China takes the lead in supercomputing while America sleeps

Summary: The Apollo program demonstrated America’s superpower status in the 1960’s. Today’s contests are more diffuse, such as the race to build the most and largest supercomputers. China has moved into the lead in this, another milestone in its quest to again become the Middle Kingdom. Helping in their quest is America’s unwillingness to invest in itself, preferring to fund the 1%, a massive military, and foreign wars.

Sunway TaihuLight Supercomputer

China’s New Supercomputer Puts the US Even Further Behind

By Brian Barrett, Wired, 21 June 2016 — Excerpt.

“This week, China’s Sunway TaihuLight officially became the fastest supercomputer in the world. The previous champ? Also from China. What used to be an arms race for supercomputing primacy among technological nations has turned into a blowout.

“The Sunway TaihuLight is indeed a monster: theoretical peak performance of 125 petaflops, 10,649,600 cores, and 1.31 petabytes of primary memory. That’s not just “big.” Former Indiana Pacers center Rik Smits is big. This is, like, mountain big. Jupiter big.

“TaihuLight’s abilities are matched only by the ambition that drove its creation. Fifteen years ago, China claimed zero of the top 500 supercomputers in the world. Today, it not only has more than everyone else — including the US — but its best machine boasts speeds five times faster than the best the US can muster.

“…Its 10.6 million cores are more than three times the previous leader, China’s Tianhe-2, and nearly 20 times the fastest U.S. supercomputer, Titan, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. ‘It’s running very high rates of execution speed, very good efficiency, and very good power efficiency,’ says University of Tennessee computer scientist Jack Dongarra. ‘It’s really quite impressive.’  {Its peak power consumption under load (the HPL benchmark) is 15.37 MW, or 6 Gflops/Watt. It would have taken the #2 spot on the November 2015 Green500 list.}

“…TaihuLight is faster than anything scheduled to come online in the US until 2018, when three Department of Energy sites will each receive a machine expected to range from 150 to 200 petaflops. That’s ahead of where China is now — but two years is half an eternity in computer-time.

“…The other significant TaihuLight achievement stings US interests even more, because it’s political. China’s last champ, Tianhe-2, had Intel inside. But in February of 2015, the Department of Commerce, citing national security concerns — supercomputers excel at crunching metadata for the NSA and their foreign equivalents — banned the sale of Intel Xeon processor to Chinese supercomputer labs.

“Rather than slow the rate of Chinese supercomputer technology, the move appears to have had quite the opposite effect. ‘I believe the Chinese government put more research funding into the projects to develop and put in place indigenous processors,’ Dongarra says. ‘The result of that, in some sense, is this machine today.'”

—————————- End excerpt. —————————-

The operating system is a Linux-based Chinese system called Sunway Raise. Bloomberg gives more detail about this remarkable achievement by China.

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Good news from China about climate change!

Summary: The headlines report almost nothing but bad news about climate change as journalists exaggerate much of the bad news and mute much of the good news. Here is an example of wonderful news — from China, the top source of global pollution growth — about another step in the world’s shift away from coal. It deserves attention.

World in A Forest

Those horrific forecasts of our future climate describe different effects, but have a common source: the RCP8.5 scenario, worst of the four used in the IPCC’s AR5 report. It describes a future in which many things go wrong, especially rapid population growth and slow tech progress, so that coal become the major fuel of the late 21st century — as it was of the late 19th C.

Much of the world has been shifting away from coal at an accelerating rate, so that coal prices are collapsing and coal companies are going bankrupt. Even in China, long the top coal growth story. There are indications that coal use has begun to decline in China. They’re rapidly closing older plants, major sources of the toxic clouds over their cities (Beijing has shut all of its coal-fired plants) — and the mines that feed them (1,000 in 2016, 4300 over 3 years). Now comes even better news about policy changes China’s government has made to further this wonderful trend.

Excerpt from an article at the World Resources Institute
by and

China has emerged as a leader in renewable energy. Investment soared from $39 billion to $111 billion in just 5 years, while electric capacity for solar power grew 168-fold and wind power quadrupled.  Actual renewable energy utilization also grew. The total share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption increased from 8.3% in 2010 to 12% in 2015, beating the country’s target of 11.4% and putting China well on track to meet its Copenhagen pledge to reach 15% by 2020 and Paris commitment to reach 20% by 2030.

In the last two months, China’s government has thrown three punches to tackle the problem.

Punch 1: An emergency ban on new coal power construction

The central government has ordered 13 provinces to suspend coal-fired power plant approvals in the current pipeline, and another 15 provinces to delay new construction of projects that have already been approved, according to media reports.

The government has also set up an on-going early warning mechanism to anticipate and discourage local decisions that may exacerbate coal power plant overcapacity in the future. Projecting to 2019, the government has issued a “red alert” for 28 provinces (in Chinese), asking local authorities to suspend approval and companies to reconsider investment.

By curbing the development of new coal power plants, the dominant source of fossil fuel electricity in China, the government aims to prevent destructive competition with renewables.

Punch 2: Rules to guarantee sale of renewable energy generation on the grid …

Punch 3: Consumption and generation targets for renewables …

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China is buying U.S. Companies. What secrets do they get?

Summary: Cybersecurity expert Emilio Iasiello discusses China’s acquisition of America’s knowledge, technology, and skills by acquiring America’s companies.

China Business

Chinese Acquisition of U.S. Companies:
Sometimes a Cigar May Just Be a Cigar

By Emilio Iasiello
Posted at Dead Drop (of the LookingGlass Cyber Threat Intelligence Group)
7March 2016. Posted with his gracious permission.

Since 2012, there has been increased interest in Chinese companies purchasing U.S. businesses.  In the recent report published by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).  According to the report’s findings, CFIUS reviewed 147 transactions in 2014, which was a 52% increase over the number of notified transactions in 2013.  Fifty-two of these cases were subject to follow-up investigations in order to determine if they posed a risk to U.S. national security interests.  Unsurprisingly, for the third consecutive year, China led all foreign countries in filings, with 24 transactions reviewed, an increase from 21 the previous year. Two months into 2016, China shows no signs of slowing down its acquisition requests.

  • State-owned China National Chemical Corporation offered to purchase Swiss pesticide Syngenta AG for $43 billion.  Syngenta maintains chemical facilities in the United States deemed potential terrorist targets by U.S. officials.
  • In late January 2016, China’s Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science and Technology Co., Ltd., made an offer for the U.S. crane manufacturer Terex Corporation.  In addition to being a state-owned enterprise, Zoomlion, a construction machinery manufacturer, has a longstanding relationship with China’s People’s Liberation Army, calling into question if providing a supplier of critical infrastructure equipment to U.S. government agencies poses a risk to U.S. national security.
  • As recently as February, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange announced that it would be sold to a consortium led by the Chongqing Casin Investment Group of China, and
  • Fairchild Semiconductor recently rejected a takeover bid by China Resources Microelectronics and Hua Capital Management out of concern that CFIUS would reject it.

There were notable purchase attempts in 2015 as well. Tsinghua Unisplendour Group, China’s largest state-owned chip design company, proposed to buy a 15 percent stake of Western Digital Corporation, one largest computer hard disk drive manufacturers in the world. The deal ultimately fell through when the Chinese company backed out once CFIUS intended to conduct a second-stage investigation.

The potential acquisition of these companies can certainly be interpreted as being driven by Beijing’s national interests. The targeted companies bear closer inspection as the fields that they represent coincide with the strategic industries outlined in China’s Fifth 12 Year Plan (2011-2015); namely, environmental protection; new generation information technology; biological; high-end equipment and manufacturing; new energy; new materials; and new energy automobile. This raises alarm particularly as some security professionals have intimated that the China’s 12th Five Year Plan provides almost a blueprint for Chinese cyber espionage operations, the intent of which has been the theft of secrets and intellectual property to gain competitive advantage.

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Stratfor: What Kind of Great Power Will China Become?

Summary: How China wields its growing power will help shape the geopolitical world of the 21st century. Here Stratfor looks at China and speculates at what it might become. {1st of 2 posts today.}

Stratfor

What Kind of Power Will China Become?

Stratfor, 3 February 2016

These are grim times for the Chinese economy. In the two years since property markets peaked and subsequently began to slow in most cities across China, it has become abundantly clear that the approach to economic management that sustained double-digit annual growth for two decades has exhausted itself. The unprecedented stock market volatility of the past year, along with signs of spreading unemployment and labor unrest in many regions, are important reminders that the transition to new foundations of national economic growth will in all likelihood be bitter, slow and unnervingly uncertain.

In times like these, it is tempting to embrace visions of irreversible decline — just as it was easy, in the expansive years of consistently high growth, to view China’s rise as straightforward and inevitable. As Stratfor pointed out well before the 2008-09 global financial crisis, which set in motion many of the policies and processes that underlie China’s current woes, the only certainty in the high-growth years was that they would someday end. Their ending, we predicted, would unleash tremendous and potentially destabilizing social pressures long kept at bay by the promise of universal employment and rising material prosperity. At the least, this process would slow China’s political, military and economic rise as the decade ends. At worst, it would send China into a more debilitating and longer-lasting period of crisis and fragmentation.

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Magnus: China’s leaders must choose: political power for them, or economic growth for China

Summary: Today’s post by A-team economist George Magnus discusses China’s economic challenges, especially the clash between its political and economic transitions. These are among the major unknowns affecting the future of China, that other pole of the world economy, {1st of 2 posts today.}

Globe and China Flag

Will, or can China put change before control?

By George Magnus, 29 January 2016
Reposted from his website with his generous permission

One of John McDonnell’s economic advisory team, David Blanchflower, recently wrote in the New Statesman, “The new Labour leaders are not economists and are going to have to learn fast. They will have to accept the realities of capitalism and modern markets, like it or not.” He makes a fine point, and on reading it, I immediately thought that it could equally be made about China.

The leadership is no longer new, and for them the realities of capitalism and markets are not the same: they are prepared to incorporate market mechanisms and go along with western capitalism only to the extent that they, a) do not compromise the interests and primacy of the Chinese Communist Party; b) help the Party further Chinese economic and political power;  c) bolster the competitiveness and efficiency of state institutions. What the leadership does not want is a central role for markets and prices in the determination of the ownership, allocation and distribution of resources.

This much, if you did not know it before, has become evident to global audience in the seemingly parochial world of finance.

On the one hand, China has taken the initiative to set up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank under the umbrella of what President Xi Jinping has called the One Belt, One Road project, or to you and me, a 21st century Silk Road by land and by sea; and most recently won the IMF’s backing to include the Yuan in the so-called Special Drawing Right, the IMF’s accounting unit. We could also point to other initiatives to encourage greater use of the Yuan in the settlement and invoicing of trade, the denomination of international bonds, and the composition of central bank currency swaps; and to encourage foreign capital to come into Chinese financial markets.

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A Chinese general sees a ruthless America striving to contain his nation’s growth

Summary: This series of posts provides excerpts from a recent speech by Qiao Liang, a Major General in the People’s Liberation Army. These give a glimpse into the thinking of China’s elites, unlike the US-centric perspective provided by our news media. In part 3 he gives his big picture view of the decade’s global geopolitics. As in part 2, he sees the US as a ruthless hegemon in decline — fighting to maintain its control over the world by containing its greatest rival: China. There’s enough truth in this to worry everybody; these struggles often end badly.

Globe and China Flag

Speech by Qiao Liang (乔良): part three
Major General in the People’s Liberation Army

Given at a study forum of the Chinese Communist Party, April 2015
Reported and translated by Chinascope
Reposted with their generous permission

C. Now, It Is Time to Harvest China

It was as precise as the tide; the U.S. dollar was strong for six years. Then, in 2002, it started getting weak. Following the same pattern, it stayed weak for ten years. In 2012, the Americans started to prepare to make it strong. They used the same approach: create a regional crisis for other people.

Therefore, we saw that several events happened in relation to China: the Cheonan sinking event {2010}, the dispute over the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Islands in Chinese), and the dispute over Scarborough Shoal (the Huangyan Island in Chinese). {The latter two are long-standing disputes.} All these happened during this period. The conflict between China and the Philippians over Huangyan Island and the conflict between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, might not appear to have much to do with the U.S. dollar index, but was it really that case? Why did it happen exactly in the tenth year of the U.S. dollar being weak?

Unfortunately, the U.S. played with too much fire [in its own mortgage market] earlier and got itself into a financial crisis in 2008. This delayed the timing of the U.S. dollar’s hike a bit.

If we acknowledge that there is a U.S. dollar index cycle and the Americans use this cycle to harvest from other countries, then we can conclude that it was time for the Americans to harvest China. Why? Because China had obtained the largest amount of investment from the world. The size of China’s economy was no longer the size of a single county; it was even bigger than the whole of Latin America and about the same size as East Asia’s economy.

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A Chinese general judges America’s leadership of the world economy

Summary: This series of posts provides excerpts from a recent speech by Qiao Liang, a Major General in the People’s Liberation Army. They give a glimpse into the thinking of China’s elites, unlike the US-centric perspective provided by our news media. Here the General looks at America’s leadership of the world economy, and its effects on emerging nations. He judges us harshly.

Globe and China Flag

Speech by Qiao Liang (乔良): part 2
Major General in the People’s Liberation Army

Given at a study forum of the Chinese Communist Party, April 2015
Reported and translated by Chinascope
Reposted with their generous permission.

B. The Relationship between the U.S. Dollar Index Cycle and the Global Economy

This financial economy (using money to make money) is much easier than the real (industry-based) economy. Why will it bother with manufacturing industries that have only low value-adding capabilities? Since August 15, 1971, the U.S. has gradually stopped its real economy and moved into a virtual economy. It has become an “empty” economy state. Today’s U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has reached US$18 trillion, but only $5 trillion is from the real economy.

… Many people think that imperialism stopped after the U.K. became weak. Actually, the U.S. has conducted a hidden imperialism through the U.S. dollar and has made other countries its financial colony.

… A lot of U.S. dollars went to Latin America … {creating} the economic boom in Latin America in the 1970s. The U.S. dollar index started climbing in 1979. Dollars flew back to the U.S. and other regions received fewer dollars. Latin America’s economy boomed due to an ample supply of dollar investment, but this suddenly stopped as its investments dried up.

… The Latin American economy dropped to the bottom. … Some {Americans} took the money they just made and went back to Latin America to buy the good assets whose prices had just fallen to the ground. The U.S. harvested handsomely from Latin America’s economy.

If this had happened only once, it could be argued as a small probability event. As it has occurred repeatedly, it indicates an intended pattern.

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