India hits pause on import ban after Apple and Samsung pull out

ALSO: That's not a limp, that's 68 iPhones strapped to your body; Malaysia scores giant fab; Phishing phlops in Hong Kong; and more

Asia in brief A day after introducing a requirement that PC and server vendors secure a license to imports their products, India's government has put the brakes on the program.

The introduction of the permit program was completely unheralded and reportedly led to Samsung and Apple halting shipments. On Friday, India's Directorate General of Foreign Trade issued an update [PDF] to the licensing scheme that pushed back the date for manufacturers to obtain a license to October 31. The document describes the change as "liberal transitional arrangements."

The announcement of the scheme had immediate effect – an obviously difficult requirement given that shipments of products were almost certainly already on their way to India.

While the sudden pause to the scheme is not a good look for India's government, the decision to require import licenses may have worked: Indian media report that in the wake of the announcement, 44 hardware manufacturers registered to explore incentive schemes that fund manufacturing on Indian soil.

– Simon Sharwood

That's not a limp, that's 68 iPhones: Chinese customs

According to Chinese media customs authorities at Qingmao Port last week stopped a man whose "abnormal" posture aroused their suspicions – correctly, it transpired. Had 68 iPhones strapped to his body with tape.

The man reportedly hoped to avoid import duties, which can reach 17 percent.

Qingmao Port is a gateway between China and Macau – a special administrative region that is home to an Apple Store.

Tech smuggling in the region is not unusual. The Register recently reported a chap who tried to shift a cargo of GPUs and lobsters over roads near Macau.

India's moonshot under lunar gravity

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lunar lander mission, Chandrayaan-3, completed its Lunar Orbit Injection (LOI) on Saturday August 5, followed by a reduction of orbit late in the evening on Sunday August 6.

The Saturday lunar orbit insertion was carried out by retro-burning at Perilune for 30 minutes and 35 seconds, said ISRO.

A subsequent slowdown burn was conducted on August 6 and judged a success.

The maneuvers reduced the spacecraft's lunar orbit and positioned it over lunar poles. Further slowing burns are planned starting on August 9, with complex braking manoeuvres expected to bring Chandrayaan-3 to a soft landing in the region of the Moon's south pole on August 23.

The spacecraft left Earth on July 14 carrying a lander and rover for a 42-day journey to the Moon. It is expected to land near the south pole where it will conduct 14 Earth days worth of experiments.

This is India's second attempt at a Moon soft landing. Chandrayaan-2 unfortunately crashed in 2019 thanks to a software glitch.

If successful, the mission will make India the fourth nation to achieve a soft landing on Luna.

World's biggest 200-millimetre SiC power fab on its way to Malaysia

German chipmaker Infineon last week announced it will more than double the size of its fab in Kulim, Malaysia.

Infineon previously announced expansion of the plant in early 2022 but has decided it needs more capacity, after winning over €5 billion of business from automotive and renewable energy concerns.

Semiconductors made with SiC – silicon carbide – are especially suited to roles in power regulation, so are in demand in the automotive and energy sectors. Infineon hopes to secure 30 percent market share by 2030, when it expects annual revenue of €7 billion from SiC products.

– Simon Sharwood

Digital transaction growth outpaces cheques in India second year in a row

India's Ministry of Finance revealed last week that digital payments grew faster in FY 2021/2022 and FY 2022/2023 than the total volume of cheques, as measured in lakh. For FY 2021/2022 and FY 2022/2023, cheques grew by 0.4 percent and 7.7 percent respectively. Comparatively, digital payments grew 64.7 percent and 58.3 percent, respectively.

Apple supplier Murata expands in Philippines

Apple supplier and Japanese electronics manufacturer Murata said last Tuesday it was expanding its presence in the Philippines with a new building for the production of multilayer ceramic capacitors.

Demand for the products has dipped in the current muted smartphone market, but 6G and electric vehicles are expected to bolster future interest in the products.

The $79 million building is expected to be completed by the end of September 2025.

Phishing in Hong Kong on track for five-year decline

Hong Kong reported a more than 50 percent drop year-on-year in email phishing cases for the period January through May of 2023, reported South China Morning Post last Tuesday, citing police.

The resulting loss totalled $6.5 million so far in 2023, which constitutes a more than 87 percent decline year-on-year.

Phishing scams have been on the decline in the Special Administrative Region of China since 2019.

In other news …

Our coverage of Asia-Pacifc tech news last week included word that the High Court in Hong Kong had declined to force Big Tech companies to ban a protest song that is often mistaken for Hong Kong's national anthem.

Panasonic quit the display business, but good – it's planning to convert the plant where it used to make LCDs to build batteries instead.

China placed restrictions on exports of certain classes of drone technology, but given some countries had already banned imports of those same drones it didn't make much difference.

A subcommittee of the Australian Senate warned that certain Chinese social media apps may represent a security threat, and joined other international governments in recommending they be banned.

US sanctions against China and the general climate of geopolitical hostility didn't stop Intel from opening a new chip shop in Shenzen.

Meanwhile research has revealed that as many as 40 percent of all Arm-powered servers in the world are to be found in the Middle Kingdom, so those trade restrictions can't be biting too badly.

For its part, Intel rival AMD says it's willing to comply with the limitations imposed by Uncle Sam's rules if it means it can still sell chips to China.

Beijing also floated the idea of imposing screen time limits on kids and mandating that content producers make age-appropriate stuff for children to watch, prompting Western parents to wonder if Communism is really all that bad.

But before you go thinking Sino-US relations might be thawing, two US Navy sailors have been charged with espionage for handing over secret info to the Chinese.

And in lighter yet equally terrifying news, a Japanese supermarket is testing technology that watches you shop so that AI can suggest other stuff you might like. ®

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