world growth

world growth

Sunday, October 30, 2011

China makes Supercomputer of One Petaflop with Low Power comsumption

Surprise! China has built a supercomputer using homegrown chips, an unexpected announcement this past week that showcases the country's determination toward lessening its dependence on foreign-grown CPUs.

According to an article in the New York Times this Friday, the Sunway BlueLight MPP supercomputer resides in the National Supercomputer Center in eastern China. Installed this past September, the system houses a total of 8,700 ShenWei SW1600 processors that feature 16 cores apiece. Combined with an advanced water-cooling system – the specific details of which are currently unknown – the supercomputer is expected to reach a total processing power of around one petaflop. But more importantly, it can allegedly do so using only a megawatt of power.

While the system's specs are likely enough to place it in the top-20 ranking of the world's fastest supercomputers, the Sunway BlueLight MPP's power draw is raising a few more eyebrows. For starters, it's all of one-fourth that of China's previous chart-topping supercomputer, the Tianhe-1A.

Debuted last year, the 2.5-petaflop Tianhe-1A – the world's fastest supercomputer at the time of its unveiling – ate up 4.04 megawatts of power. And the system itself was built on chips from both Intel and Nvidia, a far contrast from China's current CPU load-out in the Sunway BlueLight MPP.

The fastest U.S. supercomputer at the moment – Jaguar – eats up about seven megawatts to output roughly 1.7 petaflops of processing performance.

China's new system is but one more volley in the ongoing international race to hit an exaflop, or one thousand petaflops, at some point within the next decade. To do so, however, will likely require a massive energy output – right now, approximately the same amount of power as that which is generated by a medium-sized nuclear power plant, said the New York Times' John Markoff.

That's what makes the combination of power-savings, cooling, and petaflop performance so intriguing at the moment, as it's the key formula that the world's various supercomputer manufacturers will need to master in order to reach their exaflop targets – representing a thousand trillion calculations per second, we note.

China's goal is to be able to deploy an exaflop-class system, using China-built chips, by 2020. The U.S. is hoping to reach an exaflop by 2019 through upgrades to its Jaguar – soon-to-be "Titan" – supercomputer, and Europe expects to reach its exaflop goal within a similar timeframe.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

China to step up ASEAN yuan trade settlement

One more step to make yuan an international currency.

BEIJING (Reuters) - China plans to sign an agreement with the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to settle trade in yuan, said two independent sources, another step in China's long campaign to make its currency one widely used beyond its borders.

The framework agreement with ASEAN -- which as a block is China's third-biggest trading partner -- will pave the way for banks in China and the ASEAN countries to start exchanging yuan for ASEAN currencies, said the sources, both of whom have direct knowledge of the planned agreement.

"This will lay the foundation for the yuan to become a regional currency," the first source told Reuters, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

China, the world's second-biggest economy, is keen to give the yuan a bigger international role and diversify its foreign exchange reserves -- the world's largest stockpile -- which rose by $4.2 billion in the third quarter to $3.2 trillion.

Once the deal is signed, China would then negotiate individually with ASEAN member countries and sign currency swap agreements, said the sources, allowing non-Chinese companies to settle their yuan-denominated transactions with banks in their own countries, rather than doing so through Hong Kong.

China already has swap agreements with three of the ASEAN countries: Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Thailand could be the next to establish a swap line, one source said.

It was not clear when the China-ASEAN agreement would be signed, but the sources said that the date would likely be late this year or early next year.

The People's Bank of China, or central bank, and the Commerce Ministry, which regulates trade, declined immediate comment when reached by telephone.


In 2009, China launched a pilot program allowing companies in some provinces to settle imports and exports in yuan, meaning that Chinese companies can in principle use renminbi for their transactions with counterparties in any country.

The program, which was also trialed between ASEAN and Yunnan and Guangxi in south China in 2009, has since been expanded nationwide.

But the latest deal would formalize the arrangement and possibly offer more support to firms and banks in ASEAN countries to conduct commerce in renminbi.

Renminbi, or people's currency, is another name for the yuan.

Since then, yuan-denominated trade has swelled -- it accounted for 8.9 percent, or 957.57 billion yuan, of China's total trade volume in the first half of 2011.

Except for companies in the handful of countries that have swap agreements with China, however, trade must be settled through banks in Hong Kong, adding cost and risk to the transactions.

By setting the stage for more swap deals to be signed, the agreement should mean a steady rise in the use of the yuan around the region.

"China-ASEAN trade will not be settled in yuan overnight. Trade can still be conducted in U.S. dollars. This is just the beginning," said the first source.

The agreement between China and its neighbors could also add momentum to China's effort to promote the renminbi as a global reserve currency. Since China runs a trade deficit with the ASEAN countries, at least some of those countries will accumulate yuan.

"This will mean ASEAN central banks will hold yuan as part of their foreign exchange reserves," the second source said.

China is ASEAN's biggest trading partner. Bilaterial trade rose 26.4 percent in the first nine months of 2011 to $267 billion with an $18.9 billion surplus in favor of the bloc, Chinese customs data shows.

A China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement came into effect in January 2010. Trade between China and ASEAN nations would grow by 20-30 percent over the next three years, said Wang Rujun, a Chinese economist.

ASEAN, ranging from resource-rich Indonesia to impoverished Laos and financial center Singapore, is planning a union by 2015 to become a single market and production base to compete with rising Asian powerhouses China and India.

Home to 600 million people and a combined GDP of $2 trillion, the region is angling for foreign investment.

China is keen to boost ties with ASEAN economies it relies on for its supply of commodities such as natural gas and crude palm oil to buoy the Chinese economy.

"It makes sense to me because trade settlement within the region is easier to be promoted compared to the internationalization of the yuan," said Zhang Zhiwei, an economist at Nomura.

"Intra-regional trade is picking up as a share of China's trade. It makes sense for policymakers to push for a regionalization of the RMB," the economist said.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

China to Tax on Oil, Gas Resources Nationwide to Reduce Consumption

This should have been done long time ago.
Natural resources belong to all Chinese citizens.
The tax collected should benefit all, not just a few.

China will extend a value-based tax on sales of oil and natural gas nationwide starting next month to help save energy in the world’s fastest-growing major economy and boost local government revenues to develop inland provinces.

The oil and gas tax, ranging from 5 to 10 percent of sales, will be levied on both domestic producers and joint ventures with overseas companies, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement today. China will impose a value-based tax on other commodities when the time is right, it said.

China, which currently levies the tax based on volume, rolled out a 5 percent tax on oil and gas sales in Xinjiang on a trial basis in June last year to help fund development of the western province. The new regulation may crimp the earnings of companies including PetroChina Co. and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (600028), known as Sinopec.

“The tax change will slash our earnings forecast for PetroChina and Sinopec by 2 percent in 2011 and 11 percent in 2012,” Anna Yu, a Hong Kong-based energy analyst with ICBC International Research Ltd., said by telephone.

PetroChina fell 1.7 percent to close at HK$9.02 in Hong Kong trading, while Sinopec declined 1 percent to HK$7.09. The benchmark Hang Seng Index gained 2.4 percent.

Cnooc Ltd. (883), China’s biggest offshore energy explorer, advanced 3.9 percent to HK$13.72, the highest since Sept. 16. Ventures with overseas partners account for 31 percent of the company’s projects, according to ICBC’s Yu.

“The impact on Cnooc should be non-material given the tax is replacing royalties that offshore explorers currently pay,” she said.
Funds for Development

The government is planning 23 projects in West China at a cost of 682.2 billion yuan ($107 billion), the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planner, said last year. The projects include the construction of roads and railways, wind farms and a nuclear power plant.

“China will likely apply a 5 percent tax rate nationwide in the short term as they did in the western regions,” said Qiu Xiaofeng, an analyst at Beijing-based Galaxy Securities Co. “A 10 percent rate would be too heavy for oil and gas producers.”

China Shenhua Energy Co., the country’s biggest coal producer, was unchanged at HK$31, while China Coal Energy Co. surged 6.9 percent to HK$8.17.

“Tax levies on coal mining are still volume-based and Chinese listed coal miners currently pay taxes within today’s range,” Helen Lau, a Hong Kong-based analyst at UOB Kay Hian Ltd., said by telephone. “We don’t expect the government to change the tax to a value-based one in the short term as they did to oil and gas.”
Coal, Metals

On a volume basis, China will levy a tax of 8 to 20 yuan on every metric ton of coking coal sold and 0.3 to 5 yuan a ton for other coal grades starting next month, the government said yesterday, without stating current tax rates.

The tax on coking coal is 8 yuan a ton at present and 0.3 to 5 yuan a ton for other coal grades, according to ICBC’s Yu.

Starting in November, the levy on iron ore sales will be 2 to 30 yuan a ton, the tax on rare-earth minerals 0.4 to 60 yuan a ton, and the rate on nonferrous metal ore 0.4 to 30 yuan a ton, according to the government.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

China’s online population hits 500-million

China’s online population, the largest in the world, has topped the half-billion mark, reports the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The agency quoted Wang Chen, chief of the information office of China’s state council as saying that more than 15-million people had gone online since the release of the last figures were released in July.

The continuing growth of China’s internet population and the rising use of online tools to criticise authorities has seen an increasing concern in Beijing about the internet’s potential as a tool for generating unrest.

The government blocks any content it considers politically sensitive in a vast system which has come to be known as the “Great Firewall of China”.

It has struggled to keep up the same stringent levels of control, however, over the increasingly popular microblogging platforms, or weibos.

The country has some 300-million microbloggers. The largest platform, Sina Weibo accounts for the majority of that number with around 200-million users.

The concern around the weibo’s first arose following a train crash in July, which killed 40 people. Sina Weibo users sent millions of messages criticising the government’s response to the crash.

The scale of the response saw various media outlets venturing to join in the criticism of the government. Even Communist Party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily urged the government to engage more with the public through the weibos.

Authorities responded by urging the weibos to take action against anyone found to be using the platform to “spread false rumours”.

Sina Weibo also received a visit from Beijing’s Communist Party chief Liu Qi, in which he said internet companies should “ensure the authenticity of information… to create a healthy online media atmosphere”

In the wake of this visit the microblogging platform began suspending the accounts of any users deemed to be spreading “false reports”.

The weibo platform allows for the rapid spread of information in a country where the media is tightly controlled by the communist authorities.

Authorities recently set up accounts on the weibos for around 5 000 of the country’s law enforcement officials.

It stated that the officers’ would be tasked with “ensuring social openness and dispelling misunderstandings” on the weibos.

Of China’s 500-million internet users, 130-million live in rural areas.