China Unicom, the Nr. 2 mobile operator, recently aunched a new personal-computer (PC) insurance with PICC and Kingsoft (respectively an insurance and software company) against virus threats. They will offer up to RMB 5,000 (USD 731) coverage against debilitating virus attack on PCs for a premium of RMB15 per month (USD 2).
The new insurance service is available only to China Unicom mobile-phone subscribers.
Several sources have reported that the International Telecommunication Union (a UN agency) is drafting technical standards, proposed by the Chinese government, to define methods of tracing the original source of Internet communications and potentially curbing the ability of users to remain anonymous.
The U.S. National Security Agency also participates in the “IP Traceback” drafting group, named Q6/17. For the time being, members of Q6/17 have declined to release key documents, and meetings remain closed to the public.
While the justification for tracebacks is to counter distributed denial of service attacks, the proposal actually runs against Internet users’ right to remain anonymous – protected by law in the United States and recognized in international law by groups such as the Council of Europe.
It remains to be seen how much will actually come out of the Q6/17. First, the traceback proposal isn’t scheduled to be finished until 2009. Second, the ITU can not impose any given standard on any country. Third, anonymity is protected by law/constitution in many jurisdictions. That said, one can not fail to notice the activity of Chinese companies at the ITU over the recent years, which given their increasing economic weight, can only keep growing.
Shenzhou-7 – China’s manned spacecraft – will be launched in a few days. One of the three taikonauts is scheduled to conduct a space walk. China successfully put two manned spacecraft into orbit in 2003 and 2005 respectively, becoming the third country to send an astronaut into space after the United States and the former Soviet Union.
But it looks like China does not only want to have satellites in space. The noble endavour is complemented by a more commercial approach. China has announced that it will soon be launching Venezuela’s first satellite. The Chinese-made satellite will cover several Latin American nations and make Venezuela self-sufficient in television, Internet and other communication transmissions. Oil against [tele]communications may well lead to a new kind of partnerships.
After the raid on Olympic gold medals, China is racing for another prize: the lead in patents!
A recent report from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) indicates that between 2005 and 2006 the number of filings worldwide by applicants from China increased by 32.1%. Chinese residents increased their share of total worldwide patent filings from 1.8% to 7.3% between 2000 and 2006 – mostly due to increases in domestic patent filings.
At the corporate level, the telecommunication equipment manufacturer Huawei has even moved up 9 places to become the 4th largest patent applicant with 1,365 applications published in 2007, following Matsushita, Philips Electronics N.V. and Siemens. While just missing the podium, it leads among all Chinese patent applicants for the sixth year in a row and now totals more than 29000 patents.
So, is the era of reverse-engineering and pirating over? For sure, there aren’t so many “Huawei” out there yet but at least it is an encouraging sign that Chinese companies now take pride in patenting.