In this file:
· China’s Xi Jinping gets expanded mandate, may rule for life
… In one swift vote, the rubber-stamp legislature opened up the possibility of Xi being president for life, returning China to the one-man-rule system that prevailed during the era of Mao Zedong and the emperors who preceded him… the amendments also inserted Xi’s personal political philosophy into the preamble of the constitution…
· China’s race for the mother of all supercomputers just got more crowded
… “Whoever can build a fully functioning quantum computer will rule the world,” said Manas Mukherjee, an assistant professor in the physics department of the National University of Singapore…
China’s Xi Jinping gets expanded mandate, may rule for life
By Christopher Bodeen, Associated Press
Mar 12, 2018
BEIJING (AP) — Xi Jinping, already China’s most powerful leader in more than a generation, received a vastly expanded mandate as lawmakers Sunday abolished presidential term limits that had been in place for more than 35 years and wrote his political philosophy into the country’s constitution.
In one swift vote, the rubber-stamp legislature opened up the possibility of Xi being president for life, returning China to the one-man-rule system that prevailed during the era of Mao Zedong and the emperors who preceded him.
The package of constitutional amendments passed the nearly 3,000-member National People’s Congress almost unanimously, with just two opposing votes and three abstentions. The vote further underscored the total domination of Chinese politics by the 64-year-old Xi, who is simultaneously the head of state, leader of the ruling Communist Party and commander of the 1 million-member armed forces.
The move upends a system enacted by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1982 to prevent a return to the bloody excesses of a lifelong dictatorship typified by Mao’s chaotic 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution.
“This marks the biggest regression in China’s legal system since the reform and opening-up era of the 1980s,” said Zhang Lifan, an independent Beijing-based political commentator.
“I’m afraid that this will all be written into our history in the future,” Zhang said.
The change is widely seen as the culmination of Xi’s efforts since being appointed leader of the party in 2012 to concentrate power in his own hands and defy norms of collective leadership practiced over the past two decades. Xi has appointed himself to head bodies that oversee national security, finance, economic reform and other major initiatives, effectively sidelining the Communist Party’s No. 2 figure, Premier Li Keqiang.
In addition to scrapping the limitation that presidents can serve only two consecutive terms, the amendments also inserted Xi’s personal political philosophy into the preamble of the constitution, along with phrasing that emphasizes the party’s leadership.
“It is rare nowadays to see a country with a constitution that emphasizes the constitutional position of any one political party,” Zhang said.
The legislature’s hand-picked delegates began voting in the midafternoon, with Xi leading the seven members of the party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee in casting their ballots on a stage inside a cavernous hall. He placed his orange ballot paper in a red box bearing the official seal of state.
Rank-and-file deputies then rose to vote on the floor of the hall as jaunty instrumental music played. The process ended in 10 minutes, and delegates returned to their seats while the votes were counted.
Shortly after 3:50 p.m., the results were read over the public-address system and flashed briefly on a screen in the hall.
“The constitutional amendment item has passed,” the announcer declared to polite applause.
Xi showed little emotion and remained seated to listen to a report on the work of the congress delivered by its outgoing chairman.
The slide toward one-man rule under Xi has fueled concern that Beijing is eroding efforts to guard against the excesses of autocratic leadership...
China’s race for the mother of all supercomputers just got more crowded
Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent jockey for position in the development of quantum computing, which delivers a faster and more efficient approach to processing information than today’s fastest computers
Zen Soo, South China Morning Post
12 March, 2018
Long considered the Holy Grail for nations, quantum computing is poised to move on the fast track in China as the mainland’s internet giants pour new investment into this field, boosting efforts by the country to become a hi-tech innovation powerhouse.
Baidu, Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings – the Chinese internet triumvirate known by the acronym BAT – are now competing head-to-head in quantum computing research, funding projects that could give them a toehold stake in the commercial development of the mother of all supercomputers.
Quantum computers, which take a new approach to processing information, are theoretically capable of making calculations that are orders of magnitude faster than what the world’s most powerful supercomputers can do.
Online search company Baidu said on Thursday that it will launch its own institute for quantum computing, a research initiative that will focus on software applications in this field. That followed separate quantum computing programmes previously launched by Alibaba and Tencent.
Those initiatives have come after the Chinese government last year set out to build what will be the world’s biggest quantum computing research complex at a 37-hectare site in Hefei, capital of the eastern province of Anhui, at a cost of 76 billion yuan (US$11.9 billion).
Its mission is to develop a quantum computer that can be used by the military to crack the most secure encrypted codes in seconds and enable submarines to operate on stealth mode underwater for more than three months.
While the United States government has largely kept its quantum computing efforts under wraps, major technology companies like Google, Microsoft and IBM are years ahead of their Chinese hi-tech counterparts in operating laboratories geared towards the commercial applications of this field.
“Whoever can build a fully functioning quantum computer will rule the world,” said Manas Mukherjee, an assistant professor in the physics department of the National University of Singapore and a principal investigator at the country’s Centre for Quantum Technologies...