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WeChat is Watching: Living in China with the app that knows everything about me (nautil.us)
402 points by ForHackernews 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 292 comments



I would highly recommend following @0xDUDE on twitter, he always posts surveillance leaks in China. He found out that WeChat conversations are sent to the local police depending where the user is, and there are employee farms manually reading the conversations... The same way factory workers in China are paid 2 dollars a day, employee farms for conversation/data reading are doing the same...

1. Link for @0xDUDE is: https://twitter.com/0xdude?lang=en 2. Link for a great thread regarding China spying: https://twitter.com/docligot/status/1111293482629398528?lang...


A few things worth being aware of Alibaba does not own WeChat but rather's it's competition Alipay. It does not have any access to WeChat data.

So far the "social credit" on seems to be mostly based on how much you buy and it only seems to give you discounts to massively overpriced products (similar to a credit card reward system).

You don't really download apps in Wechat but rather add a link more like a Facebook App (JavaScript & HTML).

Chinese people tend to like one app that does everything. Most of the services talked about in the article as separate services that you can open in WeChat but you can also open most of them in AliPay or Taobao or access them directly on their own websites. This is what Facebook tried to do but failed...

What I find fascinating is that a lot of older people that use WeChat in China are illiterate apart from numbers. They do everything by remembering the pictures and other people help them to set up their account. That is part of the reason why they want a single app that does everything. You don't need to read since you can just send messages, look at pictures and iconography.

Also, everyone in China still accepts cash but you generally need correct change.

If you have any questions feel free to ask. I just found out my sesame-credit score is 622 (not that it does anything...)


Sesame credit score is used when you use to book a hotel online, if you score is higher you don't need a deposit. It linked to how much money you can borrow from some services. It is basically a credit score similar to what you get from credit agency.


> It is basically a credit score similar to what you get from credit agency

With the salient difference of judging one’s political views and affiliations. Like if FICO took into account the number of times you praised or criticised the President.


Ummm, no. That’s not true.


Based on a documentary. Yes, it is.

I'm also not suprised. A local TV guy did a travel guide for China, it was beautifull and he had gained access to a more secure facility ( a controversial dam that caused people to lose their house).

No room for open questions ( had to ask it up front on paper, written). But when he asked a follow up question, the guide got really scared. You could just see it happen ( he was not allowed to film anymore after the question)


> Based on a documentary. Yes, it is.

If you want to cite a source, it's usually helpful to actually name it, instead of just asserting that it exists.

The rest of your comment is not relevant to the question of whether or not Sesame Credit takes political views into account.


Does it has anything to do with the Sesame Credit score we are discussing here?


I don't stay in hotels that expensive (I generally have to pay up front) very often and since I'm not Chinese I don't have access to most loans here either.


I used it to borrow a power bank without deposit, or a shared bike. I am not suggesting anything about you, just trying to explain when sesame score can be used.


It's crazy to me that they decided to ALSO use a 950 max score. Like, you couldn't have been SLIGHTLY creative and made it out of 1000, or 100?


I can imagine it would be easier to be compatible with existing systems that businesses are using.


> Also, everyone in China still accepts cash but you generally need correct change.

They do. But fake currency is very common in China. I was advised not to use cash. But since I'm not from China, I wasn't able to setup wechat pay account which is very common .

Most of the restaurants I had been to had currency checker machines.


Of all the time I've lived in China, I probably have only seen counterfeit money once in my life. Do you have any evidence to back up your claim?


The person, we went to meet told us that counterfeit money is very common. I don't have any evidence.


Also most of the restaurants has the machine to identify counterfeit currency note.


Just out of curiosity, how would you know if you had seen counterfeit money?


That's a good point. I should say I've only seen the "low quality" counterfeit money once. The one I saw had similar texture as real money, but the paper was either thinner or thicker than the real one. I can't remember the details since it happened years ago.


There is a metal strip in the real 100 RMB notes that most of the copies don't have.


You can crinkle the paper money in your fingers. Real money makes a unique sound. It is perfectly acceptable to test the money in front of the person you got it from.

I had to use cash instead of WeChat a few times and the vendor also did this as a test.


With MiniApps you do download apps. When I was at Nike last year we rolled out into that ecosphere.


> Also, everyone in China still accepts cash but you generally need correct change.

There's a growing minority of vendors that no longer accept cash (they have signs up saying so), but from what I've seen it's only in areas with youthful populations.


Alibaba doesn’t own Alipay. Alipay’s parent company is the independent Ant Financial. Considered a startup by some still.


> You don't need to read since you can just send messages

How can illiterate people send messages?


There is a button that you hold down and it sends a voice message (up to 60 seconds). They generally just send voice messages back and forth.

There is also a + for extra features like: * Sending a photo * Sending a short video * Calling * Money * Location

You don't need to be able to read to use any of them.


In countries and regions where Chinese is spoken, people heavily use the voice message functionality.


same way toddlers install apps: voice and voice to text input.

also in china older generations migth be literate but not capable of typing in a phone/computer.


I stopped reading after "Alibaba does not own WeChat but rather's it's competition Alipay"...

What are you talking about??

Alipay and Alibaba are under the same AliGroup umbrella, not its competitor. 30% of Alibaba stake is actually owned by Japanese conglomerate holding company SoftBank


I think he meant Alibaba owns Alipay, which is a competitor to WeChat's payment system.


Alibaba doesn’t own Alipay. Alipay is owned by Ant Financial. I think a small minority might be Alibaba owned. But perhaps not even that much.


What AliGroup umbrella? You mean an unofficial one since Alipay is owned by Ant Financial which is independent.

The post says Alibaba owns Alipay. Not WeChat.


I find WeChat and its aggressively centralized model fascinating, and something to keep eyes on, but this article falls into the familiar trap of playing a bit loose with the facts when it comes to how the Chinese government surveils its citizens.

For example, this is from article:

>People are regularly arrested for messages they send in supposedly “private” group chats. In 2017, two people were arrested in Nanjing for separate instances of making satirical comments referring the massacre in the city by the Japanese in 1937.5

But if you read the original source: http://www.sixthtone.com/news/1001901/more-nanjing-massacre-...

>“Nanjing is a pit,” Wang wrote. “We should let the Japanese come slaughter again.” Local police were alerted to the incident after screenshots of Wang’s messages were circulated on social media, and they arrested him two days later.

Clearly, a bit of a different story than what's implied in this article. I can easily see someone being questioned by police in almost any country if screenshots leaked where they joked about repeating a violent historical atrocity, like 9/11 for example.

It's not clear to me why folks tend to advance the notion that Chinese citizens are under constant 1984-style 24/7 surveillance by their government. That's not quite how it works over there, at least, if people who live and work there are to be trusted.


>It's not clear to me why folks tend to advance the notion that Chinese citizens are under constant 1984-style 24/7 surveillance by their government. That's not quite how it works over there, at least, if people who live and work there are to be trusted.

There are a number of stories about surveillance over the years. [0] Here's one about a BBC reporter who was found in 7 minutes using their CC system. The situation with the [1] Ugyhurs and crack down on Muslims. Also the [2] Social Credit system which is tied into a number of difference services.

[0] https://techcrunch.com/2017/12/13/china-cctv-bbc-reporter/ [1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/22/world/asia/china-surveill... [2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7UKYUTke58


> Clearly, a bit of a different story than what's implied in this article.

Is it?

I would classify both of those as satirical comments (albeit offensive ones). I'm not sure how familiar you are with the US, but it would not be considered socially acceptable here for the police to question you about comments like this made in, say, a private Facebook message.

It definitely would not be acceptable for police in the US to arrest someone over this; that would be a very clear 1st Amendment violation.


The point was that the arrest happened after the messages got exposed on social media, and not just after the words were uttered in private


They were exposed on social media by an unauthorized 3rd party after they were uttered in private, right? That certainly sounds like someone was arrested for something they said in private.

Maybe there's additional context I'm not understanding?


yes? The initial implication was that the police were monitoring the private chat, whereas the second article suggests that the police only became aware after the message was circulated. Surely you can see that these two situations paint different pictures regarding the Chinese surveillance apparatus.


Ah, gotcha. Yes, I do see a difference there.

So if I'm understanding correctly, it's not that the arrests didn't happen, or that they happened for a different reason, it's that the government isn't actively soliciting businesses for those kinds of tips. Their attitude is, "we'll arrest you if we hear about it."


You wouldn’t satirize the Nanjing massacre in China in the same way you wouldn’t satirize the Holocaust in Germany.


Again, different cultures. In the US, this kind of satire is legal. Despicable, but legal.

If Facebook leaked a private message of this nature to the police in the US, Facebook (or whomever contacted the police) would be criticized as well. Banned from the platform? Go right ahead. Involve law enforcement? There would be a lot of criticism for that.

Regardless, it still seems to me that the reporting in this article seems accurate:

> People are regularly arrested for messages they send in supposedly “private” group chats. In 2017, two people were arrested in Nanjing for separate instances of making satirical comments referring the massacre in the city by the Japanese in 1937.5

I'm seeing arguments that this is reasonable, I'm not seeing arguments that this didn't happen. The conflict seems to be that different cultures have different attitudes towards inflicting legal repercussions on private hate speech.


Well, on youtube, Holocaust jokes were done by Larry David, Norm McDonald, Sarah Silverman...


I admire their vascular health, those jokes are hard on the heart.


Not everyone has to actually be constantly surveiled for the effects to be the same, a-la panopticon.


Absolutely, and to me this is a more reasonable framework to understand how technology-enabled surveillance works in China and elsewhere.


>It's not clear to me why folks tend to advance the notion that Chinese citizens are under constant 1984-style 24/7 surveillance by their government.

Because that gets readers to click the article. They don't care how anything actually works.

Complex and nuanced analysis of sociopolitical issues does not make for sensational copy. When the boogeyman is the right one, people will believe anything said about it and swallow the story whole without question.


It depends who distributed the screenshots.


In case anyone doesn't know about Parallel construction: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallel_construction


Probably one of the 314 other people in the group felt offended.


The go-to in that type of situation is "Jail them".


You realize Americans joke about 9/11 on the internet all the time, right? You can go to YouTube right now and find 9/11 meme compilations. Point aside, "we should come let them do it again" is a radically different statement than "I'm going to do what they did". The former is a complaint; the latter is a threat.


Of course I realize that, but America's free speech protections are the exception and not the rule. (Not making a value judgment here)


I'm fed up with those people who think they understand China simply because they have read a sci-fi novel written by an Englishman before modern China has been founded. China's system is so complicated and so far from a heavy-handed police state.


> China's system is so complicated and so far from a heavy-handed police state.

No. China is not free. I am sorry you are fed up. But I bet millions of victims of Chinese oppression are in much dire condition and wish they could be fed up and not dead or disappeared. Xi Jinping is a dope. The amount of articulation of control China has over the its citizens is chilling. Defending China, Fuck the Chinese govt.

I can say that and face zero repercussions, publically. You cannot say that in China and expect to be ok. I hope the Chinese people rise up one day and figure out a better form of governance for themselves.


I think you misunderstand. China is not a heavy-handed police state not because everyone is perfectly free, but because not everyone is unfree. The police simply isn't equipped to oppress everyone, so it only hits an unlucky minority. It's just that in China minorities can comprise millions of people. So while in the worst case you might be executed and have your organs harvested, in the average case you'll not even be paid attention to.

For example, when I lived in China my landlord violated several regulations on minimum unit size and fire safety, forged documents to hide this and probably also didn't pay any taxes on the rent I paid in cash. One day there was a notice by the police posted to the door, announcing that they'd come investigate. Some time later I got a message from my landlord warning me and the other tenants not to open the door. The police never came. I assume he either paid them off with a bribe or they were simply too lazy to follow up on their threat.

If China is a police state, then it's one where the police doesn't take their job very seriously.


Sounds like you completely misunderstand what a police state is.

A police state does not require the police to be concerned with upholding the law. In fact there is usually a departure from the rule of law in police states.

As the other commenter mentioned, the police in a police state are usually concerned with maintaining order and protecting the power of the state or ruling faction, and policing people's behaviour to this end.


I mentioned the anecdote because it's the one case I personally experienced where the police actually got active on an issue, and nothing came of it. I know plenty of people whose behavior looks like it'd be policed (censorship circumvention is endemic, discussing events that reflect negatively on the government is common, some openly advocate e.g. for gay rights) but there's no indication the police are even aware of them.

I don't deny that e.g. forming an organization directly challenging the CCP's leadership would get you into deep trouble, but most activity below that threshold appears to go unpoliced. Even the currently ongoing student protest at Beijing Normal University's Zhuhai branch doesn't seem to have met any police resistance so far.


Police state is more concerned with „crime” of subverting the ruling regime, not all crimes in general. See Stazi, with their absolutely vast network of informers - they too didn’t care if you avoided taxes or broke tenant laws.


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A week ago I would have thought the same, but these 1000s of students in Zhuhai haven't been shot yet: http://www.epochtimes.com/gb/19/6/11/n11315690.htm

(There doesn't seem to be any English reporting on this, but the videos and images should speak for themselves with the added context that this is a demonstration currently happening in Mainland China to protest plans to shut down the local university and establish a more elite institution on the same campus.)


> Defending China, Fuck the Chinese govt.

> I hope the Chinese people rise up one day and figure out a better form of governance for themselves.

Besides the immature, flippant impulse to challenge authority that seems quite prevalent in the West, why should the Chinese feel compelled to pursue the path of destruction you're advocating for? The CCP, for all its imperfections, has lifted 850 million illiterate peasants out of extreme poverty in a mere few decades [1].

Their upward mobility, health and education outcomes have arguably not been better in over 150 years. It's an economic miracle never before seen in history. The trade-off was made between an authoritarian but stable and prosperous society vs balkanization and endless wars that pre-mature democracies tend to produce. Hopefully you’ll excuse them if they don’t join in your shallow diatribe.

You can insult Xi all day and say "fuck the Chinese govt" all you want but at the end of the day, it's not your opinion that matters. In general, the people of China are very happy with the progress that's being made (particularly true of the rural population who have witnessed in real-time, continuous improvements to their standard of living).

One more thing. It would be convenient if the Chinese government were some monolithic, dark and evil entity that you could shake your pitchfork at, but it’s not [2]. It is an extremely complex, dynamic, and heterogenous entity full of internal power struggles, much like every other non-trivial human organization in history. There is evidence hinting at the existence of reformist and hardline members, factions and sub-factions at every part of the ideological spectrum [3][4]. The GP’s assertion that “China's system is so complicated and so far from a heavy-handed police state.” is factually correct.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_China

[2] http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/ftrebbi/research/ftx.pdf

[3] https://www.hoover.org/sites/default/files/research/docs/clm...

[4] https://www.mironline.ca/factionalism-china-eve-19th-party-c...


> The CCP, for all its imperfections, has lifted 850 million illiterate peasants out of extreme poverty in a mere few decades

This is one of the most frequent arguments by Chinese excusing the actions of CCP. Keep in mind that this is the party that started the cultural revolution, which resulted in 5-10 million deaths due to famine and state-sanctioned purge, destruction of cultural heritage, and forcible seizure of land (all land in China is owned by the state). Yet to this day the details of this history are rarely discussed in school and subjective to censor.

A wealthy person who has no affiliation with the Chinese government is vulnerable to predatory action by local government [1] -- a big reason why there are so many wealthy Chinese buying and moving property in foreign countries, and part of why government officials tend to be among the richest in the country.

The massive wealth created as a result of private enterprises that end up in the hands of government officials through various methods, is often siphoned out of the country. Imagine if KMT stayed in power, the cultural revolution didn't happen, and private business owners weren't paranoid of the government meddling -- 850 million illiterate peasants were lifted out of extreme poverty despite CCP.

Since Xi's rise to power, the anti-corruption campaign has served both to root out some corruption, and at the same time removing his opposition in the party, leading to his limitless term as the party leader.

While some speculate Xi may use this as an opportunity to move China toward a more democratic model, there is nothing preventing him and his faction from siphoning more wealth from the country.

> The trade-off was made between an authoritarian but stable and prosperous society vs balkanization and endless wars that pre-mature democracies tend to produce.

Your whole thesis seems to be based on the economic growth of the country justifies the oppression and corruption. But as the economic growth slows down, at what point is it not enough as a justification? With the tight media country, how would the Chinese people EVEN know what the true state of the economy is? And even if they decided they've had enough, with the growing control of information, communication, and movements, what can they even do at that point?

So yeah, fuck CCP

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/01/business/china-parliament...


> This is one of the most frequent arguments by Chinese excusing the actions of CCP. Keep in mind that this is the party that started the cultural revolution, which resulted in 5-10 million deaths due to famine and state-sanctioned purge, destruction of cultural heritage, and forcible seizure of land (all land in China is owned by the state). Yet to this day the details of this history are rarely discussed in school and subjective to censor.

I don't think it excuses the actions of the CCP, it just contextualizes it. Anyway, I agree with most of these points. I'd just like to comment that many members of the politburo responsible for the terrible policies you've mentioned are no longer alive. It may be the same party in name, but as mentioned in the parent post, the CCP is by all measures quite factional in nature. Right now the hardliners are in charge under Xi's leadership (as you've also pointed out), but the younger reformist factions probably do still have some influence in shaping party policy.

The CCP's justification for censoring would probably be that they need to preserve their legitimacy while the country is still in its formative phase. China is often perceived as a superpower (and it likes to promote this view), but the reality is that its nominal per capita GDP is still 1/6th that of the U.S.

> A wealthy person who has no affiliation with the Chinese government is vulnerable to predatory action by local government [1] -- a big reason why there are so many wealthy Chinese buying and moving property in foreign countries, and part of why government officials tend to be among the richest in the country.

>The massive wealth created as a result of private enterprises that end up in the hands of government officials through various methods, is often siphoned out of the country.

I agree with this point also, and it's a very important point to make. One factor that exacerbates this is the sheer wealth creation that has taken place in China, especially in the last 10 years since the great financial crisis. Due to various central bank policies around the world, global credit has never been cheaper nor more plentiful. I'd argue that a lot of Chinese FDI has been a result of wealth spillover from people who have run out of places to park it.

> Imagine if KMT stayed in power, the cultural revolution didn't happen, and private business owners weren't paranoid of the government meddling -- 850 million illiterate peasants were lifted out of extreme poverty despite CCP.

That could have been one possible future. Another possible future (and more realistic IMO) could have been the disintegration of China as one cohesive nation (basically, another century of humiliation which had only just ended, where China was chopped up and claimed by western powers). The largest driver of CCP policy was probably the collapse of the Soviet Union which was arguably the end result of perestroika and glastnost. CCP members at the time probably saw what happened next (fragmentized nations engaged in endless civil wars) and balked at the thought of reform. Lifting 850 million people out of poverty is no easy feat and is a fact that bears repeating over and over again.

> Since Xi's rise to power, the anti-corruption campaign has served both to root out some corruption, and at the same time removing his opposition in the party, leading to his limitless term as the party leader.

Agreed. I’d say it’s a trade-off of risks. I personally believe that benevolent dictatorships work the best for developing nations. Leaders like Lee Kuan Yew come to mind. Others, like Suharto, were unbelievably corrupt, but are remembered fondly for creating decades of stability and prosperity. You can move fast and implement policies that need to be implemented without being mired in endless deadlock and debate like in parliamentary systems which tend to yo-yo, with one party undoing all the work of the previous. The risk is that the dictatorship turns sour and policy mistakes are made, resulting in power grabs and instability. This is not to say I’m against parliamentary systems - they work very well for highly educated, wealthy and developed nations.

> While some speculate Xi may use this as an opportunity to move China toward a more democratic model, there is nothing preventing him and his faction from siphoning more wealth from the country.

Yup.

> Your whole thesis seems to be based on the economic growth of the country justifies the oppression and corruption. But as the economic growth slows down, at what point is it not enough as a justification? With the tight media country, how would the Chinese people EVEN know what the true state of the economy is? And even if they decided they've had enough, with the growing control of information, communication, and movements, what can they even do at that point?

I don’t think anything can justify oppression and corruption. In an ideal world, there would be none of that. Unfortunately, we live in a very unideal world full of compromises and decisions between lesser evils. We’ll have to see what happens, but my personal belief is that China will move more and more towards glasnost-like policies as time goes on but at its own pace, not at the pace dictated by western powers. Personal freedoms in China in the present day bear no resemblance to the personal freedoms 30, 20, even 10 years ago. The vast majority of Chinese people are able to travel abroad, wear what they want and work where they want. They are able to enjoy the prosperity of the nation with only one caveat: do not do anything that can lead to instability - hence the rise in technological surveillance. There are many nation-state actors that would greatly prefer if the global world order were not disrupted by the rise of China.

> So yeah, fuck CCP

Surely you mean “fuck the hardline members of the CCP, but hopefully the reformers win out”?


> The CCP's justification for censoring would probably be that they need to preserve their legitimacy while the country is still in its formative phase.

You would expect the censoring to be less instead of more as the country develops. This has been the hope of the rest of the world as well -- that economic growth, higher education level and stability would usher in the transition away from autocracy. However, this doesn't seem to be happening and the tech-enabled information control only serves to worsen -- Chinese citizens' knowledge of personal freedom, checks and balances have been stagnating.

> We’ll have to see what happens, but my personal belief is that China will move more and more towards glasnost-like policies as time goes on but at its own pace, not at the pace dictated by western powers.

This had been the hope of the world, Chinese abroad and much of Hong Kong. But the recent actions of CCP, including the Hong Kong extradition law proposal seem to suggest this doesn't seem likely or the time scale might be slow enough that the rise of China may become a threat to the rest of the World first (lack of the rule of law , and the associated forced intellectual theft and transfer, leveraging economic might to bully its neighbors).

I see the trade-war as the external stimulus that is needed to accelerate China's transition. When the economic growth slows, the party would have to address the social issues. However, years of state-education and nationalistic propaganda is difficult to overcome.

> Surely you mean “fuck the hardline members of the CCP, but hopefully the reformers win out”?

You are right. That is the ideal outcome. Hopefully Xi is more Chiang Kai-Shek than Mao.


> You would expect the censoring to be less instead of more as the country develops. This has been the hope of the rest of the world as well -- that economic growth, higher education level and stability would usher in the transition away from autocracy. However, this doesn't seem to be happening and the tech-enabled information control only serves to worsen -- Chinese citizens' knowledge of personal freedom, checks and balances have been stagnating.

Unfortunately, in today's world, fake news is so widespread that it really can lead to the destabilization of nations. Especially with the advent of ubiquitous apps like WeChat, unsubstantiated news generated for the purpose of fomenting outrage can spread unbelievably quickly. In the hands of the poorly educated, things can spiral out of control if you have no means to control it. This has been a growing trend even in highly educated and developed nations (Russia-Trump, Facebook, Brexit, etc). Can you imagine what problems this could cause with a population 5x as large and 1/10 as educated?

WeChat was not even invented 10 years ago and now it is used by almost a billion people daily. As new forms of communication become more widespread, the CCP will develop new ways to control it. Some might characterize this as a worsening of surveillance and state control, but I'm of the opinion that it's a natural evolution in response to evolving methods of communication.

> This had been the hope of the world, Chinese abroad and much of Hong Kong. But the recent actions of CCP, including the Hong Kong extradition law proposal seem to suggest this doesn't seem likely or the time scale might be slow enough that the rise of China may become a threat to the rest of the World first (lack of the rule of law , and the associated forced intellectual theft and transfer, leveraging economic might to bully its neighbors).

> I see the trade-war as the external stimulus that is needed to accelerate China's transition. When the economic growth slows, the party would have to address the social issues. However, years of state-education and nationalistic propaganda is difficult to overcome.

The HK extradition law is a whole other can of worms and would take many posts to dissect. My brief understanding is that the law in itself is not really a threat. The law itself is a pre-cursor to what could be a threat to HK autonomy in the future. Skimming over the legislation, there are many checks and balances in place with the ultimate decision of extradition falling on the hands of an independent judicial review in HK [1]. It's not a broad, sweeping law, but a provision for case-by-case extradition.

As far as transitional time scale goes, it’s a generational change that I think it will be slow but inevitable as more and more Chinese are exposed to democratic, liberal ideology and standards of living improve. American corporations and their lobbyists (who are driving a lot of the trade war rhetoric) think on a very short term, quarter-by-quarter basis. They will not want to wait 5, 10, 20 years for Chinese markets to open up fully to them -if they had their way, they would force China to open up tomorrow, destroying domestic industries that are unable to compete. China would be the world's largest Banana republic.

On the other hand, the CCP is also known for long-term strategic planning (5 year plan, 10 year plan, etc). These two interests are at direct odds with one another. To make matters worse, there are probably elements of the current Politburo who would preserve their iron grip on state owned enterprises forever, if they could. Your point about the trade-war being an external catalyst for reform is a salient one and will likely push the issue to some kind of middle ground.

> You are right. That is the ideal outcome. Hopefully Xi is more Chiang Kai-Shek than Mao.

I hope so too. Thanks for the nuanced discussion :)

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fugitive_Offenders_and_Mutual_...


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Nationalistic flamewar is not ok on HN regardless of how right you are or you feel you are. We ban accounts that do this, and even though the thread was bad enough already, your comments took it to a much higher level of aggression. That's destructive and not ok here—regardless of how good your cause or how evil your enemies.

Would you please take the spirit of this site more to heart by reviewing the guidelines and using HN as intended?

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


> I find it appalling that you find the Chinese government even remotely okay, the Chinese government violates people's basic human rights for just simply being a part of a minority.

> The assertion that it's not a free country and horrific the worst way possible when you're a minority is absolutely true.

It’s not absolutely true. I suggest you consult some independent sources for a more nuanced perspective other than that promulgated by mainstream media. There are dozens of ethnic minorities (yes, even Muslim minorities) that are prospering just fine along with the rest of China. There are even remote places where the CCP actively funnels tourists to help them bolster incomes. It’s in their best interest to do so because poverty and unemployment leads to instability. It’s most definitely not in their best interest to “violates people's basic human rights for just simply being a part of a minority”. What possible good would that do?

I find the Chinese government more than okay from a purely utilitarian standpoint. Is it perfect? No, far from it. Has it been a net good for its people? Undeniably.


[flagged]


I’m not reducing anything. I’m simply pointing out facts that often get thrown under the bus for the sake of pushing a particular narrative - facts that contradict overly simplistic characterizations of their actions such as “they hate Muslims!” or “they hate freedom!”.

The fact is, the reality is much more nuanced than that. Painting the picture as black and white and then getting emotional over it helps nobody.


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> You can't be pro-freedom and put people in concentration camps.

> You can't be pro-Muslims and put them into concentration camps.

> It is that black and white, the things are mutually exclusive.

Yes, you can and no, it isn't. This is essentially the fundamental basis of statecraft - making tradeoffs and weighing the benefits of certain policies over others. Very rarely will you find a problem that has a perfectly packaged solution to it, and this is where historical context and nuance comes into play. Nothing is ever black and white.

Let’s take your example of Muslims and “concentration camps” for example. You and the mainstream media would characterize them as “concentration camps” for its sensational effect (though technically correct, I think we can all agree on its historical connotations - i.e extermination camps). If you were to be charitable, a more accurate description would be to classify them as forced “re-education camps”. We have to keep in mind that there is currently a tidal wave of propaganda from both China and the West that is unfolding right now, triggered by a fundamental shift in geopolitical strategy from the U.S.

Post-1980s, elements of Wahhabi/Salafi Islam were imported into Xinjiang from Saudi Arabia/Turkey and subsequently to mostly Uyghur East Turkistan separatists. This radical version of Islam supplanted the less extreme forms of Islam practiced by ethnic Uyghurs at the time (i.e - Shafi-I, Sufi Islam) [1]. Not only did this erode and destroy traditional Uyghur cultural and folkloric practices, but this led to many violent terrorist incidents inside of Xinjiang and elsewhere in China [2][3]. Regressive constructs of Wahhabism/Salafism such as burkas, suppression of women’s rights, suppression of secular education and jihadist proselytization [4] were perceived as a threat to stability of the region.

The re-education and vocational camps, however ill conceived, were designed to directly address this issue. They were designed to stem the rising tide of unemployed, unskilled and increasingly radicalized Muslim ethnic minorities in the region and to revert it back to its pre-Wahhabi influenced state. They did not just pop up out of nowhere without any historical context like the mainstream media would have you believe.

If the CCP were truly anti-Muslim, do you think they would allow mosques to exist and Muslims to worship freely in them? Don't you think they would have bulldozed every single one of the 39,000 mosques by now?

To reiterate: forced re-education camps are far from a perfect solution (if a perfect solution even exists), but given the authoritarian nature of the CCP, they could have done far, far worse.

[1] https://www.iris-france.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Asia-...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/July_2009_%C3%9Cr%C3%BCmqi_rio...

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorism_in_China#Chronology_...

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdullah_Mansour


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Which part of my comment constitutes demagogy and goalpost movement specifically? Especially the “demagogy” part.

I will be more than happy to address each offence point by point.


The notion that re-education camps are innocuous/a social good is pretty suspect. In the USA and Taiwan, former Chinese people (by nationality, not ethnicity!) say they were pretty terrible. In China, there's demented old people that say life was crazy back then and re-education camps really sucked. There's also non-demented old people who just say stuff like "life was tough back then but it's better now." But nobody has anything actually good to say about that system, more like it was good if you survived and thrived in spite of it.

Also, the uncritical assumption that China should be administering Kashgar! Just like the question of the USA administering little South American/Middle Eastern countries and Russia administering Ukraine.


Re-education camps are certainly a human rights violation; however the important difference to concentration camps is that people are expected to leave the camp alive once they have undergone the re-education. If the Chinese government has some foresight, there'll be some actually useful education beyond regurgitating propaganda and the inmates might end up with decently paying jobs afterwards. Someone with a stable income and a family to feed is less likely to throw it all away to join a terrorist cell, so that would achieve the stated purpose of the camps.

On the other hand, a large-scale government action completed in short time usually indicates that things haven't been thought through all that well. If all they're doing is putting a bunch of Muslims into an adversarial situation with probably racist guards, I'd expect any actual terrorists among the inmates to have no difficulty finding recruits.


Thanks for the genuine comment.

I don't think I've pushed the notion that re-education camps are a social good nor innocuous. They are objectively pretty bad. Forcing anyone to do anything against their will is pretty horrible.

All I'm saying is that amongst the terrible things that an authoritarian government is capable of, forcing people to learn vocational skills and sit and listen to corny CCP propaganda for hours every day is not the worse thing that could have happened. The CCP could have easily used the violence in the region to justify much worse things.

That being said, I won’t justify the severe abuses (i.e - torture) that may be taking place there, abuses which naturally arise when one group of humans wield asymmetric power over another. If indeed there are such cases, I truly believe they are by far the minority. Any such widespread severe abuse would trigger the CCP’s red flag of destabilization. It would jeopardize China’s relationship with the world (condemnation, sanctions - which seems to be happening anyway), with its allies like Pakistan and others in the Islamic world, and with its own populace.

As far as I know, the Uyghurs are still allowed to engage in traditional customs like any other Muslim ethnic minorities, just not the extreme Wahhabi/Salafi customs that were were never native to them in the first place.

> Also, the uncritical assumption that China should be administering Kashgar! Just like the question of the USA administering little South American/Middle Eastern countries and Russia administering Ukraine.

Sorry I did not address the administering of Kashgar. It’s a legitimate question and one point of contention amongst many. There is a long and complicated history there with evidence of a vassal relationship going back to the Tang dynasty. I don’t have enough information to form an opinion on China’s claim to the city. If you can point me to some historical references, that would be great.


I've been to multiple events in China and the chilling effect is very apparent and very strong in China's cities.


I'll make it simple for you.

I don't think Taiwan agrees with you


I am neither American nor Chinese, but there is a qualitative difference.

In the USA, i can say whatever I damn please. In China, I can not talk about certain topics. Whether or not both CCP and FBI bug my phone, I do not know. However, China is super oppressive when it comes to freedom.


It sounds like you have never been to US or China.


I have been, though.


> In the USA, i can say whatever I damn please.

While I think generally you're right, I wouldn't tell a joke that involves a bomb in certain places as well. (Not from the US, but given that this holds for the Netherlands, I expect that that's true for the US as well.)


Funny fact, this comment was upvoted to double digits during US day time then downvoted to 1 after East Asia day time.


The Japan that raped Nanjing hasn't existed for decades, the comment is extremely offensive but can't be taken literally. This is the Chinese equivalent of an Israeli telling a Hitler joke, insensitive and offensive but not taken literally because the bad guy is long dead.


Japan has repeatedly refused to apologize or even admit such atrocities occurred. It further fuels the fire. They've even edited their textbooks to gloss over the fact.


Nice whataboutism, so what the Japanese censor their books? Doesn't make it okay that the guy was jailed for that.


Just because that particular example was misreported doesn't necessarily mean surveillance of WeChat private messages isn't occurring.


Damn, I sure hope nobody screenshots this or I wont be able to fly a plane into the Sydney Opera house like I'm planning to do next week.


Why isn't anyone worried about TikTok?

Yes, WeChat is largely contained to China, but TikTok/ByteDance is global and a top 10 app in the U.S. It would be naive to think that there isn't a backdoor to that app. And it's video.

There's also precedence for this e.g. the U.S. forcing Grindr's Chinese owner to sell.


We're in the phase now where we celebrate TikTok for being a launchpad for 15-minute celebrities who inspire us to buy more crap.

Once it becomes passe, or once the app has a major security breach, that's when the Chinese origins of the app will be front and center in every news pub.


It seems you don’t have a good idea about what a backdoor is. A tiktok app can’t spy on your email or Facebook message.

It’s reasonable to worry about whatever data you give tiktok, but you should probably worry a lot more about Facebook or google which collects far more private data.


You can DM people on TikTok just like most other social networking apps.


I dunno, it feels like TikTok came in to swoop the void left by Vine I guess.


Facebook, Google, and Apple would all do the same thing WeChat/AliPay did if regulations in the West moved faster and were more accommodating.

Nobody mandated the author to order delivery, follow social media, buy movie tickets, do online shopping, pay rent, use bikeshare, call cabs, etc, etc, etc. through WeChat. They are, for the most part, services owned by companies other than Tencent. WeChat just compiles a giant menu for users to link their accounts from these services into WeChat. These gateways exist because consumers find it more convenient than quitting WeChat and opening another app/website.

It's perfectly healthy to be concerned about the impact of centralized tech giants on our daily lives but so far all I'm seeing is fearmongering about this ever-more-elusive "dystopia" which coincidentally seems to only exist in a place that's easy for the English-speaking world to hate on.


If every one of my friends and even my employer used an app to conduct business and I refused to get it no matter how much they tried to tell me to because I was concerned about my privacy I'd be ostracized. This did happen to me with Facebook to an extent, and Facebook isn't nearly as much of a mammoth as WeChat. Stop pretending it's a choice.


Why did you assume I "pretended" it's a choice? It IS a choice and it has always been. Most people just decided the trade-off of being denied employment and other opportunities is not worth preserving whatever privacy these tech giants are trying to "steal" from you. Market economies rarely cater to the few. That has always been the exception and not the norm.


By that line of reasoning, I have a choice of whether or not to hand over my wallet when someone mugs me -- I've just decided that the tradeoff of getting a knife in my stomach is not worth whatever money is being stolen from me.

What you're proposing is an interesting philosophical argument, but not a particularly useful way to think when building a society. We're trying to limit Hobson's Choices, even if we can't completely eliminate them all the time.


Just choose to use wechat for messaging, and use apps for everything else. And stop complaining about why wechat is getting popular for other people. If your friends are on Facebook, it is not your problem to worry about. It is like if your friend is dating a girl you don’t like, get over it. People made their choices already.


No, you are not going to get arrested in America for making a joke about George Washington.

Enough with the irresponsible moral equivalence arguments.

There are glaringly material differences between 'Google software scanning your mails to target ads' and 'the police having $2/hour folks reading private chats to arrest you for totally arbitrary reasons'.



Yes, it's terrible, especially considering that these are for 'offensive jokes' not even specific calls for violence.

But this is the states terrible job at trying to hamper hate speech, mostly with fines. The world is not turning upside down.

If people dissapear off the streets because they say 'we deserve democracy' then we have a problem.


>No, you are not going to get arrested in America for making a joke about George Washington.

If someone leaks you joking about repeating a historical terrorist attack the chances that the police at least pay you a visit is very high, in the United States and other Western countries.

There's actually a whole array of news articles you can find on your search engine of choice about arrests after people made social media posts about threatening politicians. Which I might add, joke or not is very reasonable.


Joke about a person vs planning a terrorist attack


and authorities don't know whether you joke or not, so this falls squarely into the category of "play stupid games, win stupid prizes", and again this is the same in the US. Quite a lot of people have been joked about killing Obama, and got a pretty quick visit by the police as a result. This isn't unique to China and there's nothing wrong with it.


Yes, if you joke about 'murdering the head of state' - any reasonable state is probably going to look into it.

But in this case, joking about a historical event, inviting a foreign country to invade is way beyond reality, obviously.

So, if you invited the 'Germans to invade America' again, nobody will come knocking except the Twitter Nazis. (Pun intended).


Is this fear-mongering?

"Despite WeChat’s somewhat more private design, Amnesty International, in a 2016 report on user privacy, gave WeChat zero out of a 100 for its lack of freedom of speech protection and lack of end-to-end encryption. By comparison, Facebook scored 73. People are regularly arrested for messages they send in supposedly “private” group chats. In 2017, two people were arrested in Nanjing for separate instances of making satirical comments referring the massacre in the city by the Japanese in 1937.5 One person, seeking a job in the city and down on his luck, wrote in a group for job-seekers that “Nanjing is a pit. We should let the Japanese come slaughter again.” He was detained two days later. A similar case that same year saw a 31-year-old man jailed for joking about joining the Islamic State in a group-chat. He was arrested under China’s anti-terrorism laws and given a 9-month prison sentence."


>Is this fear-mongering?

depends on whether the action was taken by wechat or someone reported the user from the group, because if that's the case all the encryption in the world isn't going to help you. (and it's not particularly unlikely depending on the size)

Also as the other user suggested, you probably shouldn't advocate joining isis on a platform in a country where said action is illegal, wechat like any other company anywhere has the duty to enforce the law.


If you talk about joining the IS in the West using non-encrypted messaging services, you are more than likely to end up on a watchlist or receive a visit from law enforcement (depending on context and severity) as well. Expressing sentiments akin to Holocaust denial or any other mass tragedy also more than likely invites action from the platform you are on depending on their policy.

People are being persecuted by law enforcement because it is the very entity that mandated WeChat to do this in the first place. I don't see how placing the whole blame on WeChat itself is rational at all.


> If you talk about joining the IS in the West using non-encrypted messaging services, you are more than likely to end up on a watchlist or receive a visit from law enforcement (depending on context and severity) as well.

Aye, but if you get sent to prison for merely talking about it - much less joking - the ACLU and Twitter would have a field day.

> Expressing sentiments akin to Holocaust denial or any other mass tragedy also more than likely invites action from the platform you are on depending on their policy.

EDIT: That's a platform-specific problem - one that I happen to disagree with vehemently. If all speech isn't free, then no speech is.

> I don't see how placing the whole blame on WeChat itself is rational at all.

I'm not. I'm placing the blame on the PRC, of which, unfortunately, major Chinese corporations seem to be an operating arm of.


Going to China soon and everybody tells me WeChat will help me a lot over there. However, I cannot create my account without a "voiceprint". It wants me to read some numbers to fingerprint my voice. Apparently I cannot skip this step and I am not very comfortable with that.


What if you slightly change your voice everytime you're using it?


How does it handle people who are unable to speak?


probably as well as china deals with people in wheelchairs


thankfully probably not as bad as the (Uyghur muslims)[https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/liam-sigler/panel-2-mil...]


try some text2speech programs?


Probably not a good idea for his purposes, as the app with use that to authenticate you in the future, and you may not have the same text2speech program readily available when it does.


Ask someone from China for an Invitation to WeChat, it shouldn't be the case (Not sure if they have made it mandatory in last few months)


It’s weird. Nobody else in my company seems to have this issue. For me it is a mandatory step in the registration process.


I actually find Alipay easier to use for payments and it is easier to set up. If you don't want to chat I would use it instead.


Can you set up Alipay with a non-Chinese bank account or card?

It works great for Chinese people and foreign residents of the PRC who have a bank account. However, my experience as a tourist was that it was impossible to link my US credit card using the PRC version of the app downloaded while in China.


You cannot link foreign cards to Alipay account. Best way is to ask Chinese colleagues to transfer you Yuan and you pay them via cash. You can then use the wallet amount in shops.


Yes I tried recently and it seemed impossible without a bank account. You can link a foreign card but not actually use it for normal payments. You may be able to use it only on tabao or something. WeChat pay is not usable at all without a Chinese bank card.


I think you are right. I only used a foreign card for Taobao. I don't think it works for normal purchase...

I'll try it tomorrow and see if it works.


At least as if last Sep, no. I actually called customer service.

Wechat pay is an option though; you just need to find a Chinese national that will send your account money.


I have created a WeChat account years ago and I can not actually use it for payments. I don't know why it is but the wallet option never appears.


We hat payments used to require a Chinese bank account, so we're essentially inaccessible to foreigners. This is secondhand knowledge, I've never used it, but I have heard this has changed. Perhaps since the account was created while this restriction was in place, the option was never enabled?


It's still not possible. If you have a foreigner WeChat account it's possible to enable the pay feature, but not possible to sign up for it without a Chinese bank card.


Thanks for the correction, I had either misheard or had been misinformed.


The wallet option only exists if you have a Chinese Wechat account (using a Chinese phone number).


It also appears if you somehow end up with a positive balance (e.g by receiving a red packet). I haven't tested whether you can actually spend that balance without having linked a Chinese bank account, though.


Yeah I could see the incoming red packet but i couldn't accept it, Eventually the transaction just voided itself. This was 6-8 months ago.


I have tested the red pockets but I couldn't actually receive them. It's been year back or so.


There's a great Polish sci-fi novel - Paradyzja (~/Paradise/) (wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradyzja) which describes ever-eavesdropped society. In the end, the society develops a metalanguage (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koalang) to evade automatic systems which record and analyze all written and spoken communications (even at peoples' homes).

I wonder if WeChat users already developed something similar.


It's definitely getting closer to that point - for example winnie the pooh is a popular meme used to make fun of uncle Xi but it's hard to police given that it's a children's cartoon. It hasn't stopped the aggressive censoring of pictures of winnie the pooh (no joke) but it has definitely presented a challenge. Using vague historical anecdotes and rarely used imagery is a traditional Chinese mode of communication - in modern days you can see it in action via the aggressively close reading people do of CCP mouthpiece newspapers - the use of certain terms signal a greater ideological shift which people will then try to adapt to/guess at. Personally I'm curious about how this mode of communication will evolve given the current development of automated policing algorithms which will undoubtedly take context into account.


The Chinese already do that with regards to ‘winnie the pooh’ in reference to their leader (and when that was blocked, further obscure poetic language).

I think the govt. is happy with this change, because it dramatically slows down communication rates if people have to have built-in encryption/decryption parsing in their speech.

Also, if you accidentally inform a government agent of the code, so to say, you disappear and the in-group has to change their coding language again.


I'm wondering if we could develop some kind of encryption / steganographic system that would hide the true meaning of a sentence behind somewhat sensical human-readable text to lower suspicion and automated detection.


How is the Chinese government with regards to IT quality?

I've come to believe that most governments are inept when it comes to the management, security and general quality of their software.

With the government holding so much critical information, it seems a very obvious and valuable target for hackers.


China Facial Recognition Database Leak Sparks Fears Over Mass Data Collection

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kateoflahertyuk/2019/02/18/chin...


> I've come to believe that most governments are inept when it comes to the management, security and general quality of their software.

They are very well aware of it, so they do outsourcing to pro-CCP companies, e.g. Hikvision, Face++.


WeChat is a private company owned by Tencent.


I mean.... the govt can check whatever they want on the WeChat logs. And the populace is pretty accepting of this for security reasons (if you aren’t going off the “government can be corrupt and abuse it’s powers” principle its actually kinda hard to make the privacy argument!)


"government can be corrupt and abuse it’s powers”

The thing is, this is not some hypothetically argument, but governments ARE corrupt and abuse their powers. Even in our awesome democratic western systems. In china much more. And that the general chinese population is used to it and therefore does not mind so much, is just that they are used to it.


I didn't say anything about privacy just that it is a private company.

It doesn't seem that different to the US government with AT&T.

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130901/23253224379/att-h...


It is different because in China I doubt there would have been any investigative reporting about the government and AT&T.

And while AT&T doesn’t seem to have done this, other companies such as Apple have enacted privacy measures which directly contravene the stated wishes of the government - but which are legal.

In China, I believe the way it works is, whatever the government wants becomes legal. The US is far from perfect but the rule of law exists here to some degree.


One of the biggest and more interesting difference is that the US government wants to keep these things secret and investigative reporting finds them.

In China, they want this information public because they want people to know that they know and self regulate - Panopticon.

The cynic in me looks at the US as a country controlled by companies while China is a country that controls companies. I don't know if it makes that much of a difference any more now that companies are almost the same size as countries.


The only optimal solution for the little guy is complete privacy, or complete transparency, where everyone has equal access to all information. Complete privacy is evidently not achievable, therefore the only option left is complete transparency.

Either way, the current reality of some lucky individuals having all the access to everyone’s information, whether it’s Chinese government or companies or US government or companies is the worst situation to be in if you have little power, i.e. 99.9999999% of people who aren’t billionaires/nation state level diplomats.


Yeah right, in China if you make the wrong thing public you disappear.


> if you aren’t going off the “government can be corrupt and abuse it’s powers” principle its actually kinda hard to make the privacy argument!

It's not just "government can be corrupt and abuse its powers", it's also "government will be inept and leak your data".

And since you can't unreveal data, "government" doesn't just mean "current government", it means "current and any possible future government".


Tencent is gov friendly company. Basically, data owned by gov.


Government unfriendly is simply not an option in China. It's endearing how "but the USA" crowd is out of touch with reality.


what are your sources of info, so that the "but the USA" crowd can learn about your reality?


First hand living experience in a communist, and then authoritarian post-communist, country.

And before you say not all communist are alike and you can't generalize… yeah no, they are quite alike and you can generalize. Anyone who lived in any of them knows exactly what guanxi and other social concepts mean, the cultures are remarkably cookie-cutter.


Americans, and people living in American colonies, also have first-hand experience with American imperialism. I'm not sure why you think your experience trounces theirs?


You sort of prove my point. And don't generalize people suffering from bouts of anti-Americanism to all Americans or all the West.


I'm not sure I understand how I "prove your point".

Why are "victims of communism" allowed to generalize from their experience, while "victims of capitalism" are not?


I never called myself a victim, and neither you are one. I know how places like China work, and it was you who asked me how do I know it.


Because "communism" is both an economic and a political ideology, while "capitalism" is only an economic one.

And before the nitpicking starts, I'm well aware that monied interests can influence democratic politics. That does not make an economic system a political system. It would be like calling democracy an economic system.


This is a distinction without a difference in China.


Except there is very much a difference. Being vulnerable to government pressure and being outright owned by a government are completely different things. Conflating these two is disingenuous and ignoring reality.


I go to China often but it's been two years now. I don't look forward to the next visit for this very reason—I'll need this to pay for any and everything. I'm not going back.


I was there last month and it was almost impossible to get money on your WeChat account without a Chinese bank account. It was easy to fund my Malaysian WeChat account but the balance isn't transferable or usable in China.

There's currently one remaining loop hole I know about which is to pay someone to send money via a red envelope / hóngbāo but it's getting increasingly harder. It's already asking you for a passport and right now it still works even if you cancel that but probably not for much longer. You can do that either if you know someone, ask someone in a store if they do it from their personal account or through some websites that take PayPal but with a hefty commission usually.


Is this a loop hole or intentional? I'm guessing wechat doesn't care to optimize the visitor experience.

Has it ever been different? Afaik, it's as limited as it always was; they just added identity verification.


It's a relatively new change, the latest big change was in April when they removed one other way of sending a red envelope. So it doesn't seem like it's intentional.

https://lerner.co.il/2018/12/28/the-foreigners-guide-to-wech...


Might be related to some government regulations about money laundering. There is some problem with that in China.


What's the point of this though? Surely it hurts tourism to China? Wouldn't it be better if foreigners could easily use wechat pay?


I don’t have any numbers on that but it seems that external tourism isn’t a big priority for China. If it were they’d make sure that the Visa process is easier, at least the people at airport information counters speak English and other small things that tourists would encounter right away. This is just anecdotal but most tourists I saw were Chinese so maybe the percentage of non-Chinese tourists isn’t that high.


Cash still works exactly the way it always has, (almost) nobody is going to turn down your business because you don't pay by an app.


Besides payments, WeChat is inextricably tied to everything you do in China from chatting with your friends to buying a movie ticket to visa renewals. I've spent over 400 nights in Chinese cities and I depend on WeChat like I depend on water.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WeChat#Features


There are other apps. And you can still buy tickets from counter in cinema use Cash or WeChat or Alipay. People use it more often because of its convenience. But you can live without it. The main problem is that you will find it difficult to live without its convenience.


And how long, if not already - likely once their people are acclimatized to the idea of 'social rating' system - before they start subtly or aggressively warning people, swaying their behaviour, of potential for their rating to go down if associating with X who isn't using apps.

A digitized version of Nazi Germany with mass censorship capabilities really is terrifying.


I was curious about what happens to people who can't get WeChat accounts. Perhaps due to committing crimes (in the way that sex offenders may be banned from using social media) or maybe they offended WeChat in some way (in the way that people lose their Google accounts if Google so decides).

Perhaps you could even be kicked off WeChat for having a social rating that was too low.


they already have the little red book-esque app that solidifies Xi as their permanent leader.

now I can't recall if that was a stand alone app or within the wechat ecosystem.


Out of curiosity do you change your behaviour because of your credit score (created by private companies)?

Considering the fact that the private companies pitching social credit to the government are merchants (Tecent & Aligroup) that is the only data they have access to.


Companies spend money on advertising because it works.

Edit: Realized after you asked about credit score. A credit score is quite different than what China's rating system is all about from my understanding. Being dependable on repaying money or paying money you've promised to pay is a very specific rating that aligns with a person's accountability and/or ability to predict and manage their situation.


Not that is makes much difference, but the Stasi were DDR socialist East Germany.


There is a TV series based on Ian Kershaw's work on Nazi Germany [1]. One Gestapo office had not been able to destroy their records and it was found that most arrests of people were done as a result of them being denounced by their neighbours not by any actions of Gestapo personnel.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nazis:_A_Warning_from_Hist...


I’m not surprised. Many totalitarian regimes set up systems where neighbors can report on “counterrevolutionary” activities in which an abusive system “gets abused” and people use it for personal revenge among other things.


I mean wechat is useful for talking to Airbnb hosts, but so long as you don’t have just 100s you can still pay people with cash

Also visa renewals? What is that in reference to?


I was in China (Beijing and Wenzhou) in April. I had NO success finding a taxi in Beijing—the only way to get a ride was to use an app like Didi Chuxing.

I was able to install and use it just fine. The problem was that it is impossible to link a non-PRC payment method to it. The same is true for WeChat Pay or Alipay—you've got to use a Chinese bank account or card as a source. I was not able to find a way around this despite over an hour of experimenting with the apps.

In contrast, it was easy to get taxis in Wenzhou. The drivers all initially asked for electronic payment, though, so it's probably only a matter of regulation that is preventing them from going cashless.


You can link a foreign VISA card to Didi and pay with that easily. I did this in April this year. Actually it was the only thing I was able to pay for without cash while in China.


I was able to book via Didi using my Singapore Card.

But then again I had a different problem because the Didi drivers will call up to confirm the booking and pickup location and I had to get help of my friends/colleagues to help me communicate with the driver.


If you want to get a real taxi use Baidu maps. It is in Chinese but you can just drop a pin where you want to go and ask for a real taxi instead of a Didi.

A Chinese person can show you the buttons to press then you can pay with cash.


I'm pretty sure I tried this—I think the prompts were even in English, if I'm remembering correctly. However, I gave up after several tries of it looking for a taxi and not finding one while I was standing in the rain on a dark street corner. It would sit and look for minutes and appeared to be a broken feature.

I ended up taking a BRT line to get back to my hotel and it was great. All of my experiences with transit in Beijing were excellent. I just wish taxis or car services were an option for tourists.


For WeChat pay, you can always directly exchange RMB for USD (say with venmo). There's websites to facilitate this if you don't have a Chinese contact.


I think Didi does accept international visa cards.

> despite over an hour of experimenting with the apps.

You can link some HK and South African credit cards


There are shops in the big cities that are starting to refuse cash now (apparently, this is not illegal in China) and only accept the two big payment apps.


It is illegal to refuse cash in China but it takes a while for the shops to be found and fined.


Is it enforced much?

My understanding from folks who do business in China is that the laws on the books are one thing.... what you can count on legally is often entirety different.


China doesn't actually have a lot of police. It looks like it does but a lot of them are teenagers doing there year of service with no real power or authority.

Enforcement of basically all laws is done using some rotation system. This month it will be X, next month it will be Y. One of the interesting things is that they don't keep it a secret. It isn't published in newspapers but every Chinese person seems to know what the police are targeting now and next month. It gives everyone time to clean up their act before they get in trouble. The enforcement can never be 100%

If people complain enough then it will be resolved quickly. The shops around tourist areas should be fixed quickly because it looks bad.


There are loads of coffee shops and cafes in the UK that don't take cash any more.


They still take Visa, and don't insist on an authoritarian government's surveillance app.


What do you call the CCTV cameras everywhere other than "an authoritarian government's surveillance"?


They're mostly private, JFC...


Really?


Nice strawman


Naturally, going onwards, places and things that one cannot buy and/or go without an e-wallet will gradually increase, right?


yes but only WeChat is tied to an authoritarian government's surveillance network


i've lost count of the amount of times i've been refused a coffee or beer because they don't except cash or visa card.

It's only going to get worse.


At least last time I was there, you needed a Chinese bank account to link. A quick search suggests there are a few workarounds but you probably still can't just add a foreign credit card.


So compared to this Google looks like a mom and pop shop when it comes to data collection..but now think about the frame here. It is done in China not in the /free/ world..


yes.

nobody complained when US (and everyone else later on) required online forms for visa requests. full of google Analytics tags and all.


This is not true at all. There was an incredible amount of dissatisfaction and anger about this decision. In my own household, we discussed the implications of that decision. Please read through the comments on these 2 posts:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20065142

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20075608


> If it wasn’t for the fact that I grew up in London and use a VPN to jump the great firewall to keep in touch with my friends at home and use Google, I could go entire days without leaving WeChat.

I wonder what VPN people use in China to access Google. When I was there last month, I couldn't find a single one that worked for more than a few days.


Last month would have been close to impossible. The leadup to the Tiananmen anniversary would see stronger crackdowns on VPN use.


Express VPN work.

Most of Tech Organizations have deal with Govt to allow them to access google & gmail.

Best bet is to get International data roaming then use your phone to check email etc. If you are transiting via Singapore would recommend you to get a Singapore sim which supports international data roaming and using it in China.


A bunch work, you have to rotate thru them and have some self-hosted too I hear from friends. DWeb can't come quickly enough.


I've been to China a couple of times and ExpressVPN works most of the time for me. However the most reliable way to have a decent connection was Algo VPN deployed to AWS. It was far superior both in terms of reliability and in terms of speed.


I tried this recently (Algo with wireguard) and it was probably the most reliable way, but still blocked very quickly on some ISPs, for example it never worked through my China Telecom phone.


Thanks! I will try out Algo VPN. I had no idea AWS works in China.


>WeChat knows what I am reading. It would discover I am doing research for this article.

Hate to say it, but this is the same with Facebook. The only difference is the government aspect. I think all social products ultimately aim for this. I can definitely see Facebook heading this direction very soon.


> It knows my biometric information; it knows the very contours of my face.

I was under the impression that Face ID does not leak such information to whatever app is using it?


No, FaceID doesn't leak informations about your face. Just like TouchID doesn't leak your fingerprint.


This has nothing to do with FaceID, which isn't mentioned in the article.

WeChat has its own face recognition system.


Ah ok, i thought the author meant FaceID in the passage:

> I have my WeChat linked with the facial recognition scanner on my iPhone

was not aware that WeChat has its own system. They don't get to use the "special" FaceID sensors/scanners though right? Just the camera?


It looks like depth data can be accessed through the AVFoundation framework provided by Apple.

https://developer.apple.com/documentation/avfoundation/camer...


No, WeChat and Alipay do use FaceID to do payment verification on iPhone.


Maybe they do but at least WeChat have their own face recognition technology, in which case they do hold people's biometric data.

This is not that big a deal in China considering that people have photo ID card, which means that the government already had everyone's biometric data.


What's better... being in China knowing that everything you do is being watched, or living elsewhere and just suspecting that everything you do is being watched by some three letter agency?

> (Tencent declined to comment for this article)

More likely: (I didn't dare to request comment from Tencent or my social credit score would have plummeted).


A while ago I ran a thought experiment, Facebook could also track things like this. If my phone spent the night not at home, it can probably surmise that my relationship with (person who I've been exchanging FB/WhatsApp messages with increasing frequency the last few weeks) has progressed to the next level. Especially if it can see the phone spent the night connected to their SSID, but with both of us having zero interactions with FB apps.

Is there FB analytics built into Netflix? Then they could even say what we watched on Netflix that night.

A machine learning bot that can write just the right thing to a potential date is probably doable, albeit creepy. It's even easier if the bot can see their entire social media and IM history...


Where there's a way there's a will.

So say US has interest on country X, can you 100% guarantee that none of the following data could be used to target some individuals of said country: - Facebook social graph - WhatsApp conversations - Skype voice and video chats - Google location history - visa credit card transactions

IMHO it's just a matter of how big is the interest. Maybe it wouldn't happen to use this data for personal reasons but it would be very strange to imagine an army leader citing foreigners personal data protection when the country is at war.


I posted a bunch of pictures from the Hong Kong protests in the past couple days.

It shocked me that all of my posts were blocked immediately, people can see my old posts but not those new posts with the "sensitive" pictures.

I downloaded those pictures from bloomberg, so I am sure the wechat / tencent is running some web crawler and ML to identify the news picture from the online sources and block them automatically. Still there is some way to get around, by assembling a group of pictures together and adding some noise (adding words, etc).

What's more, the regime is not only monitoring wechat or weibo, it's monitoring non-domestic social medias like twitter as well, for example here's a pictures showing a huge screen, where a lot of tweets are being process my some NLP algorithm, and outputs a result showing whether the tweet is positive, neutral or negative towards the regime [1].

This is how a totalitarianism would apply technology, it uses everything it could to control the people in order to survive.

China is now going full throttle to become a nazi + commie country, it's THE CANCER for everyone else who loves freedom and democracy.

There will be only two possibilities in the 21st century, either the Communist China crashed like USSR, or a war will happen between the China and the west. Hong Kong is literally the frontline of the battlefield.

[1] https://chinadigitaltimes.net/chinese/2018/09/%E3%80%90%E7%A...


I think it will take a long time for the west to really stand up against china, because of the economy interest, the lack of transparency and culture / language barrier. Until china hits the pearl harbor, it will get worse and worse.

Disclaimer: I am from china, living in the US now.


'It knows my biometric information; it knows the very contours of my face.'

The iPhone does, WeChat doesn't.


Nope, in this case the camera is run by Wechat and they have their own biometric database.


FaceID or TouchID 's information is truely own by IPhone,Wechat use camera can only take photo or video,but when u login, speak six number to wechat,this is own by Wechat.


Both Alipay and Wechat Pay have those fancy terminals now in coffee shops, where you need to smile to the camera to pay. No iPhone involved. To set it up they use the same database as for the account verification.


Can you use a password instead?


Yes, but if you get deemed "malicious" it will be required: https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-china-blog-48552907


BTW do Chinese phones let you turn GPS off? I never turn it on except when I actually need it so apps probably don't know where I am.


They can still track you to some extent from cell towers and wifi.


what about Wechat tracking you even though when not using its features? I don't think CPC would patiently wait until you launch the app to start logging your behavior.


Why bother? They already have access to cell phone location data and meta information. I'm sure in China it is direct access. In the US it is a two-step process. Not that it would make much difference in practice.

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130901/23253224379/att-h...

There was a great article in Australia about this a few years back: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-16/metadata-retention-pr...


I've been wondering for a long time about this.

My thinking has been that while apps should be sandboxed given China, its (apparent) goals and (apparent from media) past behavior I'm thinking they would invest as much manpower as it takes to figure out how to break iOS/Android sandboxes and turn the phone into a full time listening/tracking device.

I'd love to hear from someone who knows more about mobile OS security regarding this. Is the above a likely or possible scenario or am I being too paranoid?


> At 9:27, once I’ve brushed my teeth, answered a few messages, and wiped the sleep from my eyes, I order a coffee through WeChat. There’s a payments window on the app, and when you click on it you see various options, some proprietary to WeChat and some which are independent apps that run on WeChat’s platform. I open the Meituan delivery app and scroll through all the coffee options around me. I order an Americano. I have my WeChat linked with the facial recognition scanner on my iPhone; when I pay, I just hold my phone up to my face and a green tick flicks across the screen. Seven minutes later, I get a message telling me the coffee is on the way, with the name and number of the delivery driver. It arrives at 9:53.

Is it too much effort to just make your own coffee in your own apartment? Does that now also have to be delivered to you? The amount of waste involved in this just boggles my mind.


>Is it too much effort to just make your own coffee in your own apartment? Does that now also have to be delivered to you? The amount of waste involved in this just boggles my mind.

Not from China but have been different phases of life where have either preferred to have early morning coffe delivered/fetched/made myself in my apartment. Different priorities would drove the choices for me. Pricing differences between walking-fetching and having it delivered it on a schedule to my place were not much. Making it often required me to maintain a lot of things , which i preferred depending on place, nature of work besides other priorities.


I’m curious, do people even enjoying drinking nice / real coffee anymore when drinking from Starbucks or have it delivered and sipping it at your desk or in the elevator, or is this just some kind of habit like smoking?

Why not just wash down a caffeine pill with warm glass of water for the kick and move when time pressed?


It's somewhere in between for me, as someone who drinks coffee from a coffee shop almost every day. I crave a good cup of coffee often but when I get it I often just start drinking it and when it's gone I realize I forgot to savor the experience, or I do try to savor the experience but realize the work I did or the article I read or the thoughts I had while drinking it were disappointing. When things align I do still enjoy my coffee very much though. Probably a couple times a week.


I do. Every morning I get the scale out, grind beans, and get the kettle going to prepare a couple of cups of pour-over coffee. I'm still dialing in the perfect pot of coffee, so I'll change a variable in my process each morning. If I time it right, I make my pour over in time to sit down by some natural light and remotely attend my morning meetings as I sip down my beverage. It gives me a nice break from the screen and allows me to focus on doing something highly rewarding with my hands.

As a side note, I've recently started ordering bags of beans online from various roasters I've had around the country. If anyone has recommendations that sell their beans online, I'd love to expand my palette.


I'm still dialing in the perfect pot of coffee, so I'll change a variable in my process each morning.

Aeropress is highly conducive to repeatability and experimentation, due to its tight control of the immersion time interval. I was trying to be careful with pour-over, and still found that I couldn't quite get it down. Now, I can even adjust for the age of the beans I have on hand. (You can go hotter and briefer, to get the caffeine and good stuff, but absorb extracting unpleasant stuff.) Do read and follow the instructions to start.

One big disadvantage is that the filters absorb the oils, but all brewing methods that use filters have this. Also, it uses a lot of grounds to produce a little bit of extract. (Which I dilute and drink as Americano.)


I like coffee. I like the variety of flavors and smells and the warmth and the ritual of it. I roast my own beans nearly every day. I also am addicted to caffeine. For me, there is a sliding scale of preference from my own coffee or sitting down at a good coffee shop to something quick like a Starbucks to instant coffee or caffeine pills, but pretty much no matter what I have a plan or backup plan to at least get some caffeine in the system.

That said, delivery seems a little strange to me. You don't get the little coffee break to walk to somewhere or have some involvement in making it, which seems like a downside. It also seems like a lot of overhead to obtain coffee.


Not sure what coffee shops you have near you but the ones where I live have better coffee than most people have at home.


That's not a particularly hard problem to solve. Buy good roasted beans, a grinder, and basically any coffee pot. Grinding your own beans before brewing makes a big difference vs. brewing a pot of Folgers.


That does of course assume the ability to buy good roasted beans somewhere relatively near you.


I drink Dunkin' Donuts coffee because I don't give a damn about the taste and it's cheap. I like the process of drinking coffee... it's a habit of sorts. Not so much an addiction as I have no problems going without coffee.


Funny, I'm a huge coffee drinker and prefer Dunkin' because it's really good.


May I then suggest drinking water instead? It's healthier and even cheaper.


Coffee (with no milk or sugar) is actually really healthy. It has practically no calories, is high in antioxidants, and feels filling (so you might eat less and thus consume fewer calories). Studies have also linked it to higher longevity and reduced risk of heart disease, liver failure, and Alzheimer's.

It's when you get a grande vanilla latte from Starbucks that you load up on milk, sugar, and caffeine.


Coffee isn't a replacement for water. You would still drink water (I hope).


I love a regular serving of six cups of almost dark coffee. I can't stand real sweet foods as my sense of taste is overwhelmingly strong (yeah I have sensory issues, it's part of life for me).


Maybe they think it tastes good?


It’s a habit and an addiction. But among the available addictions it’s one of the best.


>But among the available addictions it’s one of the best.

Why do you feel that way? I've never been a big coffee drinker (for this reason specifically), but everything I've heard about caffeine withdrawals for people who have been daily drinkers for a while is that they are awful - headaches, irritability, extreme fatigue, etc...


The withdrawals are unpleasant but certainly manageable. A good week and you're effectively detoxxed, two and your brain is reset. Moreover, as long as you refrain from adding sugar/sweetener to your coffee it's closer to a benign habit than an addiction, as black coffee has little to no downsides if your heart is ok.

This is coming from a pot/day drinker who's 'quit' multiple times. In the end it's not worth it, because coffee also comes with the pleasant social contract with other coffee drinkers as well as a appetite suppressing effect.


Coffee helps me with fasting. It turns what is a semi uncomfortable experience to an easy thing.


People have told me that, for them, if they don't get their morning coffee that get symptoms like headaches. For me, it's mostly just a habit to have tea or coffee in the morning and relax before starting real work. I like it, but if I'm traveling and there's a line out the door at Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts, I'll probably just walk on past. I don't really care that much.


If such a pill was ever created, I surmise that the coffee industry would collapse overnight.


You can get 120 pills of 100mg of caffeine for $6 including shipping "Jet-Alert 100 MG Each Caffeine Tab 120 Count". There are fancier ones that include L-Theanine (found in green tea) to mellow the caffeine jitters out but those are significantly more expensive.


You used to be able to buy a half kilo brick of caffeine on prime for like $30.

That's enough caffeine to give you a heart attack 100 times over, it would last you forever.

It didn't affect the coffee industry because drinking coffee is an enjoyable process, not a one dimensional addiction around caffeine


> it would last you forever

Can confirm. Bought two in 2013, still have ~450 grams in the first bag I opened. Well worth the ~$50 (including a jeweler's scale) for a lifetime supply of preworkout supplements.

The FDA banned bulk caffeine sales in 2015[1] or 2018[2] too. This is probably a good idea, most folks have no idea how much caffeine is in a cup of coffee, much less how to measure that dose in powdered form.

[1] https://www.fda.gov/food/dietary-supplement-products-ingredi... [2] https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-take...


"if I had fifty-three minutes to spend as I liked, I should walk at my leisure toward a spring of fresh water"

From 'The Little Prince' referring to the merchant who sold pills to quench thirst.


I might do that if companies started putting pills in the break room instead of Keurig. I consider coffee and cream a benefit like health care at this point.


You would get a resistance not too long after. I quit caffeine pills because even if I only ever took them once a week they would do nothing but have bad sideeffects. Now I take 5 hour energies/redbulls or else I feel tired by noon after sleeping for 13 hours.


Uh... What?

It's the reason Starbucks exists. People are on the go, and they don't want to make their own coffee.

This is literally the same as going to the corner coffee shop to buy a Frappuccino.


If the corner coffee shops took 26 minutes to get me a cup of coffee I'd probably have to give it up entirely if I was really too lazy to spend the 90 seconds of effort in my kitchen that gives me a cup of coffee in about 5 minutes.


It's very easy to spend 15 minutes every time you go to Starbucks. It's not my thing (I mostly drink free coffee at work, from my espresso machine at home, choose other coffee shops, or if I must use Starbucks, I place a mobile order). But the lines tend to be very long, and it takes a long time to get a beverage. I guess people don't mind it because it's a part of the day, a break, a 'treat'. I find it a hassle, but in a way if it's part of your 30 minute coffee break from work, maybe it's not so bad.


> It arrives at 9:53

If you can count on that arrival time (within minutes), you can just time it so it coincides with you getting out the door. No need to worry about forgetting the pot on the stove, or noisy grinders, etc. It's more likely you'll make a mistake in the morning especially if you're not a morning person and you're still half asleep and in a hurry.

There's something for everyone.


This is why coffee machines with timers were invented.

5 min before I go to bed, all I have to do is prepare the coffee and pour water, then press the button to activate at the preferred time interval. At 7:15 am the machine will start and there we go, coffee ready. The machine also turns itself off within 45 min, so you never risk leaving anything running.


Going to Starbucks is not the same as having coffee delivered to your home, especially not if you walk there.


In China everything is delivered by electric scooters, delivery people get paid for it, more coffee shops can survive because otherwise they would have to provide more space which is very expensive, and most coffee is delivered in a paper bag with a paper cup stand.


Paper bag... Not always. Coffeebox deliver it in a giant cardboard gift box surrounded by reflective thermal bubble wrap. Felt like I was paying more for the packaging than the coffee... Luckin I suppose do go for the paper bag and pay a fortune for immediate delivery to ShunFeng. The joys of VC funded coffee businesses I suppose...


FWIW they probably pay 4-6 rmb to SF. Their rates for commercial customers are much lower than for individual customers. Given the high rent, I bet this is still more efficient for them than running a 500+ sqm joint like Starbucks.


The paper cup won't be recycled though, and electricity isn't pulled from thin air.


If you went to the coffee shop yourself, it would probably be on your own electric scooter anyway. And you'd take your coffee away in the same paper cup.


You could use a reusable cup.


No reason the delivery couldn't also be delivered in a reusable container, to your own cup


Step by step, my friend. We cannot expect the whole industry to shift overnight, but the shift to more paper bags, recycling, renewable energy is happening in China right now. Tier 1 cities are very tough on recycling right now, and most residential complexes had set up very good recycling guidelines since ~March, which are, surprisingly, followed by local residents. Next year they're opening a new nuclear plant nearby, and some wind turbines are being set up now along the coast. One step at a time.


Cmon cmon, in nyc people have been calling the bodega to order anything and everything for decades, including single cups of tea.


Yep, Chengdu is a huge, dense city, with about 10 million people.

Now I'm feeling nostalgic, I was only there for a few weeks, but with the parks, teahouses, and food, it was my favorite city in China.


WeChat basically created a platform, allows third party apps to have their html5 version of app in WeChat platform. Basically the same as Google Login. You can choose to use their independent version of app directly to do the same thing. WeChat is very successful on this platform, I can imagine future phones just need WeChat to work properly and all the apps in it will function. Those apps are not WeChat or Tencent apps though, just web apps work inside WeChat.


Lol.Those poor people tracking him on behalf of the CPC on Wechat must be also making the same assumption, but they have bills to pay :D


> Is it too much effort to just make your own coffee in your own apartment?

Don't even need extra equipment. Trader Joe's has a nice cold-brew. Pour a finger width into a cup, add some almond/coconut milk, then put in the microwave for ~60 seconds. Hot vitamin-c in under two minutes. No way I could wait almost thirty.


Even worse, could you maybe leave your room and go get a coffee? It literally would've taken you the same amount of time if you did just that depending on how close the coffee place is, and I would guess it isn't far.


Yeah, 26 minute turnaround for coffee is pretty damn shit, even by starbucks standards, but I expect the novelty of getting coffee delivered is sufficient to keep something this ridiculous on the market.


Absolutely right, people need to get up off their asses (sorry) if they want coffee.


The author also waited 25 minutes for a coffe; it takes 2 with a moka, half with a coffee machine.


2 minutes with a moka? I seriously need to step up my game.

1 minute: hang grind fresh beans

1 minute: take out moka pot, fill with water, put coffee in, put on stove

3-6 minutes depending on ambient temp: moka boils

1 minute: pour cup, wash out moka pot

Moka is such a pain. I drip now for time efficiency.


I have way too many coffee makers of various types at home. I always seem to end up circling back to electric drip. Fewest actions and least manual intervention of any approach first thing in the morning. (I don't really like Keurig and it's pretty wasteful--and I generally want more than one cup anyway.)


Drip is also the most consistent way to brew coffee.


If you can afford it and care about grind quality, there are much quicker grinders out there.

The Baratza Sette 270 grinds with fantastic precision compared to other grinders on the market (even the Vario), and goes through 19g of beans in about 5 seconds.


I currently use a hario hand grinder (ceramic bur). I imagine the grind consistency improves with an electric, but I’m curious if it has a noticeable effect taste wise.


You can buy ground coffee, if efficiency is your concern.


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