AIIB approves 7 new applications, expands membership to 77

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) announced Saturday that itsmembership has been expanded to 77 after its Board of Governors approved newapplications from seven countries.

Jin Liqun, AIIB president, said that three of the new members are “regional” — Bahrain,Cyprus, and Samoa. The other four are non-regional prospective members, namelyBolivia, Chile, Greece and Romania.

The seven prospective members also need to complete the required domestic processesand deposit their first installment of capital with the AIIB before officially joining thebank.

The bank announced the introduction of its first 13 new members this March, bringing thebank’s total membership to 70 from 57 signatories at its launch in January 2016.

New members are welcomed to join the bank this year, it pledged.

The story is also published on People’s Daily Online

China’s banking regulator vows more supports to Belt and Road development

China’s banking regulator vowed more supports to the Belt and Road development, sayingthat the banks and financial institutions are encouraged to offer more financial supports toprojects related to the initiative.

The banks and financial institutions, in recent years, have been motivated to improve theircapabilities to establish a multi-layered, long-term, stable, sustainable financial serviceplatform with controllable risks for the Belt and Road development, said Wang Zhaoxing,deputy head of the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC).

They were also asked to cope with the risks and challenges confronted by the Belt andRoadconstruction, he added.

The official said that banks and other financial institutions, guided by the regulator, haveaccelerated their pace to build financial service network for Belt and Road construction.

They have made prominent achievements in distributing their overseas branches,improving cross-border financing ability, innovating products and services, and expandingopenness to overseas market, Wang said.

Since the Belt and Road initiative was put forward in 2013, the banking regulatory bodyhas established work mechanisms, enhanced overall planning, and effectivelyimplemented each measure and policy, the official noted.

The CBRC also requires banking and financial institutions to enhance their managementin credit risk, country risk, compliance risk, as well as environmental and social risks byclarifying standards for their overseas operation.

The banking and financial institutions also optimized their layout in Belt and Roadcountries, thanks to the efforts made by the CBRC.

Data showed that by the end of 2016, 9 Chinese banks have established 62 primaryaffiliates in 26 countries participating the Belt and Road initiative, including 18subsidiaries, 35 branches and 9 representative offices.

Banks from Belt and Road countries are encouraged by the CBRC to expand theiroperations in China as well.

As of the end of last year, 54 commercial banks from 20 Belt and Roadcountries hadestablished subsidiaries, branches and representative offices in China.

The CBRC also encourages Chinese banking and financial institutions to improve theircross-border financing services, and loan more to programs related to the Belt and Roadinitiative on a precondition of controllable risks and sustainable potential.

Banks were also asked by the regulatory body to render more support to implementationof the initiative and construction of major projects.

CBRC has launched various forms of cooperation with its foreign counterparts in countriesalong the Belt and Road, Wang said.

In the future, the organization will sign cooperation memorandums of understanding formutual regulation with en-route countries, based on their political and economicsituations, as well as the will of the banking and financial institutions, he added.

The official furthered that the CBRC will also explore the possibility to set uparegionalcooperationsystem on financial regulation.

The banking and financial institutions should take the historical opportunity of the Beltand Road construction for a better and internalized growth, Wang said.

In addition, they should keep enhancing win-win cooperation with Belt and Roadcountries for common development, Wang added.

The article is also published on People’s Daily Online

Belt and Road initiative on trade connectivity launched to boost economic globalization

The Belt and Road cooperation initiative on trade connectivity launched by China togetherwith some 60 countries and international organizations on May 14 have told the worldtheir determination to support economic globalization.

The paper, an outcome document of the ongoing Belt and Road Forum for InternationalCooperation, is also an effort to implement Chinese President Xi Jinping’s call to build anopen world economy at the opening speech of the forum, said Zhong Shan, head of theMinistry of Commerce, also an initiator of the document.

In his speech, Xi reiterated the proposition to build a broad community of shared interestsby upholding and growing an open world economy, creating an environment that willfacilitate opening up and development, and establishing a fair, equitable and transparentsystem of international trade and investment rules.

The Chinese stance and proposition delivered by Xi was praised by the delegates and theinternational community, Zhong said, adding that the newly-launched initiative on tradeconnectivity was also seen as a step to pool wide consensus, deepen economic and tradecooperation and push forward the Belt and Road construction with joint efforts.

The minister elaborated three aspects that will be prioritized when implementing the plan.

First of all, Belt and Road should be built into an open route by persisting on the Silk Roadspirit, working together through consultation to meet the interests of all, putting headstogether and pooling consensus, he said.

The route is scheduled to be constructed into an open platform to promote cooperationand build an open world economy, Zhong explained.

The second is to explore new growth engines for trade and investment, expand space andupdate ways for trade and investment, unleash potentials for cooperation to facilitatetrade and investment growth, as well as solve bottlenecks confronted by economic growthand balance, Zhong continued.

The third is to give full play to the role of trade in boosting economic growth, maintain themultilateral trade system, accelerate the construction of free trade zones, push ahead withfree and convenient trade and investment, and seek an open, inclusive, all-benefited,balanced and win-win economic globalization, the minister added.

The initiative stemmed from the common wish of all parties to promote the Belt and Roadconstruction, Zhong said, adding that it reflects their shared aspiration to pursueintegration, high-efficiency, win-win outcome and development, as well as the joint actionto boost trade growth, two-way investment and inclusive and sustainable development.

The initiative, as an important outcome document to gather strength, seek for the truthand deal with concrete challenges, will lead the world to forge ahead, the minister pointedout.

As one important outcome of the forum, the initiative has up to now received responsefrom more than 60 countries and international organizations, and will embrace moreparticipants and supporters in future, Zhong said.

The positive momentum indicates the common wish of the participants to supporteconomic globalization and promote free and convenient trade and investment, he added.

It has also demonstrated China’s rising international status and influence as well as thepopularity of the Belt and Road Initiative among the international community, theminister concluded.

(The story is also published on People’s Daily Online)

‘I’ll Be Back’: Researchers May Be Close to Creating a Real-Life Terminator

There is a pervasive fear harassing the collective human imagination about the future of artificial intelligence and machine learning, but could these symbols of science-fiction movies soon became a reality?

Researchers at DCS Corporation and the US Army Research Lab presented a paper at the annual Intelligent User Interface Conference in Cyprus in March, after putting datasets of human brainwaves into an artificial intelligence neural network.

Subsequently, the network learned to recognize a human being when searching for a target. The findings were the result of a years-long research program named Cognition and Neuroegonomics Collaborative Technology Alliance.

Cats at #IUI2017 how do animals react to intelligent user interfaces?

— Daniel Garijo (@dgarijov) March 16, 2017
Target selection in warfare is crucial to the effectiveness of a military, but also to how that military’s country of origin seems worldwide. Masses of civilian fatalities, or “collateral damage,” as the US army calls it, seriously undermines and erodes at the international reputation of that country.

Current technology is able to see across greater distances than the human eye, and electronic circuits can shoot faster than human reflexes and muscles can pull a trigger, however knowing what target to select is still the province of humans. The Cognition and Neuroegonomics Collaborative Technology Alliance plans to shrink that gap.

Up until now machine learning has been heavily dependent upon structured data that is fed to it in the form of software. But identifying a target with ease — as Arnold Schwarzenegger effortlessly does in the Terminator movies — is still very difficult in the real world for robots and machines. The human memory on the other hand, has that recognition innately built in thanks, in part, to memory.

“We know that there are signals in the brain that show up when you perceive something that’s salient,” ​one of the research paper’s authors, Matthew Jaswa, is quoted as saying.

These reflections are called P300 responses, which consist of bursts of electric activity that the parietal lobe of the brain emits in reaction to simulation. In other words, the P300 response is the brain’s answer to a quick-decision task, such as judging whether something that suddenly moves is a target.

The goals of the researchers is to create a neural net that can instantly learn, in real-time, accurate target selection by following the eye movements and brainwaves of soldiers in battle.

While the report is clear that the time has not yet come when robots are able to outgun humans, the neural net may speed that process up.

(Source: sputniknews)

Nothing Bitty About It: Bitcoin Value Skyrockets to Record-Breaking $1,700

For the first time ever, bitcoin has topped $1,700 in value. This is an 85-percent gain in the cryptocurrency in 2017, and a 43-percent gain in value in just one month.

Since May 2016, market capitalization on bitcoin has nearly quadrupled, from $7.16 billion in May 2016 to $27.9 billion today.

Major drivers of this trend were Japan allowing bitcoin to become legal tender in the Land of the Rising Sun (albeit with plenty of oversight), and Russia’s announcement that they would rule on cryptocurrency legality in 2018.

Bitcoin supply was also halved in mid-2016, an automatic process meant to prevent inflation. Fewer bitcoins sent the price skyrocketing. Another factor was the falling value of the euro, due to instability in the EU.

However, the cryptocurrency hasn’t evaded challenges. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ruled in March against two bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETF), which are mutual funds that can be freely traded as though they were stocks.

The SEC wrote that the ETF’s were in violation of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 “which requires, among other things, that the rules of a national securities exchange be designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices and to protect investors and the public interest.”

Traders have petitioned for the SEC to overturn its decision, but it has yet to come to a new ruling.

Other challenges that have faced bitcoin this year include strict regulation in China and the threat of a “hard fork,” where a group of mostly-Chinese cryptocurrency exchanges threatened to split bitcoin into two currencies over the issue of a stable bitcoin used in few transactions (as it is now) or an updating bitcoin used in many transactions.

“On one side, a few influential Chinese miners want to increase bitcoin’s block size to accommodate more transactions per block,” said Chris Burniske, a blockchain products lead analyst at fund manager ARK Invest, to CNBC. “On the other side, bitcoin’s most influential software developers want to implement a software update called Segregated Witness to accommodate more transactions, among a host of other improvements to the protocol.”

“The issue with a split, and especially one for bitcoin, is the fallout in terms of publicity as it will gain no favors in the complexity and show of disunity.”

A new currency, litecoin, was created, which has helped to mitigate the split in the bitcoin miner community over the hard fork.

(Source: sputniknews)

Wrath of the Sun: Astronomers Solve Mystery of ‘Stealth’ Solar Eruptions

Sometimes, massive amounts of energy are released from unstable magnetic fields on our sun, a phenomenon known as a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). At other times, these CMEs come from stable, quiet regions of the sun with no prior indication and nobody knows why. Now, new research may have explained the phenomenon of “stealth CMEs.”

Here’s how it works: the sun is surrounded by an atmosphere just like Earth – except, because the sun is outrageously hot, so is its atmosphere. So hot, in fact, that its gasses ionized and became superhot plasma. The sun’s plasma atmosphere is called its “corona.”

The movement of plasma within the corona creates a magnetic field, and spots where the magnetic field is particularly intense can cause instability. That instability then sends a geyser of plasma into space – thus, a CME.

More than just astronomical phenomena, CMEs have a real bearing on us Earthlings. They are the cause of solar storms, which can stress or even deactivate electrical devices. We’ve been fortunate to have not been hit with a major storm since the 19th century, but one today could cause billions or even trillions of dollars worth of damage. Fortunately, stealth CMEs move too slowly to cause that sort of damage, but they can still affect Earth’s magnetic field.

The damage could be mitigated if we saw the CME coming – except some CMEs happen without warning, in spots without active magnetic fields. CMEs are typically heralded by solar flares, but so-called “stealth CMEs” are not. They just seem to happen without cause.

NASA and the ESA launched a combined effort to uncover the meaning behind these stealth CMEs. “Using data from NASA’s STEREO spacecraft and the NASA/European Space Agency Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), an international team of researchers has developed a model that simulates the evolution of these mysterious eruptions,” NASA wrote in a statement

The sun’s equator moves faster than its poles: since the entire star completes a rotation at the same time, but the equator is the longest part of the sphere, it has to move quicker (Earth’s equator also rotates faster than its poles). This phenomenon, known as “differential rotation,” also affects the sun’s magnetic field.

The researchers found that the differential rotation caused “knots” to form in the magnetic fields, as different bands moved at different speeds intersected. Add in a tremendous amount of energy from the corona’s plasma, and the magnetic energy is converted to kinetic and thermal energy. Voila: a stealth CME.

Since magnetic fields are much harder to detect than plasma eruptions or solar flares, the cause of stealth CMEs hasn’t been known until now.

(Source: sputniknews)

Tencent closes suspicious network groups on Russian ‘Blue Whale’ suicide game

(File photo)

Tencent, China’s largest Internet service portal, recently closed 12 suspicious networkgroups on the‘Blue Whale’ suicide game from Russia. The provider also blocked the use ofcertain keywords, as the game has resulted in a wave of suicides worldwide, China Newsreported on May 9.

The game has become a subject of heated debate across the internet. Tencent stated thatattention from society, collaboration from all network platforms and internet users’cooperation are all necessary to control the situation. In addition, Tencent remindedpeople to report abnormal circumstances to authorities, as the game is suspected ofinvolvement in criminal acts, as well as of organizing and inciting people to commitsuicide and self-harm.

(The article is also published on People’s Daily Online)


China to legislate national anthem, ensuring dignified performances

China plans to institute regulations regarding the national anthem in order to ensure itsdignity, according to the Legislation Work Plan of the Standing Committee of the NationalPeople’s Congress in 2017, issued by China’s National People’s Congress, Xinhuanet.comreported on May 9.

The legislation will undergo a preliminary examination this June. In 2014, the GeneralOffice of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and General Office ofthe State Council published a document about normalizing the singing and playing of thenational anthem. Now, the proposed legislation will effectively stop insufficiently seriousand non-standard renditions of the song. Most importantly, the legislation will guide thepublic to adopt a proper attitude toward the anthem as part of a patriotic education.

The national anthem legislation stresses that on formal occasions, the public shouldrespect the anthem as they do the nation. However, this does not mean individuals will bebreaking the law if they cannot sing the anthem well, noted Yu Hai, former head of themilitary band of the People’s Liberation Army.

China is not the first country to make laws about its national anthem. Russia, Canada andMalaysia have all previously done so, with some creating legislation about their nationalflags and symbols in addition to the anthem.

800 villagers build road on cliff

A total of 800 residents in Fulanyan Township of Changzhi, Shanxi province built a 10-kilometer road on a cliff on Taihang Mountain in 1968. They spent two years living on the mountain, drilling through five culverts with extremely primitive tools. The difference between the highest and the lowest culverts is about 200 meters, which means the road is quite bumpy. Today, the road is still unpaved, covered instead by sand and pebbles. It has a slope of more than 30 degrees, presenting a unique and magnificent view.