Tuesday March 20, 2018

China bans a Tibetan festival as villagers refuse to fly Chinese Flag

Communities refusal to fly the Chinese national flag leads to the ban of the Tibetan festival

Chinese flags fly at a Tibetan monastery in an undated photo. Image SOurce: Radio free Asia listener
  • The Tibetan horse-race festival and a religious gathering were banned by authorities in China’s Sichuan province (was slated to be held on August 5)
  • The festival is called Sang-sol in which villagers burn juniper branches
  • The monks and Tibetan community refused to fly the Chinese national flag 
  • The race was to be held on August 5th but due to the possible protests against Chinese rule it was prohibited

There is another news of Chinese repressive regime in Tibet. Authorities in southwestern China’s Sichuan province have banned a traditional Tibetan religious gathering and horse-race festival after participants refused to fly the Chinese national flag at the events, sources in the region and in exile say.

The annual gathering, in which villagers burn juniper branches to propitiate mountain deities for timely rainfall and a good harvest, was to have been held at the beginning of August, with the horse race to follow on Aug. 5, a former Tibetan political prisoner now living in India told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

The juniper-burning ceremony, called sang-sol, was organized by Dargye monastery in Sichuan’s Kardze (Ganzi) county in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, RFA’s source said, citing contacts in the region.

“But this year, the Chinese ordered the monastery and Tibetan villagers to fly Chinese flags from the monastery and from people’s homes, and the monks and the lay community refused to comply, saying this had never been done before,” he said.

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“Authorities then prohibited the prayer gathering in retaliation,” he said.

The horse race and other cultural displays—including a lion dance and performances of traditional Tibetan opera-—were likewise banned, he said.

The monks and laity had already spent large sums of money to prepare for the events, he added.

Annual religious gatherings in Tibetan-populated regions of China have greatly increased in size in recent years, as thousands of Tibetans gather to assert their national identity in the face of Beijing’s cultural and political domination.

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Fearing possible protests against Chinese rule, security forces often monitor and sometimes close down events involving large crowds. (RadioFreeAsia)


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Microsoft AI translates Chinese to English like humans

The researchers taught the system to repeat the process of translating the same sentence over and over

Microsoft to pay $250,000 to help them catch chip bugs. Wikimedia Commons
Microsoft to pay $250,000 to help them catch chip bugs. Wikimedia Commons
  • Microsoft creates a new kind of AI
  • This can translate Chinese to English just like humans
  • The translator makes little mistakes

A team of Microsoft researchers, including one of Indian-origin, has created an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered machine system that can translate sentences of news articles from Chinese to English with the same quality and accuracy as humans.

Researchers from the company’s Asia and US labs said their system achieved human parity on a commonly-used test set of news stories — called “newstest2017” — that was released at a conference recently, a blog post said late on Wednesday.

Microsoft acquired the start-up PlayFab. Pixabay
This Ai can expertly translate Chinese into English. Pixabay

According to Arul Menezes, an IIT-Bombay alumni and Partner Research Manager of Microsoft’s machine translation team, the team set out to prove that its systems could perform about as well as a person when it used a language pair — like Chinese to English — for which there is a lot of data.

“Given the best-case situation as far as data and availability of resources goes, we wanted to find out if we could actually match the performance of a professional human translator,” said Menezes.

To ensure the results were both accurate and at par with what people would have done, the team hired external bilingual human evaluators who compared Microsoft’s results to two independently produced human reference translations.

“Hitting human parity in a machine translation task is a dream that all of us have had. We just did not realise we would be able to hit it so soon,” said Xuedong Huang, Technical Fellow in charge of Microsoft’s speech, natural language and machine translation efforts.

Also Read: Microsoft Teams to have Cortana integration, other features

To reach the human parity milestone on this dataset, three research teams in Microsoft’s Beijing and Redmond, Washington, research labs worked together to make the system more accurate.

“Much of our research is really inspired by how we humans do things,” said Tie-Yan Liu, Principal Research Manager with Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing.

The team used dual-learning method. Every time they sent a sentence through the system to be translated from Chinese to English, the research team also translated it back from English to Chinese.

Microsoft Kaizala
The accuracy rate is high too. Wikimedia

That’s similar to what people might do to make sure that their automated translations were accurate, and it allowed the system to refine and learn from its own mistakes. Dual learning, which was developed by the Microsoft research team, can also be used to improve results in other AI tasks.

Another method, called deliberation networks, is similar to how people edit and revise their own writing by going through it again and again. The researchers taught the system to repeat the process of translating the same sentence over and over, gradually refining and improving the response, Microsoft said. IANS