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Archive for 6. Januar 2020

With the state’s help, Chinese technology is booming

Posted by hkarner - 6. Januar 2020

Date: 05‑01‑2020

Source: The Economist

But it will not be a smooth road to global dominance, says Hal Hodson

For most of human history, China was the world’s most advanced technological power. The blast furnace originated there, and thus so, too, did cast iron. Other breakthroughs included porcelain and paper. Its gunpowder propelled the first military rockets farther than javelin or arrow could fly; its compasses magically revealed magnetic north when the stars were hidden.

Only in the Middle Ages did Europe began to match Chinese ingenuity and capacity in these fields, doing so largely through imitation.

Only with the growth of European mechanical industries and overseas empires in the 18th century did the Westerners become its rivals. In the centuries that followed, hampered by its own stifling education system, China was defeated in the opium wars, then suffered terrible civil unrest and a disastrous revolution that reduced the country to a technological bystander and “Made in China” to a byword for gimcrackery. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Why Elon Musk has learned to love China

Posted by hkarner - 6. Januar 2020

Date: 05‑01‑2020

Source: The Economist: Schumpeter

Subject: Cloning Tesla: electric‑vehicle wars in China

William bin li is as close as China may have come to cloning Elon Musk. The founder of nio, a swanky electric‑vehicle (ev) company, is in his 40s, a tech nerd, and though not as meme‑able as the founder of Tesla, is treated like a rock star by his adoring customers. nio, worth $4bn, is a fraction of the size of Mr Musk’s Tesla, valued at $75bn, but of all China’s 30‑odd ev startups, it is the best known. It also raises and dashes investors’ hopes with Tesla‑like frequency. On December 30th nio’s shares soared 54% when Mr Li said output had probably reached 8,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter from almost 4,800 in the third. But over the whole of 2019 they lost almost 40% (see chart).

In truth, Mr Musk is in a league of his own. But Mr Li has long had the edge on him in one respect. As our Technology Quarterly in this issue reports, nio is emblematic of China’s ambition to be a hub of global ev production, dominating electric vehicles in the 21st century as squarely as America did the internal‑combustion engine in the 20th. As such, China would be a natural place to produce a “Tesla killer”, as nio was dubbed during a cbs interview with Mr Li aired in 2019.

 

Yet if nio is trying to topple Tesla, it is going about it in an odd way. It is copying some of the very aspects of Tesla’s business model that have made the American firm’s survival a matter of constant concern, such as lavish spending on sophisticated technology, resulting in correspondingly large holes in its cashflow statements. If anything can kill Tesla, it is more likely to be its perennial difficulty in generating cash than competition from a Chinese upstart with the same problem. Ironically, it could be China that ultimately secures Tesla a bright future. If only nio could be so lucky. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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China views Donald Trump’s America with growing distrust and scorn

Posted by hkarner - 6. Januar 2020

Date: 02‑01‑2020

Source: The Economist

And cynics in Beijing hope for his re‑election

Zoologists use a mild‑sounding term—“displacements”—for moments when a strong, young mountain gorilla confronts the dominant male in his group. Behind the jargon lies a brutal reality: a drawn‑out, bloody conflict looms. China’s leaders similarly use prim, technical‑sounding terms to describe their confrontation with America. In closed‑door briefings and chats with Western bigwigs, they chide the country led by President Donald Trump for responding to China’s rise with “strategic anxiety” (ie, fear). They insist that China’s only crime is to have grown so rapidly.

However, behind that chilly, self‑serving analysis lurks a series of angrier, more primal calculations about relative heft. These began before Mr Trump came to office, and will continue even if an initial trade truce is made formal (Mr Trump says he will sign one on January 15th). They will endure long after November, when American voters next choose a president. China has spent decades growing stronger and richer. It already senses that only one country—America—can defy Chinese ambitions with any confidence. Its leaders have a bleak worldview in which might makes right, and it is a fairy tale to pretend that universal rules bind all powers equally. Increasingly, they can imagine a day when even America ducks a direct challenge, and the global balance of power shifts for ever. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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China’s nuclear industry and high‑speed trains are world class

Posted by hkarner - 6. Januar 2020

Date: 02‑01‑2020

Source: The Economist

And the state has been crucial in making them so

Within the cavernous factory of Dongfang Heavy Machinery Company (dfhm), a state‑owned firm based in Guangdong province, lies what looks like a suit of armour built for a mis‑shapen giant. In fact, they are parts built to contain something even more fearsome—nuclear reactors and the high‑pressure, high‑temperature steam that they produce. Some are still being worked on. Some are almost ready to head off, by barge, to sites along the southern coast where China is expanding its nuclear‑power industry with greater ambition than any other country in the world.

In 1996, with the help of Framatome, a French firm with a lot of nuclear history, China built a reactor at Ling Ao, 60km (37 miles) from Hong Kong. Part of the deal was that Framatome would share its know‑how. It helped a local firm that had previously made boilers learn how to make the hulking metre‑thick metal vessels that can safely contain a nuclear reaction. That firm became dfhm. As well as the main reactor vessels, it also now makes the steam generators which turn the nuclear heat into something which can drive turbines and make electricity. Zou Jie, a dfhm executive, says his firm’s products are now competitive with Framatome’s.

One reason for this progress is that China’s nuclear industry has gained experience quickly. In the past 20 years China has built nuclear plants faster than any other country; its nuclear capacity is now 43gw, third only to that of France (63gw) and America (99gw). Unlike in those two countries, though, China’s capacity is growing. And whereas in 1996 just 1% of the value of its first nuclear plants came from domestic firms, that figure is now 85%. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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