The Diplomat | Brunei: Huawei’s Foothold in Southeast Asia

By Austin Bodetti

April 03, 2019

The Chinese telecommunications company Huawei Technologies’ role in the race to lay the groundwork for 5G, the latest advance in mobile telephony, has sparked concern across the Western world. The United States has pressured its European allies to avoid the Chinese telephone company, warning of “the risks that Huawei’s presence in their networks presents,” while Australia has prohibited Huawei from providing any materials for 5G infrastructure there. In Southeast Asia, however, the Chinese telephone company has received a warmer reception. No country represents this far-reaching trend better than Brunei.

Getting a foothold in any Southeast Asian country — albeit a smaller country — gives Huawei an opportunity to showcase what it can do and what is acceptable to the region,” observed Edward Tse, chief executive of the consultancy Gao Feng Advisory Company and author of China’s Disruptors: How Alibaba, Xiaomi, Tencent, and Other Companies Are Changing the Rules of Business.

A Bruneian website reported in February that a Huawei executive expressed interest in bringing 5G to the Southeast Asian sultanate, proposing that the technology could increase bandwidth in Brunei to as much as 1.2 gigabytes per second for uploads and 1.4 per second for downloads. A Twitter account belonging to the Bruneian Energy, Manpower, and Industry Ministry then retweeted the article, seeming to confirm the source’s authenticity in addition to Brunei’s interest in the venture.

“An expansion of Huawei’s already-considerable footprint in Brunei to include 5G infrastructure is unlikely to cause major controversy in the sultanate,” pointed out Donald K. Emmerson, editor of the forthcoming book The Deer and the Dragon: Southeast Asia and China in the Twenty-First Century and director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center.

Given that the Swedish telephone company Ericsson has suggested that Brunei will have to wait until as late as 2022 for 5G, Huawei seems to be moving well ahead of its Western competition there. Bruneians have even taken to Reddit to complain about the potential for a delay in 5G installation.

“Brunei needs foreign direct investment for its long-term program to diversify its economy away from oil and gas production, and China has stepped up as an enthusiastic partner,” said Alvin Cheng-Hin Lim, editor of China and Southeast Asia in the Xi Jinping Era and a senior analyst at Wikistrat, a consultancy that specializes in gamification and geopolitics. “A potential source of conflict may be found in the sultanate’s and China’s competing claims over Louisa Reef in the South China Sea, but the Bruneian government has opted for a low-key approach to this issue.”

Though control over the South China Sea has fast become one of the most divisive territorial disputes in the 21st century, Brunei has done its best to sidestep this controversy. The Southeast Asian sultanate has opted to prioritize foreign direct investment over territorial integrity, declining to push the topic of the South China Sea in exchange for Chinese largess. China, in turn, has incorporated Brunei into the Belt and Road Initiative, a project to expand China’s economic sphere of influence.

“Brunei has pleased China by keeping quiet about its modest claim in the South China Sea and by refusing to join the three other Southeast Asian claimants in a common front against China’s own massive claim,” Emmerson told The Diplomat, referring to the trio of Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. “Beijing has returned the favor by scaling up its involvement in Brunei’s economy.”

The Bruneian strategy has already seen some return on investment for the relationship between Huawei and the Southeast Asian sultanate. Huawei has long collaborated with Telekom Brunei Berhad, a local leader in the telecommunications industry; in fact, the partnership extends all the way back to 2004. Huawei has also invested in training the next generation of  Bruneian engineers, hosting workshops in the Chinese city of Shenzhen for six Bruneian students last year. The Chinese company even seems to maintain accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn dedicated to its presence in Brunei.

“The Bruneian government has been seeking investment in new technologies as part of its economic-diversification drive,” Lim told The Diplomat. “Foreign direct investment in 5G technology, including from Huawei, could facilitate this, especially since the successful rollout of 5G infrastructure could pave the way for the mass deployment of other emerging technologies — like autonomous vehicles. In theory, this could boost the sultanate’s movement up the technological value chain.”

As the global economy moves away from fossil fuels, Brunei is searching for ways to diversify its own economy, which depends on the petroleum industry. The half-dozen Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf are strugglingwith a similar problem, and, like Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Brunei has achieved mixed results. The Southeast Asian sultanate’s economy shrank by 2.5 percent in 2016 because of a concurrent decline in the price of oil, a problem that could resurface soon. For its part, the Economist Intelligence Unit has concluded that Brunei will “remain dependent on oil and gas for the foreseeable future.”

“Brunei could benefit from increased trade with China and more direct investments,” Tse told The Diplomat, noting that the introduction of 5G would strengthen Brunei’s economy. “The risks are potential concerns from other countries in Southeast Asia and perhaps the United States.”

Experts have recommended a variety of strategies that Brunei could adopt to avert the possibility of future recessions, from expanding the service sector to promoting halal foods. Nonetheless, courting foreign direct investment may offer the Southeast Asian sultanate the best opportunity to wean itself off fossil fuels. Until Brunei finds another method of broadening its economy beyond the petroleum industry, Bruneian officials will likely go out of their way to please their Chinese counterparts — and Huawei.

“If Bruneian criticism of China did arise, the absolute monarchy would do whatever it could to remove the problem or prevent it from getting out of hand,” said Emmerson. “Insofar as Huawei’s further expansion in Brunei would likely be technology-intensive and thus not involve importing large numbers of Chinese laborers, the chance of such discontent arising to begin with would be accordingly less.”

Stimuli supported by China, such as the Brunei–Guangxi Economic Corridor, Pulau Muara Besar Bridge, and Temburong Bridge, may become the future of Brunei’s economy. China Harbor Engineering Company and China State Construction Engineering Corporation, both Chinese state-owned enterprises, already have a substantial presence in the Southeast Asian sultanate. Now that Huawei has all but staked its claim to monopolizing 5G infrastructure there, the private sector in China will likely dominate the telecommunications industry in Brunei. For its part, Brunei will reap the economic rewards.

“While concerns over security have been voiced, Huawei’s projects have not been banned in Southeast Asian countries, and the company remains a key vendor in 5G trials in the region,” noted Lim. “It is likely that Huawei’s 5G investment in Brunei will remain equally uncontroversial.”

新浪财经 | 谢祖墀: 量子信息科学和对企业发展的启示

文| 谢祖墀

对于中国企业来说,领导者要做好量子计算在不久的将来对行业产生重大影响的准备,并逐步开始接触量子科技,鼓励研发人员利用量子计算寻找突破。毋庸置疑,提前做好部署的企业将取得领先。

最近有一些客户来询问我们有关量子信息科学的发展的启示。高风咨询团队做了一些研究的工作,在这文章中我们总结了研究发现的重点内容。有什么不对之处,请指正。

正如人工智能最初进入人类的视野一样,对于“量子信息”,大多数人缺乏准确的概念,也难以分清与之相关的企业都在做什么。而对于企业而言,如何在今天这个指数发展的时代,抓住量子信息的契机,并最终取得持续的成功,亦是难事。量子信息是量子力学与信息科学最尖端领域的结合,在通信和计算方面将会对未来企业运作有至关重要的影响。

简单而言,量子信息领域主要包含信息的传输和计算,即量子通信和量子计算。最先走进产业化的就是量子通信技术。当今社会不断加剧的信息安全问题促使了人们发展这种不同以往的高度保密和安全的通信方式。

量子通信不仅可以应用于国家级安全通信,也适用于国民经济重点领域的数据传输和加密。因此,世界各国都开展了量子通信网络的建设,而在这方面的建设和研究上,中国目前已经走在世界的前列。早在2013年,我国就启动了全长2,000多公里的量子保密通信“京沪干线”工程建设。该项目连接北京、济南、合肥、上海等多个城域网络,按计划正逐步接入金融、电力系统、大数据互联网企业等用户。2016年,中国发射了人类历史上第一颗用于量子通信研究的“墨子号”量子科学实验卫星,开启了全球化量子通信时代的大门。2018年初,“墨子号”量子卫星首次实现了北京和维也纳之间约7600公里的保密通信。该成果被美国物理学会评为2018年度国际物理学十大进展之一。中国科学技术大学物理学家陆朝阳曾表示:“如果首颗卫星表现不错,中国肯定会发射更多。”

中国科学技术大学教授、中国“量子之父”潘建伟也曾提及,量子通讯行业隐藏着巨大的商业机会,“京沪干线将带动整个产业链的发展,特别是在核心元器件国产化和相关标准制定方面。”除此之外,随着量子通信网络的不断发展,量子通信网络运营商和应用服务需求也将快速上升。根据有关研究所估计,量子通信市场规模在未来3~5年内,有望达到100~300亿元。

另一方面,许多专家相信,量子计算将在未来彻底改变信息处理的方式,带来新一轮的信息革命。随着当前互联网数据的日渐复杂和庞大,传统计算模式的增长正趋近瓶颈。而新时代的量子计算机可能只需几秒就能解决传统计算机需要花费数年时间计算的问题。当云计算难以满足庞杂的计算需求时,量子计算机的先进性将助力云计算走出困境,推进整个大数据产业的发展。在未来,量子计算很有可能整合不同平台的数据库,实现数据的完全共享,创造出一个崭新的、系统的量子云生态圈。

从政府,到科研机构和各类企业,都逐步在量子力学领域投入了巨大的资金和人力资源。在《“十三五”国家科技创新规划》中,量子计算已被列入科技创新2030重大项目。2015年,中国科学院和阿里巴巴集团在中国科学技术大学联合成立了“中科院-阿里巴巴量子计算实验室”,这是中国民间资本首次全资资助科研单位进行基础科学研究。欧美等发达国家也都大力投入量子计算技术的研究。IBM在2016年上线了全球首例量子计算云平台。2018年,“Google量子人工智能实验室”宣布推出全新的量子计算器,声称其运行速度比传统处理器快1亿倍。

量子计算的商业热潮已悄然开始。参与量子计算的商业公司主要可分为四类:

第一类是端到端服务提供商,一般为IT或者工业巨头,代表企业有IBM,Google,微软,阿里巴巴;

第二类是硬件系统玩家,代表企业有Intel;

第三类是软件服务玩家,代表企业有QC Ware;

第四类是专业领域玩家,大多数是由科学实验室转化、分离而来的创业公司,致力于利用量子计算给不同公司提供细分领域的解决方案。

整个量子计算生态系统是不断变化的,暂处于动态平衡状态。各类玩家之间的界限比较模糊,将会有越来越多的交集,部分玩家甚至有机会打破生态平衡。现在就已经有许多硬件系统类玩家在朝产业链的应用层发展,触达服务层,试图进行纵向整合。

量子信息技术的发展已经是一种全球的趋势和国家的重点战略部署。

尽管大面积的量子计算应用看起来似乎还需要一些时间,但我们已经开始看到部分功能有限的量子计算在不同行业中的影响。全球最大的汽车集团大众汽车利用量子计算技术来优化交通方案。该公司与量子计算创业公司D-Wave Systems合作建立专业团队,收集了北京约10,000辆出租车的数据,通过量子计算云平台计算并模拟出城市最佳路径,用于缓解城市交通堵塞的压力。除此之外,世界上最大的化工厂BASF和民航飞机制造商Airbus等也将量子计算应用于行业之中。正如D-Wave Systems的首席执行官,维恩·布朗内尔(Vern Brownell)所说:“我们正处于量子计算时代的黎明。我们相信,我们正处在提供传统计算无法提供的功能的转折点。几乎在所有学科中,你都会看到量子计算机产生了这种影响。”

虽然量子计算不是对所有人和企业都有意义,但其带来的量子计算平台、工具和算法,对于行业工作者而言,有望推进研发进程,拓展业务边界。很多原本传统的企业,都已经开始和量子科技相关企业的进行跨界合作,构建量子生态系统,而这样的机会在未来将会越来越多。对于中国企业来说,领导者要做好量子计算在不久的将来对行业产生重大影响的准备,并逐步开始接触量子科技,鼓励研发人员利用量子计算寻找突破。毋庸置疑,提前做好部署的企业将取得领先。

量子信息技术的发展已经是一种全球的趋势和国家的重点战略部署。随着科研技术的进步,市场日趋成熟,将引领该技术的产业化进入新阶段。

原文发表于《亚布力观点》(2019年3月刊)并保留所有权利

(注:本文图片均来自网络)

SCMP | Levelling the Field

By Edward Tse

Levelling the Field: Foreign Firms will Need to Raise their Game in China with New Investment Law

Original published by South China Morning Post on March 23, 2019. All rights reserved.

China has just passed a new law that will replace existing regulations on wholly foreign-owned enterprises and on joint ventures involving overseas companies. In response to changing global realities and the need to further open up its economy, the new law includes many stipulations that aim to foster a level playing field for foreign and domestic enterprises.

Forced technology transfer, one of the main issues driving the US-China trade war, will now be banned. The law also emphasises intellectual property rights protection for foreign investors and encourages technological cooperation. Other incentives include establishing special economic zones with attractive tax and business regimes, allowing the transfer of profit and capital gains out of the country and shortening the list of prohibited investment projects. Moreover, China will encourage foreign investors to participate in the mixed-ownership reforms of state-owned enterprises.

These changes are certainly welcome news for foreign businesses and the circle of politicians and lobbyists in Washington, who have long complained about a lack of market access in China. For many foreign multinational corporations, China has become one of their largest markets, if not the largest, in the world. Even for those that are only considering first-time entry, such as cross-border payment or credit card businesses, their global business models wouldn’t be complete without a credible presence in China. However, though a favourable signal, these legal changes cannot guarantee foreign multinationals success. The market conditions in China have evolved quite significantly over the past decade.

A major shift in the past decade has been the emergence of Chinese companies as bona fide competitors to foreign multinationals. Whereas foreign multinationals still enjoy advantages in sectors such as luxury goods, premium-branded cars and patented pharmaceuticals, Chinese companies have become serious competitors in e-commerce, fintech, fast-moving consumer goods, appliances and logistics.

Source: SCMP

Some of these Chinese competitors are large state-owned enterprises, especially in sectors that require strong state roles, such as energy and telecommunications. However, the most formidable, and the majority, are private companies marked by their speed, agility and creativity, in sectors where the playing field is practically open and even.

This phenomenon is part of the rise of business innovations in China over the past decade, as a combined result of increasingly prevalent technologies, local and central government policies and grass-roots level entrepreneurship. Ridding itself of the “copycat” stigma, China has nurtured a new internet and tech sector – ranging from ride-hailing to e-commerce, robotics and artificial intelligence – that grew 20 per cent in 2018 to a total value of US$142 billion.

Two Chinese companies, Tencent and Alibaba [the owner of the Post], are now among the world’s top 10 most valuable companies. Unicorns – unlisted companies that are less than 10 years old and valued at or above US$1 billion – are thriving. Ant Financial, a Chinese fintech company and an affiliate of Alibaba, is now the world’s largest unicorn with a valuation of US$150 billion. ByteDance, owner of Toutiao, a popular newsfeed app, and Tik Tok, a popular short video app, is valued at US$78 billion, ahead of the US-headquartered ride-hailing app Uber.

Regrettably, foreign multinationals have largely been bystanders to innovation of Chinese origin. However, the rapid changes in China’s innovation context is forcing them to react.For example, in the automotive industry, transformative trends such as electrification, autonomous driving, connected and intelligent vehicles and “mobility as a service”, which combines multiple private and public transport options for users, are forcing even the leading global carmakers to adapt. Across sectors, foreign companies are eager to connect to digitally savvy Chinese consumers through means such as super-apps like WeChat and online payment systems like Alipay and WeChat Pay.

Belatedly, foreign multinationals have began to recognise the need to learn from China, to innovate in China for China and perhaps even for the world. This will not be easy, as foreign companies need to embrace China as a breeding ground for innovation and for new thought leadership in business strategy. To do this right, they have to put China at the core of their global strategy, instead of seeing it merely as a market, albeit an important one.

So far, most of the foreign multinationals’ localisation efforts have remained basic – hiring local managers and assigning them only roles involving execution, while strategic planning and decision-making take place outside China, either in global or regional headquarters. Not only is this process not fast enough, it also does not take into account sufficiently the changes in the overall China context that can have a disproportionately large impact on a company’s China, and even global, strategy. Foreign multinationals should add substance to their localisation plans by appointing local thought leaders to senior levels, with the appropriate decision-making power and resources.

Foreign multinationals have tended to try to run their business in China by themselves, perhaps with some joint ventures here and there. Going forward, that won’t be enough as the changes in China, especially in innovation, will require capabilities beyond those that foreign multinationals are aware of. They should adopt a more open-minded approach with the idea of business ecosystems in China, and form collaborative partnerships with local companies, including established companies, start-ups, academics and research institutions, to augment their capabilities on the ground.

Like every new measure that comes out of China, the new foreign investment law will not be immune from scepticism from outside. However, the new law signals a friendlier environment that enables foreign multinationals to capture greater value in one of the world’s most important and dynamic markets. In the meantime, they should remember that in this ever-changing, increasingly competitive landscape where innovation is critical, they need to step up their game in China to capture the potential that the market offers.