kowtowing to Trump. He also said the Iran allegations are very damaging to Huawei and China will push back hard.
The Chinese will view Meng's arrest on the same day as Trump's meeting with the Chinese leader as a planned conspiracy to do damage, said Wenran Jiang, a senior fellow at the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia.
"She was in transit though Vancouver. That means the intelligence agencies in Canada and the U.S. were tracking her and planning to arrest her for some time," he said.
Jiang foresees a crisis in relations between the three countries if Meng is extradited. Any talk of a free trade agreement between Canada and China would be over, he said.
U.S. Sen. Ben Sasser, a Republican member of the Senate Armed Services and Banking committees, said Huawei is an agent of China's ruling Communist Party and applauded Canada for the arrest.
"Americans are grateful that our Canadian partners have arrested the chief financial officer of a giant Chinese telecom company for breaking U.S. sanctions against Iran," he said.
Beijing, Dec 5 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Chinese scientists have revealed the origin and population history of the golden snub-nosed monkey in a recent study, the Science and Technology Daily reported Wednesday.
An endangered species, golden snub-nosed monkeys are mainly found in Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi provinces, as well as Shennongjia Nature Reserve in Hubei Province, with less than 20,000 living in the wild, according to the newspaper.
Scientists from Yunnan University and the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences under the Chinese Academy of Sciences analyzed multiple genomic markers of golden snub-nosed monkeys from different geographic populations. The result reveals the species' diffusion process and the gene flow among monkeys from different geographic origins.
Based on the demographic simulation analyses, scientists believe the ancestral population first widely lived in the mountainous areas of central and southwestern China, then the influence of paleoclimatic changes led to more diverse geographic populations.
The research has a broad significance for the protection of this endangered species as well as the research in Chinese biogeography.
The research was published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.