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Xiaomi India names Qualcomm as destination for allegedly illegal payments

PLUS: Toshiba considers offers, clams up; India's HFCL claims Wi-Fi 7 first; Vietnam may censor SocMed; and more

Asia In Brief Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi’s Indian subsidiary has expressed disappointment with a decision by nation’s government to freeze $683 million of its assets, claiming the disputed funds were payments to US chip giant Qualcomm.

The cash was seized in May, when Indian authorities opened an investigation into alleged illegal remittances by Xiaomi to three foreign entities on grounds that the Chinese gadget-maker had received no services for the payments, and they were therefore suspect.

Xiaomi appealed the decision, but India’s money laundering prevention agency, the Enforcement Directorate, has rejected that appeal. “The Xiaomi India has not availed any service from the three foreign based entities to whom such amounts have been transferred,” states the Directorate’s announcement [PDF] of its decision.

Xiaomi fired back with a statement that asserts that more than 84 percent of the $683 million were royalty payments to Qualcomm for in-licensed technologies used in its smartphones.

“Without these technologies, phones would not have worked in India,” said Xiaomi India.

“Moreover, we would like to clarify that Xiaomi Technology India Private Limited does not own or hold any assets outside India,” added the smartphone maker.

Xiaomi warned in its April-June 2022 earning reported that India’s probe into its affairs could materially impact its business.

India has not been shy about wanting low-end Chinese smartphones out of its market as it continues to strive for tech self-sufficiency through subsidies and industry development programs that have set a goal of increasing local electronic production by 400 percent by 2026.

Japan ponders customer registration on crypto exchanges

Japan is set to revise its Act on Prevention of Transfer of Criminal Proceeds to require customer registration for transactions conducted on crypto exchanges, as it cracks down on money laundering and seeks to better monitor digital currencies.

A draft amendment to the law is scheduled for submission this week and will take effect in May 2023, according to Nikkei Asia.

India’s HFCL claims world’s first Wi-Fi 7 AP

Indian tech manufacturer HFCL has launched what it claims is the first Wi-Fi 7 access point – quite a feat given that Wi-Fi 7 (aka 802.11be) is thought to be on track for ratification in 2024 and no commercial client devices are currently available.

The Register therefore asked HFCL whether the device is practical. We were told that as it is backwards compatible with W-iFi 6 and 5, buyers might wish to consider the device for current Wi-Fi networks and then add Wi-Fi 7 once client devices become available.

The company added that it has conducted interoperability tests with earlier versions of Wi-Fi but is yet to do so for Wi-Fi 7.

The machines use Qualcomm Networking Pro silicon.

HFCL has not set a price for its access points but will start taking orders in December and expects machines to ship in April 2023.

IDC predicts Asia public cloud boom

Analyst firm IDC predictS the overall public cloud services (PCS) market in Asia will more than triple between 2021 and 2026.

Asia Pacific (exclusive of Japan) is expected to increase at a rate of 26.4 percent CAGR from $51.2 billion to $165.2 billion during the five-year period.

Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) is expected to make up almost half ($80.7 billion) of Asia Pacific’s PCS market in 2026, Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) 16.6 percent ($27.4 billion) and Software-as-a-service (SaaS) 34.6 percent ($57.1 billion).

India flag with a digital look

Google allows test of real-money gambling apps in India, but without its billing systems


Vietnam reportedly preparing to restrict news sources on social media

Vietnam is reportedly developing regulations over which entities may post news to social media.

The new laws are expected to be announced before the end of 2022. According to Reuters, the new rules will place a “significant moderation burden on platform providers” like Facebook and YouTube.

Vietnam already has limited freedom of speech, and the new controls could make it possible for authorities to order the shutdown of certain voices on social media.

Toshiba advances takeover talks – but warns it has nothing to say until a deal is done

Japanese tech conglomerate Toshiba last week announced [PDF] it has received “a number of more in-depth (including legally binding) written indications of interest submitted by multiple potential partners, in varying degrees of completeness.”

The company told shareholders it will evaluate the proposals “over coming months” but warned they can now expect lengthy silence.

“Since the company now expects to enter into a more critical phase of the process, it does not anticipate providing any further official updates,” the company stated.

If Toshiba does a deal, it will make a further proclamation. However, the missive reported here also leaves open the prospect of no agreement being struck.

- Simon Sharwood

US veep Harris pitches CHIPS Act to Japan

US vice president Kamala Harris visited in Japan last week as part of efforts to diversify America’s chip supply chain.

“We see Japan as playing a very important, critical role in our ability to do this work and to address the challenges that we face,” said Harris in a roundtable with Japanese Business Executives on the CHIPS and Science Act.

Harris detailed that in the early days of the pandemic, the US recognized it “did not have a strong-enough and resilient-enough system to supply [its own] basic needs.

Passed last July, the CHIPS act provides $52 billion into semiconductor and other science research. At the time of writing, no major Japanese chip manufacturer has formally expressed an interest in the program.

Earth focused on APAC region

China orders tech companies to 'improve traceability' of users to control 'rumours and false information'


Reliance Jio expected to launch $180 laptop for India

After having success in India with low-cost Jio phones, Reliance Jio is launching a low-cost laptop with an entry price around $180.

The JioBook will reportedly use a 4G sim card, Qualcomm chips and run on the JioOS operating system. It will be initially available to schools and government. Sales to the public will follow, as will a 5G version.

NSO Group’s ForcedEntry allegedly deployed against Indonesian officials

Six Indonesian officials reportedly confirmed they were targets of Israeli-designed spyware.

The officials were only around half of a dozen or so allegedly targeted. The media outlet said the officials had been notified by Apple that they were potentially targeted by state-sponsored attackers using ForcedEntry, a spyware made available by Pegasus-maker NSO Group.

In other news

Our regional coverage from last week included Microsoft warning that the state-sponsored North Korean threat group being the 2014 attack on Sony Pictures is now posing as LinkedIn recruiters to distribute malware-laden versions of open-source software packages.

Singapore-based Coda Payments is under investigation for violations of India’s Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The company was accused of making unauthorized deductions from users' accounts and structuring its affairs in a way that makes Coda Singapore simply a conduit to remit funds outside India.

India's Ministry of Electronics and IT issued a clarification that there was no immediate mandate for smartphone makers to include hardware that connects to the country’s Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) satnav system. Media reports had alleged that manufacturers would be required to produce NavIC-compatible equipment by January 2023.

Southeast Asia's Uber-clone turned superapp, Grab, flexed during its Investor’s Day that it has so much data on its customers and drivers that it can pre-emptively rate their suitability for a loan. The superapp’s financial arm provides both cash advances and loans. Thirty percent of the company’s gig economy drivers already have one.

Tencent CEO Pony Ma believes “immersive convergence” is imminent. The heady concept includes digital twins of an individual’s normal physical environments as to move back and forth seamlessly from the real world to the meta world.

The People's Bank of China, the nation's central bank, issued a mission accomplished statement over its efforts to suppress Bitcoin and online lending.

The aftermath of the data breach at Australian telco Optus included a request for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to assist with identifying the attackers.

Vulnerability reports from researchers in China dived, said think tank The Atlantic Council, which theorized Beijing’s preference for reporting bugs locally takes precedence over global reveals. However, the thinktank found anonymous reports are on the rise, suggesting Chinese researchers want to share their findings.

Microsoft China turned 30 and is looking to hire, as well as export.

Alibaba Cloud revealed a billion dollar “ecosystem upgrade” at its annual event. The upgrade will include a billion dollars over three years “to support partners' technology innovation and their market expansion." ®

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