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Experts hail China’s role in green mobility at UNEA-6




The transition to green mobility, which promotes ecosystem and human health in urban centers, has accelerated, thanks to the greater availability of Chinese-manufactured new energy vehicles, said experts at the sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6), which concluded Friday in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.

NAIROBI, March 2 (Xinhua) — The transition to green mobility, which promotes ecosystem and human health in urban centers, has accelerated, thanks to the greater availability of Chinese-manufactured new energy vehicles, said experts at the sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6), which concluded Friday in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.

China has played an immense role in helping developing countries, the majority in Africa, to adopt electric mobility in cities and reduce their carbon footprint, said Ali Mohamed, Kenya’s special climate envoy based at the President’s office, Thursday.

According to Mohamed, China is the source of nearly all electric vehicles plying Kenyan roads, aiding the quest for the transition to carbon-free mobility alongside boosting air quality. “We seek partnership to help achieve our e-mobility aspirations, and China has come on board as a crucial partner. We are importing both the new energy vehicles from China and vital parts like charging batteries,” Mohamed said.

He said that Kenya has enacted a supportive policy and regulatory framework to spur the growth of electric mobility besides investing in local assembling plants for new energy vehicles such as buses, and two- and three-wheelers.

Data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers shows that exports of China’s new energy vehicles (NEVs), including both pure electric and hybrid vehicles, soared 77.6 percent to more than 1.2 million units in 2023.

Additionally, BYD, a Chinese electric vehicle brand, became the world’s largest pure electric vehicle manufacturer in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Moses Nderitu, the managing director of BasiGo, a Kenyan early-stage e-mobility start-up, believes that the East African country’s leap to green mobility has a promising future, thanks to the partnership with China.

“I think China is making an immense global contribution to green mobility, and here in Kenya, we are feeling the impact. Nearly all the new energy models we have on our roads are imported from China,” Nderitu said.

China’s new energy industry has seen robust growth in recent years, becoming a new bright spot in the wide economic picture. Amid the surge in the number of electric vehicles cruising the roads worldwide, China has ranked first globally in NEV sales for the past nine consecutive years, with a share of the global market at more than 60 percent.

Nderitu said that BasiGo not only imports new energy vehicles from China but also the batteries that are powering them, adding that local travelers have embraced electric vehicles given their comfort and pollution-free status.

Chinese technology is enhancing Kenya’s transition to green mobility, though authorities should invest more in charging infrastructure and roll out subsidies for imported parts, Nderitu stressed.

As the first company to launch electric buses in Kenya, BasiGo assembles them locally using parts designed by BYD. Nderitu said that under the partnership with BYD, BasiGo has managed to put 17 electric buses on Nairobi roads, boosting the transition to much-needed green mobility in East Africa’s largest economy.

Experts said Chinese technologies and advanced production prowess for crucial parts like batteries, motors and intelligent cabins will sustain its stewardship in electric vehicle manufacturing and export.

Rob De Jong, head of Sustainable Mobility at the United Nations Environment Program, said that China is a leader in electrification and the promotion of electric vehicles. He hopes that China will share its experience with the world, especially the Global South, and its technology to promote affordable electric vehicles around the world.

Kenya’s integration into the international electric vehicle supply chains has succeeded thanks to the partnership with China, said Nzambi Matee, a Nairobi-based woman green innovator. Matee, who was among the seven winners of the 2020 UN Young Champions of the Earth Award, said that going forward, Kenya should enhance technology and skills exchange with China to grow the nascent local electric vehicle industry.

“Let us establish a partnership framework with China to have more of these new energy vehicles assembled locally. As for me, partnership with China should be long-term to scale up e-mobility in the country,” Matee said.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Google trial wraps up as judge weighs landmark U.S. antitrust claims





Google and the U.S. Justice Department wrapped up closing arguments on Friday over claims that the Alphabet unit has unlawfully dominated web search and related advertising, in a case the government contends could shape the “future of the internet.”

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington for hours grilled both sides with questions, probing whether competitive platforms such as ByteDance’s TikTok and Meta’s Facebook and Instagram are competitive substitutes for search advertising dollars.

Mehta said a central issue was platform “substitute-ability” for advertisers, which the court must resolve. He will now begin preparing to render a major decision on whether Google’s conduct broke civil antitrust law. He did not indicate when he would rule, but experts say he could potentially order changes to Google’s business practices.

Mehta also questioned whether Google assesses competitors’ pricing while considering its own adjustments. Google’s advertising business is responsible for about three-quarters of its revenue.

U.S. government lawyer David Dahlquist argued that “advertising revenue is what drives Google’s monopoly power today.”

Google has boasted it feels no real market pressures, Dahlquist said, arguing that the company does not fear increasing its pricing or not improving its products.

“Only a monopolist can make a product worse and still make more money,” Dahlquist argued.

Google’s lawyer John Schmidtlein countered that Google’s share of U.S. digital advertising revenue has steadily decreased. He touted the advertising power of rival platforms ByteDance’s TikTok, Meta’s Facebook and Instagram, and Amazon.

That’s because it’s not made from plastic, but wheat straw and has seeds nestled inside.

Schmidtlein argued that Google is “constrained” by rival platforms “where the eyeballs are,” because advertisers know there are overlapping audiences and can spend their dollars elsewhere.

He also asserted that Google was continually moving to innovate its search advertising products. “If Google is a monopolist, why improve anything? Why not just jack the price up?” he told the court. He later argued that “Google has won with a superior product.”

The Justice Department has hammered away at Google in a trial that started on September 12, contending the search engine giant is a monopolist that illegally abused its power to boost profits.

Witnesses from Verizon, Android maker Samsung Electronics and Google itself testified about the company’s annual payments, $26.3 billion in 2021, to ensure that its search is the default on smartphones and browsers, and to keep its dominant market share.

Mehta also took up the government’s claim that Google intentionally destroyed internal documents that were relevant to the issues in the lawsuit.

The government asked Mehta to presume that Google deleted chats that were unfavorable to the company.

Mehta repeatedly questioned Google’s prior policies, which he said left document retention decisions to its employees.

“They should have been preserved. Should there be some consequence for what at a minimum was far from best practices?” the judge asked.

A lawyer for Google, Colette Connor, defended its data preservation practices, calling them reasonable, and urged the court not to sanction the company.

The case, filed by former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, was the first of several aimed at reining in the market power of tech leaders.

Another case, against Facebook parent Meta, was also filed during the Trump administration. U.S. President Joe Biden’s antitrust enforcers have followed with a second case against Google and cases against and Apple Inc.

Source(s): CGTN

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UN adopts first global artificial intelligence resolution to ensure AI is safe





The United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the first global resolution on artificial intelligence on Thursday, encouraging countries to safeguard human rights, protect personal data, and monitor AI for risks.

The nonbinding resolution, proposed by the United States and co-sponsored by China along with over 120 other nations, also advocates for the strengthening of privacy policies.

“Today, all 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly have spoken in one voice, and together, chosen to govern artificial intelligence rather than let it govern us,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.

The resolution is the latest in a series of initiatives – few of which carry significant enforceability – by governments around the world to shape AI’s development amid fears it could disrupt democratic processes, turbocharge fraud, or lead to dramatic job losses, among other harms.

“The improper or malicious design, development, deployment and use of artificial intelligence systems … pose risks that could … undercut the protection, promotion and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” the measure states.

In November, the U.S., Britain and more than a dozen other countries unveiled the first detailed international agreement on how to keep artificial intelligence safe from rogue actors, pushing for companies to create AI systems that are “secure by design.”

Europe is ahead of the United States, with EU lawmakers adopting a provisional agreement this month to oversee the technology. The Biden administration has been pressing lawmakers for AI regulation, but a polarized U.S. Congress has made little headway. In the meantime, the White House sought to reduce AI risks to consumers, workers, and minorities while also bolstering national security with a new executive order in October.

The resolution aims to close the digital divide between rich developed countries and poorer developing countries to ensure that all are included in discussions on AI. It also aims to ensure that developing countries have the technology and capabilities to take advantage of AI’s benefits, including detecting diseases, predicting floods, helping farmers, and training the next generation of workers.

The resolution recognizes the rapid acceleration of AI development and use and stresses “the urgency of achieving global consensus on safe, secure and trustworthy artificial intelligence systems.”

It also acknowledges that “the governance of artificial intelligence systems is an evolving area” that requires further discussions on possible governance approaches and emphasizes that innovation and regulation are mutually reinforcing – not mutually exclusive.

Source(s): CGTN

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Beijing still tops Nature Index global science city rankings





Beijing has consistently ranked first in the global science city rankings for eight consecutive years, as measured by the Nature Index, according to Yin Yong, deputy secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Beijing Municipal Committee and mayor of Beijing.

Nature Index tracks the authorship of articles in prestigious research journals and Beijing’s ranking has shown that the city remains the top science city in the world.

On Tuesday, China’s State Council Information Office held a press conference on leveraging Beijing’s strategic role as the national capital, initiating a new chapter in high-quality development. Yin made the remarks while he answered questions from the media at the press conference.

Yin also introduced the capital’s achievement in seeking scientific and technological innovation and attracting high-level talent in science and technology.

Beijing has 92 colleges and universities, and more than 1,000 research institutes and its numbers of national laboratories and large scientific installations are ranked first in the country.

Beijing’s investment in research and development has also been among the largest in the country. Every 10,000 people in Beijing hold an average of over 262 invention patents, ranking first in China.

The capital has a large talent pool with more than 550,000 scientific researchers. In the field of artificial intelligence, for instance, Beijing’s top talent accounts for about 43 percent of the country’s total.

An average of 337 technology-based enterprises are established in Beijing every day, and the number of national high-tech enterprises and unicorn enterprises rank first among all cities in the country.

Source(s): CGTN

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