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Toshiba COO dumped over entertainment expenses scandal

PLUS: Chinese province to buy four million servers; Google Cloud's nine-day APAC network glitch; and more

Asia In Brief Amid an investigation into his entertainment expenses, the chief operating officer of scandal-ridden Japanese tech giant Toshiba, Goro Yanase, resigned last week.

Yanase "will not be nominated as the director candidate at the next Annual General Meeting of Shareholders," read [PDF] an announcement from the Japanese electronics conglomerate. The document explained that the former COO "submitted entertainment expenses without reporting the actual names of the parties with whom he had business meals or drinks in violation of Toshiba Group rules."

News of the resignation came as the company posted [PDF] Q3 profits well below market expectations, and reduced full year profit guidance from $930 million to $721 million.

The company also acknowledged it has received at takeover proposal that its board is considering, without a deadline for a decision.

Chinese province to buy four million servers

China's Guizhou Province last week announced a plan to invest $2.9 billion on big data infrastructure to inform economic development. By 2025, the province plans to acquire four million servers, housed in 800,000 datacenter racks, and accessing over 180,000 5G base stations in the area.

On a smaller scale, South Korea's Ministry of Science and ICT released details last Wednesday of a newly opened AI datacenter at Seoul's Korea University.

The lab boasts 35 petaflops of computing power – enough for around 100 people to carry out large scale AI research simultaneously. The ministry said the recent emergence of super-large AI "such as ChatGPT is emphasizing the importance of high-performance computing."

Google Cloud's nine-day APAC brownout ends

Google's cloud has fixed an elevated latency issue that hit its asia-southeast2 region on February 8.

"Google Cloud Networking users can observe higher latency due to an ongoing issue on Telecom providers" was the ad and search giant's diagnosis, followed by analysis to the effect "Our engineering team has narrowed down the issue to one regional telecom service provider and reported this to them for further investigation."

Those words persisted on Google's incident status report for more than a week, until a February 17 update sounded the all clear. Google is now "evaluating additional improvement opportunities to identify effective rerouting of traffic." – Simon Sharwood

Singapore courts silicon investments

Beh Swan Gin, chairman of Singapore's Economic Development Board, told Bloomberg's Haslinda Amin in an interview last week that the island nation wants to win its "fair share" of semiconductor-related investments as US and China continue to spat over technology and international trade.

Australia seeks space comms network

Australia's government last week issued a tender seeking "progressive and innovative ideas to assist with a feasibility study into a space based Data Transport and Relay Network (DTRN)."

"The DTRN is envisioned to be a flexible and configurable global converged network in space, drawing on multiple security domains to disseminate Defence data," the tender states. "It should be resilient, enabling secure and rapid transmission and reception of multiple digital data types through an open systems architecture of satellite and ground assets using commercial military frequencies. The DTRN would be operated for military purpose and should be scalable, rapidly deployable and re-constitutable." – Simon Sharwood

Bulk of AI investment in Southeast Asia goes to Singapore

A report from US think tank the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) found that Singapore accounted for 81 percent of observed AI investment transactions in Southeast Asia and 94 percent of all AI transaction value.

Japan to commence CBDC pilot

The Bank of Japan last week announced [PDF] it will stage a pilot of its central bank digital currency in April.

"In the pilot program, the Bank will develop a system for experiments, in which a central system, intermediary network systems, intermediary systems, and endpoint devices are configured in an integrated manner," the institution announced.

Adoption of the currency is not certain: the Bank said "Whether to issue a CBDC should be decided by discussions among the Japanese public. With a view to facilitating such discussions, the Bank will continue to make thorough preparations to respond to changes in circumstances in an appropriate manner."

– Simon Sharwood

Air India makes biggest ever airliner order

Air India last week announced [PDF] its intention to acquire 470 passenger aircraft from Airbus and Boeing in the largest commercial aviation purchase of all time. The order includes 40 Airbus A350s, 20 Boeing 787s and ten Boeing 777-9 widebody aircraft, as well as 210 Airbus A320/321 Neos and 190 Boeing 737 MAX single-aisle aircraft. The first new aircraft will enter service later this year with most arriving from mid-2025 onward.

Australia continues to rip Chinese cameras out of government offices

Australia's Department of Finance said last week around 122 cameras made by Chinese vendors Hikvision and Dahua were found across the offices of 88 federal MPs. The government is looking to remove them all. Over 900 were found earlier this month across government agencies, spread out among 250 sites.

In other news …

Our regional coverage from last week included news of South Korea's Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter beaming its first images back to Earth.

Berkshire Hathaway vice chair, Charlie Munger said China was right to ban cryptocurrency and that the likelihood of the Middle Kingdom invading Taiwan is low. The 99-year-old also suggested TSMC is a buy now that his company has dumped a load of it.

News of the Omaha-based entity's decision to sell over 50 million shares of TSMC was announced the same day TSMC said it would plow $3.5 billion into its Arizona fabs and almost $7 billion into capital appropriations for other expenses.

China has not been immune to the ChatGPT craze and companies including Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu are all working towards developing an indigenous version. The Beijing Municipal Bureau of Economy and Information Technology pledged to support enterprises in building large language models to support services comparable to ChatGPT.

Six businesses earned spots on the US entity list on grounds of national security after an errant Chinese surveillance balloon was dispatched over US soil.

A Chinese semiconductor trade org released a letter opposing an alliance between Japan, The Netherlands and US to restrict chip exports to the Middle Kingdom.

Foxconn signed a $62.5 million MOU for a lease on 45 hectares of land in an industrial park in Vietnam's Bac Giang province, where it already has 50.5 hectares.

Norwegian authorities announced they had recovered $5.9 million of cryptocurrency stolen in the Axie Infinity hack. The hack has been attributed to Lazarus Group, which has links to North Korea.

The Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) – the internet registry for 56 nations in the region – warned that members may be receiving fake phone calls from people impersonating members of the organization in an attempt to sway their votes in a controversial upcoming election. ®

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