India weighs 18 bids to build subsidized local chip factories

PLUS: Rideshare mega-merger mooted; France raids Huawei; Mongolia plans first satellite

APAC in Brief India has received 18 proposals to build chipmaking facilities under its Semicon India subsidy scheme, IT minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar revealed last week.

The program has earmarked $9.15 billion in incentives for companies willing to build semiconductors for chips and displays in India.

Chandrasekhar informed Parliament [PDF] that the ministry had received four proposals for semiconductor manufacturing plants and 13 for chip assembly units, in addition to one already approved and in development from Micron.

A seemingly unrelated effort will see Taiwan's Foxconn team with India's HCL on an outsourced semiconductor assembly and test facility.

India pitches its massive domestic market as a reason to invest – plus the chance to diversify supply chains away from China, Taiwan, and other locations with obvious geopolitical risks.

French authorities raid Huawei

France's Parquet national financier – an agency that investigates and prosecutes financial crimes – has raided the local offices of Chinese tech giant Huawei.

The raids reportedly concerned a "breach of probity" – a term that covers a wide range of possible wrongdoing.

Huawei confirmed it is under investigation, pledged to co-operate with authorities, and asserted confidence it will emerge unscathed.

– Simon Sharwood

Grab, GoTo, mega-merger rumors

Asia's two ride-sharing-and-more giants – Singapore's Grab and Indonesia's GoTo – are reportedly considering a merger.

Both outfits started as Uber clones before diversifying into e-commerce and financial services. Though the pair combined have over 150 million users, profits have proven elusive.

Reports suggest talks could result in a merger – or a deal whereby each chooses not to compete with the other in certain markets.

– Simon Sharwood

Terraform Labs exec Han extradited from Montenegro

Montenegro's Ministry of Justice last week revealed it has allowed the extradition of Han Chang-joon, former CFO of collapsed cryptocurrency firm Terraform Labs.

"Today, the state of Montenegro acted on the request of South Korea, and according to the decision of the Ministry of Justice, handed over Haan Chang Joon to the competent authorities of his home country," stated the ministry

Han was apprehended in March 2023, along with Terraform's fugitive CEO Do Kwon, after arriving in Montenegro with a forged passport.

Han has completed a four month sentence in Montenegro jail. Do Kwon remains in custody awaiting Montenegro's decision on where to send him: to the US to face a Securities and Exchange Commission trial, or to face accusations of violating capital market law in his home country of Korea.

Terraform Labs was behind a so-called stablecoin that crashed and wiped $42 billion from investor portfolios. The exchange filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US late last month, calling it a "strategic, protective step that enables TFL to continue executing its business plan while resolving outstanding legal proceedings, including representative litigation pending in Singapore and US litigation involving the SEC."

Chinese hackers fail in Philippines

China-based hackers were reportedly thwarted last week when they attempted to break into the email systems of Philippine government officials and agencies.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the National Coast Watch, and president Ferdinand Marcos Jr were among those targeted.

"We are not attributing this to any state. But using the internet protocol addresses, we pinpointed it to China," DICT spokesperson Renato Paraiso.

Mongolia plans first national satellite

Mongolia is reportedly in talks with SpaceX to launch its first national telecommunications satellite.

The satellite will support the country's disaster management and emergency response, provide broadband access, and support research and education.

Hong Kong finds new use for AI: tracking its rats

Hong Kong authorities have turned to high tech AI and thermal imaging tools to assist in ridding itself of rats – or at least tracking them, according to reports.

Authorities announced on Tuesday the deployment of AI technology and thermal cameras at around 200 to 300 surveillance spots in 19 areas.

"In the past, we could only see the distribution pattern of rodents and could only tell whether there was a rat by looking at the sweet potatoes," reportedly commented Lee Ming-wai, from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.

In other news

Dutch authorities last week accused China of attacking its defense department.

The Middle Kingdom also made headlines after US authorities named the Volt Typhoon hacking gang as the source of attacks on US infrastructure and warned that other China-linked attackers have made similar efforts.

Another attack attributed to China saw two million email addresses looted from job boards and e-tail sites.

In Japan, the nation's second-largest convenience store chain, Lawson, was acquired by mobile carrier KDDI, which will run it in partnership with Mitsubishi. The two companies expect a rich harvest of data to fuel future services. Japan's government found $1 billion to help Kioxia and Western Digital to make memory chips.

India decided to make its central bank digital currency programmable, and to adopt a national two-factor authentication framework.

In Australia, local bank ANZ published the results of an internal study on the efficacy of GitHub Copilot. The bank found significant productivity gains.

And in Singapore, the government expunged most of the data collected by its COVID-19 track and trace program. Also in the island nation, local bank DBS cut its CEO's potential pay by 30 percent as an accountabiity measure after he presided over tech outages. ®

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