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China's homegrown airliner makes first paid-for flight

PLUS: Grab founder quits operational role; Meta's fiber-bot crawls to Japan; ChatGPT enhances Taiwan's status

Asia in Brief China Eastern Airlines on Sunday conducted the first commercial flight of the COMAC C919 – the first made–in-China commercial jetliner.

The C919 is a single aisle twinjet that boasts between 152 and 174 seats, and can tackle many of the missions Airbus and Boeing suggest for the A320 and 737.

On Chinese micro-blogging site Weibo, China Eastern celebrated the departure of flight MU9191 from Shanghai Hongqiao, en route to Beijing Capital.

Boeing delivered 387 737s in 2022, and Airbus shipped 516 A320s. The two planemakers have literally thousands of orders to fulfil and are increasing their production capabilities to meet demand.

The C919 arrives into a hot market, and a hot niche.

The first flight is also symbolic, since few nations possess the capability to produce commercial jetliners. China has just shown it can match rivals in the US and EU in the complex field of aircraft manufacturing – and do better than Japan, where Mitsubishi recently abandoned plans to make a regional jetliner.

– Simon Sharwood

ChatGPT enhances Taiwan's importance: IDC

Taiwan's supply chain can benefit from generative AI, said IDC analysts in a media briefing on Asia/Pacific Enterprises' Attitudes Toward Generative AI Adoption and Application last Thursday. The speakers said AI development relies heavily on the chips that come from Taiwan, which will therefore play a huge role in a race to build infrastructure that reduces the development costs of large language models. At the event, IDC predicted that in the coming 18 months Asian organizations will put ChatGPT to work most often for chores concerning product development and design, followed by software development and design, and customer engagement.

Superapp Grab co-founder steps down from operating role

Singapore ride-hailing app Grab co-founder Tan Hooi Ling is stepping down from her operating role and directorship by the end of 2023, and instead taking an "advisory role."

India buys 18PFLOPS supercomputer

India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences announced last week the nation will soon acquire a new supercomputer.

The colossal computer will replace a Cray XC-40 named Mihir that packs 6.8 PFLOPS and operates at India's National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting.

Earth sciences minister Kiren Rijiju didn't offer any specs for its replacement other than saying it will boast 18 PFLOPS of processing power, and be used to make weather forecasts more accurate and granular.

The Register fancies this is an off-the-shelf machine, as Rijiju said it will be up and running by March 2024. Bespoke supers typically take rather longer to swing into action.

Meta licenses fiber-bot to Japan

Meta last week announced it has licensed its Bombyx optic fibre laying robots to Japan's Hibot.

Bombyx bots crawl along aerial electricity cabling to install fiber optics – an established technique but one that previously required power to be turned off. Bombyx instead uses a technique called helical wrapping, whereby a fiber optic cable is wrapped around an existing powerline conductor without power outages.

Meta developed Bombyx to extend fiber deeper into networks, and expressed hope Hibot will deliver on that mission, and more.

– Simon Sharwood

In other news …

Our regional coverage from last week included news that Chinese microblogging site WeChat launched a payment system that allows users to pay by waving their hand over a sensor.

The FBI warned against fake job ads used to lure would-be employees to jobs in Asia that are actually slavery rings that force workers to run cyber scams.

Pakistan's minister of finance declared cryptocurrency would never be legal in Pakistan and actions are in motion to ban the digi-cash.

Singapore will ask its current IT panel vendors to reapply for their positions as it issues $1.85 billion worth of bulk tenders.

Sri Lanka's Ministry of Technology has confirmed it will create a cyber security authority – real soon now.

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) signalledit will abandon plans to rebuild its core platforms on blockchain technology.

Chinese authorities have deemed Micron products a security risk and issued a ban on Chinese operators of critical information infrastructure from using the US maker's chips.

The US has banned an outsourcer that allegedly "employs delegations of DPRK IT workers that operate in Russia and Laos."

Korean electronics behemoth Samsung's new product is an OLED screen that can check blood pressure.

Five Eyes nations and Microsoft accused China of attacking critical infrastructure using a "living off the land" attack that hides offensive action among everyday Windows admin activity. finally killed the Chinese outpost of its Appstore.Thankfully it announced it was doing so, or no-one would have noticed.

South Korea successfully launched its domestically made rocket, Nuri.

India is finally set to regulate AI and Big Tech, with its wide sweeping Digital India Bill. A draft willdebut in early June. ®

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