China bans Facebook messaging service WhatsApp

The Chinese government has disabled Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp, the New York Times reports.

Nadim Kobeissi, an applied cryptographer at Paris-based research firm Symbolic Software, told the Times his company began noticing slowdowns in the service Wednesday. By Monday, the block had become comprehensive.

Authorities blocked video-chat and file-sharing functions within WhatsApp in mid-July, but the app’s messaging capabilities, which employ a rare and strong form of encryption, remained functional. The government lifted bans on video chat and file sharing later, but has since disabled the app in its entirety, reports say.

WhatsApp’s messaging service uses a renowned end-to-end encryption technique. As the Times explains it, even Facebook itself cannot decode messages sent via the app. The encryption method is not widely used and is therefore difficult to compromise.

But the ban, as the Times points out, indicates that Chinese authorities have developed a means by which to breach WhatsApp messaging encryption.

“This is not the typical technical method in which the Chinese government censors something,” Kobeissi said.

Censorship of various technological communication services is commonplace in the country. If the government does not disable a service entirely, it slows down that service to such a degree that it becomes unusable.

“If you’re only allowed to drive one mile per hour, you’re not going to drive on that road, even if it’s not technically blocked,” Lokman Tsui, an internet communications specialist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, explained to the Times.

The goal of the censorship is to funnel users toward a handful of communication services that the government can easily monitor. WeChat is one such service. It is similar to WhatsApp except that the former, according to the Times, offers broader functionality.

Tencent, the company that runs WeChat, is based in Shenzhen and has said that it will comply with the government’s requests for information. In total, 963 million people use WeChat, the Times says.

Services like WhatsApp and WeChat have largely replaced e-mail in China, and are vital to many business operations. A large number of China-based businesses were unwilling to use WeChat, whether because of the threat of surveillance or some other reason.

Some former WhatsApp users in China expressed frustration on social media, the Times reports.

“Losing contact with my clients, forced back to the age of telephone and email for work now,” one user complained on Weibo, a Twitter-like microblogging site.

“Even WhatsApp is blocked now? I’m going to be out of business soon,” another person said via the same site.

WhatsApp was the last Facebook product available in mainland China, the Times says. The country banned the company’s main social media site in 2009. Instagram, another Facebook offering, is disabled as well.

The WhatsApp ban represents a setback for the social media behemoth, whose founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, has been advocating and taking steps toward re-entering the Chinese market.

The handful of American-created communication services China does tolerate include Microsoft’s Skype and Apple’s FaceTime. The former does not employ end-to-end encryption, the Times points out, and is, therefore, easier for the government to monitor. The latter does use end-to-end encryption but is less secure than WhatsApp.

The Times notes that the Office of the United States Trade Representative is investigating whether Chinese authorities have violated the intellectual property rights of American citizens. The Office has not clarified whether it will consider the bans as part of the investigation, or merely look for cases in which China has stolen US technology.

The WhatsApp ban comes just prior to the country’s Communist Party Congress on October 18, during which authorities appoint the leaders of the party, who in turn run the country.

According to the Times, the meeting, which the country holds once every five years, will likely reinstall President Xi Jinping as party leader. The question remains as to who will join Xi on the Standing Committee of Politburo, the party’s highest ranking group.

Under Xi’s leadership, the Times notes, China has tightened censorship, closed several churches and jailed a number of human rights activists.

Featured image via Pixabay

Chinese authorities crackdown on cryptocurrency ICOs

Monday, the Chinese government banned the practice of creating and selling new cryptocurrencies, Reuters reports

With the rise of Blockchain technology, initial coin offerings (ICOs)—which give investors the opportunity to buy newly-created cryptocurrencies—have gained popularity. In total, Reuters says, ICOs have raised $2.32 billion since the inception of the cryptocurrency market; $2.16 billion of that amount has come in 2017.

In China this year, 65 ICOs have raised a combined 2.62 billion yuan ($394.6-million) and attracted 105,000 investors, according to Reuters.

The value of Ethereum, the cryptocurrency in which most ICOs are transacted, has plummeted on the news. On Sunday, one Ethereum token was worth $349.93. Late Monday, that figure had fallen 14.3 percent to $299.72. As of 1:33 p.m. Eastern Tuesday, Ethereum has recovered slightly; the USD-Ethereum exchange rate sits at 307.56 to one.

The Bitcoin-USD exchange rate has dropped 5.9 percent since midnight Monday morning on China’s news. Late Sunday night, one bitcoin was worth $4,632.46. As of 1:39 Eastern Tuesday, the value of a single bitcoin token is $4,359.07.

The market capitalization of the cryptocurrency industry as a whole dropped 11.66 percent Monday, from $165.095 billion to $145.833 billion. Since midnight Tuesday morning, though, the industry’s market cap has gained 1.7 percent. As of 1:55 p.m. Eastern, the industry is worth $148.358 billion.

“The large price falls can be attributed to panic amongst traders and profit-taking,” said Cryptocompare founder Charles Hayter, per Reuters.

Indeed, China’s announcement had many investors across the internet predicting doom and gloom. A participant in one chatroom set up for an upcoming ICO said “the music has stopped” for the cryptocurrency boom, Reuters reports.

“Sell all your bitcoins now,” another advised, again per Reuters.

The organizer of the ICO to which the chatroom was dedicated, which was meant to launch a new cryptocurrency called SelfSell, has suspended the project.

Regulators around the world are struggling to understand cryptocurrency investment and the risks associated with it, said Zennon Kapron, director of the Shanghai-based financial technology consultancy Kapronasia, per Reuters.

Prior to China’s announcement, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as similar agencies in Singapore and Canada, warned that regulations would likely be needed to control the cryptocurrency market.

The lack of regulation governing cryptocurrency and investment in it is unprecedented. Blockchain, the backbone of cryptocurrency transactions, functions without a centralized overseer.

The nature of investment in cryptocurrency is also unconventional. When one contributes to a fundraiser for a traditional company, one generally receives a share in the company and/or a security. ICO investors, Reuters notes, receive neither.

Therefore, Reuters points out, an investment in a cryptocurrency is little more than a bet that demand for that currency will exceed supply, driving up value. It is a risky bet, considering the volatility of cryptocurrencies.

With risks to investors so high, government regulators are purportedly taking strides to protect their citizens. Cryptocurrency expert and Blockchain proponent Oliver Bussman said, per Reuters, that the lack of private financial advice firms in China obligates the government to be especially vigilant in protecting the finances of its constituents.

Of course, many would argue that it is an investor’s own responsibility to protect him/herself.

Despite some predictions that China’s move spells the beginning of the end of the cryptocurrency boom, many experts believe the regulatory shutdown is but a temporary measure designed to give the country’s government time to develop a strategy by which to handle cryptocurrencies.

“China, in many ways, is no different than the U.S. or Singapore in saying, ok, we need to push back on these for now until we figure out how to deal with them,” Kapron said, per Reuters, adding that he expected regulators in China to eventually ease the ICO ban.

Bussman says, per Reuters, that cryptocurrency technology is too revolutionary, too integral to the future of global economics, to be shutdown. Cryptocurrency, he says, has already worked itself into the fabric of modern investment.

“The initial coin offering is a new business model leveraging blockchain technology and it will remain. This is not the end of the ICO – absolutely not,” he said.

Featured Image via Flickr/BTC Keychain

Starbucks stock falls, but one analyst predicts recovery

Since June 2, Starbucks stock has fallen more than 16 percent. Shares dipped just over nine percent (to $54.00/share) in 24 hours after the company released its most recent quarterly earnings report on July 27.

Investors are losing confidence in the iconic coffee brand due to declining growth rates, Daniel Schönberger of SeekingAlpha writes. Though Starbucks reported an 8 percent jump in revenue and a 12 percent increase in earnings per share last quarter, revenue growth has been falling since the first quarter of 2016, and EPS growth has declined from 37 percent in quarter four of 2013.

Still, Schönberger notes that most companies would love to post growth numbers comparable to Starbucks’, and points to a number of promising indicators for the company’s future.

The growth rate of the chain’s comparable sales increased over the most recent quarter. The comparable sales metric compares sales performance at a given store over some period of time. According to Schönberger, the figure is important from a sustainability perspective, as it is cheaper for a company to grow sales at existing locations than to open new stores. In the most recent quarter, Starbucks reported a 5 percent increase in comparable sales, up from 3 percent in each of the two prior quarters.

Still, in the long view, Starbucks’ comparable sales growth is slowing. In quarter four of 2011, comparable sales grew 10 percent. Until 2014, the company consistently reported comparable sales growth in excess of 5 percent.

Through the latter half of 2013, traffic growth accounted for the lion’s share of comparable sales growth. In the fourth quarter of that year, traffic growth began to decline, and increasing margins of individual sales (“ticket growth”) accounted for most of Starbucks’ comparable sales growth. Traffic has remained flat or declined in each of the last five quarters.

To maintain its dominance in the coffee sphere, Starbucks relies heavily on its brand image, Schönberger notes, citing a 2016 Interbrand report that ranks the Starbucks brand as the 64th most valuable worldwide, worth almost $7.5 billion. In 2016, Interbrand says, Starbucks’ brand appreciated 20 percent.

In a coffee sector in which competition is fierce, barrier to entry is low (i.e., it is easy to open a coffee shop), and customers can shift their loyalties with ease, the strength of Starbucks brand, Schönberger says, compels customers to tolerate long lines and high prices to obtain the familiar, quality product Starbucks offers.

Starbucks continues to expand in the U.S. The company opened 244 new stores on American soil last quarter and has opened 1,002 in the past 12 months. Schönberger argues, though, that the chain’s real potential for growth lies in international markets like India, Brazil, and Japan.

In its most recent earnings call, the company said year-over-year revenue in “China/Asia Pacific increased 9 percent while operating income jumped 22 percent. The company is particularly optimistic about its burgeoning presence in China.

“Starbucks’ opportunity for growth in China is unparalleled…” said Johnson.

There are approximately 2,600 Starbucks stores spread across 127 cities throughout China, Schönberger says. Starbucks’ growth in China mirrors its early growth in the U.S. Comparable sales growth is trending upward on the strength of increasing traffic. Starbucks intends to open 500 stores a year in China, CEO Kevin Johnson said in the earnings call.

Of course, there are risks associated with Starbucks’ expansion into China. Should tension between the U.S. and China continue to escalate, exchange rates may become volatile, Schönberger points out. Moreover, Chinese authorities could impose sanctions, even bans, on American businesses.

As of 2:08 Eastern Monday, Starbucks shares are trading at $54.25 apiece. The stock’s 52-week low is $50.84. Schönberger recommends that investors capitalize on the low share prices by picking up stakes in the coffee giant.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

Indonesia extradites xiu.com founder, China continues crack down on fugitives

Chinese authorities have extradited Ji Wenhong, founder of online clothing retailer xiu.com, from Indonesia to face smuggling charges, the AP reports via New York Daily News. Indonesian officials returned Ji to China Saturday.

Authorities accuse Ji of having designed a system by which his company illegally imported goods from Europe and the US. Allegedly, the company would order goods from foreign clothing sellers and have the products shipped to Hong Kong. Then, travelers would carry the goods to mainland China, disguising them as personal belongings so as to avoid import taxes.

The AP cites Chinese authorities as saying the products were worth 438 yen ($65.5 million). Ji, authorities say, neglected to report the true value of the goods.

Ji fled China for Indonesia in May 2016 following the initial smuggling charges. His extradition is the latest fruit of Operations Fox Hunt and Sky Net, two concerted efforts by the Chinese government to repatriate a number of fugitives.

The international law enforcement operations, which President Xi Jinping launched as part of a comprehensive crusade against corruption in the government, have achieved a certain degree of success despite the reluctance of countries like the US and Hong Kong to cooperate in sending fugitives back to China. That reluctance stems from suspicions surrounding China’s human rights practices and the fairness of the country’s judicial system.

According to an AsiaToday report republished by The Huffington Post, the Sky Net and Foxhunt sent 381 alleged criminals, accused of stealing a combined 1.24 billion yuan ($186 million) from the government, back to China in the first half of 2017.

Despite their aforementioned reluctance to send fugitives back to China, the United States government has agreed to do so in cases in which China can provide sufficient proof of a criminal’s wrongdoing.

“We continue to encourage China to provide strong evidence and intelligence to ensure that our law enforcement agencies can properly investigate and prosecute cases related to the alleged corruption,” US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told Business Insider in March 2015.

In September 2015, the US extradited Yang Jinjun to China to face bribery and graft charges, according to Reuters.

In early June of this year, US authorities extradited Zhu Haiping, former general manager of Shenzen Yuwei Industry Corporation, to face charges of what the Chinese government calls “violations of personal rights,” per Reuters.

AsiaToday reports that Zhu had been living in the US for 18 years. Immigration officials detained him in January, according to Reuters.

Reuters cites China’s Ministry of Public Security as saying the extradition was the first result of a cross-border law enforcement cooperation agreement forged between Xi and U.S. President Donald Trump in early April at Trump’s estate at Mar-a-Lago, a Florida resort.

Zhu’s repatriation, the Ministry added, per Reuters, was a “major achievement,” and a “model example” of things to come as a result of the Xi-Trump agreement.

China, Reuters says, is pursuing the extradition of Gun Wengei, a billionaire living in New York whom Chinese authorities have accused of making corruption allegations against top Chinese political officials.

According to AsiaToday, the Chinese government expects to apprehend 300 more fugitives by the end of 2017. Skynet relies upon the collaborative effort of at least four agencies in the Chinese government: the Central Organization Department, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, and the People’s Bank of China, BusinessInsider says.

The People’s Bank, according to BusinessInsider, aims to locate and shut down bank accounts criminals use to harbor illicit funds.

“There is no longer safety zone for criminals on the planet. This is even more so due to the development of information and communication. The day when we don’t have to foxhunt will come soon,” said Wang Defu, executive of the Public Security Bureau of Chaoyang District in Beijing, of Skynet, per AsiaToday.

Xiu.com, the AP reports, has acknowledged that some members of the company are under investigation but did not mention Ji by name. The company said it is operating normally.

Featured Image via Pixabay

China is using quantum cryptography to produce unhackable transmissions

China has proven itself able to use quantum cryptography to produce what are essentially unhackable transmissions.

A Chinese group of researchers called the Quantum Experiments at Space Scale project, or QUESS, launched a quantum cryptography satellite into orbit in August last year.

This satellite has enabled the QUESS project to send quantum-encrypted messages from earth to the satellite — a record-setting distance of 1200 kilometers.

What is quantum cryptography?

But what makes this particular kind of encryption preferable to regular encryption?

Right now, regular encryption is generally considered safe since our computer technology hasn’t reached that level of sophistication. But some scientists predict that when quantum computing does become fully developed, traditional methods of encryption will no longer suffice to keep information secret.

According to the theory, quantum computers will move beyond our current computers, which rely on mathematics. Quantum computers will rely on the physical properties of sub-atomic particles. That’s why they are looking into methods of quantum encryption, which will be able to stand up to attempts to decode transmissions using quantum computers.

The specific technology the QUESS project used is called quantum key distribution, or QKD. Quantum encrypted messages are encrypted using a key generated by sending a random stream of photons between two communicating users. This method of encryption is essentially unbreakable because the behavior of photons is largely random, and because photons cannot be observed without interfering with their behavior and alerting the communicating parties.

You can learn more about quantum cryptography here.

What does this mean for the future of computing?

Not only is quantum cryptography a safe method of communication, it is also a tremendously effective one which is able to handle massive amounts of information. In the future, China envisages a whole network of people using quantum satellites to communicate at unprecedented levels of safety and speed.

QKD will allow people to send secret messages as never before. But many people worry that quantum cryptography will prove a mixed blessing. It will make it harder to hack into encrypted messages, yes. But what if a government needs to decrypt information for purposes of national security? Friends and enemies alike will be protected in this coming age of computers.

Chinese Courier ZTO Sued Over False IPO Listing

Chinese courier ZTO Express and those involved in its New York stock market listings have been sued by a U.S. pension fund. The fund alleges that ZTO exaggerated its profit margins to lure investors into its $1.4 billion initial public offering.

Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which was responsible for ZTO’s IPO, are also named in the class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit has been filed in an Alabama state court by the city of Birmingham’s pension fund, and claims that both firms failed to do adequate due diligence.

ZTO’s listing was the largest U.S. listing in 2016 and has been the largest Chinese company since the corporate giant Alibaba Group Golding Ltd was valued at $25 billion in 2014. Despite this, ZTO shares closed on Thursday at $15.68, which was about 20 percent below its IPO price at $19.50.

This is not the first time an IPO has been seen to underperform according to its value listings based off of private funding. Similarly, both Snap and Blue Apron Holdings Inc. were overvalued, and saw a large drop in their stock prices soon after being opening to public investors. But the Shanghai based company is not submitting to this lawsuit without a fight.

A ZTO spokeswomen reported that the claims were baseless without merit, and therefore ZTO are willing and able to defend themselves against the supposed allegation. This may be difficult, as the Birmingham Retirement and Relief System argue that ZTO has issued “untrue statements” while failing to submit or purposely omitting vital information in its registration statement for its IPO listing.

The group further argues that ZTO has inflated its profit margins by removing specific low-margin segments of its business out of its financial statements, making the reported costs lower while the reported profits higher. ZTO did this by not reporting that they use a network system of partners that handle low level pickup and delivery services while the main core is handled by ZTO itself. While an important and vital part of their business, these peripheral courier services lower the percentage profit gained from its revenue stream.

Prior to ZTO’s IPO filings to the stock exchange, ZTO has reported operating profit margins of 15.4 percent in 2014 and 25.1 percent in 2015. Furthermore, in unaudited results for the quarter that ended in March but only published in May, ZTO posted a 48 percent jump in net income from year ago while having a 34 percent spike in revenue. While the increase in profit above the increase in revenue can be addressed by reduced costs or the use of its previous year funds, the lack of its lower profit margins better explains why the IPO listing value decreased despite such a large increase in profit and revenue.

This case differs from the overestimation of Snap and Blue Apron as those companies were not in as good financial health as reported, as well as lacking future growth plans that repelled public investors. In this case, ZTO supposedly doctored and tailored its image in order to attract more investors, and while it may have future growth plans that cater to investors, the disguised financial health could result in serious consequences. These consequences would affect both the company and its investors, with a lack of faith or results on the investors behalf could see them pull out, leaving the company’s financial standing pulled out from under it.

The lawsuit extends beyond only ZTO itself, but also to its underwriters including China Renaissance Securities, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, and J.P. Morgan. They have been included to ensure that no party involved in the false listing and advertisement of a company’s strength benefits from the circumstances, and therefore ideally preventing future problems of a similar nature.

Featured Image via Flickr/GotCredit

Beijing Blocks WhatsApp Access in Mainland China

Chinese users have reported trouble regarding the use of WhatsApp instant messaging tool on Tuesday. Many suspect that Beijing is responsible for the issues that are arising as part of its latest regulations on internet use.

The issues included involved being unable to send or receive photos using the chat app, which is owned by Facebook, without the use of a VPN. Beijing has had previous issues regarding VPNs, and they have made multiple attempts to encourage telecoms to prevent individual access to VPNs. VPNs are used to bypass Beijing’s censorship program by rerouting internet traffic elsewhere, usually to a foreign IP address.

Beijing efforts to tighten internet security is motivated by their intentions to block any websites with information that could be critical of the Communist Party including YouTube, Twitter, and foreign news sites. While the information itself is not necessarily censored, access to the information is blocked preventing the information from being seen in mainland China. In response, many proxy websites that fulfill a similar function rise in order to provide the original site’s services without broadcasting any potential criticism.

The suspicions that Beijing is involved come at the results of a test conducted by the South China Morning Post on Tuesday afternoon. Two users registered with mainland Chinese mobile numbers were unable to send neither videos nor pictures to each other via WhatsApp. One of the users then tried to send both a video and a picture to an overseas number, which resulted in a failed transmission. The overseas user then sent a video and a picture to the mainland Chinese mobile user, and while the message did go through, all the Chinese user could see was a loading thumbnail that failed to fully load and display its message.

However, there were no problems when sending text messages to one another, which included media content as well, and all functions and services provided by WhatsApp were restored upon the use of a VPN. This suggests that there was some involvement that restricted messaging, and that these restrictions applied only to WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is one of the few messaging services available in mainland China that is foreign based. While not as popular as the local app WeChat, which acts as a more readily accessible and offers less noticeably regulated services, WhatsApp still fulfills a competitive niche thanks to its end-to-end encryption.

WeChat, which is owned by the dominant tech company Tencent, has been found to be censoring messages deemed sensitive by Beijing without notifying its users. While this does occur, the app is still popular because it does not require a VPN to function properly.

Users began noticing troubles with WhatsApp early in the morning on Tuesday, but found that other apps on their mobile devices, including WeChat, were functioning without issues. A member of a non-governmental labor welfare group in Shenzen mentioned regular use of WhatsApp for work based communication due to the security and privacy it provides. Instead of switching over to WeChat to communicate with his colleagues, the man refrained from contacting his colleagues at all, as WeChat and text messaging were not viably safe options.

Neither WhatsApp nor Facebook have made any statements regarding Chinese censorship. However, Facebook’s social networking site and its photo-sharing services provided by Instagram are both blocked in China and have been for a long while now. Other foreign based chat and media sharing apps that have been blocked in mainland China include Tokyo-based Line and Berlin-based Telegram.

If businesses wishing to penetrate Chinese markets want to be successful, then they need to take major considerations regarding the government’s regulations on especially foreign based companies. If they fail to do so, then any invest into the Chinese market will come up short as the services provided are at a larger than usual risk of being shut down or restricted.

Featured Image via Pixabay

Tencent Market Cap $17.5B Drop

Tencent Holdings’ lost $17.5 billion of its market cap after a newspaper review described one of its products and harmful to teenagers. Tencent Holdings is the operator of China’s dominant social network, and is also known for being the publisher behind “King of Glory,” one of the world’s most popular role-playing mobile game.

The newspaper in question was the People’s Daily newspaper, often described as the Chinese communist mouthpiece, which reviewed the game and concluded that the game was a “poison” and a “drug” that had harmful effects on teenagers. This response was based on reports that the smartphone game was encouraging all-nighter gaming marathons, which was posing a threat to children’s growth and studies. As a result, Tencent’s shares dropped as much as 5.1%, plunging in Hong Kong trading.

The People’s Daily further criticized Tencent’s most profitable smartphone game by citing examples of how addictive games spread “negative energy,” and in some cases have even led to cases of deaths. Prior to the editorial being written, China’s biggest messaging and games company announced restrictions of children’s playing time through hour limits and parental controls. Players under the age of 12 will be restricted to one-hour playtime per day, and log-ins after 21:00 will not be allowed. Children above 12 until the age of 18 will be given at most 2 hours of playing time per day.

Tencent issued another statement that said the game’s design complies with government rule, and that the company will continue to accept the burden in light of its social responsibility contract accordingly. This is especially important in light of the popularity of the mobile game, and its increasing player pool across the country. The People’s Daily responded with an acknowledgment that the game is not evil by design, but that coordinated efforts are required by both the government and the game developer.

Despite the impact the critical newspaper editorial had on Tencent’s reputation and market cap, the game’s massive popularity means that the revenue stream developed by the game should not face a huge impact despite the latest government push to restricts user play time. “King of Glory” has a diversified player base that does not primarily focus on primary or middle school students. In fact, there is a significant portion of older players dedicated to the mobile game, and their play time should remain largely unaffected. Furthermore, players of younger ages often find ways around restrictions in order to allow themselves to continue playing the game, which should further stimulate and stabilize Tencent’s revenue stream.

Tencent’s response to this situation has been in line with their accepting of corporate social responsibility because not cooperating with the government has the potential of ruining their business. It is important to remember that market cap is an evaluation of a company’s performance and expected worth, and while it is not insignificant as a tool, a drop in the market cap is not the be all and end all. Considering that users under 17 years old account for about 20% of the mobile game’s player base, these regulations do have an impact, but not one that is completely detrimental to the company’s future growth.

It is also important that parents take responsibility on behalf of their children in ensuring that they supervise and moderate how much time children spend playing a mobile game. Between parent’s supervision and the company’s projected time restrictions, children will be facing a drastically reduced playing time, as well as reduced exposure to something that is considered harmful. It will be interesting to see if the restrictions apply only to Tencent considering the magnitude of their game’s popularity, or if the restrictions will expand to all mobile games that have users spending a significant portion of their day on.

Despite Rocket Failure, China Poised to Make Strides in Space

A newly-designed Chinese rocket slated to carry the country’s heaviest ever satellite failed Sunday, Chinese news outlet Xinhua reports.

The Chinese plan to conduct “further investigation” into “an anomaly [that] occurred during the flight of the rocket” and allegedly caused its failure. No information has been provided regarding the nature of either the “anomaly,” or the “investigation” China will perform.

A rocket of the same design was expected to deliver a lunar probe to the moon on behalf of the Chinese later this year, as China continues preparation to become the third country, after the United States and the Soviet Union, to land a man on the moon. It is unknown how Sunday’s hitch will affect the timetable of the probe delivery mission.

Chinese president Xi Jinping has fast-tracked development of the country’s space program in an effort to bolster national security and defense, Reuters reports. He is adamant that China’s ambitions in space are strictly peaceful. The US Department of Defense, however, worries China is developing strategies which would prevent other countries from employing space-based assets in a time of crisis.

China has already made a number of significant accomplishments in space. In 2003, China became the third country (US and Soviet Union/Russia) to send an astronaut into space on a nationally built rocket.

In 2013, China’s Yutu rover touched down on the moon’s surface, sparking fanfare throughout the nation. The rover’s exploration was marred by technical difficulties, but the craft did gather evidence of a new variety of moon rock younger than any rock documented during the United States’ Apollo missions. Some rocks photographed during the Chinese mission were estimated to be 2.96 billion years old. The Apollo mission found no rock younger than 3.4 billion years.

Still, China’s space program has historically lagged well behind those of the United States and Russia/Soviet Union. Xi’s new initiative, though, may rapidly alter the dynamic of space-based competition.

In 2016, China sent more rockets into space than Russia did, and completed development of the world’s largest radio telescope, a 1650-foot-wide dish which will gather new data pertaining to ancient cosmic history, detect low-frequency gravitational waves, and search for signals transmitted by extraterrestrial life forms, space.com reports.

“As the world’s largest single-aperture telescope located at an extremely radio-quiet site, its scientific impact on astronomy will be extraordinary, and it will certainly revolutionize other areas of the natural sciences,” said Nan Rendong, the project’s chief scientist.

By the end of 2018, China plans to become the first country to land a rover on the far side of the moon. The Chinese aim to put a probe on Mars by 2020.

Like many scientific endeavors, the exploration of space requires world powers to strike a balance between cooperation in the name of science and competition in the name of self-preservation and defense.

The data gathered by the Chinese Yutu mission was made available to the world’s scientific community, as was that collected during the American Apollo missions. The Chinese intend to make the aforementioned radio telescope available to researchers everywhere after a team of Chinese scientists conduct “early stage research” for a few years.

Nonetheless, the powers that be in China as well as in the United States are well aware of the military value of certain space technology. As mentioned earlier, Xi believes his space program can contribute to military efforts. Meanwhile, the US Department of Defense wonders whether China’s advancement in space threatens the US’s and other countries’ own space-based military technology.

World War III will probably not be the stuff of a George Lucas film, but it appears space is playing an increasing role in modern warfare. At the same time, scientific advancement will progress much faster if scientists around the world are allowed to cooperate. This tension between science and competition is not unprecedented: weaponry is always developed in a spirit of secrecy and competition.

So, the space-race may be part relay, part individual. Whatever the case, despite the failure of the rocket Sunday, President Xi’s recent emphasis on his country’s space program may give China the fuel it needs to join the USA and Russia at the front of the pack.

Apple’s Preventative Measures Against Leaks of Corporate Secrets

Apple goes to great lengths to prevent leaks and ensure any information regarding their products remain concealed. Their methods include hiring NSA, FBI and secret service experts on a global scale to ensure that only Apple is privy to its product information. But considering the value of future products and how they are made leads to continuous efforts to discover what Apple’s next big hit is. Doing so results in a lucrative exchange given the right buyer.

While Apple is safe at home in the U.S. its interests are at larger risk internationally, with a large source of leaks originating from supply chain partners in places including China. The most valuable items that can be sold are parts of new products followed by information on what Apple is working on, both readily available in supply factories where the new products are being built. Apple is certainly aware of the risk involved, resulting in constant screening of 2.7 million people per day Apple and its manufacturing partners find necessary to undertake. Despite such rigorous preventative measures being in place, corporate secrets are still able to be smuggled out due to the creativity of leakers.

Parts are making their way out of factories in various ways, from being stashed in bras to being flushed out into sewer system for later collection. Black market dealers entice factory workers into attaining parts or photos offering top dollar rates, including up to a year’s salary worth. The reason the supply chain is such a prominent target is the nature of partnership, and Apple’s responsibility or lack thereof over supply chain workers. As long as the workers receive fair wage compensation for the work they provide based on local laws, Apple is not obligated nor has it the direct power to direct the employees working under their partners. While product discretion is certainly enforced, as evidenced by the millions of screenings per day, it is up to the manufacturer to organize worker salaries. This indirect relation makes supply chain workers vulnerable to offers that encourage the stealing of parts at Apple’s expense.

Part of being an employee involves agreeing to participate and reinforce a company’s culture. Apple takes its product reveals seriously, considering the financial detriments that can occur should parts or information of a product be leaked. Competitors, counterfeit makers and the press all gain a significant advantage even if only one subject has access to the leaked information, because Apple is then put in a disadvantaged position that can only serve to benefit others. When parts are leaked, it is not just the reveal and the surprise that is lost, but the competitive edge that Apple holds is also lost. This highlights why parts of products are so valuable, beyond the parts themselves, because the research and logistics involved are benefitting others at no major cost.

However, Apple’s global security team have had an impact on reducing corporate espionage in their supply chain to the point that security leaks will be more common on Apple’s campus than its cumulative international supply chain. The methods involved include inserting members of the global security team into product teams to prevent leaks, and, failing that, identify the source of the leaks. Like the leakers, members of the security team are also required to think creatively, resulting in what has been described as a trench warfare over corporate secrets. The protection of its secrets are so vital, that Apple are willing to continue hiring experts in order to prevent leaks of corporate secrets of any sort. One thing that is certain, Apple does not appreciate having its secrets revealed.

Featured Image via Flickr/C_osett

Man’s Hand Built iPhone Cheaper Than Retail Version

Phones can get to be quite pricey. So, if you don’t feel like paying hundreds of dollars for a smartphone, just make your own. At least that’s what one man thought when he built his own iPhone 6s from scratch.

The crafty guy in question is named Scotty Allen. Allen has been living in China for nearly a year now. One day he decided to put together his own fully functional iPhone 6s. Allen did this by searching around the markets of Huaqiangbei for cellphone parts. Huaqiangbei is full of spare parts and other technological components.

The search for the right parts did prove to be tedious even though Allen had help from a Shenzhen local. Then there was the entire process of making the device which only seemed to be more laborious than finding the parts. Allen struggled with soldering a functional logic board and other parts. In the end, he just bought a recycled logic board that came with a Touch ID sensor.

Part searching and soldering combined with the puzzled expressions of the locals who kept wondering why he would want to build his own phone, made the entire experience an adventure for Allen.

The whole idea started when one someone mentioned that it would be possible to build an iPhone from spare parts found throughout Shenzhen. Allen then took that as a personal challenged and started the mission to craft his own device.

The entire mission to build his own iPhone 6s cost Allen a total of $1000. Most of that money was spent in parts that he ended up not having to use. When it was all said and done, Allen says he estimates it took him about $300 to build the finished product. That’s surprisingly cheaper than many of the retail prices. According to statistics on teardown, Allen’s finished product almost matches iFixit’s estimated $236 for an iPhone 6s Plus’s materials and manufacturing.

Allen chose to create the iPhone 6s because the earlier generation smartphone’s part would be far easier to find then the parts of the recent iPhone 7. When it comes to the iPhone 6s parts, Allen said it was easier to find the parts because “A lot of the parts come from recycled/broken phones.”

Yet Allen says that despite the low price of his custom iPhone 6s, it wasn’t about the money for him. He also commented that, “It happens that what I spent in parts is less than what it would cost to buy a phone in the Apple Store, but I’m also taking on a whole lot of risk that a part will break, or isn’t up to spec, and I’ll have to buy a new one later. It’s not about having a phone for less.”

It’s safe to say that no one would fly to China and search around for the parts to build their own iPhone. Unless you know where to look or what to look for, so many things could go wrong. Yet Allen’s crafty project does allow us to take a good look at the real cost of manufacturing, developing, and other factors of creating devices like iPhone’s.

South African Court Says Selling Rhino Horn is Legal

An appeal by the Department of Environmental Affairs was recently dismissed by South Africa’s Constitutional Court. The appeal was to retain a moratorium on the domestic trade in rhino horns.

According to a source, Pelham Jones, who is the chairman of South Africa’s Private Rhino Owners Association (PROA), was named as one of the respondents to the appeal case. Jones told Reuters that the court’s decision means that the selling of rhino horn is now legal in South Africa.

Jones commented on the situation saying that “We welcome the Constitutional Courts ruling, we believe it is a right we have been entitled to.”

Even though the Constitutional Court says that selling rhino horn is now legal, it’s important to note that a global ban on rhino horn trade is still in place. The ban was put in place by a U.N. convention. Basically, it means that any rhino horn that is acquired legally in South Africa cannot be exported out of the country.

It was only last summer that South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeals met and dismissed the government’s decision to uphold the ban on domestic rhino horn which had been put in place back in 2009. In a last stitch effort, the appeal went to the Constitutional Court who is the last judicial option on the matter.

Many private rhino ranchers and other associations claim that they need the right to sell rhino horn in order to afford extra security costs. Things like armed patrols, helicopters, and electric fencing can get to be pretty costly. Those costs are probably why ranchers and associations were the main initiators of the court action.

Yet PROA says that it’s estimated that nearly 6,500 rhinos are owned by private ranches and associations throughout South Africa. That makes up more than a third of the national population.

Rhinos regrow their horns after they have been cut off. Usually, rhino horn is harvested from a rhino that has been tranquilized. While the South African government won’t say how large of a stockpile of rhino horn it has, PROA believes that it members have over 6 tons. PROA also estimates that the state could possibly have as close to 25 tons. The two together total enough rhino horn to equal $2 billion.

Yet when it comes to obtaining the very pricey material, there are worries from conservationists who believe that harvesters could be exporting to countries like Vietnam and China. Both countries use the rhino horn as the main ingredient in medicines and their demand for it has rippled the poaching waters.

Last year the number of rhinos being poached for their horns actually dropped by 10 percent to an estimated 1,054. It was the second year of decline as noted by the government. While this is good, conservationists still believe these numbers to be far too great.

The poaching of rhinos in South Africa rose drastically from 83 in 2008 all the ay up to 1,215 in 2014. It’s predicted that this dramatic increase in rhino poaching was to keep up with trade in Asian markets who have a high demand for the horn.

It’s no secret why South Africa is a main circuit for the poaching and trade of rhino horns. South Africa holds over 80 percent of the rhino population. Both the white rhino, who’s population is estimated at 18,000, and the black rhino, who’s numbers have dwindled to 2,000, call South Africa home.

Yet Jones and PROA are making steps toward better security that will prevent the sale for “blood horns” in the market. He told a source that his group was in the process of “setting up a domestic trade desk.” He also said that PROA would be “consulting with economists to determine market prices.”

While the Constitutional Court says that trade of rhino horn is legal, it will still be subject to the regulations set by the government. The government will have to issue permits to those who want to be part of the domestic trade. It would seem that those who plan to buy the rhino horn are those believe that rhino horn can grow in value and those who will use it for decoration.

So far, a spokesperson for the South African Department of Environmental Affairs has not made any comment but should be issuing a statement on the matter soon.

Pink Diamond Breaks Record With $71.2 Million Sale at Auction

The record price for any diamond or jewelry piece to be sold at auction was set recently when a pink diamond known as the “Pink Star” went for $71.2 million at Sotheby’s auction. The Pink Star is stunning coming in at 59.6 carats.

The Pink Star came from the mines of Africa in 1999 by De Beers. The raw uncut gem was 132.5 carats. It took over two years to cut the diamond down.

Its recent sale price crushed the $60 million pre-sale price it was estimated at, set by Sotheby’s before it went on the block for auction. It was just three years ago that the diamond was bought for an even higher price at a different Sotheby’s auction. Not too long after, however, the deal for the Pink Star fell through after the buyer defaulted.

Back in fall of 2013, it was won at auction by a New York diamond cutter named Isaac Wolf for $83 million. Wolf failed to pay for the diamond, however, hence the default. This caused a slight problem for Sotheby’s. They, in turn, had to buy the diamond because it was guaranteed a $60 million sale.

Aside from its record-breaking sale price, the Pink Star has earned itself the reputation of being the most flawless and largest pink diamond to ever be graded by Gemological Institute of America.

Three bidders competed for the pink prize over telephone. The entire thing took only five minutes as a crowd of onlookers watched in anticipation. The whole room erupted in applause when the hammer went down on the final bid of $63 million, which doesn’t include the buyer premium.

The new owner is Hong Kong jeweler Chow Tai Fook. Sotheby’s Asia Chairwoman Patti Wong commented to the source on the excitement of the bid. Wong said, “I know there was a lot of talk about the economy in China not being as positive as it was a few years ago,” yet it would seem that these auction results were quite unexpected.

So how do they know this sale will go through and no default like the previous one did? Ms. Wong says that she isn’t worried about that happening at all. The bidders in this auction have a long-term relationship with Sotheby’s. She told CNBC that the company is “very confident that all three bidders had the financial capability, and of course the buyer definitely had the financial capability.”

The Pink Star joins the ranks of record breaking diamonds to sell for big prices at auctions. One of them was the “Oppenheimer Blue” which went for 56.8 million Swiss francs ($57.6 million) at auction only last summer. The Pink Star crushes the record for another pink diamond, “Graff Pink”, which was a 24.78 carat diamond that went for $46.2 million.

David Bennett, who is chairman of auction houses jewelry division said, “The Asian element in the jewelry market is extremely important and from what I’ve been hearing from members of the trade I’ve been talking to, in the last six months they have become more and more important.”

China Brings In Record Breaking Lobster Imports From the U.S.

Lobster imports from the United States has become increasingly popular in China. So much so, that it’s setting a new record for the country as China begins to further its expansion of its lobster market.

Until 2010, American lobster wasn’t something you would find in China. Around that time, however, the value for the delectable crustacean jumped by 250 percent to $7.4 million. That number only continued to grow which is proved by last year’s high number $108 million in lobsters from the United States. That number is up from the $90.2 million China imports saw back in 2014.

Just last year alone China brought in over 14 million pounds of U.S. lobster which is another record set compared to the previous year 13.1 million pounds the year before.

But it’s not just China who has developed a craving for American lobster. Other Asian countries are partaking, including South Korea. South Korea pulled in $28 million in imports last year which was a significant rise from the $5 million it brought in back in 2010. Vietnam also saw a rise in its imports with its small number of 142,940 to $31 million.

Some believe that the sudden rise in the number of lobster imports could be due to the fact that China has seen a great surge in its middle class. The American lobster is far cheaper than other seafood like the spiny lobster and geoduck clams. Stephanie Nadeau, who owns The Lobster Company in Arundel, Maine, commented that many customers appreciate the fact that American lobster is “kind of an affordable luxury.”

Last year was also a record catching year for fishermen in Maine who brought more than 130 million pounds of Lobster. That number is far more than double that of 2007. Those numbers don’t seem to be coming to halt anytime soon this year either. It’s recorded that lobster sales to China were at $14 million during the first few months of the new year. It’s also said that nearly 1.7 million pounds of lobster was exported as well.

Alibaba Partners with China’s Largest Supermarket And Department Stores

Alibaba Group Holding has teamed up with Shanghai Bailian Group in executive chairman Jack Ma’s latest step toward shaking up old-fashioned retail with technology. Bailian is currently one of China’s largest supermarket and department store chains. Shares of the company surged to their daily 10% limit on Monday after the China Securities Journal reported on the partnership.

Alibaba’s chief executive officer Daniel Zhang wrote in an email statement, “Our partnership with Bailian is an important milestone in the evolution of Chinese retail, where the distinction between physical and virtual commerce is becoming obsolete.”

The online wholesale supplier plans to help upgrade some of Bailian’s 4,700 store chains spread across China, integrating customer relations, payment, logistics and everything in between. The upgrades will be similar in nature to its previous joint ventures with electronics chains Suning Commerce Group.

Moving on from defeating eBay and Amazon in China, Alibaba now aims to transform the $4 trillion world of brick-and-mortar retail with innovations in data and technology. The partnership with Bailian is not the online retailer’s online foray into old-economy deals’ Alibaba holds the lead in a bid to buy department store chain Intime Retail Group for $2.6 billion.

Intime operates 29 department stores and 17 shopping malls throughout urban China. Alibaba’s strategy is to focus on offline-to-online commerce, connecting brick-and-mortar sellers with the internet. Co-founder Jack Ma aims to build a network that will allow stores and brands to monitor transactions as they happen so that retail outlets can place orders in real time, cutting out layers of distributors.

Besides Intime, Alibaba has invested in other retail operators, including Suning and Sanjiang Shopping Club to further its experiment in retail. The Hangzhou, China-based company will not take a stake in Bailian, but will integrate membership databases with the retailer and use facial recognition technology in order to improve consumer experience.

Ivanka Trump’s Clothing Brand Suffers Due to Boycott

After many consumers decided to boycott over thirty retailers that carry Ivanka Trump’s clothing line, Ivanka’s line suffered a bit during the week. In fact, Nordstrom said on the 2nd that it wouldn’t be carrying the line anymore. That’s not the only major retailer to ditch the Ivanka’s clothing line. Nieman Marcus announced just a day later that it too would be dropping the line.

The list of companies that have been targeted by consumers who are boycotting nearly all products that have anything to do with the U.S. president’s family include Amazon, Bloomingdales, and even Dillards. Those are just three of the retailers out of the thirty that made the list of retailers carrying Trump merchandise.

Shannon Coulter recently started a spreadsheet she titled #GrabYouWallet no too long after the tape of the president lewdly speaking about woman was leaked to the public. The hashtag spreadsheet was used to fuel the fire of those who clearly dislike Trump and his offensive language. It helped aid in the boycott of retailer who carry or do business with the Trump family.

However, retailers weren’t the only ones that made Coulter’s list. Many of Trump’s hotels and organizations made the part of the list that was titled “consider boycotting”.

Aside from stores refusing to sell her products, Ivanka Trump suffers from another problem. All of the products that are associated with her line, like shoes, bags, and clothes, are shipped from Hong Kong and China. This definitely goes against what her father has been continuously demanding of automakers and other companies; buy American.

When it comes to importing clothing from Asia and overseas, it’s common practice. In fact, back in 2015 around 97 percent of clothes and shoes that were sold to consumers in the United States had been imported from overseas.

Yet as of late, Trump has expressed that importing goods from overseas isn’t a practice he will support. In fact, he’s gone as far as to threaten a few companies with 45 percent taxes on Chinese exports to the United States. Trump even said that if companies didn’t move their businesses back to the U.S. he would impose a border tax on all the good that would be shipped here to the U.S. These threats seek to force not only other clothing brands but Ivanka’s to switch up their practices.

According to sources, Ivanka Trump’s company brought in an estimated 193 shipments in 2016, 202 the year before, and 233 the year before that. Almost all of those shipments were sent over from China and Hong Kong. There was no supporting evidence to show that any of the shipments were made in the USA or that any of the shipments arrived by truck or plane.

If president Trump goes with his initial idea to heavily tax companies for doing business in other countries, the fate of Ivanka’s company will rely on whether or not it can move its production to the United States.

Ivanka Trump’s marketing directory Rosemary Young commented on the situation saying, “We believe that the strength of a brand is measured not only by the profits it generates, but the integrity it maintains.”

China’s Tourism Revenue Revenue Up 16 Percent

The Chinese tourism industry saw a revenue increase of 15.9% to 423.3 billion yuan ($61.55 billion) during the recent Lunar New Year festival, according to the China National Tourism Administration.

Driven by 344 million domestic tourist visits, the rate of growth was still slightly slower than the rise of 16.3% seen the previous year. CNTA said in a statement that trips abroad over the period increased 7% to 6.15 million outbound Chinese tourists. A total of 697,000 mainlanders also visited Hong Kong, up 3.7% from last year.

The tourist boom spread to the remotest corners of the country. The Islamic regions of Xinjiang and Ningxia saw an increase of 20% and 30% in domestic tourism, respectively. Over the week-long holiday, 1.5 million visitors entered Xinjiang alone, resulting in a shortage of home-stay beds offered by local inhabitants.

Li Hua, director of tourism at Kanas Lake said, ““I have been in the tourism business in Xinjiang for 14 years. This is the first time I encountered such a situation.”

The Tianzhu Mountain park in Anhui exceeded its maximum capacity of 36,000 tourists a day, reaching 850,000 visitors on the first day of the holiday week. In the Hunan province, Zhangiajie received such an influx of visits that the provincial tourism authority issued an urgent notice to all tourist facilities, asking them to not oversell tickets.

China’s tourism industry is an indicator of how strong consumer spending is. It is also a critical component in the country’s shift toward an increasingly services-driven economy. Xeinhua, the official news agency, stated Beijing’s goal to raise the domestic sector’s revenue from 3.9 trillion yuan to 7 trillion yuan by 2020.

According to a five-year tourism plan, investment in the tourism sector is expected to grow to 2 trillion yuan. By 2020, it is expected that the industry will contribute more than 12% of GDP.

In a separate statement, the commerce ministry reported that China’s retail and catering firms experienced sales of around 840 billion yuan over the week-long holiday, up 11.4% from the previous year.

Sony Says Its Not Selling Its Picture Business

Despite the rumors surrounding Sony, the company announced on Thursday that it was not selling its picture business. The company struggled through a $1 billion writedown that was caused by the low demand for movies on disc. This ended up having Sony cut at least 11 percent of Sony’s yearly profit that estimated around 240 billion.

This percentage cut would not have affected the company so harshly had it not been for a few factors. One would be the weakness of the yen. The yen has recently been reported at its lowest in a while. The other factor that added to the severity of the cut was the demand for Sony’s image sensors by Chinese smartphone makers. The image sensor business has just recently been trying to get back on its feet from recent earthquake damage.

Yet the section that creates the image sensors, the semiconductor division, estimates a loss of around 19 billion yen in operations. That’s a relatively low number compared to the predicted 53 billion. Even though things weren’t ideal for Sony, the company holds hope of turning it around by making use of its existing movie characters and adding sales channels.

As far as its picture business goes, Sony deals with media, television programs, and other networks. Those aspects of the business were the underpinned against its electronics business which struggled against Asian rivals.

The business has more than enough potential to grow if it expands in countries like China. The movie business makes up a good 10 percent of Sony’s sales. However, it still seems that in the box office its movie studios still lag behind its rivals.

After receiving encouragement from a spin-off of its movie business, Sony sold a few of its movie assets. The electronics part of its business is also faring a bit better than before and bringing in profit. Kazuo Hirai, Chief Executive Officer, has made more a presence in Sony Entertainment which, in the future, could aid in the rise in sales.

Boeing Forecasts Better Earnings

As, Boeing, the world’s largest plane maker rises out of the ashes of nearly a decade of losses, its shares reach a record high. The 787 Dreamliner contributed to the boost in profits for the plane maker.

Boeing holds hope that not only the 787 but the 737 helps aid to the boost in sales results this year. The plane maker did, however, report that sales did drop when it slowed production of wide-body 777 planes. This lag in 777 production will also bring down revenue to around $92.5 billion.

Boeing stock did well. Its average index scaled up well past the 20,000 mark and its shares rose 4.2 percent. Boeing shares closed at $167.36 making it one of the top performers within at least thirty members of the Dow Jones.

In the past investors were slightly concerned about the lack of aircraft demand due to rising oil prices. Even though investors were skeptical, Boeing has now since vowed to return money to shareholders.

President Trump predicted job losses for Boeing if the plane maker followed through with its plans to build a factory in China. The factory would be responsible for painting planes on their way to small carriers. However, despite that prediction, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, is nothing but optimistic about business in China.

It would seem that the factory in China would have no barring on U.S. jobs. Each plane that would have to go through the new facility would be built here in the U.S. According to Seattle Times, Muilenburg said, “We all understand that a productive and healthy relationship with China is key.”

It’s known that last year Boeing repurchased at least 7 percent of its own shares. Analysts aren’t sure how long the plane maker can keep up buybacks like that. Not only that but the records of its spending don’t exactly bode well.

Boeing spent $7 billion in stock, $4.6 billion for research purposes, $2.8 on dividends, and $2.6 billion on equipment and property. This amount is far more than Boeing recorded that it brought in which was an estimated $10.5 billion for 2016. However, the company expects this number to go up for the new year to about $10.8 billion.

Even though Boeing says its loss estimates around $92.5, the company expects the 737 to bring in more deliveries. Boeing expects to send out around 765 of the commercial planes which is higher than last year’s delivery number of 748.

Boeing is bringing out the 787 which is the first jet to be made from carbon-fiber instead of aluminum. It is also preparing a delivery to U.S. Air Force of 18 aerial gas stations.

Risk of Rise in Debt Shadows China’s GDP Growth

The world’s second-largest economy, China, saw a rise in the fourth quarter by 6.8 percent. Rapid percent growth was thanks to the government’s spending and the bank’s lending. However, despite the growth, there might be some financial risk resulting from debt growth and more pressure to slow the rise of housing.
GDP in China rose to 277 percent near the end of 2016. That’s up from the 254 percent from the year before. According to the National Bureau of Statistics China’s economy grew 6.7 percent in 2016 as well. Housing was also a beneficial factor in keeping the growth up.
The percent for property investments rose from 5.7 percent in November to 11 percent in December. However, the housing market wasn’t the only factor. Retail sales around December rose due to mass consumer spending. Although consumer spending brought the growth up, income lagged. In order to contain the risk of debt, China’s officials say they intend to lower the target percent to 6.5.
To prepare for this, the People’s Bank of China decided to slash the amount of money the banks keep in reserve. An Economist at ING, Tim Condon, says that “Economic stability is always important but will be an even higher priority ahead of the 19th Party Congress.”
Yet that isn’t the only thing China worries about. The yuan lost nearly 7 percent value last year. This was due to the rise of the U.S. dollar along with China’s slow economic growth. While it is yet to be seen if President Trump fulfills many of his promises, China’s exports will be hit if the new president makes good on his promise of protective measure against exported goods.
“Trump advisers and cabinet-nominees have identified the U.S.-China relationship as in need of adjustment to support the president-elect’s objective of a manufacturing renaissance,” Condon believes.