“Militarisation Of Football”: Army Training, Drills For Chinese Players

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'Militarisation Of Football': Army Training, Drills For Chinese Players

Players being inspected by a soldier during military-style training sessions in Shanghai. (AFP)

Shanghai: 

Chinese national squads and a top league team have packed young footballers off to military camps for drills and Marxist-style “thought education” as a campaign to promote Communist Party values spreads even into the sporting world.

Chinese fans have watched the militarisation of football with a mixture of anger and bemusement after pictures emerged of players getting their hair shaved and throwing themselves bare-chested into the snow.

The Chinese Football Association (CFA) spirited away more than 50 under-25 national squad players in October for several weeks of intensive army drills, swapping their football boots for combat boots and military fatigues.

The move, underlining desperation to improve the perennially underachieving Chinese national side, was particularly controversial because it meant some of China’s finest young players were not involved in the final games of the league season.

A second batch of players was packed off in early November, and this week a national squad of under-19s was set to don camouflage and head to the barracks, suggesting that the boot camps may become a fixture.

Chinese Super League (CSL) side Shanghai Shenhua — home last year to Argentine striker Carlos Tevez — followed suit with its under-19 players, combining football training with marching and other aspects of an austere military life.

Under the watchful eye of the drillmasters of airforce unit 94778, the young players were subjected on Monday to “thought-education”, the club said on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform.

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Players marching with a soldier during military-style training sessions. (AFP)

They “examined propaganda materials, visited the unit’s hall of history, soldiers’ barracks and took part in basic military formation drills”, it said.

The players were also plonked down to watch the evening news on state television — a nightly hymn to the Communist Party — before hitting their bunks.

‘Strengthen ideology’

The CFA has been characteristically coy on the thinking behind the boot camps, but the Beijing Evening News said: “In several previous warm-up matches, some of the national team were criticised for not working hard and having no sense of honour.”

The Beijing Youth Daily, citing the CFA, said that the camps will “strengthen young players’ ideology”.

President Xi Jinping has conducted a broad campaign to bolster the ruling Communist Party that has drawn comparisons to past mass political campaigns under former leader Mao Zedong.

Government departments, businesses and organisations across the country have signed up to the drive by conducting indoctrination sessions focusing on Marxist values and “Xi Jinping Thought”.

Earlier this year, players for the national team began appearing in matches with bandages covering their tattoos, which the Xi government frowns upon in its purity campaign.

But frustrated Chinese football fans accused the CFA of putting politics before football as it took dozens of domestic players out of action for the critical last few games of the season.

Pictures subsequently emerged online of the under-25 players with buzz cuts and wearing military garb as they sat in a whitewashed room watching the senior national team’s 0-0 with India on television.

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A soldier teaching marching techniques to Shenhua players. (AFP)

A red banner at the front of the room exhorted them to be upstanding members of the public.

Soccer News reposted pictures on Weibo said to be of the players baring their teeth and leaping half-naked into the snow.

China’s World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi, whose final assignment with the team will be the Asian Cup in January, has not commented on the army-style initiative.

As part of Xi’s efforts to make the country a footballing powerhouse, China made the 70-year-old Italian one of the best-paid coaches in the world when they hired him in October 2016.

[“source=ndtv”]

India’s Crackdown on Chinese Technology Companies Gathering Pace

India’s Crackdown on Chinese Technology Companies Gathering Pace

HIGHLIGHTS

  • UCWeb was earlier reported to be leaking data from India to China
  • UC Browser has over 100 million monthly active users in India
  • The matter is being looked into by government before it takes any action

India is intensifying a crackdown on Chinese technology companies with a government official saying security testing of China’s UC Browser is being done to see if it’s leaking data.

Testing on the popular browser made by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s UCWeb is under way and the government is awaiting a report before deciding on any action, Ajay Prakash Sawhney, secretary in the Ministry of Information Technology, said on Wednesday. UC Browser has over 100 million monthly active users in India and claims over 50 percent of the mobile browser market in the country.

The IT Ministry said earlier this month that it was focusing on “securing Indian cyberspace” and its digital infrastructure. It directed over two dozen smartphone companies to provide detailed written responses by Monday on their “safety and security practices, architecture, frameworks, guidelines and standards.” The companies included prominent Chinese device makers such as Xiaomi, Lenovo, Oppo, Vivo and Gionee as well as global brands Apple and Samsung and Indian companies.

While the government hasn’t singled out Chinese phone companies, it noted in the directive that mobile devices have achieved 75 percent penetration in the Indian market and “there’s a need to ensure the safety and security of the devices.”

Brands such as Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo and Lenovo have improved their market share, accounting for over half of the smartphone shipments to India for the second successive quarter ending in June, according to data from researcher IDC. Xiaomi, which is fast closing the gap with the country’s leading brand Samsung, plans to open 100 brick and mortar stores in the next two years to further its market share.

Samsung, Apple, Micromax, Oppo and Vivo did not respond to emails seeking comment on the government’s directive. Xiaomi declined to comment.

Border standoff
The security audit comes amid a tense standoff between the armies of India and China over territory in the tiny mountain kingdom of Bhutan.

India’s sudden directive has puzzled phone makers. “Let’s not play hide and seek. If the government wants that Indian data should not go out, it should say so decisively,” Pankaj Mohindroo, national president of the Indian Cellular Association, said in a phone interview.

The government could be seeking to locate data hosting servers in India, create a national firewall for the apps and create a standard for a secure smartphone, he said.

It’s not just the growing market share of Chinese brands that worries the government, but also that the bulk of components are directly imported from China. “Over 95 percent of the components come from China or are made by Chinese-owned companies in Taiwan or elsewhere, nothing is made in India other than chargers, batteries and headsets,” said Sudhir Hasija, chairman of Karbonn Mobiles Pvt, a domestic budget phone maker.

“There’s a feeling that China collects data through their chip sets from users,” said Hasija. “This is the worry of the whole world and this is also the worry of the Indian government.”

India’s imports of electronics could rise to about $300 billion (roughly Rs. 19,22,538 crores) by 2020 with demand increasing to $400 billion (roughly Rs. 25,63,383 crores), according to a June forecast by The Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India, an industry body.

“This could be the first step to getting technology companies to set up servers within India,” said Ravinder Zutshi, a former deputy managing director of Samsung India and the ex-chief of the country’s leading consumer electronics manufacturers’ body. “This could be the government’s way of ensuring that there’s no data leaking outside the country’s borders,” Delhi-based Zutshi said by in a phone conversation.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

SpaceX Dragon Returns From ISS With Chinese Experiment

SpaceX Dragon Returns From ISS With Chinese Experiment

HIGHLIGHTS
Dragon brought back the first Chinese experiment ever to visit the ISS
The spacecraft is returning more than 1,860kg of cargo
It wrapped up SpaceX’s 11th contracted cargo re-supply mission for NASA
SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft returned to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday, bringing back the first Chinese experiment ever to visit the orbiting laboratory.

The unmanned spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 8:12am EDT (5:42pm IST) – about five hours after leaving the space station. It wrapped up SpaceX’s 11th contracted cargo re-supply mission for the US space agency NASA, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Good splashdown of Dragon confirmed — completing first re-flight of a commercial spacecraft to and from the @Space_Station,” the California-based company tweeted.

Dragon is returning more than 1,860kg of cargo, including science samples from human and animal research, biotechnology studies, physical science investigations and education activities.
One of the science samples was the first-ever Chinese experiment brought to the space station, which is fully commercial, under an agreement with Houston-based NanoRacks, which offers services for the commercial utilisation of the orbiting laboratory.

The experiment from the Beijing Institute of Technology was aimed at studying the effects of the space radiation environment on DNA and the changes in mutation rate.

“Everything went according to our plan. All the data sent back looks good,” Professor Deng Yulin, who led the Chinese experiment, was quoted as saying.

Deng said he will soon fly to Florida, where a ceremony of transfer of the experiment between NanoRacks and his team is scheduled for Friday.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Paytm ‘Is as Indian as Maruti’, CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma Says on Chinese Funding

Paytm 'Is as Indian as Maruti', CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma Says on Chinese Funding

Paytm ‘Is as Indian as Maruti’, CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma Says on Chinese Funding
HIGHLIGHTS
Alibaba pumped in $680 million into Paytm’s parent One97 last year
Chinese investors are looking to raise their stake to 70 percent in Paytm
Paytm Bank will not engage in a rate war with rivals like Airtel
Facing criticism over significant Chinese ownership, Paytm Founder and Chief Executive Vijay Shekhar Sharma has asserted that the payments and e-commerce platform is “as Indian as Maruti” and prides itself on being a representative of the “India story”.

“We are as Indian as Maruti is…we are ‘India story’ in every sense whatsoever,” Sharma told PTI.

The once-government controlled Maruti is now majority owned by Japanese carmaker Suzuki Motor Corp with a 56.21 percent stake as its sole promoter.

Paytm had hailed the ongoing demonetisation drive with advertisements displaying Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s picture, leading many critics to point out that its single largest shareholder is Chinese giant Alibaba, the world’s largest e-commerce player.

Sharma said Paytm goes out into the world as an Indian company that is of “pride” to India. “What matters to us is our customers, what matters to us is the law of land, regulator,” he said.

Alibaba Group and its affiliate Ant Financial pumped in $680 million into Paytm’s parent One97 Communications last year, taking its total shareholding to over 40 percent in the country’s largest mobile wallet operator with close to 160 million customers.
The criticism over ownership, circulated widely through instant messaging apps, sought to pick up on sentiment of banning Chinese products.

Sharma, however, appeared unfazed by the criticism, saying, “Everybody else has a way to say whatever they want to say. We don’t come to that level and reply.”
A recent report also said Chinese investors are looking to raise their stake to 70 percent in the company, which is at the cusp of launching a payments bank.

(Also see: How to Transfer Money From Paytm Wallet to Bank Account)

Reserve Bank guidelines say foreign shareholding in payments banks would be as per the prevailing FDI policies for private sector banks, which currently stands at 74 percent.

Sharma had on Saturday said that Paytm Bank, its payments bank offering scheduled for commercial launch next month, will not engage in a rate war with rivals like Airtel, which is offering 7.25 percent interest on deposits.

“None of our products are driven by anything that anybody else does. I do not know the interest rates of my rivals. But I don’t think our product is built around the interest rate,” Sharma said.

Disclosure: Paytm’s parent company One97 is an investor in Gadgets 360.

Tags: Paytm, Paytm CEO, Vijay Shekhar, Mobile Wallet, E Banking, Paytm Bank, Demonetisation, Apps

[“Source-Gadgets”]