Alibaba takes more of Salesforce behind the great firewall

PLUS: China's taikonauts return from space, India approves PC licenses, and Foxconn founder presidential campaign investigated for bribes

Asia in brief Alibaba announced on Friday it would make Salesforce cloud products and platform available on its Cloud Platfrom beginning December 18, 2023.

The Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and Salesforce Platform will include exclusive features for mainland China that include integration with "key Chinese social media and messaging platforms," according to Alibaba's press releases.

Alibaba became the exclusive provider of Salesforce in China in 2019 and has so far brought the Middle Kingdom its social commerce product.

In 2022, Salesforce shut its Hong Kong office and reduced its presence in China, leaning on Alibaba as a partner – a strategy that could assist the US vendor in navigating Chinese policies during increasingly tense US-Sino relations.

China's taikonauts return home

Just after 8am on Tuesday China's crewed spacecraft, the Shenzhou-16, returned to Earth with its three occupants on board.

The capsule had spent five months at the Tiangong space station as the first Chinese civilians in space. According to state-sponsored media, the spacecraft landed at the Dongfeng landing site in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

The replacement taikonauts launched from Earth on October 26, docking with the Tianhe core module 6.5 hours later. They are scheduled to stay for six months.

India's off again, on again PC import license given to 110 firms

The Indian government has reportedly approved at least 110 firms to operate under its PC import managing system.

Among those approved to import laptops, tablets and PCs are Acer, Xiaomi, Asus, Apple, Dell, HP, Samsung, Lenovo and more.

An import license requirement was introduced for PCs – seemingly out of nowhere – in early August. It was announced with little explanation, although it came at a time when India seeks to boost homemade tech with its "Made In India" campaign.

By mid-October, the government had received much pushback from industry and government and halted the plan. Instead it rolled out the new system, which requires registration of quantity and value of imports.

Foxconn founder may have traded cash, toilet paper for signatures in election bid

Taiwanese prosecutors are investigating people related to the presidential campaign of Foxconn founder Terry Gou over suspected bribery, according to a statement [PDF] from the Taipei District Prosecutor's Office last week.

Gou's campaign needed 290,000 voter signatures to secure a place on the presidential ballot. Taiwan's national news agency, Focus Taiwan, reported on Thursday he had secured over three times that number – 1,036,778 signatures, to be exact.

On Friday, Focus Taiwan reported that authorities had detained a former ward chief for allegedly paying 1,000 friends and relatives the equivalent of $7.75 each to sign the petition. The money allegedly was provided by an unidentified bank account.

Channel News Asia reported on Thursday that four suspects had also offered $28 worth of toilet paper to staff at a farmers' association in exchange for signatures, in one of a dozen related investigations.

After digital outages, Singapore bank slapped with bans

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has slapped local bank DBS with a ban on acquiring new business ventures and all non-essential IT changes for six months, after it experienced "repeated and prolonged" banking disruptions this year.

MAS has also barred DBS from reducing the size of its branch and ATM networks during this period. It warns that the bank may take 24 months to implement "planned structural changes to improve the resilience of its digital banking."

The bank experienced a massive outage on October 14, leaving some residents without means of payment in a world where cash transactions are becoming less common.

In addition to digital bank outages, the city-state also recently faced the collapse of its hospital and polyclinic's internet services for seven hours.

The outages occurred on November 1 and have since been attributed to a denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on national healthcare IT provider Synapxe.

Two of China's LLMs get an update

Last Tuesday, Alibaba Cloud announced the launch of its updated large language model (LLM) Tongyi Qianwen 2.0.

The web giant claimed its model has improved alignment techniques and expanded model size. It also offers industry-specific generative AI for the healthcare and finance and legal counselling sectors.

Meanwhile, Baidu launched a paid version of its ErnieBot for around US$8 a month.

In other news …

The Register's regional coverage of APAC last week included a few stories about Broadcom waiting to close the deal to buy VMware while Chinese regulators appear to be the final boss fight – and they're taking their time.

Chinese regulators (different ones) were also in the news when they slapped a number of online services for live-streaming and distributing content they deemed vulgar.

The ongoing tension between China and basically everyone else continued to escalate, with Canada joining the ranks of nations banning WeChat from any government devices, eh?

Meanwhile Vietnam poked its head up, becoming the latest regional country to offer itself as an alternative to China for anyone wanting to build chips without annoying Uncle Sam.

Beijing, meanwhile, signalled that it may de-escalate the situation somewhat by allowing US chip shop Micron out of the doghouse at last – without ever offering an explanation of why it was in trouble in the first place.

China's biggest chip maker, YMTC, is on the hunt for fresh sources of funding after it was reported to have burned through billions in its cash reserves trying to find ways around the US sanctions.

Speaking of sanctions, the US collared a group of people it suspects of having smuggled electronic components to Russia – components that were later found on battlefields in Ukraine – in violation of the law.

Big Blue acquired a huge Indonesian consultancy firm, presaging plans for an aggressive expansion in Southeast Asia.

Indian politicians revealed that Apple had warned them their devices might be under attack with spyware – and some suspect the call may be coming from inside the house!

The notorious Mozi botnet malware has all but disappeared – which is undoubtedly good news – but questions still remain: who killed it, and why? ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like