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News from China
A future of pilotless planes, flying cars
14th July 2017

 PILOTLESS aircraft, flying electric vehicles and bespoke air cabins are the future of flight, Airbus said yesterday.

Paul Eremenko, the European plane-maker’s chief technological officer, painted a picture of skies buzzing with new flight forms at the RISE tech conference in Hong Kong.
Airbus is already testing out what it calls a “module” cabin concept — passenger planes being tailored to different demands.
“You can imagine on a flight to Vegas, you might have a casino module,” said Eremenko. “Or in a more general sense, you may have a sleeping module and you go and pay 50 bucks an hour to have the ability to sleep in a sound-proof, climate-controlled area.”
Eremenko said Airbus had been working on the project for a year already, including user trials. Airbus has also been working on a self-piloted flying car, the Vahana, with testing on a full-size prototype to be done by the end of the year.
“Our goal really is to open up the third dimension in cities and we believe that the time is right,” said Eremenko, describing the growth of mega-cities, increasing congestion and technological developments as factors fuelling the development of electric short-hop flight travel.
Pilotless flight was also on the cards, he said.
“We believe the first autonomy will come in the domain of urban air mobility where the vehicles are smaller and there are fewer occupants,” he said.
“That, I have fairly high confidence that we will get to in single-digit years,” he said, adding the problem was not a technical one but of social acceptance.
Artificial intelligence was the main focus of the sprawling RISE conference, which Wednesday included a debate between two lifelike disembodied robot torsos on the future of humanity.
Source: Shanghai Daily, July 14, 2017
Market slides on doubts over rebound
11th July 2017

 SHANGHAI stocks dipped yesterday in a day of fluctuations reflecting investor nervousness about the sustainability of the recent rebound.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index closed down 0.17 percent at 3,212.63 points with turnover at 222.8 billion yuan (US$32.8 billion).
Steelmakers were among the gainers. Xinjiang Ba Yi Iron & Steel Co surged 8.6 percent and Maanshan Iron & Steel climbed 5.11 percent.
But trading sentiment was largely subdued as investors wait for the second-quarter gross domestic product figures to be released next week.
Financial shares showed mixed results. Bank of Construction was down 0.49 percent to 6.08 yuan and China Life Insurance retreated 1.17 percent to 27.12 yuan while Southwest Securities jumped 2.33 percent.
China’s consumer and factory gate inflation remained flat in June and in line with expectations, allowing more room for a relatively tight monetary stance. Stocks, including steel, non-ferrous metals, papermaking, and cement, have rebounded strongly recently.
Source: Shanghai Daily, July 11, 2017
Bitcoin dealer faces trial over disappearing money
10th July 2017

 The former CEO of collapsed Bitcoin exchange MtGox heads to trial in Tokyo next week on charges stemming from the disappearance of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of the virtual currency from its digital vaults.

Frenchman Mark Karpeles — once the high-flying head of the world’s busiest Bitcoin trading platform, who reportedly lived in an US$11,000-a-month penthouse and spent money lavishly, including on prostitutes — faces embezzlement and data manipulation charges.

“He is keeping calm as the trial gets underway,” his lawyer Kiichi Iinosaid, adding Karpeles plans to plead innocent.

The 32-year-old was arrested in August, 2015, and released on bail nearly a year later over allegations he fraudulently manipulated data and pocketed millions worth of Bitcoins.

MtGox, which said it once hosted around 80 percent of global Bitcoin trading, shuttered in 2014 after admitting that 850,000 coins — worth around $480 million at the time — had disappeared from its vaults.

The company initially said there was a bug in the software underpinning Bitcoins that allowed hackers to pilfer them.

Karpeles later said he had found about 200,000 of the lost coins in a “cold wallet” — a storage device, similar memory stick, that is not connected to other computers.

Tokyo-based MtGox filed for bankruptcy protection soon after the cyber-money went missing, leaving a trail of angry investors calling for answers and denting the virtual currency’s reputation.

Karpeles, who said he is working as an IT consultant, is active on social media and has commented on issues concerning Bitcoin but not on details of his criminal case.

“The charges (against Karpeles) only cover a subset of the issues which were happening at MtGox, so I don’t expect that we will find out most of the information we want to know,” said Kolin Burges, a British investor who said he lost several hundred Bitcoins in the MtGox collapse. “I’ve not had any back yet but hopefully, eventually all the creditors will get a small percentage of their money back.”

Source: Shanghai Daily, July 10, 2017
Home sales continue heavy slide
7th July 2017

 SALES of pre-occupied homes fell for the third consecutive month in Shanghai in June as sentiment among buyers stayed subdued, new market data showed yesterday.

Across the city, about 12,200 units of existing houses changed hands last month, a month-on-month fall of 16.6 percent and a year-on-year plunge of 49.9 percent, Shanghai Homelink Real Estate Agency Co said in a report.
“Last month’s data was the third-lowest June figure since 2011, as strictly enforced home purchase restrictions and tightened credit policies, coupled with unfavorable weather conditions, kept more potential buyers in the sideline,” Homelink said in its report.
“And for two months, transactions for existing houses stayed below 15,000 units, indicating lackluster momentum in the market.”
For the first half, a total of 79,300 established houses were traded in the city, a drop of 55 percent from same period a year ago.
The housing market started the year weak.
Source: Shanghai Daily, July 7, 2017

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