The end result is that China's fate as being relegated to being the world's giant copy machine is sealed unless things revert
The people who will get ahead in China in the future are the ones who are somehow able to live outside of China to experience new ideas. This is already true, but its importance will grow as China's censorship grows.
The more China closes up, the less Western companies have to fear about future tech dominance or crazy innovation from China in the long run
To be fair, things may even out since Western governments seem to be doing all they can to copy China's censorship and gov control. SOPA, PIPA, SESTA, and the Digital Economy Bill come to mind. I'm sure others can add more to the list.
Innovation happens within the context of Chinas censorship and political regime. Blocking of entrenched western competitors allows home grown solutions to spring up, and local technological know how to develop faster.
Capitalism and innovation turn out to work within the context of an illiberal society just fine. Especially as China avoids the mistake of closing itself off to the rest of the world, but stays integrated in the markets, as well as the academic exchanges.
The Chinese government doesn't stop high tech investment, but only blocks a few select companies that have products that are, at their core, easy to replicate (WhatsApp, Facebook, to a lesser degree Google) at a sufficient level of quality.
Rather than free markets pushing towards a more liberal politics, the Chinese government develops means to make the market optimize for political obedience .
Most people individually will consider themselves "free enough", and not care about politics as long as the country is well managed. Nothing stops you from starting to research or trying to build self-driving cars in China . China will continue to manage to hire western talent for its firms  until whatever skill gap still exists is filled.
I think there's a tendency for people to overestimate the importance of foreign apps to Chinese consumers and to underestimate the Chinese market. It's almost laughable that people think blocking WhatsApp will make any difference to Chinese people.
eg., the Chinese tech/online market is so huge it can sustain multiple competitors of its own in each sector - ride-hailing, search, shopping, food delivery, maps, chat, mobile payments all have massive players providing their own competition and innovation.
Genuine ground-breaking technological innovation is rare. When it happens, it's not like China won't get it (eg. touchscreens) because it blocked Google. In a lot of ways, because Chinese consumers are so quick to adopt new technology, there's sometimes more low-level innovation/adaptation because companies can rely on new apps/tools getting traction quickly.
Then why take the trouble of blocking something so small and unimportant? ;)
> eg., the Chinese tech/online market is so huge it can sustain multiple competitors of its own in each sector
Doesn't China have bigger aspirations than just the mainland?
People are missing the bigger point. I'm not talking about the current state of things. This is about the future. Most things are derivatives of other things. It's much harder to create these derivatives without easy access to free flowing data. People are saying, "It's fine, Chinese students just study and work in the West and bring it back to China after a few years." This is extremely inefficient. 1. there's the monetary cost involved compared to a open internet connection2. only a very small portion of the population will have this opportunity compared to potentially millions more with an open internet connection. 3. the amount of time it will take for this data to come back to China is huge compared to the instantaneous sharing you get with an open internet connection
Getting more control isn't free, the price is growth.
2. You seem to assume the bulk of innovation is going to be happening outside China and that blocking consumer access to Western platforms would somehow inhibit a flow of information to China. I'd disagree on both counts. The Chinese government is acting as the word's biggest VC and is also very practised and willing to take on long-term transformation plans at the national level. Shutting down foreign platforms only drives adoption of home-grown ones. In addition, they are explicitly targeting a future position as the world leader in AI. In the West I'd be betting on the MIC over individual privately owned companies to put any kind of dent in that ambition. I think any moment where Apple or Google alone could outspend and outcompete China in tech is gone.
This is probably the economic equivalent of banning say mobile phones or some other large and important sector.
For years the thinking has been that China is liberalizing, and it will eventually open up and that reciprocal sanctions or tariffs will spark unnecessary protectionism and encourage China to reverse direction.
A lot of people now, after 20-30 years of similar behaviour, believe that China was just gaming the system all along and had no plans to liberalize politically or allow fair competition from foreign business. Trump certainly tapped into that (although I think there's some consensus that punitive tariffs still won't be useful).
In the case of an import tariff, it is paid entirely by consumers, and domestic suppliers get a windfall from it, rather than sharing the burden. That's because there are two supply curves in play, domestic and international, and only one demand curve, because consumers generally don't care where the goods come from, and the internal trade of foreign markets is ignored.
2. No single country has a monopoly on innovation. Consequently the sharing of ideas from different locations and cultures is really important for moving forward. You miss out on this benefit when you consciously work to block it. Historically, the last time China was this arrogant about isolation, it didn't turn out too well.
Last Update: I've wasted enough time on this and probably should have put this in my original post.
If you think of sharing data as a resource, China just made it artificially scarce, made it extremely slow, and made it really costly which makes total business sense in the Information Age /s Hopefully our governments won't follow
They are isolating data, but hoarding data is a competitive advantage in a way that isolating knowledge isn't.
Ok they are bottlenecking data... As I've already mentioned this is an extremely inefficient way to share data. Sharing data using physically present word of mouth is a lot more expensive and slower than sharing it instantly via an open internet connection.
"Sharing data using physically present word of mouth is a lot more expensive and slower than sharing it instantly via an open internet connection."
Foreigners can set up businesses - see for example, the WFOE .
There are restrictions however for certain fields and business activities (infrastructure being one), so while foreigners can't just set up any company, they certainly can set up some companies if they like.
The data is free flowing enough within China though - that's the bigger point ;)
It's not as if you turn off the access to Western information* and suddenly you've got a room full of Chinese developers and entrepreneurs awkwardly twiddling their thumbs - there's enough critical mass within Chinese markets to create the kind of 'daily innovation' without much input from outside.
Genuinely, massively disruptive innovation has always crossed over, and will continue to do so unless something drastically worse happens with censorship/politics.
*EDIT: plus blocking WhatsApp won't actually restrict meaningful foreign information crossing the borders - all it will do is make it difficult for dissidents to hide their online conversations, and piss off Chinese business people who need WhatsApp to converse with foreign clients.
Some would argue that it doesn't even need to cross over because multiple discovery is an actual thing with plenty of historical precedence 
Don't put words in my mouth, I've never said something like that. I just wanted to highlight the fact that most people still prefer local services, either due to language barrier or social/information bubbles to disprove the claim that China would somehow be magically different if there was no Great Firewall.
China would rather be in control of tracking/surveillance internally, rather than let it be done by foreign companies and nations. Thats all
>Then why take the trouble of blocking something so small and unimportant? ;)
Because they don’t want local activists to be able to use it as a secure channel for communications. WhatsApp really is irrelevant to the market, but access to secure private communications is politically intolerable to the government.
I don't get it. None of those are Chinese inventions. They're all technologies China adopted really fast. It's a testament to market size, development speed and certain idiosyncrasies about Chinese demographics, etc.
But it has nothing to do with invention or innovation.
> No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame.
If the US isn't very good at developing new products because of burdensome regulations, small market size, slowness, demographics, etc. then maybe it's just not very good at technology. Other countries are bad at technology because of poor education, access to finance, skill of workers, culture, etc. They're still bad at technology, whatever the reason.
It isn't that interesting to say China has a huge mobile payments market dominated by Chinese companies when that is almost entirely due to a lack of an existing CC infrastructure.
It is interesting when Chinese network companies (Huawei, TP-link, etc.) are able to out-compete US based companies in their home market.
And hasn't been "successfully commercializing inventions, no matter who invented it" been a staple of the US economical success for decades, nay, over a century?
As one example, outside of tech areas that lacked strong traditional incumbents (fintech, e-commerce) or where strong cultural/linguistic context is needed (Chinese NLP), what areas are there where Chinese products enabled through blocking foreign ones are superior?
(e.g. I'd argue that Google's products for photos, email, maps/navigation, video conferencing, and translation -- all blocked in China -- exceed that of any competitor, Chinese or otherwise)
I'd be interested to hear why you think so. As far as I know none of these are better than their Chinese counterparts in any meaningful way. (Competition isn't the right word as these are different markets.)
Baidu Translate is at least as good as Google Translate, certainly better for translating to and from Chinese.
Google Maps is not relevant at all in the Chinese market because they don't have the data. Setting that aside, I am not aware of any technical edge they have over Baidu.
Chinese people generally don't use email, but there are mail providers that are comparable to what Google has.
This was really striking to me how bad Chinese-based ones were (which got me thinking about this issue). The QQ client doesn't even seem to work when I attempt to visit the international one; WeChat lacks a webapp with VC, has no Linux desktop app and the Windows desktop app I used had rendering difficulties with the self pip screen -- far worse experience compared to Skype and Google Hangouts.
> Baidu translate
Are your referring to http://translate.baidu.com/? Unless I'm missing something, that doesn't even offer speech to text or text to speech, making it far less viable for conversation.
Right, I'm comparing US to China here. As a simple example, of something Baidu maps seems to omit, it doesn't offer time estimates for travel at an arbitrary point in time. I can see historical traffic data, but can't seem to get routing/time to drive under that historical data.
I'm not even sure how well Baidu reroutes based on current traffic data..
Even at work is this true?
I'll give you that I don't have great comparison on this one (hard to use random email providers).. and that Outlook is quite good.But the integration between gmail and other services is extremely powerful -- e.g. extracting appointments + flights from my email and auto-populating maps and sending reminders.
Consumers have an app in their pocket that has everyone they know in it and can make a video call with two taps.
For corporate video conferencing there are paid solutions just like everywhere else.
So a free desktop app like Skype for video conferencing has no appeal.
The Baidu translate app has all those features and even a mini app for conversations in a walkie-talkie-like mode.
You can set a future time for routing by public transit, and the real-time routing is pretty good. It doesn't try to predict road traffic conditions in the future. If Google has that feature I'd be curious how useful it is.
Big companies that have email have email systems. There's no demand for widespread public free email accounts because the public has no interest in email unless it's the only option.
I think the issue here is that it's easy to look at the features you use like Hangouts or Gmail calendar integration and think that Google is "ahead" technically. But in the Chinese market, the same needs are met in different ways by different products on a different mix of devices. So the features that you look at as "missing" haven't been developed because the market just doesn't care about them, not because Chinese internet giants lack the technical chops. They don't.
I think the way to look at it is not who is ahead, but that these are different markets with different values and the products look quite different, but you can't easily compare them by checking off features.
And both Hangouts and Skype both have very good mobile apps - at least on par with Wechat. The fact that the desktop component is limited sucks -- it makes it painful for me to say practice Chinese with relatives I have in China. (a laptop or desktop screen is a far better form factor than a small mobile device).
I agree with you that desktop is the 5% case, but that 5% is still a loss.
I just compared the Android apps side to side.
Google Translate's UX is far beyond Baidu's. Baidu's conversation mode requires holding a specific language button while I talk and releasing it when done. With Google, I can just turn the system on and have a conversation in both languages - it auto-detects the language spoken and pauses.
Google's camera based translation is also real time unlike Baidu.
Transit: Google Maps also has this ability - it's also a simpler problem to follow train schedules than understand and route under historical traffic data. The historical driving feature is quite useful for Google when you are trying to plan any sort of outing. (If we're meeting tomorrow.. I need to know how much time to buffer in my schedule!)
Email is probably not a good item to discuss because the general public (i.e. not technologists) in America that only recently got on the Internet also favor other mediums over email. I'm only thinking of the technologist crowd here, but I don't have context on the Chinese one to comment.
I think the desktop case is 5% in the US, but 0.5% in China. It is more of a "mobile first" environment, because they skipped a lot of early PC development that only happened in the US.
I have tried both the Google and Baidu camera translation apps on iOS. The Google real time one was completely useless for me. You have to hold the camera steady and try to read the translation, which is word-for-word and hilariously wrong as often as not, and constantly changing as the camera moves and it (mis)reads the characters in different ways. Furthermore the stretched and overlayed "translated" English text is difficult to read. It looks like a very nice tech demo, but it has no practical utility for me. In contrast with the Baidu app, you take a picture, select the text with your finger, wait a moment while it considers, and you get a nice textbox with the selectable, translated text, and the OCR'd original language above. It's a practical tool.
My point is not that one is better or worse. Really it is that you cannot consider the tool alone without looking at how it is used in the market it was designed for.
Really the idea that Chinese companies are behind or aren't innovative is ridiculous if you look at how well they are adapting and how quickly they are innovating in the market that exists here.
>Как мне пройти на улицу кораблестроителей?
>How do I get to the shipbuilders' street?
>how can i go to the street considered for that?
Fuck this crap, even yandex translate is much better.
Yes, because foreign companies compete on an asymmetric playing field.
Creativity is inhibited when you have the cost of wondering whether what you've written or what you'll say will land you in jail. This problem is multiplied 1000x if you work in anything related to media or art. Consequently mainland entertainment will always be safe and boring. It's not going to see success like say South Korean or Japanese media industries
It's super obvious that the state of the mainland China entertainment industry is so terrible when you have most Chinese pirating foreign media
You are just confirming their logic.
I'm not saying pirated Marvel movies are going to bring down the PRC, but there's no reason to think that bad Chinese movies that no one wants to watch will help the party, either.
US is no longer a country to be emulated. It's a country to fear (for what they can, and do, to other countries) and a country to pity (for what it does to its own citizens).
China, OTOH, looks more and more cool now. A lot of things that made them seem evil turned out to be exaggerations and propaganda, and while their politics still wouldn't make me feel safe starting a business there, they seem to be the only country on the planet that seems to think and execute long-term. It's something the West is no longer able to do.
Hell, the Chinese currently seem to be the only nation on the planet who seriously care about fixing the climate issues.
China has a great opportunity now to win plenty of foreign mind share. I wonder if they'll go for it, and if we start seeing more pro-Chinese propaganda.
The issue about repression stifling creativity is orthogonal to that (unless to the extent repression might be necessary for long-term-ness), and gives them a huge disadvantage.
Which huge thing is huger is anyone's guess. They look to be winning so far. (What could really derail them is a bad leader, Mao-style. Checks and balances would be to avoid that. But that's a different topic altogether)
The point being, whatever happened there 40 or 60 years ago, currently China is not that much different from the US, and unlike the latter, it's only getting better.
Many times, US companies take Chinese products "off the shelf" and slap their brand on it, based on a spec that the Chinese company themselves came up with on their own. Most manufacturers have catalogs for you to browse, and many are quite reluctant to modify their designs with your own specifications, although this depends on the company. So I would disagree that it's western companies cutting corners. Typically the manufacturers cut cost to increase their own margins, regardless of what spec you give them.
In the former Eastblock people weren't living in fear either, as long as they did not think of sticking their heads up too far above the field in terms of political activism and such. If you did then you were pretty sure to be targeted.
China today is still very repressive when it comes to political freedom.
And as long as they are 'one party rule' I think that it is both strong and for political reasons. Keep in mind that all of politics is ultimately rooted in economy so it is pretty easy to get lost in the mix.
> Population control through forced abortions and murders everywhere (it turned out to be not true).
It very much turned out to be true, and you can add a very large number of forced sterilizations to that list.
> Evil communist leaders.
That's an opinion, I'm not going to argue with opinions.
> Shit-quality manufacturing (that's the fault of western companies; China manufactures to the specs you give and pay for, it's western companies that decide to cheap out on products).
This is false. China can make quality products but there is also a culture of substitution where quality samples are replaced with lower grade manufacture at later points in a contract to deliver. This has bitten many Western companies that turned to China for their manufacturing and which has caused a lot of companies to bring their quality control to China, just before shipping to save on the amount of stuff shipped that simply did not work or did not work as advertised. This QA issue has been very well documented and can definitely not be laid at the door of the Western companies placing their orders in good faith.
> Those are all things I've been led to believe through media reports.
Media mostly reports, it mostly does not make stuff up. And most of those media reports are backed by at least my personal experience over the years where I will be more than happy to note that this stuff isn't a constant but that there are trends with some stuff improving and other things worsening. If you know your stuff it is very well possible to manufacture quality goods in China.
> The point being, whatever happened there 40 or 60 years ago, currently China is not that much different from the US
That is hilarious in so many ways. China is extremely different from the US along almost any axis that you care to name. Other than that of course the Chinese are people, just like Americans and Europeans but that's about it.
> and unlike the latter, it's only getting better.
This may very well be true, but then again, that's a function of where they were only a few decades ago. It's hard to remain at the top of something if there are other parties that wish to ascend, in dutch we have a proverb that reads 'standing still is going backwards' (I'm not sure how well that translates), but it fairly accurately sums up the sentiment.
You never thought the US was cool, but you watch their TV/movies, buy their clothes, use their tech, browse their websites for intellectual debate (hei HN) and use every other spare second to shit on the country and claim you hate it.
So pretty much like most Europeans. But the influence the US has on your life isn't going anywhere.
That's more position of ignorance, and thankfully it is changing.
Even Eastern Europe had a problem with such an attitude. There used to be a saying: "Americans are not going to buy Skoda, Chinese will". And indeed, Chinese do.
What makes you think Chinese are after making others follow them? I think they are pretty happy with the way things are now.
Do you think that's what we are after? Making others emulate us? That sounds racist to me.
And to achieve this specific status they do need others to follow them culturally. If no one outside of China is wearing Chinese clothes, watching Chinese movies, or listening to Chinese music, then they can't be considered a cultural globalization leader.
It is absolutely in China's best interest to promote their culture abroad, and they absolutely do spend tons of money doing it. Also, I'm not sure you know what racism is.
As an European America is shitting on me a lot more than China is.
I do agree there could be a "Galapogos Island" effect, I just don't know how to predict which industry will experience it vs the opposite. I wonder if someday the US will be the Galapagos in that relation though with the sheer size of China and it's possibility to trade with near neighbours India and Indonesia.
It's hard to predict the impact of potential trade restrictions and electrification requirements. The big multinational auto makers are pushing hard to harmonize rules around the globe, but populists and nationalists are pushing back.
So if the strategy is have-our-cake-and-eat-it-too why does the rest of the world play along? Corporate greed outside the control of governmental entities?
Like the parent and unlike the grandparent, I'm not convinced "openness" of the sort that fosters innovation requires liberal societal values. Openness in terms of not being legally restricted from copying and improving on existing products is the bigger one there, and China has this in spades. It's similar to the industrializing United States in the 19th century, which went from copying industrialized England to surpassing it - would less free political speech have stopped that?
As opposed to what? Economic sanctions have a wonderfully consistent track record of making things worse for everyone. China is too powerful for 'destroy the country and slaughter its people in a fit of pique' to work the way it did in Libya and Syria, which is just as well because that also makes things worse for everyone. The one thing that consistently works well is to maintain a free society and demonstrate a better alternative by example. Okay, granted, we should be doing more of that.
"Our companies don't have freedoms X,Y,Z vs Chinese corps in china, so Chinese corps and investors will get the same special treatment in our country too".
Taking a measure such as gp's suggestion, which is at least fair and on face justifiable, may be the most just move.
And given the particularity of this case, history probably doesn't have a huge sample size. New contexts emerge, such as technological development. It's much more conceivable now than before that a small group of people could indefinitely hold power over the overwhelming majority.
When someone is abusing you don't roll over, you create boundaries and walk away if they are violated.
And what is good about this practice is china has the power to stop this by treating everyone equally. Your not forcing things on china and you say you will stop when they stop.
Because having access to even a fraction of China's market is a huge boon to any company, as is having access to Chinese manufacturing. And playing along with China has made their society far more open and capitalistic, even if the ruling class occasionally attempts to assert their dominance.
China will progress at their own pace, but however they do it has to be homegrown. Simply overthrowing the ruling party like most westerners want would create chaos, the transition has to occur from within and at their own pace.
I think the argument in recent coverage like this is that it's no longer "has made their society far more open" but "HAD made their society far more open." And then it really exposes the financially-opportunistic, rather than principal-guided-as-advertised, nature of how the West deals with different countries like Cuba vs Iran vs China vs etc.
From destabilising Libya and Syria, to taking in refugees, to grandstanding with Russia, nothing is done for any set of moral principles.
Libya and Syria were 2 nations that believed in Arab and African pan-nationalism, and tried to assert independence and secularism in the face of Western hegemony and Saudi-sponsored Wahhabism. Sure they were dictators and unsavoury, but they also weren't any worse than the many dictators the West has propped up and sponsored over the years.
For years many economists and business leaders decried the high salaries, strong unions and high cost of doing business in Germany, Scandinavia, France and elsewhere, so they imported a bunch of refugees under the guise of humanitarian principles, and as a result they've broken the power of unions, have unlimited cheap labour and are dismantling parts of the welfare state (look at what Macron just passed through in France).
And finally in Russia, NATO has them completely encircled, we overthrew several governments on their borders and replaced them with pro-Western ones (see "Colour Revolutions", or hell, just look at Mikheil Saakashvili's career path), and then we decry the fact that they finally took action for self-preservation (they had a perpetual lease of the naval base in Sevastopol which the pro-Western government wanted to end, despite the understanding with Ukraine at the dissolution of the USSR).
And of course there's the various covert CIA actions throughout the years which have been declassified, it'll be interesting to see in the next 40 years how current events are portrayed in the future.
Also, take a look at various developing countries, and actions by the World Bank and western NGOs. Contrast that with how China has courted those same countries. I've been to countries which were decimated and abandoned by the West, and where the only infrastructure projects even happening are funded by China. I know a few people from those countries which even went to study in Chinese universities, and whose futures are going to be linked with China. No one from that country has any illusion of the West being 'good', as they were a former colony abandoned by the West.
Take Libya, for example, the choice was to either do nothing, and let a dictator kill a bunch of his own people, in which case the US would have been condemned as "propping up" the guy, or help the rebels, in which case they get accused of "destabilizing the country."
If they send a bunch of people to help the rebels rebuild their country afterwards, they're now "nation building" and/or "colonizing". If they do nothing now they're ignoring the country they helped to "destabilize". If they sign a bunch of deals to bring in new goods or open new factories is "western capitalism" and "worker exploitation", but if they leave them alone, or only send aid workers then it's "paternalism" all over again.
Maybe the reality is that even the most powerful country in the world couldn't do anything to help the problems of a country with millions of people, but they still take the blame for whatever happens, even if they do nothing.
And Syria is basically this situation, plus a bunch of global powers doing their proxy war nonsense, plus a bunch of power hungry murderers using a religious ideology as a justification to do whatever they want, along with a murderous government that wants to hold power at any cost. No wonder Switzerland tries to stay out of this sort of business, other than bankrolling some of the people involved anyways.
It turns out  that the claims of Libyan genocide were false.
There were other choices than "do nothing" or "help the rebels".
For example, a reasonable decision would have been to thoroughly, carefully and accurately investigate the genocide claims.
Dunno if you are trolling, but that's impossible. You can't just overthrow the government if people don't want it. And supporting the revolution is absolutely normal, even China does it in Myanma.
Also, if they were wanted by a majority of the people, that's why pro-Russian governments were back in power soon after, right?
The Orange Revolution government barely lasted a couple years before imploding, and the Maidan government is going the same direction.
Even Mikheil Saakashvili can't work with Poroshenko, you'd think 2 CIA stooges would get along but apparently not.
Like Yanukovytch, who offered eurointegration, and was thrown after breaking his promises?
How's Poroshenko doing these days anyhow?
China two years ago or maybe China might permit enough market choice to allow basic innovation. But appetite of the repressive apparatus is not going to be sated and virtually all choices may wind-up being politicized. What happens when a well-connected individual asks you to invest-in/consult-for/etc their enterprise? What impact on your social credit might it have if you refuse?
It is fairly well established that secrecy and repression tends to breed corruption - when individuals have untouchable power, of course they'll want to leverage that for gain.
There have been just rulers for a while, but the risk of regression to the mean is ever present. We'll see how things go.
It's also not clear whether kleptocracy can't be implemented in a way such that it's not a significant detriment to development. Singapore is arguably a kleptocracy, but it's a surprisingly well-managed one.
But I think it's mostly a matter of time and happiness of the population. When things are good, the apple cart stays upright. If they turn grim, everything gets a lot more unstable and the extremes come out. Depending on where it goes, it can get into a feedback cycle - I think this happened in Venezuela.
There was a guy by the name of Norman Angell, who wrote a book called "The Great Illusion" about that exact thing. The premise, to quote Wikipedia, was that "the economic cost of war was so great that no one could possibly hope to gain by starting a war the consequences of which would be so disastrous", on the basis of considerable economic interdependence of major powers.
The book was published in 1909.
Conceptualization is not making something actually happen, unlike what the patent-trolls want us to believe. IoT was first proposed in the 90s, but did it gain any traction before cheap Chinese prototyping components? This bares the question, is it the West that has made IoT or the East?
That could have been overshadowed if they could satisfy a niche. They are neither useful for going to work nor Indy Grabbing. Let's just hope next time the trend turns toward something like that it solves a problem.
I know what you're point seems to be even though you aren't communicating it very well. I do think you're missing the fact that producing goods cheaply does not make you a leader in tech. Besides quick fads like hoverboards or fidget spinners China does not have much traction with actually producing and selling products. Things might be made in China but they are designed by foreign companies and the vast majority of the profit leaves the country.
Hoverboards are originally from China  however, most of us have likely learned about them from Kickstarter etc. I think the users of HN would agree that "invention is never a sudden thing". The process for hoverboards has been iterative, of course. I have heard claims of having commercial hoverboards as much as five years before they became household names in the US.
It’s of course not nice to read such things, but who cares in the end. If you go to China, you’ll use Something else.
they already do. China wields strong economic influence and pressure over her southeast asian partners, some of whom need to be convinced to give up significant portions of maritime control and territorial rights in an effort to redraw the american sphere of influence in the south china sea region, and further out to establish a new economic status quo in africa and S. Am, where the traditional western world's influence is more political than economic.
In 1984 Big Brother did this same thing by having perpetual war, and Chinese military spending is in fact stupendously huge, but even so they aren't actually in a war so need other ways to burn large quantities of capital. Building unprofitable railways in the middle of Africa is a great way to keep their own people poor whilst claiming some sort of moral high ground. But if these were good investments, it wouldn't be up to the PRC to make them.
A) Reach a predetermined level of technology you are comfortable with |OR|
B) Look spacewards.
Very hard to do both of those.
If China banned coca-cola and bragged about its burgeoning soft-drink industry we'd all be laughing at it.
I agree however that China can take a light enough approch and that's why I continue to think China growth will go on.
The possibility that eventually Chinese internet products could by their own merit compete in the global market, outcompeting western alternatives in some cases, is the even more terrifying aspect to me, however. I wrote a lengthy post about it not too long ago, and don't have anything useful to add to it yet, so please excuse the copy-paste:
To authoritarian governments all over the world, the censorship and surveillance frameworks built into many Chinese internet services like WeChat are actually extremely valuable features, rather than something they'd want to opt out of.
These features have been battle-tested in the largest and most ruthlessly robust surveillance state the world has ever seen, and have time and again proven their effectiveness in influencing public opinion and quelling dissent.
If an app like WeChat were to ever gain foothold in a nation with an authoritarian government, all they'd have to do is strike a deal with TenCent, and with the flip of a switch, that government can then enjoy unprecedented control and visibility into the "private" communications of its populace. All the friction involved in the decidedly difficult and costly exercise of building your own large-scale surveillance/censorship infrastructure will suddenly have been removed. The one thing Chinese internet services can offer that no western counterpart can reasonably compete with also makes them by far China's most dangerous export: authoritarianism as a service.
To those of us in democratic nations, we must also remember that authoritarianism usually doesn't manifest itself as a cliff, but rather as a gradual, slippery downward slope. Every government in the past has displayed authoritarian tendencies in their history, to varying degrees, and governments in the future will inevitably continue to do so. The natural tendency of government is to slide down the slope of authoritarianism, because government is power, and power corrupts. It takes diligence and continued effort on the part of the governing body and its citizenship to counteract this natural descent.
All it would take is another 911 type terrorist attack to sway public opinion enough to the point where enacting some kind of dragnet surveillance system in the name of national security would become politically feasible, in any democratic nation in the world. At that point, the horrible user experience and PR nightmare in having to rebalance the national budget or raise taxes to make room for improving your domestic spying infrastructure could be the only thing standing between us and an irreversible descent into authoritarianism. And if a significant portion of a democratic populace happens to be using WeChat at that point, well, let's just say I don't have a lot of faith that my own government could resist the temptation and take a principled stand against such a frictionless way to expand its own powers.
As Chinese offerings mature and become polished and innovative enough to compete with western counterparts in markets outside of China, we could easily start to see users around the world voluntarily start switching to them. That could very well mark the beginning of the end of this golden age of democracy as we know it.
I highly recommend taking a look at Nathan Freitas's excellent talk "The Great Firewall Inverts": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEJGqNf2rgk. In it, he explores how China's so-called Great Firewall is actually a bit of a misnomer because it's most crucial functionality is its ability to control the flow of information inside its own borders as opposed of keeping information out, how this ability is readily available to be exported to countries around the world in the form of internet services like WeChat, and what we can do about it (which is unfortunately, not a lot, other than to educate others on the very non-obvious non-immediate consequences of using these services, and to be vigilant about the spread of authoritarianism in our own governments).
with low value for the Chinese economy.
Comparing WeChat to WhatsApp on feature count is big time apples to oranges.
Wechat isn't simply chat. It has grown into a platform that has empowered it's users to partake in a growing ecommerce industry. It also has p2p payments which is hugely popular.
If Google or Facebook were given a monopoly on chat by the US government, and hardly anyone had credit cards, then their wallets would be universally popular too.
WeChat isn't going to get much market penetration outside of China because it's just not very good. At least that's my opinion, as someone who's forced it use it in China.
> optimize for political obedience
And put innovation in a grave. Without a gravestone.
Google, facebook, instagram, twitter etc. Those are one-way streets that provide next to no jobs, little tech transfer and no tax revenue to the countries they do business in, but tend to outcompete the local rivals if left to it, and are proven to provide a convenient surveillance platform for American intelligence.
It's surprising that any country would allow that to continue unchecked. The Chinese solution is certainly not great but I doubt the US would allow Chinese companies to keep a daily log on the activities of most US citizens and businesses. Or to replace entire industries like advertising without providing jobs or taxes in return.
Hold on now - Google still provides immense value.
And what does it cost?
The 'consumer surplus' value of G and FB are quite immense.
Google captures a tiny fraction of the value they create via ads.
What would Canada do without Google?
There is no Google here.
If we started with with 'government backing' it would be a s-show.
I understand about the issue from taxation perspective etc. - but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Google has a high degree of utility and FB does as well for many individuals.
Some jiggering with tax and investment laws might help, but on the whole, this is a 'good thing'.
Twitter. Well ... America can keep that :):):)
Absolutely. But so does Baidu. And while doing so, Baidu provides jobs and tax revenue in China with little national security risk for China. And at the same time Baidu creates thousands of extremely skilled Chinese software engineers.
For instance, you can invent a new category in order to avoid detaining people like criminals or war enemies if none of the laws applying to those are convenient.
It does make me wonder what they'd use for justification - prior to the current administration. The current administration would just use nationalism and protectionism, I'd think. I'm not sure how the previous administration would have framed it in order to make it politically feasible.
There were services that came before, but they lacked the inertia the current incumbents have. The userbase of Facebook, Google, etc. is huge in the Western world. Even if another company came along and built a great service, I doubt it would see mass adoption due to the massive numbers involved with the current providers.
Banning Facebook would actually give a boost to their productivity, not much to lose there.
So in other words, the ruling class continues to rule, as they will be the only ones with the sanctioned political freedoms to study abroad, etc.
> China's fate as being relegated to being the world's giant copy machine is sealed unless things revert
China being the world's giant copy machine has worked very well for those in power in China. Why not sustain that as long as possible? What other country has the stability and resources to replicate that? Most countries with extremely cheap labor don't have the supply chain.
This means that the Chinese are living in a bubble. This isn't news of course.
But the other issue is that they can't attract much foreign talent to relocate there, like Europe and the U.S. have historically done. Because they don't have a culture friendly to immigrants, but also because their environment is toxic for those of us that are accustomed to liberal democracies.
And their "copy machines" are actually racing against the clock, as more and more factories get fully automated and thus relocated home, not to mention their rising middle class, thus their cheap labor advantage will eventually go away. So when multinational companies will no longer assemble their products in China, what will they copy?
Of course, their middle class are now sending their children to western schools and many of them will probably go back to China, but on the other hand the best and brightest end up having the choice to stay in the west and many of them will.
There's more to this than just being a provider of manufacturing services for overseas consumer goods companies wishing to outsource production. China has pursued a policy of forcing Western heavy-industry companies (infrastructure, aerospace, etc.) wishing to do business in China to form joint ventures with domestic Chinese companies which then serve as a means of transferring expertise to the Chinese companies. The Western companies go along with this because it's preferable to being shut out of the Chinese market altogether.
For example, Chinese high speed trains were initially based on imported designs (both the Shinkansen and European trains) built by joint ventures between the original makers and Chinese companies. But today China is domestically producing high speed trains using technology copied from those original ones.
I'm also not sure if the perceived ingredients for collective creativity are all that obvious or as critical as you seem to say. Perhaps competition is the most important ingredient, as opposed to freedom of political speech. And perhaps a well-educated aristocracy can nurture technological competition without also being afraid of it.
Example - China's Special Economic Zone program. Districts which have lowered administrative and regulatory barriers, specifically designed to attract foreign capital. Shenzen's SEZ has existed since the 1980's.
And that's not to speak of the numerous foreign enclaves that have existed throughout the years, from Hong Kong , the International Settlement and later the French Concession in Shanghai, and the numerous foreign districts that have popped up more spontanously (e.g. Jing'an, Shanghai)
Hong Kong has been the test laboratory for what the Communist Party calls “One country, two systems”. It doesn’t seem like the regime is very happy with the experiment, or would be looking to expand it.
I disagree with the "middle class" being the ones sending their children internationally. The Gini coefficient in China is higher than that of the United States. Even if it was the same income distribution, America's middle class cannot afford to send their children to private schooling in other countries.
These people are not the middle class -- they are quite far away in income away from the median of the income distribution, even in urban areas. They are the upper class. Maybe the lower upper class, but it's a stretch to say they are middle class.
Make it about half a million Chinese students in the US currently, so we're talking about the top 1%.
This is becoming more and more untrue by the day.
While Europe and US did historically attract foreign talent, the good times were bound to come to an end once the immigrants started conspicuously thriving at the same time automation killed a lot of once well paying jobs for the locals. Ergo, Trump and the Trump-wannabes across Europe.
The notion of a "culture which is friendly to immigrants" is on a fairly quick downward trend and I would like to place bets with anyone here on this: the number of people immigrating into Europe and US will be drastically lower in about 5 years time.
The environment in liberal democracies are no less toxic today. A good example is a famous cartoonist whose once-intelligent writing on his website has turned into nutjob click-bait after he started fantasizing about his king-maker abilities. Either he holds opinions which are far from the majority, in which case you need to explain Trump's election. Or it coincides with the majority, in which case calling the outsiders' philosophy toxic is an example of someone in a glass house throwing stones at others.
I see no evidence of this. Your evidence is "Chinese isn't so bad" and "what about Trump and anti-refugee trends in Europe?"
Those are social trends, which still exist at the margins of society (more so with Trump, but he still remains a minority figure).
Business, culture, freedom, lack of corruption. Until China matches the west in these points, they will never be a true destination for the world's best and brightest.
Thus, please don't install it.
This can be assumed with any technology stack that is popular, domestically-grown, and well-established in China.
I have WeChat installed. Would I use it to converse with people outside of China? No. But casually, it's what's accepted there, what people ask you for, and what everyone's using.
> This can be assumed with any technology stack that is popular, domestically-grown, and well-established in China.
What are normal people in your books? People who don't care what happens to non-violent political dissidents because they themselves are well aligned with their owners? That's not normal, you have to break a human child to get those results.
A child raised by illiterates and being only among them might never care about reading nor writing. So? Does that raise the value of illiteracy in my eyes? Not at all, not one bit. They're still missing out in ways I can't even explain to them.
> A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-- Robert A. Heinlein
Not to speak for Heinlein's fictional character, but I'd add to the list things like "decide what is right and wrong, what is good and bad". Some people think the group they belong to give them value, I think individual human beings make up groups and give them value. If most people don't care about things I find important for reasons I can articulate, that's just more people to have a discussion with. But just the fact that they are many is about as important as if someone saying something is skinny or obese. I don't multiply the value of an opinion by someone's body weight or how much money they have, and likewise I don't multiply it by how many people have an opinion.
Political dissent, for example?
Whatsapp is not? Are you sure? I would assume NSA doing all it wants as well.
Whatsapp is out not because it can't let authorities audit it, but because of other economic reasons.
Well, it's E2E encrypted, that's for sure. The NSA, like the Mossad, can do pretty much anything if you're a high-value target, I'd assume, but personally, I don't think there is blanket mass surveillance of WhatsApp chats, no.
> Whatsapp is out not because it can't let authorities audit it, but because of other economic reasons.
Do you have any evidence or even arguments for that assertion?
It's not driven by economics.
And maybe later they might even build alternatives to Google, Twitter, and eBay!
/sarcasm - please check out WeChat, Baidu, Sina Weibo, Alibaba
My point is that WeChat does not exist for me and probably never will.
What this means, for one, is that there is no cooperation or interoperability and these policies of the Chinese government are to blame.
From the sources available online WeChat's userbase is 90% Chinese.  So it might be a massive userbase, but it's not diverse.
Ask yourself this: would WeChat be successful if it weren't for the Chinese government favoring it, even going so far as to ban alternatives or worse?
Maybe, but maybe not, we'll never know, but products like WeChat are definitely not the result of free market competition in an international context.
If you know my phone number, you can contact me on WhatsApp. But you can't contact me on WeChat, because I'm not using WeChat, because I'm not living in China to be forced to use it and so the opportunity for a Chinese to contact me isn't there and I'm not going to install WeChat just because I might get contacted by a Chinese (there's always email).
Of course, in the future I myself would likely be interested in doing business in China, so I might end up wanting to talk with WeChat users.
But seeing such developments by the Chinese government is to me a strong signal that China is not a good place to do business. It might be for huge companies like Apple which have infinite resources, but as a small guy I couldn't bring myself at the moment to phantom developing a product, or delivering services to the Chinese market given that it's definitely not a free market.
So no matter how you look at it, the Chinese government has been maintaining an information bubble, keeping such products as WeChat tied to the Chinese market.
Chinese urban households have only a per capita income of 29,831 yuan – an abysmal $4,500 a year.
And we see the effects of poverty on education: "Surveys by Rozelle's team have found that more than half of eighth graders in poor rural areas in China have IQs below 90, leaving them struggling to keep up with the fast-paced official curriculum"
Just remember that we do not measure in the US IQ these days because the results would be very painful to look at for the poor of the US.
Maybe the Chinese are very efficient with their money (try living on $4 a day in the US; or what does $4 mean in China?), or don't need as much money due to... a socialist system and/or, if you prefer, Hong Kong Post. Maybe they've started to realize the dream of Star Trek's "economy". ;)
"Consider the aggregate IQs of rural and urban/suburban whites [in the US]. During the 1970s according to Wordsum-IQ data, the intelligence gap between whites raised on farms and those who grew up in an urban/suburban background was enormous, almost exactly equal to the white/black gap. The data would indicate that a non-trivial slice of the white farmboys of the 1970s suffered from clinical mental retardation".
Banning whatsapp to get local competitor which employs local talent, is actually better for China from poverty point of view, isn't it?
Yes, but that's not OPs point, I think. What I think OP means is that the west doesn't have to worry (much) about China becoming the world's main innovation spot, because with censorship, the best they can do is copy. In a weird way, this is good for the western world.
(It's a bit like pirating music and movies in the west - you can still do it, but many people now use the legal options (iTunes, Netflix, ...), because it's just not worth the hassle.)
But the CCP doesn't care about a small elite knowing things.
OP contends that suppressing political discontent and censoring & controlling the communication of the vast majority of people will necessarily impede innovation and economic growth. That's not obvious to me at all, unfortunately.
The kids growing now in West have lost ability to tinker.
If you are into electronics and manufacturing, China is like playground to experiment. In the west, we are losing rights to fix the gadgets we own.
Someone may correct me...
1. having a more open society results in more innovation, which results in more economic development which allows the ruling class to become even wealthier and more powerful globally
2. currently, only 18-20% of China is middle class. About 78% of China is still poor. If things slow down due to a lack of innovation, historically things get ugly.
As for the numbers in that link, I'm not sure of the validity. I see lots of different numbers quoted at different sites. I have to wonder if it is accurate. A couple even put their upper middle class at 35%.
Probably important: There is some disparity in numbers. A few claimed higher, a couple had lower. Neither was significantly higher or lower, so I went with that one. Interestingly, a frequently listed number was 50% middle class by 2030.
My guess is that the numbers aren't accurately reported, which explains the variations.
> which results in more economic development
> which allows the ruling class to become even wealthier and more powerful globally
This one does not follow. It's probably false. Even if China gains a ruling class that is wealthier than the current one (what isn't a given), there is no reason to think the same people will be there.
You can just look at Europe.
I'm not advocating any policies or supporting anyone. I am just disputing the claim that free markets maximise innovation in this particular instance.
1. Competition breeds innovation. Monopolies and the like encourage stagnation.
2. How do you know Google would win in China if China didn't block them? Unlike Europe, China is extremely nationalistic. Even if the home brand was slightly worse, it would still probably win the majority of the market. Of course, the only thing stronger than Chinese nationalism is Chinese pessimism so we'll never know.
I think that's the kind of thing that the parent poster meant with this phrase:
> The end result is that China's fate as being
> relegated to being the world's giant copy machine
The censorship of social media is mainly to prevent collective action:
"The study showed that, contrary to western conventional wisdom, Chinese social media is as raucous and chaotic as it is everywhere else, so the Daily Mail’s idea of a country full of timid, faceless people with only banal opinions is baloney.
The study also revealed, though, that these outlets are ruthlessly but astutely censored: what gets taken down, apart from the usual suspects such as Falun Gong, pornography, democracy etc, are any posts that could conceivably stimulate collective action, even when the posts are favourable towards the government. You can say more or less what you like in China, in other words, as long as nothing you say might have the effect of getting people out on to the streets."
China doesn’t need western internet companies, they have a quarter of the world’s population. Can you blame them for wanting to promote home grown apps to build wealth within their country? Also, they like control, why would you let an foreigner end to end encryption app into your country? I don’t agree with their control but it’s not my country.
I’m surprised iMessage worked for me while I was there. I wonder what consessions Apple had to give for that?
From the article:
'Other services provided by American technology companies are available in mainland China. The country tolerates Microsoft’s Skype service for phone calls, which does not provide end-to-end encryption and as a result is easier for governments to monitor. Beijing also allows Apple’s FaceTime service, which has end-to-end encryption but does not have a WhatsApp-like feature allowing users to exchange secret codes — letting WhatsApp users combat what are known as “man in the middle” attacks.'
(I wonder whether it's tolerated because of Apple's small market share...)
Maybe the fact that iPhones are all made in china allow them, for the time being.
Their 5-years plan for 2016-2020 is about transitioning from the basic industry to more advanced industry and services. They want more research, they want more IT. Chinese IT workers are very critical of the Great Firewall and depend on VPNs to do a lot of things.
I think many are realizing that the Firewall is a handicap, but it is also undeniable that it is a very useful political tool. They will have to put that into the balance in front of their will to innovate.
They are also moving toward global leadership. In ecology, in foreign relations, they are willing to take the leadership that US is leaving. After being largely dismissive of it, if enough international pressure builds up, they may realize that opening up will help them reach these goals.
Sadly, thanks in no small part to Trump, they are probably realizing how dangerous it is to let people vote in a place where medias are not controlled, so my bet is that we will see either some more voting or some more openness in information exchange, but not both.
> To be fair, things may even out since Western governments seem to be doing all they can to copy China's censorship and gov control.
USA is jailing more of its citizens than China. Even in absolute numbers. USA kills more non-citizens abroad than China. In EU we tend to side with USA anyway because it is a democracy but the last president had less votes than his opponent and is a white supremacist.
Understand that for most of the world, accepting USA as a good guy is already a hell of a compromise. Seeing China as acceptable is not more far-fetched.
But it takes some major cynicism to actually consider the moral impact of USA vs China on a global stage comparable. They are much quieter about their international adventurism, but they have a decades long history of protecting and supporting bad actors. Whatever the failure of the USA, North Korea would not be a new breakout nuclear power threatening to become the most likely scenario for nuclear war without major backing and even encouragement from China. China also has multiple ongoing, top-down, programmed genocides happening in several territories, including cultural and institutional colonization of Hong Kong and Taiwan.
And that's not even raising the question of who's political values are better, both morally and strategically, for the human race.
I understand why cynicism with the US (and the whole West in general) is high... but let's keep things in perspective here.
> but they have a decades long history of protecting and supporting bad actors
- Saudi Arabia
To name a few "nice" people who received a lot of support from the US.
> Whatever the failure of the USA, North Korea would not be a new breakout nuclear power threatening to become the most likely scenario for nuclear war without major backing and even encouragement from China.
The turning point for NK was in the 2000s. US had invaded Iraq on the obviously false pretense it had WMD. It had not. Had it, it may have repelled an invasion by using them. NK's stance on nuclear deterrence is a direct (and actually rational) reaction to GWB's foreign relations approach. Dubya's administration's lack of diplomacy skills caused that mess.
And yes, decades of lack of US plans in a place where it still has a lot of soldiers led to this situation and led to China (and a bit Russia) having the higher hand just because they kept their diplomatic channels open instead of speaking loudly and doing nothing. USA has bases in Japan and South Korea, of course China wants to keep a buffer.
Imagine if China had huge naval bases in Mexico, Cuba and Canada. You would be happy to give it an enemy to focus on rather than on yourself. De-escalation could have happened in the 2000s but I fear we now are past that point.
Now after 8 years of GWB and God knows how many more of Trump Japan is slowly coming to the idea that going full militaristic is not a bad idea and that they can't rely on US for managing the area. And they are right: China is becoming the dominant power in Asia and USA apparently decided to let it do.
> China also has multiple ongoing, top-down, programmed genocides happening in several territories, including cultural and institutional colonization of Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Calling that genocide is really disingenuous. This is just cultural influence by a behemoth. Calling it a genocide is as ridiculous as calling the US influence over EU culture a genocide.
If you want something closer to human rights violations by China, better look into what is happening in Tibet. You'll get things that look a lot dire, a bit like what US' allies are doing in Yemen or in Palestine (where, btw, there does not seem to be a plan other than a progressive ethnic cleansing).
Both are evil and supporting evil actors. None is interested in deescalation and solving the human rights violations in the world. Fuck both of these countries. And if I ever have to choose between the racist and imperialist ideology that the American spirit has become and the cold-hearted efficiency seeking technocracy of China, I'll just toss a coin. I would feel like Finland during WWII, stuck between the 3rd Reich and USSR. Both are bad, both are evil. The world would be better off without them.
Then Europeans are just as native as their reputation. Every country acts in their own self interest. For some, democracy and free markets are in their interest. For some, no.
Global leadership would be all but mirage if the reign were shattered. The ruling party knew this well.
Hitting VPNs, however, is challenging a status-quo: before that they were tolerating that tech-savvy users could access internet outside China. It could be believed that they would let the people with enough of a legitimate reasonto pay for it access the outside.
I have the impression that there are more channels for official complaints than we often believe as westerners. I think that they will receive criticism from the whole IT sector. They want to develop international collaborations, this is directly at odds with the censorship of all chat platforms that are not controlled by the CCP.
On a separate note, Whatsapp has been copying WeChat's features rather than the other way around for years. So perhaps China thinks they can innovate enough on their own to match or outpace the outside world. While I don't think that's impossible, I don't think they've taken into account how much the cultural revolution wiped out a lot of culture and collective wisdom built up over the centuries, and that will put them at much more of a disadvantage than they realize.
I use both WeChat and WhatsApp extensively
Unless you mean Facebook and PayPal are nothing, you are wrong.
China's access to leading technologies and technologists is absolutely unparalleled. The amount of Chinese students that are publishing some of the leading CS and ML research from the best universities and corporations worldwide is staggering when compared to all other nations.
China isn't 'Closing up' they are pushing people to use the services that they control and have insight into. Consider that Tencent, Baidu etc... all have major offices in SV, Seattle, LA etc. Remember the story from yesterday about the Chinese ADTech company giving $3M salaries? That's just growing.
Unless the US, Canada, France, Israel etc... closes the visa program for Chinese workers Chinese companies will continue to be relevant and innovative - and they will likely grow faster with more tailored services because, China has the biggest capabilities to mine user data - more than any other nation by far.
That's the thing. These are mostly overseas Chinese working for US/European companies who have no desire to return to China. Talk to any of them, and they're always concerned about the status of their visa and are ecstatic when they become a citizen of a democracy.
> China isn't 'Closing up' they are pushing people to use the services
Tencent and Baidu are used by tiny tiny tiny portions of westerners
> Unless the US, Canada, France, Israel etc... closes the visa program
There's no need, these Chinese students are staying and not returning to China.
By the way, since you think China is doing such a good job of education: remember that Rural households have a per capita income of only 9,892 yuan – about $4 dollars a day. and there's 680 million of these rural households still.
"Surveys by Rozelle's team have found that more than half of eighth graders in poor rural areas in China have IQs below 90, leaving them struggling to keep up with the fast-paced official curriculum"
That doesn't matter - they are focused on China and Asia. To think that they can't innovate inside the borders and with a significant number of people inside other companies and abroad is just putting blinders on.
since you think China is doing such a good job of education
Whoa, never said that. Mainland domestic policies for 1.7B (non official number) people are mediocre at best.
My understanding was that increasingly, overseas students are returning to China? (known as "hai gui", sea turtles)
See e.g. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2016-03/18/content_239314...
Quoting China Daily is irrelevant because it's a propaganda mouthpiece of the CCP.
Yes most of them are in the West. Most of them also end up staying in the West too.
> Unless the US, Canada, France, Israel etc... closes the visa program for Chinese workers Chinese companies... Consider that Tencent, Baidu etc... all have major offices in SV, Seattle, LA etc.
Having a physical satellite office where only a few select people have access to free flowing data is a lot more expensive and inefficient compared to being able to just freely communicate online. It's a bottleneck.
Not true anymore - maybe a decade ago but it's not the case today.
Even for the ones that do stay, in my experience with the Machine Learning world they are going to work at Chinese owned or financed companies like the ones I mentioned.
Still I feel it's still more inefficient and expensive compared to just having a free flow of information and data.
(The chilling effects from software patents alone seem to be very large)
I wonder how the effects compare.
There are more people in China than in the United States, Europe, and Russia combined. China already manufactures your clothes, chips, computers, phones, and missile chips. I don't think it's correct, given the world's dependence on China, to say China is somehow behind the times (wrt computer innovation).
Who has launched satellites into orbit to test quantum communications? Uber?
Don't get caught up in association fallacies about who is able to innovate. A quarter of the world lives in China.
And as you mentioned, tightening of control by different governments around the world seems to indicate that we have found a common trend and its not the liberal one...
I was going to ask who are China's Hannah Arendt et al., but I think that answers it then. So, no meaningful innovation as far as I'm concerned. Just widgets and refining processes and extracting resources and moving money. In the conversation of minds about ideas and ways to live, that's like one hour in one afternoon. It's like a hamster wheel some are forever trapped in. Another revolution of the wheel isn't progress or innovation. Kind of like taking heroin isn't like seeing your child cure cancer.. it's a shit substitute that attaches to receptors that can be used much more meaningful. It's kind of tragic that the best one can say about China is that it repeats the mistakes of the West, without even something like popular rock music, not to mention the Blues. Innovation? Who is the Chinese Jimi Hendrix? Bill Hicks? Not that the man eating machinery of the US can take credit for people who emerged in spite of it, and I bet there's a lot great underground stuff in China (there is Chinese punk, for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fseb62y_Vmc ). But on the shiny toothpaste commercial level it's being discussed here? There's nothing, there's a gaping, howling absence of anything worth any of the murder and destruction of the mind entailed by totalitarian control. None of those "achievements" justify even a single peasant clubbed to death. Those who don't know that, in the West or East or on the moon, are still just cavemen in jet planes.
1. It didn't say China lacks innovation.
2. It is not critical of China as a whole. It is critical of the ones making stupid, selfish laws in China out of fear, which imo will hurt growing innovation in China.
3. If there's no shortage of Chinese innovation, why is there so much fear of 'inferior' outside competition?
> The end result is that China's fate as being relegated to being the world's giant copy machine is sealed unless things revert
Why do you think that China has "fear of 'inferior' outside competition"?
It’s pretty evident China fears outside competition when they block competitors from entering their market. They have no confidence in their home grown companies surviving contrary to hard evidence
China has a history of blocking outside influence in order to control the populace, so fear of competition with apps may not be the motivation.
Maybe I should read less English-language media on the subject.
The same thing happens in the U.S on another level. This isn't necessarily a case the choking of the free flow of information and censorship, but I think we've all seen a steady increase in the future being delayed for the now.
Around a month ago, there was an question on HN discussing train automation and why it isn't already done as it seems much easier to automate than other forms of transportation. A first-hand account commented that it was because unions have been fighting to block it to keep their jobs; stalling innovation and future growth.
The mob needs to be controlled for progress to be protected.
So what if the right-wing people in charge had the same ideas as you? Several democracies with cancerous social media networks have been teetering on the brink of left-wing national socialism, the mob needs to be controlled.
What we dislike about fascists and their ilk is not the right-wing or left-wing part, it is how they deal with those they disagree with. Stalin was responsible for more deaths than Hitler, Mao for more than Stalin, neither of them right wing. If you were able to enforce what you suggest, you would be worse than those you oppose.
But you are right about democracies devolving in certain times of stress. How about this statement instead? "The mob needs to be inspired by the self-sacrificial service of good leaders for progress to be made"
They are are the bread basket of the Western tech world's hardware though. Does anyone else have the facilities and expertise to churn out that hardware that the dominant West tech giants rely on?
Couldn't you argue that they are already innovating?
With Huawei, Xiaomi and BBK they don't need the West's hardware designs. And being able to cherry pick successful ideas of the West's tech companies they have the best of both worlds. And with a population of over a billion people it seems like the West's tech giants need them more than the other way around. I am not saying I agree with their polices just that I don't see how they don't find those policies concerning.
It's a horrible idea, don't get me wrong, it is just that it doesn't look like it is going to be the end of them.
Not sure about this, they're pretty prolific at sending their students out to learn from others. They've also invested a lot in their universities recently.
Also maybe innovation is a bit overrated? So far China's been doing well being the "world's giant copy machine", and learning from our mistakes to see what really works.
I'm not ready to rule out the idea that China has become a global power because of, and not in spite if, the way that it controls citizens.
Talking about innovations, there are few areas where China is ahead of the whole world - like AliPay and WeChat payment systems. I am wondering how you gonna explain China's success when its GDP surpass United States one.
Is it that impressive vis a vis Western Tech?
The exception is that the Chinese are pretty good at this stuff, and that 'blocking foreign companies' simply let's local companies dominate.
'SnapChat' and 'What's App' are no innovation. For the most part.
They are mostly just 'chat apps'. That's it.
Ok, Snapchat does a 'really good job' at the 'visual storytelling part'. But China does not need that cutting-edge level of social interaction for a few years until someone copies it well.
They'll do fine.
China is actually big enough - and their techies are talented/aggressive enough - that they can get away with a lot of these shenanigans.
You obviously have a good point though.
Yes - in particular, consider that China has more people than North America and Europe together, so a Chinese "domestic" firm has quite a market.
India has +1 billion too but no one to sell to
People decry Trump for his words on 'starting a trade war' with China.
I am no fan of Trump or Bannon - but on this they are right: we are already in a trade war.
Blocking companies from participating arbitrarily, making it 'very difficult' for others, currency manipulation, capital controls, outright theft of IP.
This, in any other situation is a trade war.
Imagine the EU just says 'no Google in Europe'. That's crazy. It's a trade war.
Because back in the 1980's, the world basically let China do as they please because they were 'rebuilding' (think Japan or Korea after their wars) - we sort of got used to it.
But if China is going to play this game (hey, it's their right), then there should be a response of some kind.
Responding to 'trade intransigence' is not a 'trade war' - it's just tit for tat.
Won't happen though - as big USA corps are so greedy to want a big massive slice of the magic unicorn dangled in front of the by the Chinese gov, they shut up and 'kow-tow' :). It's changing maybe a little bit though, what I'm saying is not new, it's just not spoken that much publicly.
For some interesting insight see Charlie Rose w/Richard McGregor:
Yeah blocking a foreign competitor is going to be terrible for innovative Chinese startups.
Why wouldn't the manufacturer of next best mouse trap like to sell the product in China if whatsapp is banned?
As far as Chinese government is concerned there is no downside to banning whatsapp.
It's not like whatsapp has turned into substitute for Nature for scientific publication.
Many capitalist companies like the controls of communist China. They find it easier to do business in. Does that make China more innovative for new businesses compared to open monitoring in the western world?
Is Apple going to move manufacturing to USA because China banned whatsapp? hell, no.
China gets to make an example out of whatsapp to make smaller players play by their rules, giving auditing powers and speech controls to Chinese government, or get locked out of 15% of world's emerging market population.
Lesson to progressive liberals of western world, appreciate what you got here and work to protect it, instead of insulting western values at every opportunity.
While most Westerners see actions like this as serious violations of individual rights, the Chinese are used to such exercises of control by their leaders. There is a firm historical basis for similar behavior going back thousands of years, and the desire for social harmony and stability which in part enables strict government control through tacit public acceptance is deeply rooted in Chinese culture.
It's important for Westerners to realize that the Chinese never had a Locke, or a Rousseau, or a Hobbes. The foundational political philosophy taken for granted in the West has no parallel in China. Their political philosophy is grounded in a very different hierarchy of values.
Neither did South America but they were inspired by all of them when they formed their modern republics after the various revolutions, after kicking out the Spanish rulers in the 1800s the military generals had a choice to form democracies and they sought inspiration from Europe, just as America did a century earlier...
Almost every European country had a legacy of monarchy, Japan with their Empire, etc. There's a long history of centralized control in every culture. Why is China unique?
The problem is China went the authoritarian route, the party defines the culture, it's not a natural phenomenon of the people. It won't matter if there is a shift towards liberalism when people don't have a choice.
Not to mention Hong Kong and Taiwan aren't far from China's core culture yet they respect liberalism. Chiang-kai Shek could easily have won the war against Mao and it's entirely possible their culture would look a lot more like South Korea or Japan and less "Chinese".
People downplay the complete and total effectiveness of government controlled media and propaganda campaigns. This idea that Chinese culture is just different from the 'west' is exactly what is forced down the Chinese people's throats, it's the party line - not an original concept. The "chinese way" is what they constantly use to justify their repressive actions. While any time anything bad happens in the West they promote those acts widely in the media as examples of the flaws of the western worldview, while thoroughly suppressing their own flaws... so I'm highly suspicious when I hear this excuse.
What are you talking about? South America was colonized by the Portuguese and Spanish, which most definitely come from the western liberal tradition.
It's fine to take a position against "Chinese culture", but it should be an honest one.
The Spanish did not create liberal "western" democracies when they ruled. They were replacing a monarchical, heavily centralized system and the liberators had a choice in how they modelled their country. They certainly considered many different options including heavily centralized systems but the influences of European thinkers as mentioned above played a big role in their decision to build republics and federalized states.
My point is that many cultures (including Japan and South Korea) came from a legacy of centralized control and were still capable of being inspired by foreign thinkers and adopting liberal systems.
This idea that China is unique because they didn't have their own bastion of local liberal thinkers is heavily flawed because that pattern exists elsewhere with different outcomes. Especially considering how close Chiang-kai Shek was to moving China towards a more western economic system. It wasn't the 'Chinese way' that won out, it was a series of politically fortunate events in Mao's favour.
The Chinese culture is a product of a self-protecting centralized system, not (merely) a product of the historical culture.
Mao's success I think reinforced some the idea that the only way for China to stand on its own was to be united and strongly controlled and maintained. The hundreds of years of having different clans pre-Mao (or weak dynasties like Qing) just didn't work.
While I might not completely agree with their arguments, it's worth understanding Chinese criticism and their skepticism of the West. China is literally 4x the size of the US with a very rich and complicated history and thinking, so we can't just assume you can put in Western democracy/thinking just like that. Sure a lot of it may be encouraged by the party, but I think a lot of is much deeper than that.
As for Taiwan, I think it is important to remember that, while Chiang Kai-Shek was seemingly "less Chinese" than Mao, the two had many similarities. Like Mao, Chiang Kai-Shek was a believer in socialism and nationalism, with his own cult of personality. He also was responsible for his own purges early on and was very much a dictator. While he had support from many international countries, he was only slightly more liberal than Mao (which probably had to do with a number of factors, but I think it's important to note that he was educated in Japan at one point). It was not until after his death that Taiwan became democratic, and I think one of the reasons for this was because Taiwan had aligned itself with Western countries when it was driven out of mainland China. Had the ROC won and the PRC lost, I don't think much would be different here. It's possible to say that the fact that the ROC was anti-communism contributed to these changes, but Chiang Kai-Shek was by no means a supporter of democracy. To me it seems like the deciding factor for Taiwan becoming less authoritarian was almost certainly due to their defeat, and that the PRC would very likely follow in those same footsteps had the roles been reversed.
That all is to say that, despite the differences between Hong Kong/Taiwan and mainland China, the PRC is extremely representative of Chinese culture. The modern values of Taiwan and Hong Kong are obviously very different, but had different circumstances played out (Taiwan winning/Hong Kong becoming an independent Chinese state rather than becoming a colony) I do believe that these countries would end up nearly identical to modern China.
I would not want to the one in charge the day after. Obviously (moderated) rule by the people is best but not sure how China and say countries in the mold of Saudi Arabia will handle it.
The question to ask, if you want China to change, is to ask how would the Chinese Communist Party lose its grip on power. That would probably need to happen following an economic crisis. However, looking at how badly the Chavistas are driving Venezuela into the ground these days, and how much they're able to hold onto power, you can see that it's not easy to get rid of a government with a lot of resources. The boiling frog theorem applies here. A sudden shock, sudden famine, sudden economic turmoil is what's most likely to create the conditions of regime change.
So, how does that relate to China? Well, if they still have brains, they will reach a tipping point as the water warms. More closely, so long as they have access to information (I think) they will eventually decide that enough is enough.
So, then the question is do they have enough information? Do they have enough freedom to communicate with each other?
It's hard to say. I've been to China and I think the answer is actually an affirmative. They have plenty of information. They all know about the GFW, the censorship, and how it is different than the West. They don't appear to be under any illusions.
I've spoken, in person, with multiple people in China and they all know those things, as well as being up to date with their current local and national politics. It's hard to describe, but they just seem to accept it. I don't want to say they see it as a good thing, but they all pretty much say that it is for the national harmony.
They know about Tianamen square. They even have a special word for censorship - river crab, though I forget the reason. They know about the death penalties. They know about the corruption of local and national politicians. They seem to be as aware of their politics as much as we are aware of our own, maybe even more so.
It's a different mentality, I guess? They accept it and think it helps promote social harmony. It wasn't easy, and still isn't, for me to get my head around.
As for why people accept the situation, one can probably start with "Nash equilibrium" (I chose not to use the term "prisoners' dilemma" as that could project uneeded connotation in this context).
It was very different to go there in person. I expected an undercurrent of political unrest and dismay with the things like censorship. It really didn't seem like I met anyone willing to vocalize serious displeasure.
I've read that something close to 1/3rd of the Chinese population is a member of the party or whose livelihood directly depends on it in some fashion where they are essentially a member.
So this is a very good question.
Isn't that just a different framing of the same basic setup in the U.S. where say 1/3 of the population is in the mid/upper class and debate about and set policy and direction for the country? We call our factions "parties" but other than naming things at different levels I'm not really sure I see much of a difference.
I was a bit taken aback, because these students didn't seem like 'communists', whatever that connoted in my mind at the time. They were about 6 of them, mix of men and women. They showed me what they were studying, some Marxist political philosophy, and told me that they wanted to join in order to improve their career opportunities.
Now, if that isn't the most hilarious irony in history I'm not sure what is. Studying Marxist political philosophy to join the Communist Party to unlock lucrative career opportunities. Priceless.
Not necessarily. I understand that it also takes personal connections and/or a little bribery to get in.
> and then there's deal making and voting within the party. I wouldn't be surprised if there's different "factions" within the party, each fighting for control, or each who have a different vision for the future.
My understanding is that this is absolutely true at the higher levels of the party, but not so much at the regular levels. Party membership itself doesn't confer much privilege or power.
Peeps, how about a little bibliography if you're going to downvote? A downvote isn't supposed to mean "I wish that weren't true, so it can't be."
Too close to call on corruption
Theocracy, read about the BJP, and restriction of freedom of the press around religion.
This might be a start:
Censoring Indian History
By Audrey Truschke
Posted 27th July 2017, 11:50
Laws against religious offence in India have altered the writing and understanding of the nation’s past.
In the end, I made numerous wording changes to both books and, most dramatically, in Aurangzeb I cut several sentences that outlined Shivaji’s caste background and relations with Brahmins, the priestly caste, topics which are especially sensitive to those who subscribe to the modern mythology of Shivaji. In addition, the publisher declined to publish a map in the Indian edition of Aurangzeb showing the extent of the Mughal Empire, noting that a prison term can now await those who publish maps of India without first gaining government approval. Religious (and nationalist) sentiments are increasingly trumping historical truth in modern India.
Audrey Truschke is the author of Aurangzeb: The Life and Legacy of India’s Most Controversial King (Stanford University Press, 2017) and Culture of Encounters: Sanskrit at the Mughal Court (Columbia University Press, 2016).
The Chinese elite already know what's the consequence CCP is gone. Most normal Chinese as well as all Westerners don't know.
People hiding behind each other and in hierarchies is no less dysfunctional than people plastering over the holes in their souls with material goods and what have you, and harmony is a complete stranger to both, at least as I understand it. When I speak with a human being who wears a saddle of some kind, has some kind of dirt on their lens, peace enters my mind after the conversation, after the fake, uptight, unhappy circus leaves town and me with my mind and the world around me as it is, not as overly fearful people inside it want me to describe it.
> China Takes Aim at Western Ideas
> Communist Party cadres have filled meeting halls around China to hear a somber, secretive warning issued by senior leaders. Power could escape their grip, they have been told, unless the party eradicates seven subversive currents coursing through Chinese society.
> These seven perils were enumerated in a memo, referred to as Document No. 9, that bears the unmistakable imprimatur of Xi Jinping, China’s new top leader. The first was “Western constitutional democracy”; others included promoting “universal values” of human rights, Western-inspired notions of media independence and civic participation, ardently pro-market “neo-liberalism,” and “nihilist” criticisms of the party’s traumatic past.
Whose propaganda is the higher acceptance of authority of Americans compared to many European countries?
PDI (Power distance index):
68 HONG KONG
40 UNITED STATES
Never mind they're different indicators: Power Distance Index | Individualism | Masculinity | Uncertainty Avoidance Index | Long-Term Orientation
Taoism is anti-authoritarian in the extreme. Buddhism is significantly more neutral on the subject but is definitely aligned closely with personal liberation and at minimum it does not make special exceptions for authorities. There are many famous incidents involving Bodhidharma trying to disillusion authority figures about their own authority.
So I disagree with you that there are no Chinese philosophical traditions that are anti-authoritarian or that promote individual liberty. There are, but they are losing right now.
Would you count Mozi/Mohism among them?
And what about after the Han synthesis? Confucianism and legalism seem to have tempered the anti-authoritarian Taoist ideas.
Tradition Tibetan society, for example, seems very hierarchical to me.
I was quite young around the time of Tienanmen Square, but I seem to recall a Statue of Liberty and a lot of talk about democracy, before the protests were crushed. I wonder how Locke, or a Rousseau, or a Hobbes would have fared in the face of the equivalent state suppression.
The thoughts of Locke, Rousseau, Hobbes are taught nearly in every university and there is no culture of conformity. People seem to simply not care, or are afraid to speak their minds.
When was the last time the Chinese elected their leaders? the fact that they are "used" to this doesn't mean they approve. If there is a consensus, then let the Chinese people sanctify it with a democratic vote.
How about Lao-Tzu? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laozi
What are you talking about? The west has completely accepted surveillance by it's governments. The ideas by Locke, Rousseau, or Hobbes have 0 effect on western society. If you think western society is an 'freer', it's only because it's the perfect illusion created by your echo chamber.
It has nothing to do with an echo chamber. The laws are objectively very different.
Comparing surveillance by the NSA to information accessibility in general is disingenuous at best.
Or even close, really.
Any country that requires and authorizes gun ownership is broken to start with. That you think this is somehow superior and better is.. I don't know what to say.
> Comparing surveillance by the NSA to access to information in general is disingenuous at best.
What's the difference?
In short: If you do not have the right to defend a thing, you do not truly own it. If I give you an apple, but say “you’re not allowed to stop me if I try to take it back”, then you do not truly own the apple. Even if I continue to let you have the apple, ultimately I remain the sole owner of the apple (despite any illusions of the contrary) because I have the exclusive power over it. This applies to the self as well; if you do not have the right to effectively defend yourself, you are effectively owned by your government.
If only your government has the authority to physical force towards defense of your property and yourself, then it is your government that truly owns you and ‘your’ property. All notions of ownership you may have are illusory, in the absence of such rights to defense.
Now in China, at least there is no illusion of freedom. Everyone knows they are owned by the government.
>What's the difference?
One is access, one is privacy. Very different things. Why conflate them.
In short, history explains, it doesn't justify. And this can be explained even better by a closed oligarchy wanting to stay in power.
Edited to add: Modern Western countries have had experiences with autocracy as well. Do you think there's some deep cultural reason Germany went Nazi which sets it apart from France or the UK? How about Spain and Portugal?
Thank you for showing me a new word: essentialism. It sounds philosophical, which is a kind start... to then calling the bs.
Really? We do. Everyone here seemed okay with censorship on twitter, facebook, etc.
> It is an explanation of why the Chinese public may be more willing to accept strict government controls than the West.
Where in the "west" are you? We have censorship and controls in the US. And last I checked, europe is even worse with their controls.
> It's important for Westerners to realize that the Chinese never had a Locke, or a Rousseau, or a Hobbes.
Britain did and britain is at the forefront of censorship, control and monitoring of its population.
> The foundational political philosophy taken for granted in the West has no parallel in China.
It's empty words we used to pretend we are "superior".
Asia is about a lot more than social harmony and the mandate of heaven. There is an incredible diversity of opinion on almost any subject there, just as in the West.
 Citation needed.
In the context of today, it's important to remember who the teachers and adults in China are: people who grew up under the Communist government. And with more respect towards the older generation, historically China has had a hard time rebelling against social norms ingrained in their culture. Trying to do away with Confucianism isn't a question of how many people are involved when the elders were all indoctrinated in those ideas by a Communist regime. Even if half the young population of China had independently stumbled upon papers describing these Western cultural values, spreading the idea is impossible when it goes against the CPC's core values, defies the ideas of the older generation, and is completely foreign from what was taught in school.
The fundamental difference between the West and China here is that China has always been under a strong, conservative leadership that these ideas have not been able to permeate. To think that China could simply pick up ideas from Western philosophy misses the point.
Younger red guards denouncing their elders, the attempt to get rid of the four 'olds' doesn't seem like a particularly conservative or Confucian agenda to me.
If it were impossible for this kind of thought to take root in China, I doubt that this movement could have gotten off the ground.
The right time to judge whether the Chinese people really value social harmony more than the west does is when economic growth stalls or even reverses for a decade or so.
Interestingly this also partly explains why totalitarian Communism spread easily in China... Chinese culture was conducive to that philosophy.
Over the last several decades, these rulers have done a lot to open China to the world and lift the totalitarian restrictions of Maoism.
This process has been the greatest poverty reduction program of all time, and thus it would be easy to mistake it for altruism, or at least a belief in governing in the common interest.
This theory, however, fails to explain much of the Chinese leadership's behavior, and I submit that self-interest is a superior theory.
The wealthier and stronger China becomes, the wealthier and stronger its rulers become. Thus it is generally in the rulers' interest to make China wealthier and stronger.
But if something would make China wealthier and stronger, but could loosen the ruling clique's grip on that wealth and strength, then it is against the rulers' interest and they will act to prevent it.
This is why China often acts as though it values technological leadership, but continually takes measures such as these, which undermine that leadership.
The result, as several in this thread have pointed out, is that China will not soon be the world's leader in cutting-edge technology.
But China will still be rich. And China will still be strong. And China's rulers will still be in power.
I suspect it isn't ultimately driven from a political power calculation, but on what areas of open growth are available. Cutting off WhatsApp keeps open growth available in that area internal to the nation. But as areas close off and get filled, economies have to start making harder choices about where to put effort. It's easy to commit to long-term society wide efforts when it's easy to forsee improvements _and_ personal profits. But as choices get harder to forecast and make good on, will China start looking shorter term and with a more narrowly focused self service scope as many western economic leaders have done.
I wonder. When the inevitable downturn comes the population won't have the option of voting out the current government. They may well turn to other means.
Generally when the new generation becomes old enough , it would have never seen why people are afraid of the rulers so much, then it becomes a situation of a showdown.
Though it doesn't always have to end with a bloody outcome, for instance Spain went from dictatorship to democracy quite peacefully after it's dictator died in 1975.
"The Chinese government is blocking South Korean companies from leaving China while prohibiting assets from being taken out of China without any standards. In addition, Lotte and other large South Korean corporations are also having difficulty in their withdrawal process as the Chinese government demands huge compensation from South Korean companies restructuring their human resources management structures...
South Korean manufacturers have been not allowed to bring production facilities back to South Korea. The Chinese government has banned South Korean manufacturers from transporting simple production machines to South Korea from China while designating them as "equipment that adversely affects the Chinese economy."
I went to China around 2012:
* Facebook was already blocked
* Google and wikipedia magically stopped working when you searched for "tiananmen"
* Gmail worked fine
I returned in early 2017, oh god what a change:
* Don't even think about Facebook
* Ironically Facebook messenger worked until my session expired
* No gmail, google at all (don't remember about Wikipedia)
* Whatsapp worked fine
And now it is even getting worse....
Also, a random tweet I saw today apparently with a recording of China's CCTV surveillance system:
No wonder China wants to be #1 in "artificial intelligence". Surveillance and censorship are likely the primary motivators for that.
I wonder if the US has similar tech that is ready to be deployed at will.
As for sync, the Chinese companies selling there have their own cloud services and whatnot. This isn't an issue at all.
I mean even countries in the EU are taking Facebook to court over unauthorised online tracking of citizens . The only difference with China is they have the power to do something about it, which is skip the legislative overhead and get straight to the business of blocking access.
I disagree with censorship of this kind; However, I wonder how the US would like it if the shoe was on the other foot?
Here's a list of websites blocked in China: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Websites_blocked_in_mainland_C...
They block Wikipedia. Hardly a mass-surveillance system. The Chinese government is neanderthal.
Given what we now know about how these companies operate track and consolidate information about users and collaborate with the US Government  why would a rival super power trust these companies to operate within their borders?
Hmm I find this hard to believe because the massacre is known as the June Fourth Incident. "tiananmen" is the location, and blocking that would seem a bit strange for people trying to find directions, etc.
Tiananmen Square is what the massacre is referred to as in the United States
Now if you search for Taylor Swift's most recent album, TS 1989, well, that's kind of blocked also. Not sure why :)
My hosting was working perfectly and not blocked at all since I could SSH there. Then I realized that I had some jquery loading from a Google CDN and of course the cdn was banned there. And of course CSS fonts from google and youtube videos didnt work either...
I learned 2 lessons.
1) dont rely on CDNs if you want to have global access. Host everything your self and check that your hosting or any of the mirrors can be accessed everywhere.
2) How long Google tentacles are (and we always keep forgetting)...
So don't rely on CDNs for their primary purpose?
- Google being blocked in China is out of their control regardless of their "tentacles". It's well know, try another CDN.
- As already mentioned, don't use a CDN for the purpose CDNs exist. Thats really baffling to me.
Sorry, this post wasn't so productive but I'm really confused by OP.
There are users in other countries, users in corporate intranets, users on Amazon Kindle devices, users on open source Android ROMs.
None of these will have access to the required Google services.
But we can’t make apps without them anymore.
What's mildly disturbing is that many Chinese Americans, both American citizens and not, living in the US use WeChat. They use it because of their cultural and social ties with China. Chinese tourists as well have had increasingly better integration inside the US as well, which would only serve to spread the usage of WeChat to anyone who interacts with Chinese tourists. Tencent is slowly but surely gaining a foothold inside the United States as they roll out more features abroad that made it popular in China.
Are they suspect to these controls as well, despite not being within China? More importantly, whats the legal status of a Chinese corporation with the capability of invading its users privacy under Chinese law, if some users are neither not in China or not Chinese citizens?
Atleast, in china, there is none of this advertising BS.
In my mind, the novel problem here is that the Chinese government can use such information in order to socially police people that nominally aren't under their control. Google in Europe or America has no desire other than to collect info for commercial purposes, and there is no inherent desire to turn over private information to any government.
WeChat in America constitutes a potential extension of Chinese governmental control onto American citizens. This can be something as innocuous and reasonable as the denial of visas due to certain communications, or something worse. American citizens may get their Chinese friends and relatives in trouble for something they say. A few cases of these, and suddenly half the American WeChat user base knows they have to watch what they say unless they don't care about people they know. Moving out of the platform is not an option due to network effects.
China has long maintained that foreign tech services offer an opportunity for foreign countries to subvert their information controls, and has banned thousands of domains and companies under the guise of protection from foreign influence, commercial or gubernatorial. What's to say that China won't turn around and do the same thing to other countries?
To your point about no advertising BS in China, well you'd be right if it were 20 years ago. Unfortunately, advertising has become a booming industry in China. Take a walk in most significant Chinese cities, and you'll find the constant bombardment of information to be more garish than any American counterpart. The Chinese Internet is no different.
Or simply border control agents asking for social media credentials, partly based on knowing you have an account?
I'm not saying I would enjoy being spied on by the Chinese government in particular... But it's not as if the "Western Internet" is free.
Finally, I think it is rather naive to think that the controlling interests behind global corporations are somehow so much more benevolent and disinterested in maintaining power, than governments are.
The cellphone meta data issue is complicated by the fact that the telecommunications infrastructure of the US is not private and only recently regulated. New industries with antiquated interpretations of law are bound to be abused by those anxious to expand their power, but I trust that the American civic process will overturn such abuses of power within a reasonable time frame. Rome was not built within a day.
Border controls are also a separate issue - it is our current understanding that the federal government has both the power and mandate to exercise significant controls at the border, and several rights outlined within the Constitution are not exercisable at border crossings. Furthermore, American citizens can never be denied entry, only delayed, so citizens can always deny information requests. Stupid usages of our interpretation of the Constitution, such as asking for access to social media accounts or electronic devices, are technically legal. But social media information have no expectation of privacy, and again access to accounts and devices can always be denied. Recent efforts by advocacy groups are also seeking to overturn this overreach of power by some foolish officials within the CBP. Another case of the law not catching up with technology.
To the point of global corporations, I'm not saying that they are benevolent or disinterested in maintaining power. Nor am I suggesting that American companies do not turn over information to the government, or misuse the information they collect. But they are private bodies. Just as citizens can perform crimes and ethically bankrupt actions, so can companies. But they don't adhere to an overarching ideology, nor do they claim to represent the will of a people. Google mucking around in America and Europe alike may be tolerated, or punished. Tencent and WeChat is different because of their entanglement with the Chinese government, and should be treated differently.
Overall, if America begins to halt Chinese influence on American citizens, and China continues to do so for its own citizens, there is at least some degree of "protection" of individual rights. This would be the foundation for protection of individual rights between any government and any individual.
So fb messenger has no expectation of privacy, but wechat does?
WeChat working in the US is like UnionPay working in the US. Ya, its great if you are a Chinese tourist or an expat with a Chinese bank account, but it is irrelevant if you aren't, UnionPay isn't going to start taking over the American ATM card market.
Before someone asks, the approximate equivalent of WeChat in Taiwan is Line. Don't know what it is in HK.
A lot of western people are now probably frantic to get the WeChat addresses of the Chinese people they only had on WhatsApp, so they can ensure their production line or development people are on track.
We need them more than they need us. That is the problem.
> We need them more than they need us. That is the problem.
Disagree. They still want our business, they will find ways to make it through the disruption. China is not ready to close itself from the rest of the world economically.
Actually the problem is that the west has no higher moral ground than the east. Not a single US person here uses a chinese app or plans to use one. There is a reason for this.
US people don't use Chinese apps because they are not competitive and solve problems that are China-specific. Heck, its just not US people, but Taiwan people, Hong Kong people, Singapore people, Japanese people, Korean people, Myanmar people, Cambodia people, etc...
There is a reason for this.
1) Married Priscilla Chan
2) Learned Mandarin
3) Joined Tsinghua University
4) Befriended Xijinping
5) Offered to let Xijinping name firstborn
Personally I have trouble believing 1 and 5 were to get Facebook products into China unabridged. 5 sounds like a joke at a dinner party.
This guy's baby is just another tool huh?
Which still seems gross, but perhaps less so, given the baby would likely have a more common American name.
I can understand this on a personal level. Yeah, I'd understand, If, say, Obama was my friend, I'd want to "ask" the ideas of his for my child's English name, when he comes to my family dinner, sure...
But asking the Chairman of China publicly in a dinner just shows he does care a lot about who has power. Not a friend, not a great thinker, but a fucking president he has a chance to have dinner with the first time. And publicly with many other people. If I'm being cynical, then at least doing it his way was really quite distasteful.
Even then, I think this is just Zuck being Zuck, he is a bit socially awkward and was probably unfiltered genuine here for no business reason.
People phrasing it in a scandalous-sounding 'omg he asked him to name his firstborn' way are reading into it too much.
Sadly, it's true:
>At a White House dinner in 2015, Mr. Zuckerberg had even asked the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, whether Mr. Xi might offer a Chinese name for his soon-to-be-born first child — usually a privilege reserved for older relatives, or sometimes a fortune teller. Mr. Xi declined, according to a person briefed on the matter.
i say that because i think very very few people in the US would, given the chance, ask the leader of a foreign ancestral nation to name their firstborn child. a grandparent or a close personal friend, yes, plausibly -- but a political leader you don't even know?
but, maybe there's some sort of qualifying condition here. maybe what they meant was the child's "Chinese name" which would be distinct from the child's name for day to day and legal use?
this guy is nowadays' Don Quixote, one person against a powerful government and really made a crack there, this battle has been on for 8 months and it gets more and more interesting as he is challenging the most powerful group of men in China with corruption evidence gathered over the years,each case is weighted more than 100 billion dollars wealth.
to give you two incidents over the last 8 months: 1. VOA(voice of america) live interview with him was stopped in the middle as the leaked info is too strong. 2. youtube was DDOS-ed-to-death for a while when he started live streaming two months ago, which is said never happened before.
Does anyone know of a simple workaround that would allow someone inside of mainland China to regain access to what's been blocked recently?
we live in an age where we should ask: what did Microsoft have to give China's leadership to make Skype so much more attractive to Chinese users?
what influence/control within the US can Microsoft offer up to other governments if the price is right?
Anyways, the US probably doesn't care that much as we probably make more on trade with China (even American retail marks up China-sourced cheap items), that we don't find it worth rocking the boat over this. Also, by keeping out international services, Chinese services never face competition to become worldwide competitive, meaning they are basically leaving the rest of the world to established mainly-USA players.
Question is why wouldn't the US block Chinese sites, apps and services like WeChat, Alibaba, Baidu, etc?
If US blocked those sites, nobody would care, except those with ties to China. However, it would be easy to circumvent with VPNs etc., unless of course the US duplicated the GFW.
At any rate, that's rather antithetical to US values.
They cannot even do a simple search with Google. It's frustrating for me, I can only imaging how is for them. I'm even worried to raise the issue to not jeopardize their jobs.
Not having to build your own Facebook (and WhatsApp, etc.) means that you can build something else that can (eventually) compete internationally.
China isn't being irrational here, but there is a tradeoff between growth and security.
So banning the big tech companies is kind of protection against this, as US influence can be really toxic for local businesses. Even the EU starts to fight back against them.
There is no right answer to that. I'd prefer to go to a place that has no camera, and go to a party/event that no one is fucking around with their phone cameras, but I guess I'm just old.
i do know that some UK police departments have officers watching some public spaces in real time. they can sometimes recognize and intercept known offenders before a crime occurs.
They don't trust Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg or any of the US government. Letting their citizens chat on an encrypted channel made by a foreign "superpower" seems disingenuous.
It's not as if Americans are going to boycott Chinese goods, so I don't see any direct loss for China here.
That Chinese people cannot choose what they use and how they can live their lives online what is private and what isn't is the biggest issue with the WhatsApp move along with other services.
It would be sad to be Chinese living in China as the government takes choices away from me and my people.
It wouldn't have to use images, it could use any data in the system or even spread it amount mutilple apps within WeChat.
By the way, a couple suggestions if you haven't used WeChat:
1) There is a really nice, canonical one pager out there for explaining WeChat to Americans, I highly recommended it.
2) Its important to note that WeChat despite its name, is miles away from being a simple chat app. It's an entire platform, almost OS like, complete with its own apps within an app. Their platform is incredibly rich, to the point that any significant business has some services available or at least a presence.
Before going to China on business I hadn't heard much about it, and only knew it existed because of some Chinese friends. However if you are planning a trip to China, go ahead an install it now because it's ubiquitous.
There is an English version and last time I checked it was reasonably up to date, although seemed to be missing a few features.
I remember back in the days, when you wrote "fuck" in Skype from China and it would get censored. Which one is a trusted messenger these days?
They don't need any 'specialized software'. You can just block the list of hostnames and IP address, found here: https://github.com/ukanth/afwall/wiki/HOWTO-blocking-WhatsAp...
They shouldn't be allowed to take over companies too.
Still, china could be a bit more fair and symmetrical in our trading relationship.
And others end in 'partnerships'
It seems all google products were blocked including gmail and google voice which are my primary means of communication.
Are there many Android users in China?
The United States has such a huge trade deficit with China, you would think the government would fight for whatever little "export" they can get, whether it be a technological export or otherwise.
So chinese will miss those OTHER OPPORTUNITIES to innovate (even if still innovates, it could be "even better"), or other opportunities to "copy cat" other services. The question is: who should decide whats done and whats not done? The consumer or the government?
Read Bastiat. It's easy and obvious to point at something that's being built by government or (indirectly) by the government intervention. The hard part, that needs some economics stretching, is to wonder about the invisible, non-existing projects that actually are never felt missed.
Regular Chinese citizens get jailed for 50+ years all the time for doing things online. If you are foreign, they can revoke your visa.
The government knows that the expats aren't their customer for censorship, they just want to make it inconvenient enough for their citizens to get to the new york times or the scmp.
Have people actually gotten visa's revoked, that would be a crazy escalation by the MPS.
When (not if) it goes off, it'll not only be a huge shock to the world economy, it'll most likely also result in huge unrest inside China. The only political tool the communist party has known is to suppress dissent. I expect things to get worse in the next few years... not better.
We now know not only did that not stop China, it's not clear that the ceiling of economic success of their system has been determined.
Why would China block things? Various excellent reasons are discussed in this thread, and they all boil down to political and commercial.
Are the Chinese people harmed? I would argue not. None of these "services" do anything really important nor irreplaceable. Most are just new spins on ancient tech like email and FTP, and the new versions that are blocked don't really have any differentiating features compared to what is available locally. The feature that is new is Digital Identity.
And so my final thought is that they are playing a long game with respect to digital identity - which is the long game of most of these blocked services. In Cyberspace, am I going to be Chinese or American? I aM not Chinese, but I expect that most Chinese will want to also be Chinese in Cyberspace, and so the Chinese government is fulfilling that desire.
The Chinese government isn't taking something away (privacy, freedom) because it was never granted. Therefore I say "no harm". If the people want these rights, they will have to reform their government.
You specify which of your We-Chat friends shall get your facebook updates and the bridge middleware takes care.
Instagram, etc. wouldn't refresh.
What if people used a decentralized service, that worked over https?
$ host facebook.com 22.214.171.124
facebook.com A 126.96.36.199
$ host facebook.com 188.8.131.52
facebook.com A 243.185.187.39
$ host facebook.com 184.108.40.206
facebook.com A 243.185.187.39
$ host facebook.com 220.127.116.11
facebook.com A 18.104.22.168
$ host facebook.com 22.214.171.124
facebook.com A 126.96.36.199
Which DOS'd one of my server when the random IP they picked was mine. Grr.
Had to add a special rule to deal with it.
that sounds great until you realize that most people don't run tls servers on their computers/phones. so running one would immediately raise suspicion. not to mention that if they can block tor/vpn, they can block whatever tls chat service you have as well.
Furthermore, with https authentication, non members wouldn't even know that a chat is going on.
Of course, if you want to "go tech" you can go underground, but being illegal has disadvantages in a state like china
What kind of traffic correlations would then be taking place? That someone is making requests with one of these servers? It's always hard to arrest a meaningful number of users once the network itself is resilient, uses a common protocol that resists deep inspection, and has no major points of failure.
In the race to control what people say, think and see, between the governments and the mega corporations, it's the people who are losing.
China blocks whatsapp... meh.
Censorship is a weak attempt at mind control, which is a bit worse than chattel slavery on the list of heinous things that humans do to one another.
Not only that, but in order to implement it effectively, you must be omnipresent, with a finger in every ear and a hand over every mouth. The concentration of power necessary to do that is an open invitation to corruption.
If I had significant influence over US trade agreements, the degree to which ordinary citizens had open and unfettered access to information would factor into every last one of them.
Watching them try to ban bitcoin (another US invention) is more interesting.
Sorry mate, your submission didn't catch the fire of the kindling; no need to repost it here.
Variants of "citation needed", particularly those that appear aggressive and easily searchable can potentially attract downvotes, regardless of the actual intent on the part of the poster, one of the downsides of internet forums where the only channel of communication is the text itself, stripped of intonation and body language.
Also, typically, asking for an "easily searchable" citation results in a snarky LMGTFY link, rather than moderation normally associated with posting goatse links on Slashdot. It's interesting that this particular question seems to have hit a lot of peoples' nerves on here.
What's the end game here? In the early 2000s it seemed like China was going to become this liberal democracy, but it just seems like the government is getting more and more power and control. Is there any sign this (and the rise of several authoritarians) is gonna stop?
This made me think of Fukuyama (1989):
What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.
That looks really funny in hindsight. He's actually changed his position:
They're about 10-15 years into a widening low level prosperity. As recently as just ten years ago, their GDP per capita was still a mere $2,000 and they had ~750 million people living on less than $5 per day. It's a bit early to call it on how wider prosperity will impact their government system. The median income in China is still about 1/20th that of the US and 1/15th that of Germany or the UK. They haven't reached wide-spread prosperity in any regard yet (and by prosperity, I mean they're nowhere near even the second-tier prosperity level of a Czech or Portugal).
There has never been a large nation example of that in world history. China has yet to get there in any broad sense. Further, there are exceptionally few examples of it, regardless of nation size. A solid 80% to 90% of the prosperous, well developed nations use representative government systems, and not a single large nation that is prosperous at the median doesn't. Most of the exceptions are smaller, resource nations like Qatar (even Saudi Arabia hasn't achieved high-level prosperity at the median, their median income is nearly 1/3 that of the US).
Here's the list of nations that are prosperous at the median -
Democratic: US, Canada, France, Germany, Britain, Ireland, Japan, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Netherlands, Austria, Spain, Israel, South Korea
Not Democratic: Singapore, Qatar, Kuwait, Brunei, UAE
Questionable inclusions: Czech, Portugal, Taiwan, Slovenia, Greece, Estonia, Slovakia; vs Saudi Arabia on the other side
I don't see how this could be any more blatant.
This is relevant because one of the perennial questions of history has been "Why didn't high tech civilization arise centuries or millenia earlier?", and governance issues like this are at least one of the defensible answers. Though not the only one by any means.
These acts are desperate measures to control people because they know how bad things are going to get.
They need to be able to control the channels of communication to stamp out dissent.
How could they possibly monitor millions of messages sent per hour? Even if they have some ML / Bot, what are the odds that they'll miss some protest, or plot??
Do they need 100% accuracy for it to be effective? Nothing of this sort is, and that's accepted as part of using it. Of course people work to minimize false positives and false negatives, but it's understood that they can't be reduced to 0.