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BREAKING ALASKA: Russian and Chinese warships spotted off the coast – AP Report

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#AceBreakingNews – A US Coast Guard patrol boat spotted Russian and Chinese ships in the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska, the Associated Press reports.

PRAVDA NEWS: 27.09.2022 13:30

The Kimball boat first spotted a Chinese missile cruiser. It was said that on September 19, the Chinese cruiser traveled 138 kilometers from the island of Kiska, one of the islands of the Aleutian archipelago. Later, two more Chinese and four Russian warships were spotted off the coast of Alaska.

According to the US Coast Guard, there was one destroyer among the Russian ships.

The ships were traveling in a single formation, but then dispersed. The United States scrambled a Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft for patrols.

The 17th Coast Guard District noted that the ships were traveling in accordance with international norms. However, the US will act to respond with presence to the presence of foreign warships near its coasts to ensure that US interests are not violated.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Sept.28: 2022:

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Ace Daily News

CHINA COURT REPORT: Former Security Minister & Ringleader of ‘clique’ against CCP sentenced to life in jail

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#AceNewsDesk – China’s former deputy public security minister, who had been denounced for “seriously damaging the unity of the party”, has been jailed for life, ahead of a key Communist Party congress.

a man with a mask on his chin in a uniform sits in a chair at a meeting
Sun Lijun was accused of leading a crime gang of government officials.(AP: Chinatopix via AP, file)none

Sun Lijun, 53, was handed a suspended death sentence that will be commuted to life imprisonment after two years, with no possibility of parole, according to state news agency Xinhua’s report of the court sentencing.

The court said his crimes included giving and taking bribes amounting to 646 million yuan ($137.5 million), manipulating the stock market and illegally owning two firearms.

In January, China’s Public Security Ministry, where Sun was a deputy minister until 2020, held a meeting to denounce him and vowed to eradicate the “venomous” influence of his “political clique”.

This week, other officials whom state broadcaster CCTV had said were members of Sun’s “political clique” also received long jail sentences.

They include former justice minister Fu Zhenghua and three former police chiefs of Shanghai, Chongqing and Shanxi provinces.

It is customary for the party to announce the arrest or sentencing of high-profile officials in the lead-up to its once-every-five-years congress as a way to remind party members to be loyal.

At the last Party Congress in 2017, Xi Jinping vowed to keep targeting both the “tigers” and “flies”, a reference to elite officials and low-level bureaucrats, in his battle against corruption.

Falling from grace each year are also hundreds of thousands of officials who violate the Communist Party’s “discipline and laws”, including in recent times failure to contain #COVID19 outbreaks.

Reuters

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Sept.24: 2022:

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Ace Daily News

CHINA COURT REPORT: Tangshan Attack: Man who attacked female diners jailed for 24 years

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#AceNewsDesk – A man who led a vicious attack on four women eating in a restaurant in China has been sentenced to 24 years in prison.

The attack
BBC (CHINA) NEWS – The attack in Tangshan renewed debate about gender violence in China

Chen Jizhi was found guilty of the assault in the north-eastern city of Tangshan in June which began when one of the women rejected his advances.

Another 27 men were convicted over the violence, in which they used bottles, chairs and fists to beat the women.

Surveillance video went viral, sparking debate about gender violence in China. 

After the attack, two of the women spent time in intensive care, while the other two women were seen in photos covered in blood, although their injuries were initially classed by police as only “minor”.

Chen was fined 320,000 yuan (£40,000, $45,000) in addition to his 24-year prison sentence,

The other defendants were sentenced to between six months and 11 years in prison.

The court ordered Chen and five defendants to compensate for the four victims’ medical expenses and other losses, the Global Times reports.

Women’s rights campaigners say domestic abuse remains pervasive and under-reported in China.

A report released soon after the assault found the handling of the case by the local deputy director of district police and other officers had been “slow and improper”.

Chinese authorities censored online debate about attacks on women, and tried to paint the assault as gang crime, correspondents say.

The viciousness of the attack sparked outrage and heated debate on social media, taking up one of the most-discussed topics on Weibo, a popular social media platform in China.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Sept.23: 2022:

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Ace Breaking News

BREAKING CHINA: AI Image Generator in Baidu Ban Certain ‘ Words & Phrases in Search

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#AceBreakingNews – AI image generator in China blocks “sensitive” terms like “Tiananmen Square,” “British Government”

4

ERNIE-ViLG, a text-to-image AI developed by Chinese tech firm Baidu, blocks Tiananmen Square and other politically sensitive names. Tiananmen Square is likely being blocked because of the Tiananmen Massacre, which is heavily censored in China.

A demo of the image-making Ai was released in August on Hugging Face, and users quickly noticed that some words, which are sensitive in political contexts, were labeled as “sensitive” and blocked.Users got the warning: “Sensitive words found. Please enter again.”

Since September, the warning has been reworded to: “The content entered doesn’t meet relevant rules. Please try again after adjusting it.”

According to MIT’s Technology Review, the system blocks “names of high-profile Chinese political leaders like Xi Jinping and Mao Zedong; terms that can be considered politically sensitive, like “revolution” and “climb walls” (a metaphor for using a VPN service in China); and the name of Baidu’s founder and CEO, Yanhong (Robin) Li.”

Words like “government” and “democracy” are allowed, but blocked when combined with other words, like “British government,” or “democracy Middle East.”

One of the first people to notice the censorship on ERNIE-ViLG was the Chinese-Australian political cartoonist who goes by the alias Badiucao.
“Of course, I was also intentionally exploring its ecosystem. Because it’s new territory, I’m curious to know whether censorship has caught up with it,” says Badiucao. “But [the result] is quite a shame.”

According to the cartoonist, it is up to an artist to decide what is acceptable in his own work. Badiucao also argued that censorship should be driven by moral concerns, not political reasons.

” It’s different when an AI judges what it cannot generate based on commonly agreed-upon moral standards and when a government, as a third party, comes in and says you can’t do this because it harms the country or the national government,” he said.

Earlier this year, the Chinese government proposed a law that would ban AI-generated content that “endangers national security and social stability.” The law would potentially cover ERNIE-ViLG.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Sept.17: 2022:

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BREAKING CHINA: RED ALERT: Issued for ‘ #TyphoonMuifa with Strongest Tropical Cyclone

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#AceWeatherDesk – Powerful gales and torrential rain has battered eastern China as #TyphoonMuifa made landfall in what local media called the strongest tropical cyclone to hit the populous Yangtze River Delta in a decade.

Muifa landed around 8:30pm (local time) in Zhoushan as a strong typhoon, the second-highest in China’s tropical cyclone classification system, with the maximum wind speed near its centre reaching 42 metres per second, according to state weather forecasters.

Pedestrians walk with umbrellas during rain and wind
Muifa is expected to make landfall along coastal cities in Zhejiang province on Wednesday evening.(Reuters: Aly Song)none

That’s equal to 151 kilometres per hour, powerful enough to damage homes, topple trees and down power lines.

Muifa is expected to spin across Hangzhou Bay to make its second landfall around midnight near Shanghai, before continuing its northerly track to the provinces of Jiangsu and Shandong, state weather forecasters said.

Earlier on Wednesday, China raised its highest tropical cyclone alert as Muifa approached the Yangtze River Delta, a dense cluster of big cities with a total population of more than 230 million people.

The Yangtze Delta is also China’s most prosperous region, with Shanghai the nation’s financial and commercial capital and neighbouring cities important centres of industry.

The Ningbo-Zhoushan port and port of Shanghai are among the busiest in the world by cargo tonnage handled.

Vessels moored at a fishing port
Vessels in Zhejiang moored at a port ahead of Typhoon Muifa’s approach.(Reuters: China Daily)none

Flights at Zhoushan and Ningbo airports, in the coastal province of Zhejiang, were cancelled, while the ship bunkering hub shared by both cities suspended discharging and loading oil as tankers took shelter at anchorages.

All flights at Shanghai’s busy Pudong and Hongqiao airports were cancelled as a precaution.

The megacity of 25 million people took safety measures a step further by limiting speeds for ground elevated trains, or even closing stations, and warned of train delays to ensure safety in affected areas while keeping other sections operating.

Shanghai’s numerous outdoor COVID-19 testing sites were also shut, in a rare disruption to an entrenched testing regime since a citywide lockdown was lifted in June.

Zhejiang authorities issued a “red warning” for flash floods in several areas, the highest warning level in China’s four-tier typhoon warning system.

More than 1.14 million people in Zhejiang had been relocated ahead of the storm, according to local media.

Muifa was the strongest typhoon in the Yangtze River Delta in a decade.

Meteorologists said it was caused by this year’s unusually hot weather and high temperatures in the East China Sea, Chinese financial magazine Caixin reported.

In 2012, Typhoon Damrey made landfall in Jiangsu province north of the Yangtze River, the strongest tropical cyclone to batter the Yangtze River Delta since 1949, killing dozens, destroying tens of thousands of homes and causing billions of yuan in direct economic losses.

Reuters

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Sept.15: 2022:

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FEATURED U.S/CHINA REPORT: US to ramp up restrictions on ‘semiconductor chip’ exports to China according to Reuters

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#AceNewsDesk – The Biden administration next month will place new restrictions on U.S. shipments of semiconductor chips and chipmaking equipment to China, according to Reuters.

FILE – President Joe Biden attends an event to support legislation that would encourage domestic manufacturing and strengthen supply chains for computer chips in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, March 9, 2022, in Washington. A bill to boost semiconductor production in the United States will subsidize computer chip manufacturers through grants and tax breaks when they build or expand chip plants in the U.S.

The Commerce Department will formalize new rules prohibiting the shipment of chipmaking equipment to Chinese factories that produce advanced semiconductors, Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the matter: The Hill has reached out to the Commerce Department for comment.

U.S. companies seeking to export the equipment must obtain a Commerce Department license.

Three U.S. companies — KLA Corp., Lam Research Corp., and Applied Materials Inc. — already operate under the restrictions as directed by the Commerce Department.

Semiconductor chips power most electrical systems and machines, from appliances to computers, vehicles and modern weapons. 

Over the summer, the U.S. passed the Chips and Science Act, seeking to increase America’s competitive with China in the semiconductor industry with $50 billion in funding for the industry. 

Last month, as tensions soared between the U.S. and China over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)’s visit to Taiwan, the U.S. began restricting the export of high-end graphics computer chips to Russia, China and Hong Kong.

According to Reuters: – Chipmaking company Nvidia, based in California, said the U.S. began requiring a license to export chips that are better than or equal to its A100 graphics card to those three countries. A similar restriction was reportedly applied to the company Advanced Micro Devices.

The Commerce Department will formalize the licensing rule for exporting the highly advanced semiconductor chips next month.

China has demanded the U.S. drop the requirement, which affects data centers, artificial intelligence systems and other equipment that requires highly advanced chips.

The U.S. was once responsible for producing 37 percent of global semiconductor chips, but is now responsible for just 12 percent of production, according to the White House. 

The Commerce Department announced last week it was planning to spend about $28 billion of the newly approved funding for grants, subsidies and loans to boost domestic production of key computer chips.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Sept.12: 2022:

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FEATURED HONG KONG COURT REPORT: Sentences Five Speech Therapists for Children’s Books Deemed ‘Seditious’ by China on Dissent

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#AceNewsDesk – Tales about a sheep village resisting a wolf pack prompted the charges against leaders of a speech therapists’ union, extending a government crackdown on dissent.

Sept. 10, 2022, 5:49 a.m. ET

Part of a children’s book published by the speech therapists was displayed last year during a police news conference in Hong Kong.
Part of a children’s book published by the speech therapists was displayed last year during a police news conference in Hong Kong.Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

Five speech therapists in Hong Kong were sentenced to 19 months in prison on Saturday after they published a series of children’s books that the court said instilled a hatred of the government in young readers.

Their sentence extended a government crackdown on political dissent that began during mass protests in 2019.

The defendants — Man-ling Lai, Melody Yeung, Sidney Ng, Samuel Chan and Tsz-ho Fong — who were the leaders of a speech therapists’ union behind the books, have been in jail for more than a year. Because of time served, their lawyers said they were likely to released fairly soon.

The Hong Kong police’s national security department arrested them last year, accusing them of violating a colonial-era law on seditious publications.

Prosecutors said that the defendants’ series of three books, titled “Sheep Village,” about a flock of sheep resisting the tyrannical rule of a wolf pack, could “weaken” Beijing’s sovereignty over Hong Kong by portraying the Chinese government as authoritarian.

One of the books told the story of a village of sheep that was harassed by wolves and fled in a boat, only to be captured and sent to prison. The sheep were said to represent 12 activists who were arrested at sea in 2020 while trying to escape to Taiwan during the Hong Kong protests — and the wolves by inference were the Hong Kong police.

In another book, the sheep organize to push the wolves, portrayed as littering and dangerous, out of their village. That book was released in early 2020, when Hong Kong’s opposition camp was lobbying the government to close the border with mainland China to control the spread of the coronavirus.

A court convicted the five defendants on Wednesday under the 1938 sedition law, which has not been used often in recent decades, on a joint count of “conspiracy to print, publish, distribute, display and/or reproduce seditious publications.” A conviction under the law carries a sentence of up to two years in prison.

Defendants had pleaded not guilty and criticized the conviction as a blow to free speech in the semiautonomous Chinese territory. “The prosecution against the union has intimidated the civil society and raised estrangement amongst Hong Kong people,” said Ms. Ng, one of the defendants.

“Rather than inciting disobedience,” Ms. Ng added, the books make children reflect on the appropriate basis of abiding by laws, “which should not be out of blind obedience and fear.”

Judge Kwok Wai-kin said in the District Court that freedom of speech can be limited if it interferes with national security.

Defense lawyers estimated that the speech therapists could be released in about a month because they had already been held for more than a year. But critics of the government said their extended pretrial detention set a bad precedent.

“This sets a rather bad example, similar to the style in mainland China,” said Fan Cheung-fung, a labor activist, suggesting that commuting their sentence would give a false appearance of tolerance after jailing the defendants for so long without a conviction.

In a statement after Wednesday’s conviction, the human rights group Amnesty International called the use of the sedition laws a “brazen act of repression,” urging the therapists’ immediate release.

“Writing books for children is not a crime,” it said, “and attempting to educate children about recent events in Hong Kong’s history does not constitute an attempt to incite rebellion.”

NEW YORK TIMES: Austin Ramzy contributed reporting from Hong Kong.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Sept.11:   2022:

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FEATURED: CHINA: Researchers declare two gibbon species extinct because they have not been spotted in their south habitat for over a decade.

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#AceNewsDesk – A report into the status of endangered primates in China, released on Tuesday, says the white-handed gibbon and the northern white-cheeked gibbon are classified as “extinct in the wild”, according to Chinese state media.

An image of two white-handed gibbons perched in a tree
Both gibbons were found in south-west China.(Wikipedia: Matthias Kabel)none

Extinction in the wild means the species is only known to survive in captivity: Researchers surveyed areas where the white-handed gibbons and northern white-cheeked gibbons used to live but found no sign of the animals.

Head of the survey team at the Northwestern University of China, Li Baoguo, told local media that habitat loss, over-exploitation of resources and expanding agriculture were the leading causes of the species’ declines.

“Human activities are the root cause of the unprecedented loss of biodiversity, and this has led to a serious survival crisis for primates,” Mr Li said. 

A close up image of a white-handed gibbon
The white-handed gibbon is also known as the lar gibbon.(Wikipedia: Pete Stewart)none

The white-handed gibbon was found in China’s south-western Yunnan province at altitudes of 1,900 metres to 2,000 metres and suffered from deforestation in the 1950s and 1960s as agriculture expanded in the region.

Northern white-cheeked gibbons were found in south-western parts of Yunnan.

Researchers said their populations declined by more than 50 per cent over the past 45 years also because of a rapid loss of habitat, hunting and the pet trade, according to local media.

While they may be extinct in China, a community of northern white-cheeked gibbons was spotted at Vietnam’s Pu Mat national park in 2011 near the border with Laos.

The white-handed gibbon is also found in other parts of South-East Asia, including in Thailand and Malaysia.

About 80 per cent of China’s 28 extant primate species are threatened and 15 to 18 species have populations of less than 3,000.

Almost all primates live in “island-like” fragmented habitats, Mr Li reportedly said.

The extinction of species extends to China’s waterways.

The Chinese paddlefish and wild Yangtze sturgeon were declared extinct in July this year by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, despite a decades-long effort to save them.

Both species, which were common in the Yangtze River basin, were plagued by heavy shipping traffic, overfishing and water pollution.About 80 per cent of China’s 28 extant primate species are threatened.(Wikipedia: Grendelkhan)none

Reacting to news of the gibbons’ extinction, Chinese state media commentator Wu Shuang Jian said there was “really no time to wait anymore” to restore natural habitats.

“A top priority now is to strengthen habitat conservation and restoration, to ensure wildlife has effective migration corridors and the connection and integrity of the habitats,” Mr Wu said.

Netizens on Chinese social media platform Weibo also responded to the news.

“Humans are asking for it, and one day, human beings may become extinct due to their own actions,” one user said.

“Just because they are not seen doesn’t mean it’s truly extinct,” another user said.

ABC NEWS REPORT:

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Sept.08: 2022:

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BREAKING CHINA #COVID19 REPORT: Locks Down on 65 – million people discourages national holiday travel

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#AceBreakingNews – BEIJING (AP) – China has locked down 65 million of its citizens under tough #COVID19 restrictions and is discouraging domestic travel during upcoming national holidays.

China COVID

Across the country, 33 cities including seven provincial capitals are under full or partial lockdown covering more than 65 million people, according to a tally published late Sunday by the Chinese business magazine Caixin.

It said that outbreaks have been reported in 103 cities, the highest since the early days of the pandemic in early 2020.

Despite a relatively low number of infections, authorities have adhered to a “zero-COVID” policy requiring lockdowns, quarantines and the confining of people suspected of being in close contact with any confirmed case.

China recorded 1,552 new cases in the latest 24-hour period across a nation of 1.4 billion people, the National Health Commission reported Monday.

Most of the 21 million people in the southwestern city of Chengdu are confined to their apartments or residential complexes, while in the eastern port city of Tianjin, classes have ben moved online after 14 new cases were reported, all but two showing no symptoms.

Chengdu lifted the lockdown for about 1 million people in Qionglai city and Xinjin district, two areas in its southwest. Three more rounds of mass testing are being held through Wednesday. and schools remain closed with all classes online.

Sept. 10-12 is China’s mid-autumn festival, the country’s second-most important holiday after the Lunar New Year. The anti-virus measures have taken a major toll on the economy, travel and society in general, but China’s ruling Communist Party says they are necessary to prevent a wider spread of the virus, first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

The fear of being caught in a lockdown or sent to a quarantine facility for even being in proximity with a person who tested positive has severely constrained people’s work, socializing and travel habits.

Since the outbreak began, China has placed tens of millions of people under lockdowns that have been strictly enforced, sometimes preventing residents from obtaining food, health care and basic necessities.

A more than five-week closure of Shanghai, China’s largest city and key financial hub, in the spring upended the local economy, prompted protests and led to an exodus of foreign residents.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Sept.06: 2022:

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BREAKING CHINA: #Earthquake 6.8-Magnitude Hits Sichuan has left at least 21 dead & triggers landslides

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#AceBreakingNews – BEIJING (AP) – At least 21 people were reported killed in a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that shook China’s southwestern province of Sichuan on Monday, triggering landslides and shaking buildings in the provincial capital of Chengdu, whose 21 million residents are already under a #COVID19 lockdown.

China earthquake

The temblor struck a mountainous area in Luding county shortly after noon, the China Earthquake Networks Center said.

Sichuan, which sits on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau where tectonic plates meet, is regularly hit by earthquakes. Two quakes in June killed at least four people.

Along with the deaths, authorities reported stones and soil falling from mountainsides, causing damage to homes and power interruptions, state broadcaster CCTV said. One landslide blocked a rural highway, leaving it strewn with rocks, the Ministry of Emergency Management said.

Buildings shook in Chengdu, 200 kilometers (125 miles) away from the epicenter. Resident Jiang Danli said she hid under a desk for five minutes in her 31st floor apartment. Many of her neighbors rushed downstairs, wary of aftershocks.

“There was a strong earthquake in June, but it wasn’t very scary. This time I was really scared, because I live on a high floor and the shaking made me dizzy,” she told The Associated Press.

The earthquake and lockdown follow a heat wave and drought that led to water shortages and power cuts due to Sichuan’s reliance on hydropower. That comes on top of the latest major lockdown under China’s strict “zero-COVID” policy.

The past two months in Chengdu “have been weird,” Jiang said.

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded a magnitude of 6.6 for Monday’s quake at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles). Preliminary measurements by different agencies often differ slightly.

China’s deadliest earthquake in recent years was a 7.9 magnitude quake in 2008 that killed nearly 90,000 people in Sichuan. The temblor devastated towns, schools and rural communities outside Chengdu, leading to a years-long effort to rebuild with more resistant materials.

AP NEWS REPORT:

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Sept.05: 2022:

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