Beijing slaps Foxconn with a tax audit

ALSO: US may block clouds in China; Toyota reveals moon roover; Google expands Indian loan business; Xiaomi's new unifying OS; and more

Asia In Brief On Sunday, Chinese state media reported that Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn's operations in the Chinese cities of Guangdong and Jiangsu provinces were facing tax audits.

According to the Global Times, China's natural resources department also conducted on-site investigation into land use in Henan and Hubei provinces.

"Legal compliance everywhere we operate around the world is a fundamental principle of Hon Hai Technology Group (Foxconn). We will actively cooperate with the relevant units on the related work and operations," Foxconn told The Register in a statement.

US ponders China cloud blocks

The United States may block China's access to American clouds, as part of efforts to stop the Middle Kingdom developing advanced AI.

Japanese outlet Nikkei on Saturday reported that Alan Estevez, US under secretary of commerce for industry and security, said in an interview that the Biden administration is considering controls.

"We're looking at what the best way to control that, if we can, is, and that requires consultation with industry," he reportedly said.

Any such action would be tricky, as Microsoft and Amazon Web Services each operate in China through partners that run datacenters that deliver their services behind the Great Firewall. – Simon Sharwood

Toyota reveals lunar transport concept

Toyota showed off an experimental vehicle on Saturday, developed to advance work on cars that can drive on the Moon.

Each of the unnamed vehicle's four wheels has its own motor and steering, meaning it can move over rocks up to 50cm tall and climb steep 25-degree slopes.

Toyota concept moon car

Toyota's Moon car – Click to enlarge

Toyota is already working on a "Lunar Cruiser" with Japan's space agency. This vehicle will inform that work.

At the 2023 Japan Mobility Show, the giant automaker also revealed an electric pickup truck and Land Cruiser, a tiny three-wheeled motorbike, and a "Neo Steer" – a car cockpit concept based on motorcycle handlebars that brings the functions of the accelerator and brake pedals into the steering wheel. – Simon Sharwood

Xiaomi releases one operating system to rule them all

Chinese consumer electronics outfit Xiaomi last weekannounced last week it will replace its MIUI interface with an Android-based operating system, HyperOS, starting with its Xiaomi 14 Series handsets.

The OS will eventually appear in many of Xiaomi products.

CEO Lei Jun took to social media, where he detailed the gadget maker had been developing an operating system to "unify all devices and applications" in Xiaomi's ecosystem since 2017.

As Xiaomi makes devices ranging from kitchen appliances, to wearables, and even cars, HyperOS has the potential to appear in billions of machines.

India closer to crewed spaceflight

India's Space Research Organization has reported a successful test of the crew escape system of its Gaganyaan crewed orbital spacecraft.

The success puts India closer to its planned 2025 launch and ambition to land a crew on the Moon by 2040. – Simon Sharwood

Singapore signs with Google, Microsoft, for security

Singapore announced last Tuesday it had inked a deal for both Microsoft and Google to provide national cyber defence at the annual Singapore International Cyber Week (SICW).

"The Memoranda of Understanding will, among other things, facilitate cyber threat intelligence sharing, joint operations to combat cyber crime and malicious cyber activity, exchanges on emerging and critical technologies, such as artificial intelligence, as well as capacity building efforts," reveals a press release from the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA).

The statement said the organization recognizes the importance of multi-stakeholder cooperation and that both state and industry players share a collective responsibility when it comes to cyber security.

The night prior to the MOU announcement, Singaporean minister Teo Chee Hean used his opening speech at SICW to argue that "large tech companies wield an unprecedented level of influence over economies and societies" while enjoying "a remarkable degree of freedom from regulation and accountability."

Google launches pixel sized lending in India

On Thursday, Google announced it had partnered with DMI Finance to provide India with sachet loan service – a type of microloan typically paid back in short time frames that is popular among the unbanked.

The loans start at ₹15000, or roughly $180. Repayment instalments can be as low as ₹111, or $1.33.

The loans can be faciliated through the Google Pay app.

Google also announced it will make its Pixel 8 handsets in India.

Hong Kong infosec incidents spark legislative response

Hong Kong's acting secretary for innovation, technology and industry, Lillian Cheong, has revealed the Special Administrative Region plans to introduce legislation that defines the obligations of operators of critical infrastructure to defend their services from cyber attacks.

"The Government is working on the draft legislative framework and soliciting initial views from the industry," wrote Cheong. "The next step is to consult the Panel on Security of the Legislative Council and the public on the legislative proposals."

Last month, Hong Kong consumer watchdog, the Consumer Council, fell victim to a cyber attack on its computer system. In August, the territory's tech incubator business park, Cyberport, was hacked [PDF] and its data was leaked online.

In Other News …

Last week's coverage of all things APAC opened with news of a horrifying malware exploit that appears to be targeting the governments of ASEAN nations.

At Singapore's International Cyber Week conference, governments lamented their dependence on private firms – meaning Big Tech – to provide public infrastructure securely.

Meanwhile Huawei, which has been more closely scrutinized than most Chinese firms in the present geopolitical climate, has officially asked the EU to explain what makes it such a target.

Speaking of geopolitics, the forever friendship between China and Russia appears to have borne fruit, as Chinese-made processors will soon be appearing in servers made by a Russian vendor.

Meanwhile, as predicted, the US moved to tighten loopholes in its tech export sanctions.

The head of the Five Eyes security alliance warned that the Chinese government is stepping up its already extensive program of stealing intellectual property from overseas in order to advance its domestic tech industry.

Remember how Chinese regulators scuttled Intel's takeover of Tower Semi just by doing nothing? There are fears they may do the same to Broadcom and VMware in retaliation for all the sanctions.

Fear of retaliation from China also appears to be behind Apple's sudden cancellation of its news analysis program, The Problem With Jon Stewart. The host had reportedly planned to cover China in future episodes, but Apple – which gets a fifth of its revenue from the Middle Kingdom – balked.

China took an important step toward the future of the internet by requiring that all Wi-Fi kit sold in the country not only support IPv6, but run it by default.

Speaking of steps to the future, India's ambitions just keep getting bolder – now it plans to land a crew on the Moon by 2040.

India is also looking to ink some very big deals to build chips within its borders.

And with help from a couple of scrappy little American mega-corporations, Indian authorities shut down a cryptocurrency-linked investment scam.

Taiwan's gargantuan chip shop, TSMC, reported another big drop in annual revenue, just like last year, but predicted that an upswing is coming soon – just like last year. ®

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