Tesla sees great potential for self-driving vehicles in China
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on Friday that he sees huge potential in China for fully autonomous vehicles, as Chinese customers want cars with better connected and more intelligent features.
He made the remarks in a video speech at the 2021 World New Energy Vehicle Congress held in Haikou, capital of South China’s Hainan province.
A J.D. Power survey shows that among consumers in China who intend to buy a new vehicle in the next six months, nearly one-fourth consider intelligent features as the most crucial factor.
The survey is based on responses from 11,266 respondents in January and June 2021.
In his video message, Musk said Chinese companies are the most competitive in the world, especially because some are very good at software, which is reshaping the auto industry from design and manufacturing to autonomous driving.
Autonomous driving is gaining momentum in the country. Startups including Momenta and Pony.ai and carmakers including SAIC have been working on autonomous vehicles solutions.
Nio expects its autonomous driving staff members to number around 800 by the end of this year from 500 in August.
Baidu’s Apollo is offering pilot robotaxi services in cities including Beijing, Shanghai as well as Changsha in Huanan province.
The Beijing-based technology company said it expects users of its robotaxi services to hit 3 million in two to three years across the country.
Musk said data security will become even more important when vehicles are becoming smart and autonomous.
“Data security is not only the responsibility of any single company but also the cornerstone of the whole industry development.
“Tesla will work with national authorities in all countries to ensure data security of intelligent and connected vehicles,” he said.
In an earlier statement Tesla said data about its vehicles sold in China as well as their local production, sales, after-service and charging information are stored locally in the country.
HCM City’s master plan to 2040 focuses on climate change adaptation
HCM CITY — HCM City’s master plan calls for the city to be developed into the nation’s largest economic hub for tourism, industrial services and high-tech agriculture by 2040, with a focus on climate change adaptation.
According to a Government decision on the master plan, the city is expected to have 13-14 million people by 2040 and 16 million by 2060. It plans to allocate 100,000-110,000ha of land for urbanisation by 2040.
The city will remain the country’s economic and technological hub, focusing on innovation as part of the national urban development strategy.
Under the master plan, the city will develop a complete infrastructure linking the city with neighbouring provinces. The newly established Thủ Đức City will be developed into an innovative city model that will support the development of HCM City and the southern region.
The city will integrate urban development with transit-oriented development (TOD), including underground-based public transport solutions.
The master plan requires the effective use of the city’s natural conditions and ecosystems to protect the environment and adapt to climate change.
The Government has asked the city People’s Committee to develop a plan to allocate capital and approve the total cost estimate, and work with the Ministry of Construction and others to make adjustments to the master plan.
The city has also set a goal by 2060 to become an international trade and financial centre in the Asia-Pacific region. The city will create an appealing working environment with a diverse culture, heritage conservation, and a scenic river system.
HCM City has faced serious flooding for more than 20 years. The previous city’s development plan, which was done before 1975, was designed for only two million people. It has failed to keep pace with the rising population.
New Thủ Đức City
According to a recently revised master plan submitted to the city government by the Department of Planning and Architecture, the new Thủ Đức City, formed by merging districts 2, 9 and Thủ Đức District, will have 18,930ha of land for urban construction by 2030, and 19,994ha by 2040.
It currently has a population of more than 1 million. The figure is expected to reach 1.5 million by 2030, and 1.9 to 2.2 million people by 2040 and 3 million by 2060.
The new Thủ Đức City will implement a range of key projects to create an innovative ecosystem.
These include the Quang Trung Thủ Đức Software Park, the Advanced Technology and Innovation Centre (under the Department of Science and Technology), a High-Performance Computing Centre, a Creative Start-up Centre, an Advanced Research Institute (under the National University of HCM City), and a Centre for Research and Pharmaceutical Production Products, among others.
The new city will also focus on developing quality human resources.
HCM City will offer special incentives to attract investment in these projects.
As the city’s eastern gateway, the new Thủ Đức City will be developed into a centre of innovation to assist the growth of HCM City and seven key economic hubs in the South. — VNS
Flooding most serious climate change impact in Southeast Asia
Flooding is the most serious climate change impact for some Southeast Asian nations, according to a climate survey on Southeast Asians’ attitudes and perceptions published on Thursday.
The survey conducted by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute gathered responses from Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, the Philippines, Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos and Indonesia.
Respondents also suggested that businesses in Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam should adopt green practices.
Eighty per cent of respondents from Vietnam and 77.9 per cent from the Philippines agreed that climate change is “a serious and immediate threat” to their countries, while 58 per cent from Brunei said the issue must be monitored.
The survey also revealed that Southeast Asians are only marginally optimistic about the potential economic benefits of adopting climate change measures and policies. In addition, almost half of respondents feel that the stimulus measures and COVID-19 spending by respective governments did not contribute to a green recovery.
ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute conducted the second iteration of its Southeast Asia Climate Outlook Survey from June 11 to August 2. Designed to gather insights on the perspectives of Southeast Asian citizens towards a variety of climate change issues, the online survey covered topics including climate change impacts, urban mitigation and adaptation, low-carbon transitions and partnership on climate action.
It drew a total of 610 responses from citizens of all ASEAN member states, and its findings provided a general sense of the prevailing views of Southeast Asian citizens towards climate change issues.
About a third of respondents identified the European Union (EU) as having demonstrated global climate leadership, but a substantial portion felt that no country had fulfilled the role of climate leader.
However, when asked which country could potentially play a more proactive role in climate issues, respondents’ top three choices were the EU, Japan and the United States. At the regional level, ASEAN’s effectiveness in tackling climate action is in question as the majority of respondents question the regional organisation’s role in climate change.
Commenting on the results, Director and CEO of ISEAS– Yusof Ishak Institute Choi Shing Kwok said, “This is the second year we have conducted the survey. The results show that Southeast Asians believe that more should be done to address climate change issues, with a majority viewing climate change to be as much of a crisis as the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Survey respondents also believe that better and more innovative climate change policies can result in higher economic competitiveness, which will translate into strong support for governments and private companies pursuing climate change initiatives in the region.”
Coordinator of the Climate Change in Southeast Asia Programme at ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute Sharon Seah said the survey confirmed that climate change remained top priority for Southeast Asia despite the ongoing pandemic.
Respondents were unequivocal about the role of governments, businesses and individuals in reducing carbon emissions and the need to cut reliance on coal as soon as possible. This was accompanied by an emerging consensus on the potential of a renewable energy transition.
US, UK aid to Australias acquisition of nuclear submarines sheer act of nuclear proliferation: Chinese envoy
VIENNA — A Chinese diplomat on Thursday expressed Chinas “grave concern” at the pronounced assistance by the United States and the United Kingdom to Australias acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines.
Addressing the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Board of Governors meeting here, Wang Qun, Chinese envoy to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna, described the trilateral move as “sheer act of nuclear proliferation”.
The U.S. and the UK, both nuclear weapon states, and are state parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) which prevents proliferation of nuclear weapons and technologies, the core obligation for its state parties, Wang stated.
He stressed that such assistance “will apparently give rise to proliferation of nuclear materials and technologies by openly providing assistance to Australia”, a non-nuclear weapon state, in its acquisition and building of the nuclear-powered submarine.
“This contradicts the purpose, objective and core obligation of the NPT to the detriment of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime with the NPT at its core and on-going international efforts on this front,” Wang stated.
“While firmly safeguarding the validity of the international non-proliferation regime, China wishes to register its grave concern at the development,” Wang said.
“In the meantime, we believe that, it is the responsibility of IAEA, as an international organization mandated to implement NPT non-proliferation regime, to openly express its solemn position at the trilateral act by the U.S., the UK and Australia, which contradict their obligations under the NPT,” Wang stated.
Wang also stressed that, such an act of nuclear proliferation “will give rise to serious negative implications on the on-going international efforts to address the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula as well as the Iranian nuclear issue”.
“Given the ongoing review and discussions of the Korean Peninsula and Iranian nuclear issues at the IAEA Board of Governors and the General Conference, it is essential that all members of the Board and international organizations including IAEA, make solemn position on the trilateral collaboration among the U.S., UK and Australia in helping Australia develop nuclear-powered submarine, in promotion of the full and effective implementation of international non-proliferation obligations under the NPT by all countries,” he stated.
Exporting highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology to Australia has shown that the U.S. and the UK have “once again adopted a double standard on nuclear export”, and “have taken nuclear export as a means of their geo-political game”, Wang pointed out.
Wang said that, in the meantime, it is “utterly irresponsible” for Australia, as a non-nuclear state and state party to the NPT and South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty, to import nuclear submarine technology with strategic militarily value.
“The international community, including neighboring countries, has every reason to question Australia’s sincerity in implementation of nuclear non-proliferation commitment under the relevant treaties,” he said.
The trilateral collaboration by the U.S., the UK and Australia “will seriously impair the regional peace and stability, escalate arms race, to the detriment of international peace and security,” Wang added.
Wang said that China will closely follow its development and reserve the right to make further responses. In the meantime, China will call on the international community to “work together to check such a dangerous act”.
In a joint statement issued on Wednesday, governments of the U.S., the UK and Australia announced the creation of a new trilateral security partnership called “AUKUS,” which will help “significantly deepen cooperation on a range of security and defense capabilities”.
The first initiative under AUKUS will be the delivery of a nuclear-powered submarine fleet for Australia, and the three countries will spend as many as 18 months discussing how this capability will be delivered, according to the statement.
Over 50,000 Cambodian migrant workers get Covid jabs
As of September 17, more than 50,000 Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand have been vaccinated against Covid-19, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Speaking during the launch of Covid-19 vaccinations for children aged 6-11 at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on the morning of September 17, Hun Sen said the majority of returning migrant workers tested positive, most of them for the coronavirus Delta variant.
He noted that there are currently more than 7,000 workers remaining in quarantine sites on the Cambodian-Thai border.
The prime minister also touted the noticeable decline in Covid-19 cases in Phnom Penh and Kandal province following the government’s all-out vaccination campaign.
He said the capital and Kandal were previously the country’s main Covid-19 hotspots but have now brought the situation largely under control with significantly lower transmission cases and deaths. Thanks to vaccinations, he said, those who still contracted the virus despite having received the jabs only had mild symptoms.
“Once you have antibodies after vaccination, you won’t develop severe symptoms when you contract the virus. But don’t rely on vaccine alone, you need to continue adhering to health and administrative measures to protect yourself and the community,” he said.
Myanmar’s ruling military wanted spy gear on network: Telenor
Telenor said yesterday the Myanmar ruling military had demanded it install equipment to intercept communications on the network the Norwegian firm operates in the country.
Telenor announced in July it plans to sell Telenor Myanmar, saying only that since the February military takeover that ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her government it had become increasingly difficult to operate in the country.
But yesterday it disclosed that the ruling military wanted it to install monitoring equipment on the network with some 18 million customers.
“Telenor has not installed such equipment and we will not do so voluntarily,” a spokesman for the firm said in a statement, noting that complying would contravene Norwegian and international sanctions.
The firm added that “operating such equipment in this situation would constitute a breach of our values and standards as a company.”
It was not immediately clear if the ruling military had made similar demands of other telecoms operators present in Myanmar, which include Qatar’s Ooredoo as well as local groups Mytel and MPT.
Telenor, which has had a commercial presence in Myanmar since 2014, said the demand to install surveillance equipment was one of the reasons behind its decision to leave.
It reiterated that it believes that selling Telenor Myanmar is “the least detrimental solution” for the country.
But in July, 474 civil society groups in Myanmar called Telenor’s decision to pull out irresponsible, saying it had not sufficiently considered the impact of the move on human rights.
Telenor said it “is deeply concerned and saddened by the deteriorating human rights and security situation caused by the military takeover, especially for the people of Myanmar.”
Telenor plans to sell it Myanmar network to Lebanese conglomerate M1 Group.
The Norwegian firm said it submitted the paperwork for the transaction at the end of August to Myanmar authorities.
Two of Vietnams biosphere reserves win UNESCO recognition
Việt Nam’s two biosphere reserves of Núi Chúa and Kon Hà Nừng have received UNESCO recognition after a vote at the ongoing meeting in Nigeria.
The two biosphere reserves located in the central province of Ninh Thuận and the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai, respectively, officially became world biosphere reserves at the 33rd session of the International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Programme (CIC-MAB) in Nigeria from September 13-17.
The event takes place in both online and offline forms marking the first time an annual meeting of CIC-MAB has been organised in an African country.
The two Việt Nam wildlife areas were among 22 other candidates of 20 countries and groups of countries seeking UNESCO recognition at the event.
With this recognition, they have helped increase the total world biosphere reserves in Việt Nam to 11, making it one of the countries with the largest number of UNESCO-recognised biosphere reserves.
Lê Thị Hồng Vân, Ambassador and Việt Nam’s permanent representative to UNESCO, said Việt Nam was the only country with two dossiers approved immediately from the first round. After six years, the country has had new biosphere reserves cited in the world list.
On this occasion, CIC-MAB also reviewed Việt Nam’s 10-year periodical reports on management and development of Cần Giờ World Biosphere Reserve and Cù Lao Chàm – Hội An. These reports had been highly appreciated by the council.
Núi Chúa Biosphere Reserve in Ninh Thuận Province is a typical ecosystem in Southeast Asia, with a natural area of 29,856ha. Its core area of Núi Chúa National Park is converging three natural areas of forest, sea and semi-desert, including many rich and diverse ecosystems.
This is living the habitat of more than 1,500 plant species, including 10 endemics and 54 rares recorded in the Việt Nam Red Book and the World Red List. The fauna is also very rich with 756 species of wild animals, over 350 of coral, and hundreds of marine animals.
Núi Chúa sea is also a rare place on the mainland where sea turtles come to lay eggs every year and are currently protected.
One of the special features of Núi Chúa National Park is that this area has a dry and hot climate similar to many places in Africa (the highest temperature is approximately 42 degrees Celsius). Therefore, this place is also called “Phan Rang Dry Forest”.
The harsh climate and diverse topography have created a standard for the most typical and unique dry forest ecosystem of Việt Nam and Southeast Asia.
Meanwhile, Kon Hà Nừng Plateau Biosphere Reserve in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai, covers a total area of 413,511.67ha with two core areas, Kon Ka Kinh National Park and Kon Chư Răng Nature Reserve.
The reserve has a closed subtropical humid evergreen forest ecosystem that remains relatively intact. It boasts high biodiversity, typical for forest ecosystem, forest flora and fauna in the Central Highlands.
The Biosphere Reserve also plays an important role in fostering socio-economic development and maintaining ecological balance of the Central Highlands and the Central and Southeast regions.
In addition, the two Biosphere Reserves both contain rich and unique cultural heritage treasures with many outstanding features of tangible and intangible cultural values of ethnic minority groups living there. VNS
NK says ballistic missiles tested from new rail-borne system
North Korea said Thursday that its ballistic missile test the previous day was carried out by its new railway-borne missile system, stoking concerns over stalled talks on inter-Korean peace.
“For the first time, we tested the viability of our railway-borne missile system to check on the combat readiness and strike capability,” the official Korean Central News Agency said. According to the KCNA, the missiles hit targets 800 kilometers away in the East Sea after being fired from a train.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the two KN-23s, the codename given for North Korea’s version of Russia’s short-range missile Iskander, flew 200 kilometers longer than in the previous test in March this year. But the JCS declined to confirm whether that was a sign that Pyongyang was testing an upgraded missile.
The launch followed a long-range cruise missile test the previous week. Pyongyang is banned from developing or testing ballistic missiles but not cruise missiles under UN Security Council resolutions.
The Wednesday launch took place only hours after President Moon Jae-in met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at Cheong Wa Dae. Moon asked for China’s support in resuming nuclear talks. North Korea has rebuffed diplomatic outreach from both South Korea and the US.
Moon, who later in the day attended the country’s first test-firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile, said the launch had been planned and was not a response to North Korea’s launches, highlighting the increasing missile capability will be an unmistakable deterrence against Pyongyang’s provocations.
Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and deputy director of Pyongyang’s propaganda affairs, immediately lashed out at Moon, calling him foolish for saying that Seoul’s missiles could be a deterrence against Pyongyang’s “provocation.” Kim warned that inter-Korean ties would hit a new low.
Moon’s peace efforts have essentially been in limbo since North Korea demolished an inter-Korean liaison office in June last year, as it protested the way Seoul handles its anti-Pyongyang activists, who flew anti-Kim leaflets over the inter-Korean border.
The two Koreas saw a brief opportunity to revive momentum for a thaw in late July, when North Korea reached out to South Korea to reconnect the hotlines.
But the two neighbors were back to a standoff as Pyongyang quickly returned to escalating tension by accusing Seoul and Washington of trying to build tension with their annual military drills that ended in late August.
Moon is expected to ask for support for his peace efforts at the UN General Assembly on Sunday. Pyongyang has not responded to Seoul’s suggestion that they meet on the sidelines to commemorate their 30th anniversary of UN membership.
EU seeking to step up engagement with Indo-Pacific region
A day after the US, UK and Australia unveiled a new trilateral defence pact for the Indo-Pacific region, the European Union has announced a new plan to step up its engagement with the region, which is increasing in strategic importance for Europe.
“Its [Indo-Pacific’s] growing economic, demographic, and political weight makes it a key player in shaping the rules-based international order and in addressing global challenges,” said a joint communication between the European Commission and the High Representative released today.
To implement the new strategy, the EU will complete trade negotiations with Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand; resume trade negotiations and start investment negotiations with India; complete an Economic Partnership Agreement with the East Africa Community.
The US already has its Indo-Pacific Strategy, which international relations analysts say is aimed at countering China, which has the mega Belt and Road Initiative to connect China to the rest of the world through road, rail, sea and air connectivity.
The EU in a statement said it aims to contribute to the Indo-Pacific region’s stability, security, prosperity and sustainable development, in line with the principles of democracy, rule of law, human rights and international law.
“The economic, demographic, and political weight of the Indo-Pacific region is expanding, from the east coast of Africa to the Pacific island states,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.
High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell said: “The world’s centre of gravity is moving towards the Indo-Pacific, both in geo-economic and geo-political terms. The futures of the EU and the Indo-Pacific are interlinked.”
He said the EU is already the top investor, the leading development cooperation partner and one of the biggest trading partners in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Our engagement aims at maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific for all, while building strong and lasting partnerships to cooperate on matters from the green transition, ocean governance or the digital agenda to security and defence.”
It will also assess the possible resumption of trade negotiations with Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, and the eventual negotiation of a region-to-region trade agreement with ASEAN.
The EU will also conclude Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (PCA) with Malaysia and Thailand; start PCA negotiations with the Maldives, and bring the EU’s upcoming new Partnership Agreement with the African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (ACP) to full fruition.
It will also strengthen ocean governance in the region, including increasing the EU’s support for Indo-Pacific countries’ fisheries management and control systems, the fight against Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and the implementation of Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements.
Mekong River Commission, Israel team up to tackle river’s plight
The Mekong River Commission (MRC) and Israel, represented by its Agency for International Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, last week signed a pack that will see both sides confront some of the challenges facing the Mekong River, according to MRC
The five-year renewable Memorandum of Understanding was inked in a virtual ceremony on September 9 by Israel’s Ambassador to Vietnam, Nadav Eshcar, and the MRC Secretariat’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr An Pich Hatda.
“The signing of the MOU is another example that represents our timely response to the challenges we are facing today and tomorrow, especially drought,” Dr Hatda said, adding that the agreement will benefit both the MRC and wider Mekong region.
As part of the agreement, both sides will work to develop institutional capacity and share technical expertise with a focus on drought management, agriculture, irrigation and other areas relevant to addressing the Mekong River’s plight.
In addition, the MOU contains a provision for courses, training sessions and workshops that draw on Israel’s expertise in managing scarce water resources.
Shifting seasonal and daily flow patterns resulting from climate change and water being stored for regional power have already affected the Mekong’s ecology.
In 2019 and 2020, droughts saw Mekong water levels fall to record lows. The MRC estimates that severe droughts will only become more frequent.
During the signing ceremony, Ambassador Eshcar reflected on Israel’s experience of managing exiguous water resources and its current relevance to the Mekong River’s situation.
“Unlike in the past, Israeli’s many decades of expertise are now very relevant to this region. Israel wishes to contribute to those efforts of the MRC in the spirit of friendship and solidarity with the region in general and the four Member Countries in particular,” he said.
Ambassador Eynat Shlein, Head of Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, also spoke of the MOU’s importance in leveraging Israel’s experience for the betterment of Mekong communities.
A delegation from the Embassy of Israel in Thailand also attended the signing ceremony. The MRC is an intergovernmental organisation established in 1995 for regional dialogue and cooperation in the Lower Mekong River Basin.
Based on the Mekong Agreement between Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, the Commission serves as a regional platform for water diplomacy as well as a knowledge hub of water resources management for the sustainable development of the region.