TIME Aviation

5 Days, 5,000 Miles, Fueled Only by the Sun: Solar Impulse Readies for Pacific Crossing

Relying entirely on solar power, the aircraft will attempt to travel from China to Hawaii

On Tuesday morning local time, a Swiss man named André Borschberg will take off from an airport in Nanjing, China, and fly for roughly 120 hours straight. He will travel east and south across the vast Pacific, spending days and nights over deep, dark sea as he hurtles toward Hawaii in an airplane powered by the sun.

An airplane powered by the sun? It’s the type of thing we dreamed about as children — running with our arms outstretched, circling like birds on the breeze. Kids love airplanes and astronauts — even airports, the bane of adults. Grown-ups tend to prefer our feet firmly planted. We’ve lost sight of the magic: a plane is a plane.

Borschberg and fellow pilot Bertrand Piccard want to restore our sense of wonder, which is why they’ve spent more than a decade preparing to fly their fuelless aircraft, Solar Impulse 2, around the globe. There will be 12 flights total, with the pilots taking turns at the helm of the single-seater. The goal of the trip, which started March 9 in the United Arab Emirates, is to inspire interest in clean tech.

“Adventure is where when you learn to be more open to the unknown,” says Piccard. “There is normal life, where we live automatically, we reproduce what we have learned, and [there are] moments of rupture and crisis. It is in these moments that you have to get rid of your certainties and habits.”

Once Solar Impulse leaves Nanjing, there will be few certainties. A flight like this has never been done.

The 5,000-mile leg will be a technical and physical test. Priority No. 1 is marshaling the sun, Borschberg says. During the day, Solar Impulse will fly high while capturing energy. When darkness falls, the engines will be cut and the plane will soar for several hours, losing altitude. At some point, the engine will start drawing on battery power. Then, at daybreak, the cycle begins again.

The flight will not be easy on the pilot. Seated in tiny cockpit, the 62-year-old will be awake for most of the flight, resting only for 20 minutes at a time. The conditions in the plane will be far from first-class comfort: the space is small, and the temperature and air pressure will vary dramatically through the trip. At some points, he will be able to communicate with mission control in Monaco. If things go wrong, he could be on his own.

For Borschberg, this is the flight of a lifetime. He started flying at 15, studied engineering, and spent decades as a pilot in the Swiss Air Force reserves. He is detail-driven and aviation-obsessed, brought to life by talk of aerodynamics. “I feel at home up there, at ease,” he says. “You get access to something that human beings on earth can’t access.”

Flying a plane like Solar Impulse, which is incredibly light, means working with the elements, not racing through them — a change of mind-set for a fighter pilot. “The more extreme the airplane, the more you have to have nature on your side and not the other way around,” Borschberg says. “You can look at the wind as a problem — turbulence, downdraft — or you can ask, how can I make it my ally? How can I integrate with nature instead of fearing it or trying to change it?”

His partner, Piccard, is the dreamer. Also born in Switzerland, the 57-year-old spent part of his childhood living in Florida during the U.S.-Soviet race to the moon. “The entire country was living for the conquest of the moon, and I had the chance to witness the most extraordinary human adventure,” he says. “When this was finished I had the impression that there was nothing else.”

Perhaps to prove himself wrong, he took up hang gliding and ballooning. He also studied psychiatry and hypnosis, fascinated, he said, by how being pushed to the limit could affect the mind. He went on to become, with Brian Jones, the first to complete a nonstop balloon flight around the world. He met Borschberg about 12 years ago and they have been planning, and fundraising, ever since.

Now they face the most difficult and dangerous part of the journey. Both pilots have trained hard for this — even dropping into water, blindfolded and strapped into parachutes, to simulate one possible worst case. They admit to nerves but prefer to talk about planning, preparation and the professionalism of the team that will guide them from Monaco.

Besides, they say, flight is about facing fear — taking a leap. When Borschberg sets out over the ocean, he will be sitting in a cockpit adorned with photographs of his family — a midair reminder of all that awaits him when he, and Solar Impulse, return to ground.

TIME Military

The New Head of the U.S. Pacific Command Talks to TIME About the Pivot to Asia and His Asian Roots

SINGAPORE-ASIA-MILITARY-US-CHINA
Roslan Rahman—AFP/Getty Images U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Harry Harris, left, speaks to journalists during his visit to U.S.S. Spruance (DDG 111), Arleigh Burke–class guided-missile destroyer, docking in Sembawang wharves in Singapore on Jan. 22, 2014

Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr. sees his background as an Asian American as useful in helping the U.S. forge better relationships with its allies and other powers

On May 27 Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr. becomes the U.S. Navy’s highest-ranking Asian American ever when he assumes leadership of the U.S. Pacific Command at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Harris will be responsible for all military operations in a region stretching from California to the Indian Ocean, and from the Arctic Sea to Antarctica. He takes over at a critical time, as the U.S. “rebalances” to Asia and confronts an erratic and nuclear-armed North Korea and an increasingly powerful and assertive China.

It’s a job that takes Harris, 59, full circle. He was born in Japan to a Navy-enlisted man and Japanese mother, and raised on a subsistence farm in Tennessee. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Harris did postgraduate studies at Harvard, Georgetown and Oxford and spent much of his career as a naval flight officer aboard P-3 patrol planes, including three tours in Japan. Affable, direct and with a confessed weakness for “both kinds of music — country and western,” Harris talks to TIME contributor Kirk Spitzer about taking on one of the most challenging jobs in the U.S. military.

You’ve said that the most important event in your life was World War II, yet you weren’t even born then. What do you mean by that?
My dad had four brothers and all of them served in World War II, mostly in the Navy, in the Pacific theater. In fact, my dad was on the aircraft carrier Lexington just a couple of days before Pearl Harbor. They pulled out O.K., but the Lexington was sunk at the Battle of Coral Sea. Growing up in Tennessee, where he and all his brothers lived, they told sea stories about the war throughout my whole life. So I just knew that I was going to serve in the military.

The other thing is, in this job and living in Hawaii, World War II is all around you. I live in the Nimitz House, which was built for Admiral Husband E. Kimmel. He was in charge on Dec. 7, 1941. So not a day goes by that I don’t remember that one of the primary lessons of World War II is to be ready to fight and win the nation’s wars — and to be ready to fight tonight.

You’ve said that your mother had a great influence on your life. She was born into a wealthy family in Kobe, Japan, but ended up living on a small farm in America. How did that happen, and how much of an influence did she have on you?
I learned a lot from her. She lost her home, her school, members of her family and friends to bombing raids. After surviving that, she had nothing and she went to live with an aunt in Yokohama who helped her get a job on the big American naval base in Yokosuka. My dad was posted in Japan and Korea from 1946 until he retired in 1958. They met sometime in the early 1950s and got married and then I came along and they moved to Tennessee.

My dad bought a subsistence farm, with no running water or electricity. So that was pretty rough. But she adapted, and she adapted with a lot of grace. She became an American citizen in the mid-1970s and she always told me that her proudest moments were voting and jury duty. She was really thrilled that I went to the Naval Academy, of course. She never taught me the Japanese language because we had moved to a tiny town in the South, and she didn’t want me to be any more different than I already was. She wanted me to focus on being an American. But she taught me to be proud of both my Japanese roots and my Southern roots. And she taught me about the Japanese concept of giri, which means duty. I carry this with me to this very day.

You are the first Asian American to reach four-star rank in the Navy and the first to head U.S. Pacific Command. Did you have role models when you were young?
I can tell you that being a Japanese-American kid in Tennessee in the late 1950s and early ’60s, there weren’t a lot of role models out there. So that’s when my mother started telling me about the American nisei soldiers during World War II. They left a segregated nation — to fight for a segregated nation. They had no guarantee that when they got back home the things they had fought for would be returned to them. We’ve come a long way in the past six or seven decades because of them and folks like them who fought for what’s right. Their courage made a great difference in the lives of a whole bunch of people at that time, and even today. I’ve always said that I stand on the shoulders of giants, and I mean it.

Before being named commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet in 2013, you worked as a military representative to two Secretaries of State: Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. What did you learn in that job?
I got to visit and meet with leaders from about 20 countries in the Asia-Pacific region and that’s really important to me in my present job and even more so in my next job. It reinforced something that I already knew, and that is that American leadership matters and it matters greatly to our friends, partners, allies and competitors abroad.

Your appointment as commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and more recently as head of Pacific Command, was met with great approval in Japan, but perhaps not so much in China, where there still seems suspicion of all things Japanese. Will it be difficult for you to manage expectations, on both sides?
People know when they look at me that I’m an American first, last and everything in between. I’m only ethnically [Eurasian] or ethnically [half-]Japanese. Protecting American interests is my focus. No doubt, Japan is a great ally of the United States and I do hope that my personal background has helped me enhance our relationship. But I think my background has also helped me forge critical relationships with South Korea, another important ally. My father served in the Korean War and I grew up with a deep appreciation for Korean culture.

And I can tell you that I was warmly received in China when I went there last year to finalize a new agreement among navies of the region to help communications at sea during unplanned encounters. This was an important step forward to help reduce tensions at sea and help avoid miscalculations. I’ve always tried to give China credit when they act in responsible ways that adhere to international law and norms, and enhance stability.

The Obama Administration has talked about an economic, diplomatic and military “rebalance” to the Asia-Pacific region. Some skeptics wonder if it’s real, or just rhetoric.
Not only is the rebalance real, but the military part is well on its way. We’ve strengthened our security alliances and partnerships throughout the region. The Navy has already brought our newest and most capable platforms to the area, like the P-8 surveillance airplane, the Littoral Combat Ship, the Virginia-class submarine and new amphibious ships like the U.S.S. America. The Marine Corps has brought the V-22 Osprey out here to great effect and we’ll have the Joint Strike Fighter out here soon. The Navy has set a goal of moving 60% of the Navy out here by 2020 and we’re at about 55% in terms of surface ships now. So I can tell you the rebalance is real.

In your new job you’ll be responsible for an immense and diverse region: “From Bollywood to Hollywood, from polar bears to penguins,” as Pacific Command puts it. What are your priorities?
Our war-fighting readiness, our ability to fight tonight, will always be my top priority. We have to be ready for the unexpected. We have to be ready to prevent strategic surprises. When you are responsible for an area that covers half the worlds’ surface, you need friends. So building stronger relationships and working with our allies and partners, to foster a collective to the security challenges — that’s important.

You’ve expressed deep concern about recent Chinese actions, including construction of a string of artificial islands in the South China Sea — a “great wall of sand,” as you put it. Why should the U.S. be concerned?
I have been critical of China for a pattern of provocative actions that they’ve begun in the recent past. Like unilaterally declaring an air-defense identification zone over the East China Sea, parking a mobile oil platform off the Vietnam coast, and their lack of clarity on their outrageous claim — preposterous claim, really — to 90% of the South China Sea. All these examples, I think, are inconsistent with international laws and norms. They make China’s neighbors nervous, it increases tensions in the region, and I think they are destabilizing for peace in the region.

More than $5 trillion — that’s trillion with a t — of shipborne trade passes through the South China Sea annually. Freedom of navigation is critical. That’s why what China is doing in the South China Sea is troubling. They have manufactured land there at a staggering pace just in the last months. They’ve created about 2,000 acres of these man-made islands. That’s equivalent to about 1,500 football fields, if I get my math right, and they’re still going. They’ve also made massive construction projects on artificial islands for what are clearly, in my point of view, military purposes, including large airstrips and ports.

What do you worry about most? What keeps you awake at night?
The greatest threat we face is North Korea. They have an unpredictable leader who is poised, in my view, to attack our allies in South Korea and Japan. He is on a quest for nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them intercontinentally. He kills people around him who disagree with him, and that’s something we should always keep in mind. North Korea keeps me up at night.

TIME China

New Silk Road Could Change Global Economics Forever

camel-caravan-silk-road-china
Getty Images

China and much of the world is intent on developing the largest economic development project in history

Part 1: The New Silk Road

Beginning with the marvelous tales of Marco Polo’s travels across Eurasia to China, the Silk Road has never ceased to entrance the world. Now, the ancient cities of Samarkand, Baku, Tashkent, and Bukhara are once again firing the world’s imagination.

China is building the world’s greatest economic development and construction project ever undertaken: The New Silk Road. The project aims at no less than a revolutionary change in the economic map of the world. It is also seen by many as the first shot in a battle between east and west for dominance in Eurasia.

The ambitious vision is to resurrect the ancient Silk Road as a modern transit, trade, and economic corridor that runs from Shanghai to Berlin. The ‘Road’ will traverse China, Mongolia, Russia, Belarus, Poland, and Germany, extending more than 8,000 miles, creating an economic zone that extends over one third the circumference of the earth.

The plan envisions building high-speed railroads, roads and highways, energy transmission and distributions networks, and fiber optic networks. Cities and ports along the route will be targeted for economic development.

An equally essential part of the plan is a sea-based “Maritime Silk Road” (MSR) component, as ambitious as its land-based project, linking China with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea through Central Asia and the Indian Ocean.

When completed, like the ancient Silk Road, it will connect three continents: Asia, Europe, and Africa. The chain of infrastructure projects will create the world’s largest economic corridor, covering a population of 4.4 billion and an economic output of $21 trillion.

Politics and Finance:

The idea for reviving the New Silk Road was first announced in 2013 by the Chinese President, Xi Jinping. As part of the financing of the plan, in 2014, the Chinese leader also announced the launch of an Asian International Infrastructure Bank (AIIB), providing seed funding for the project, with an initial Chinese contribution of $47 billion.

China has invited the international community of nations to take a major role as bank charter members and partners in the project. Members will be expected to contribute, with additional funding by international funds, including the World Bank, investments from private and public companies, and local governments.

Some 58 nations have signed on to become charter bank members, including most of Western Europe, along with many Silk Road and Asian countries. There are 12 NATO countries among AIIB’s founding member states (UK, France, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Denmark, Iceland, Spain, Portugal, Poland and Norway), along with three of the main U.S. military allies in Asia (Australia, S. Korea and New Zealand).

After failed attempts by the U.S. to persuade allies against joining the bank, the U.S. reversed course, and now says that it has always supported the project, a disingenuous position considering the fact that U.S. opposition was hardly a secret. The Wall Street Journal reported in November 2014 that “the U.S. has also lobbied hard against Chinese plans for a new infrastructure development bank…including during teleconferences of the Group of Seven major industrial powers.

The Huffington Post’s Alastair Crooke had this to say on the matter: “For very different motives, the key pillars of the region (Iran, Turkey, Egypt and Pakistan) are re-orienting eastwards. It is not fully appreciated in the West how important China’s “Belt and Road” initiative is to this move (and Russia, of course is fully integrated into the project). Regional states can see that China is very serious indeed about creating huge infrastructure projects from Asia to Europe. They can also see what occurred with the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), as the world piled in (to America’s very evident dismay). These states intend to be a part of it.”

Buttressing this effort, China plans on injecting at least $62 billion into three banks to support the New Silk Road. The China Development Bank (CDB) will receive $32 billion, the Export Import Bank of China (EXIM) will take on $30 billion, and the Chinese government will also pump additional capital into the Agricultural Development Bank of China (ADBC).

The U.S.: Unlikely Partner on the Silk Road:

Will the U.S. join the effort? If the new Trans-Pacific Partnership (that pointedly leaves out both Russia and China, two Pacific powers) is any indication, U.S. participation seems unlikely and opposition all but certain.

But there’s no good reason that America should sacrifice its own leadership role in the region to China. A project as vast and complicated as the Silk Road will need U.S. technology, experience, and resources to lower risk, removing political barriers for other allied countries like Japan to join in, while maintaining U.S. influence in Eurasia. The Silk Road could enhance U.S. objectives, and U.S. support could improve the outcome of the project.

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal argues that the U.S. proposed trade agreement and China’s sponsored Silk Road project are complimentary, with the trade agreement aimed at writing rules for international trade, while the Chinese aim at developing infrastructure is necessary for increased trade.

Initial Project:

A look at the first project, currently under development, provides a good example of how China plans to proceed.

The first major economic development project will take place in Pakistan, where the Chinese have been working for years, building and financing a strategic deepwater port at Gwadar, on the Arabian Sea, that will be managed by China as the long-term leaseholder.

Gwadar will become the launching point for the much delayed Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline, which will ultimately be extended to China, with the Persian section already built and the Pakistan-Chinese section largely financed and constructed by the Chinese.

The pipeline is also set to traverse the country, following the Karakoram Mountain Highway towards Tibet, and cross the Chinese western border to Xinjang. The highway will also be widened and modernized, and a railroad built, connecting the highway to Gwadar.

Originally, the plan was to extend the pipeline to India, with Qatar joining Iran as natural gas suppliers, forging what some considered a “peace pipeline” between India and Pakistan, but India withdrew, under pressure from the U.S. along with its own concerns over having its energy supplies dependent upon its adversary, Pakistan.

India’s Counter:

Not surprisingly, India, a U.S. ally, countered China’s initiative with one of its own, announcing a new agreement to build a port in Iran on the Arabian Sea, only a few hundred miles from Gwadar, bringing Iranian energy to India via Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan.

Although it would offer an alternative to the Chinese-backed Gwadar initiative, the U.S. warned India not to move ahead with the port project before a final nuclear agreement between Iran and the West is actually signed.

Both the Chinese and Indian projects are clearly in defiance of international sanctions on Iran, but both countries appear unconcerned. The Chinese could also be accused of a ‘double dip’ sanctions violation, given the immense and continuing trade deals it negotiated with Russia.

The rest of the business world is sure to follow, or risk losing out in what is certain to be a new “gold rush” towards Asia in a world still struggling with the lingering effects of the great recession. And New Delhi pointed out the harsh truth: American energy companies are also trying to negotiate deals with Iran. Following on the heels of the U.S. visit, the German mission is due in Tehran soon, with the French beating everyone to the punch in an earlier visit.

What then of sanctions? Sanctions only work in a world united behind them. If a large part of the world chooses to ignore sanctions, they become unenforceable.

Conclusions:

China and much of the world is intent on developing the largest economic development project in history, one that could have dramatic ripple effects throughout the world economy.

The project is expected to take decades, with costs running into the hundreds of billions of dollars, if not trillions. What that will mean for the world economy and trade is almost inconceivable. Is it any wonder then, that the world’s largest hedge funds, like Goldman Sachs and Blackstone, are rushing to market new multi-billion dollar international infrastructure investment funds?

No doubt a project as large and complex as this is likely to have failures, and is certain to face many western geopolitical obstructions. Assuredly, the “great game” will continue. Look no further than U.S. President Barack Obama, who also senses the urgency. “If we don’t write the rules, China will write the rules out in that region,” he said in defense of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In a world where economic growth is tepid, with Europe still struggling with the aftermath of the global recession, along with China’s growth slowdown, where else could a project that promises so much opportunity be found?

It’s a good bet that giant iron mining companies like Vale, that have seen their business fall to a thirteen-year low, are currently busy figuring how much steel goes into construction of a new, high speed 8,000 mile railroad. If the project is successful, it could very well spark a boom across the entire depressed international mining, commodities, and construction sectors.

Consider how many jobs could be created in a decades-long construction project that spans a huge region of the world. In practically every sector, the prospects are enormous for a revival of trade and commerce.

The ancient Silk Road increased trade across the known world, but the Road also offered far more than trade. One of its least anticipated benefits was the widespread exchange of knowledge, learning, discovery, and culture.

Beyond the riches of silks, spices, and jewelry, it could be argued that the most important thing that Marco Polo brought back from China was a famous nautical and world map that was the basis for one of the most famous maps published in Europe, one that helped spark the Age of Discovery. Christopher Columbus was guided by that map and was known to have a well-annotated copy of Marco Polo’s travel tales with him on his voyage of discovery of a new route to India.

For the world at large, its decisions about the Road are nothing less than momentous. The massive project holds the potential for a new renaissance in commerce, industry, discovery, thought, invention, and culture that could well rival the original Silk Road. It is also becoming clearer by the day that geopolitical conflicts over the project could lead to a new cold war between East and West for dominance in Eurasia.

The outcome is far from certain.

Coming in May, Part 2: Cold War or Competition on the New Silk Road.

This article originally appeared on Oilprice.com.

More from Oilprice.com:

TIME China

A Chinese App That Steals Wifi Passwords Just Raised $50 Million

Wifi Master Key lets users access wifi without user name or password

A Chinese App used for connecting to the country’s ubiquitous Wifi hotspots without a login or password just raised substantial money in a series A venture funding round, according to a source at Northern Light Venture Capital, one of its investors.

Wifi Master Key shares login data with all the users of hotspots run by China Mobile, one of the country’s big three telecom giants, which offers blanket coverage in all China’s major cities.

China cynics might think that a business model that looks like brazen theft is a pretty good summary of the country’s whole business model in the tech sphere. The reality is somewhat more nuanced. Wifi has been assiduously promoted as a public good by the powers-that-be, and China Mobile is, after all, a state-controlled (if publicly-listed) company. Wifi Master Key would argue it just helps to deliver that public good by getting round an infuriating bureaucratic.

Living in Beijing, it becomes easy to understand how the App boasts of 270 million monthly users. The frustrations of seeing a Wifi hotspot, but not being able to access without a cumbersome login process, is a daily occurrence. Cynthia Meng, an analyst at Jefferies in Hong Kong, says Wifi Master Key was the 21st most popular app in China in March.

The Chinese tech blog QQ Tech originally reported the fundraising news, speculating that Master Key earned a $1 billion valuation. Fortune couldn’t independently confirm the figure, but the amount raised appears to have been around $50 million. The overall valuation may be lower, as Master Key faces reports of security risks—potentially leaving users vulnerable to hackers—and competition from a rival app in China, Wifi Companion.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Vietnam

Vietnam Outlaws ‘Filthy,’ ‘Clichéd’ and ‘Poisonous’ Romantic Novels

A publishing house employee stands at a booth selling discount foreign novels at a book festival in Hanoi on September 30, 2014
Hoang Dinh Nam—AFP/Getty Images A publishing-house employee stands at a booth selling discount foreign novels at a book festival in Hanoi on Sept. 30, 2014

Well, that's Fifty Shades of Grey nixed then

Vietnam has temporarily banned romantic novels, particularly those originating from China, as the “clichéd, useless, obscene and offensive” works are “poisoning” the youth of the country, reports local media.

The majority of unsuitable titles are foreign romantic novels, says the Vietnamese Publishing and Printing Department, which announced that all novels must be “suitable with Vietnamese habits and customs,” according to Thanh Nien News.

“We do not shut down any genre of books, but the government needs to regulate an activity related to culture and people’s way of thinking so that it can benefit people,” said department director Chu Van Hoa.

Most of the proscribed books are Chinese titles, including genres like danmei (Chinese-language gay-romance novels) that have been deemed salacious and morally objectionable, fueling erroneous notions of love or even promoting rape, according to Chu.

Vietnam will eventually remove the ban, he explained, but will only selectively permit some publishers to release books with romantic content.

[Thanh Nien News]

TIME energy

This Chinese Businessman Just Lost $14 Billion in Half an Hour

Ouch

You might think you’re having a bad day, but Li Hejun will tell you it could be a heckuva lot worse.

The chairman of Hong Kong-listed Hanergy Thin Film Power, a maker of equipment for the solar power industry, just saw $14 billion wiped off the value of his controlling stake in the company in a so-far unexplained end-of-day crash.

Li had become one of China’s richest men on paper after shares in his company nearly tripled in the first four months of the year, giving it a market capitalization of $40 billion at one stage. For comparison, the U.S.’s largest solar company, First Solar Inc. [fortune-stock symbol=”FSLR”], is worth $5.6 billion. But the company’s shares fell over 42% in the last half-hour of trading in Hong Kong Wednesday, before being suspended by the local market regulator.

The boom in Hanergy’s shares has raised eyebrows. Transparency about the company’s business practices is limited by the fact that most of its sales go to a single company–its parent, the privately-held Hanergy Group. That has fostered suspicions–denied by the company–that it may be overstating its financial strength.

The collapse appeared to be triggered by Li’s failure to attend the company’s annual shareholder meeting. In one of the more memorable corporate quotes of recent times, The Financial Times reported a company spokesman as saying that Li “had something to do” instead.

Sentiment towards China’s solar companies had been battered on Tuesday after one of Hanergy’s biggest rivals, New York-listed Yingli Green Energy Holding [fortune-stock symbol=”YGE”] said in its annual report that there was “substantial doubt” as to its ability to continue as a going concern, driving its shares down 37%. The company put out a statement Wednesday saying that the media had blown its comments out of proportion.

TIME animals

Panda Poop Suggests They Shouldn’t Eat Their Favorite Food of Bamboo

A photo taken on April 1, 2014 shows the giant panda Hao Hao eating bamboo at Pairi Daiza animal park in Brugelette, Belgium.
Virginie Lefour—AFP/Getty Images A photo taken on April 1, 2014 shows the giant panda Hao Hao eating bamboo at Pairi Daiza animal park in Brugelette, Belgium.

After 14 hours of eating bamboo, only 17% is digested

Giant pandas may be reliant on a highly specialized diet of bamboo, but new research suggests they are not actually very good at digesting their favorite meal.

Scientists in China discovered that, unlike most herbivores, a panda’s gut bacteria has not evolved to match its diet and remains more akin its omnivorous bear cousins.

The team took 121 fecal samples from 45 giant pandas — 24 adults, 16 juveniles and five cubs — and compared these with data from a previous study, which included seven wild pandas. Both studies indicated that the bears do not have plant-degrading bacteria like Ruminococcaceae and Bacteroides.

“This result is unexpected and quite interesting, because it implies the giant panda’s gut microbiota may not have well adapted to its unique diet, and places pandas at an evolutionary dilemma,” said Xiaoyan Pang, a co-author of the study in a press release.

The scientists also discovered that gut bacteria in late Autumn is quite different from spring and summer — which they hypothesize may be a result of the lack of bamboo shoots in the fall.

Pandas spend up to 14 hours per day consuming bamboo but only digest about 17% of their meal.

China’s most famous animal evolved from a species that ate both meat and plants and began to consume almost exclusively bamboo around 2 million years ago.

TIME Crime

6 Chinese Nationals Charged With Stealing U.S. Trade Secrets

A logo sign outside of a facility operated by Avago Technologies in Allentown, Pennsylvania on April 12, 2015
Kris Tripplaar—Sipa USA/ AP A logo sign outside of a facility operated by Avago Technologies in Allentown, Penn. on April 12, 2015

Federal officials are concerned about China stealing U.S. technology

Three Chinese nationals who earned advanced degrees from the University of Southern California and three others have been charged with stealing wireless technology from a pair of U.S. companies.

Federal prosecutors say Hao Zhang, Wei Pang and Huisui Zhang met at the university and conspired to steal technology from Skyworks Solutions Inc. and Avago Technologies soon after graduating in 2006. Both companies are publicly traded chip suppliers for Apple’s iPhones and manufacture other communications-related products.

A 32-page indictment charging the six with economic espionage and trade secret theft was unsealed after Hao Zhang was arrested Saturday at Los Angeles International Airport after arriving from China to attend a scientific conference. The five others are believed to be in China.

Federal officials say foreign governments’ theft of U.S. technology is one of the biggest threats to the country’s economy and national security. They are particularly concerned with China.

State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said Tuesday the U.S. government takes “economic espionage” very seriously.

“This case demonstrates that the U.S. is committed to protecting U.S. companies’ trade secrets and their proprietary business information from theft. This is an important issue for the United States,” he told reporters in Washington.

A spokesperson at the Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. The Chinese consulate in San Francisco was unaware of the indictment and declined to comment.

The indictment alleges that the three USC alums began plotting in late 2006 to steal trade secrets from the U.S. companies where Hao Zhang and Wei Pang worked.

Months after their 2006 graduation, Wei Pang sent an email to China discussing the trio’s plan to use purloined U.S. trade secrets to set up a factory in China to manufacture technology that eliminates interference from wireless communications, according to the indictment. Wei Pang boasted in the same email that the technology is worth $1 billion a year in the phone market alone, according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges that the men stole “recipes, source code, specifications, presentations, design layouts and other documents marked as confidential.”

Hao Zhang made a brief court appearance Monday in Los Angeles and remains in custody. It’s unclear if he is represented by an attorney.

The USC graduates received encouragement and support from officials at the state-run Tianjin University, according to the indictment.

In 2006, Hao Zhang worked for Skyworks Solutions Inc. in Woburn, Massachusetts, and Wei Pang took a job in Fort Collins, Colorado, with Avago Technologies, which has headquarters in San Jose, California, and Singapore.

Wei Pang allegedly sent an email to two other defendants soon after, forwarding notes he took during a work meeting in 2006.

“My work is to make every possible effort to find out about the process’s every possible detail and copy directly to China,” Wei Pang is alleged to have written.

Hao Zhang and Wei Pang quit their U.S. jobs in spring of 2009 to become professors at Tianjin University, a prestigious Chinese college 130 miles southeast of Beijing. The men worked with administrators and a graduate student to establish a Chinese company to make the technology.

Avago executives became suspicious of the Tianjin team when they saw Hao Zhang’s patent applications for technology created by the company, according to the indictment.

Richard Ruby, Wei Pang’s former boss at Avago attended a conference in China in late 2011 and toured the new Tianjin lab created by the defendants, according to the indictment. During that tour, he recognized technology stolen from Avago and confronted Wei Pang and Jingpin Chen, a college dean, the indictment stated.

Wei Pang and Jingpin Chen denied stealing any technology, according to the indictment.

Jingpin Chen is also named in the indictment along with Zhao Gang and Chong Zhou. None of the defendants in China could be reached for comment.

TIME Crime

6 Chinese Nationals Charged With Stealing U.S. Trade Secrets

Three were educated and employed in the U.S.

(SAN FRANCISCO)—Three Chinese nationals educated and employed in the United States and three others have been charged with stealing U.S. wireless technology.

Federal prosecutors say 36-year-old Hao Zhang, 35-year-old Wei Pang and 34-year-old Huisui Zhang met at the University of Southern California a decade ago and conspired to steal trade secrets from two of their U.S. employers after graduating. Hao Zhang and Pang are professors at the state-run Tianjin University.

The indictment unsealed Tuesday charges the six with conspiring to steal technology developed by two U.S. companies that eliminates interference from wireless communications.

Hao Zhang was arrested Saturday at Los Angeles International Airport after arriving on a flight from China. It’s unclear if he has retained an attorney.

The other five charged in the indictment are believed to be in China.

TIME India

Indians From All Over China Are Flocking to Shanghai to Hear Their Prime Minister Speak

CHINA-INDIA-DIPLOMACY
GREG BAKER—AFP/Getty Images India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at a joint press conference with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (not seen) in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 15, 2015

More than 5,000 Indian expats are expected to attend an event on Saturday

On Sept. 28, 2014, Narendra Modi addressed a packed-to-the-rafters crowd at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The numbers were unprecedented. More than 18,000 people — either Americans of Indian origin or Indian expats living in the U.S. — converged on the iconic venue to listen to India’s new Prime Minister. They had been randomly chosen from over 30,000 who had applied to attend. A nearly identical public address less than two months later at Sydney’s Allphones Arena in Australia saw Modi draw another crowd of 16,000 members of the Indian community Down Under, followed by almost 10,000 Indian-Canadians in Toronto a month ago.

The crowd of 5,000 he is set to speak to in Shanghai this Saturday, one of the final stops on his three-day visit to China, pales in comparison to his previous megaspeeches abroad. But it will still be a landmark even for the Indian diaspora there.

“It’s a far cry from the figures you’d get just in the New Jersey area,” quips Amit Waikar, president of the Indian Association of Shanghai that will host the gathering. The Indian community in China is much smaller than that of countries like the U.S., with latest estimates by India’s Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs placing its numbers at just over 48,000 (in addition to 44,000 in the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong). But the number of confirmed attendees has already significantly surpassed any event Waikar’s association has ever held, and what is more remarkable, he says, is that people are traveling from a dozen different cities across China just to hear Modi speak.

“Smaller cities, where you normally don’t even expect too many Indians to be, have come forward,” he tells TIME, citing small manufacturing hubs like Yiwu, Keqiao and Ningbo, besides larger and better-known Chinese cities like Beijing, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macau.

As with a large section of the Indian population both within the country and abroad, the Indian community in China has great hopes and expectations from Modi.

“This is the first time we have got a Prime Minister who is not a politician but a leader,” says Notan Tolani, who will be traveling to Shanghai from Hong Kong in one of several delegations from the city. “He’s in touch with the ordinary people. He knows their pulse, he knows what the people of India want,” Tolani says.

Modi also represents increased optimism around India’s relationship with China, with his business-oriented policies and evident personal rapport with Chinese President Xi Jinping hopefully paving the way for greater cooperation between Asia’s two largest economies. The two leaders picked up this week where they left off during Xi’s visit to India last September, with the Chinese President welcoming Modi in his hometown Xian on Wednesday. (Modi had chosen to receive Xi in his home state of Gujarat, making the Chinese President the first high-profile foreign leader not to begin a bilateral visit in the Indian capital city of New Delhi.)

Modi’s visit to the Chinese capital Beijing on Friday, meanwhile, yielded 24 agreements worth $10 billion across several sectors, including railways, space cooperation, education and broadcasting. These too mirror the host of bilateral agreements signed during Xi’s trip to India, aimed at reducing the growing trade deficit between the two countries and promoting greater cultural exchanges.

“There are challenges,” says Vivek Arora, a Shanghai-based entrepreneur in the fashion industry who has been living in China for almost 20 years. “Indian and Chinese businesspeople need to learn more about each other to see what would be the best way to work together and add value to both societies,” he says. Arora is of the opinion that the two countries need to move beyond imports and exports or trading of commodities into more concrete investment opportunities, which he says will only happen through greater interaction and openness.

As for Saturday’s event, he says every other gathering of Indians organized in Shanghai “pales in comparison” to the anticipation and scale of this one.

“It’s the first time we have 5,000 Indians gathering in Shanghai,” he says. “Mr. Modi is a very good orator so his speeches are always quite uplifting. He’s trying to get India onto a path of progress, and that’s what everybody wants to hear.”

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