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China stops recognizing online study, orders kids back to foreign unis

PLUS: NTT’s haptics advance; Australia cracks down on influencers; Korean Uni websites hit by Chinese protestors; and more

Asia In Brief China has stopped recognizing online study at overseas institutions and called on students to get on a plane and resume face to face study.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange – the body responsible for recognition of credentials earned overseas – had a policy of acknowledging only study conducted face to face. However, as a Saturday announcement and Sunday followup FAQ explained, travel restrictions imposed in response to COVID meant relaxing that policy.

With China's zero-COVID policy abandoned, and overseas travel again permitted, the Service Center has reverted to its previous stance.

The agency told students to get back to campus as soon as possible.

That won't be easy. Most northern hemisphere universities have already commenced a new term or semester, and many educational institutions in the southern hemisphere are mere days away from starting their post-summer semesters. There is precious little time to arrange visas, travel, and local accommodation.

China often states that its universities can match similar institutions anywhere, but doesn't mind its citizens studying abroad as they can gain perspectives unavailable at home. Chinese students can also exercise soft power on Beijing's behalf – some have been known to stage local protests in nations that take issue with the Middle Kingdom's policies. Many also continue to use made-in-China online services like WeChat and AliPay, creating demand for them around the world.

– Simon Sharwood

Chinese hackers give 12 Korean universities' websites an unplanned holiday

South Korean authorities last week admitted that a dozen of the nation's universities experienced website outages, after China-linked attackers decided to protest the unavailability of short term visas to visit the country.

One of the changes that has followed the end of China's zero-COVID policy is that Chinese citizens are again able to travel overseas. Fearing a wave of COVID-positive visitors, South Korea suspended issuance of short term visas in China.

China did likewise and the two nations have sniped at each other since.

Some Chinese appear to have taken the matter further with attacks on South Korean universities. The alleged perps took to Telegram to state the reason for the website takedowns was to "invade" South Korea's digital realm in protest at not being able to visit it physically.

South Korea's Internet & Security Agency (KISA) was also targeted by the attackers. The Agency said it was warned of a broader attack that would attempt to strike 2,000 websites, so engaged extra defenses.

Those efforts appear to have helped – KISA said only universities with weak defenses were impacted.

– Simon Sharwood

Japan flings classified intelligence gathering satellite into orbit

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Mitsubishi Industries celebrated the launch of an intelligence-gathering satellite, called IGS Radar 7, toward a sun synchronous orbit on Wednesday.

The satellite flew atop an H-IIA rocket. Mitsubishi confirmed a successful separation.

The mission will reportedly keep an eye on military sites in North Korea and facilitate improved natural disaster response.

Australia cracks down on influencers, dating apps

Australian authorities last week acted against dating apps and influencers.

Developers and platform execs were summoned to a summit at which federal communications minister Michelle Rowland pointed out that dating apps are sometimes used by people whose intent is abuse or sexual violence – not romance.

Some dating apps don't require users to use their actual identities, meaning those who are banned from the apps for abusive activities can sign up under new identities and continue their vile behavior.

Rowland and e-safety commissioner Julie Inman Grant said the apps need to improve safety for users, or face a mandatory industry code that will force them to do so. Among the measures considered are data-sharing to prevent re-registration by abusive users.

Representatives of major apps agreed to improve their systems, but specifics and timelines were not set.

Also in Australia, the nation's competition and consumer commission (ACCC) last week started to investigate posts by over 100 online influencers, after receiving tip offs they might be endorsing products without revealing they are paid to do so.

The ACCC used Facebook to ask for tipoffs about dodgy influencers who fail to disclose sponsorships, and was alerted to 150 suspects.

"Already, we are hearing some law firms and industry bodies have informed their clients about the ACCC's sweep, and reminded them of their advertising disclosure requirements," ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.

The regulator is paying special attention to sectors in which influencer marketing is particularly prevalent – such as fashion, beauty and cosmetics, food and beverage, travel, health fitness and wellbeing, parenting, gaming and technology.

"The ACCC will not hesitate to take action where we see consumers are at risk of being misled or deceived by a testimonial, and there is potential for significant harm," Cass-Gottlieb warned.

– Simon Sharwood

Japanese mobile operator progresses haptic feedback with help from academia

Japanese mobile operator NTT Docomo unveiled a new technology this week that enables the sharing of haptic information.

FEEL TECH is a collaboration with boffins from the Nagoya Institute of Technology and Keio University Graduate School.

"An amateur craftsman could use the system to grasp the subtle techniques of a master craftsman, or individuals could use it to haptically recall sensations, etc. they experienced at a younger age," explained a canned statement announcing the technology.

Practical applications include fields that rely on human senses – like medicine and art – as well as shoppers who want to feel the product being purchased.

To make it all possible, Keio University developed the driving device and sensory information for sharing the haptic feedback while Nagoya Institute of Technology developed the device that detects the sensory states of people, as well as the algorithm to interpret it. Docomo integrated the elements into the platform.

"To achieve crucial synchronization of the haptic and video data being shared, the platform is expected eventually to make full use of the ultra-low latency that will be offered in forthcoming 6G mobile networks," said Docomo.

AWS adds second Australian region

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has opened a second region in Australia, in the city of Melbourne.

AWS released an Economic Impact Study describing the facility's impact and – surprise! – it predicted a bonanza for Melbourne as the result of the cloud giant's $4.8 billion investment.

AWS said the cash will support an annual average of over 2,500 full time jobs and add almost $11.3 billion to the nation's gross domestic product.

The investment will include datacenter construction, operational expenses, plus goods and services acquired from local businesses.

The Melbourne region is AWS's twelfth in the Asia Pacific region.

In other news …

Our regional coverage from last week included Google agreeing to measures India proposed as part of an antitrust case alleging dominance of the mobile OS and apps markets.

Also in India, ministers claimed Apple wants to move a quarter of its manufacturing to the nation, and showed off a homebrew OS designed to compete with Android and Apple.

One more story from India, where the government used emergency powers to block access to a BBC documentary critical of prime minister Narendra Modi.

South Korea's SK hynix unveiled fast mobile DRAM and suggested it could find its way into servers.

Google deleted thousands of posts by Beijing-aligned misinformation gang Dragonbridge.

And in the USA, chipmaking kit-maker Lam Research complained that US export bans had cost stateside jobs. ®

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