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Posts Tagged ‘china’

The Anthropology of Social Media

Posted by hkarner - 17. Februar 2018

Date: 16-02-2018
Source: Scientific American

We often hear broad claims about the impact of Facebook and Twitter on our lives—but that impact can be radically different depending on what sort of community you live in

The term digital anthropology sounds like a contradiction in terms. What could a discipline that typically depends upon months of patient, qualitative observation, and which was devised for the study of small scale societies, contribute to understanding the extraordinary dynamism of our digital lives?

The answer is that we often hear general claims about the impact of social media—that we have lost our capacity for real friendship or that our brains are shrinking. An anthropologist will respond: “but are these claims equally true about American college students and Indian farmers and Chilean copper miners?”

I recently published a book called The Comfort of People, based on research I conducted with the patients of a hospice in England, many of whom had had received a terminal diagnosis, most commonly because of cancer. The intention was to advise the hospice about how it could best employ new media. Communication technologies are especially important in this case, because almost all care is administered within patients’ own homes, rather than within the hospice itself. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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How does Chinese tech stack up against American tech?

Posted by hkarner - 17. Februar 2018

Date: 15-02-2018
Source: The Economist: Schumpeter

Silicon Valley may not hold onto its global superiority for much longer

AMERICANS, and friends of America, often reassure themselves about its relative decline in the following way. Even if the roads, airports and schools continue to slide, it will retain its lead in the most sophisticated fields for decades. They include defence, elite universities, and, in the business world, technology. Uncle Sam may have ceded the top spot to China in exports in 2007, and manufacturing in 2011, and be on track to lose its lead in absolute GDP by about 2030. But Silicon Valley, the argument goes, is still where the best ideas, smartest money and hungriest entrepreneurs combine with a bang nowhere else can match.

Or is it? American attitudes towards Chinese tech have passed through several stages of denial in the past 20 years. First it was an irrelevance, then Chinese firms were sometimes seen as copycats or as industrial spies, and more recently China has been viewed as a tech Galapagos, where unique species grow that would never make it beyond its shores. Now a fourth stage has begun, marked by fear that China is reaching parity. American tech’s age of “imperial arrogance” is ending, says one Silicon Valley figure. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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There’s a Global Race to Control Batteries—and China Is Winning

Posted by hkarner - 13. Februar 2018

Date: 12-02-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Chinese companies dominate the cobalt supply chain that begins at mines in Congo

KOLWEZI, Democratic Republic of Congo—Miners push bicycles piled high with bags of a grayish-blue ore along a dusty road to a makeshift market. There, they line up at wholesalers with nicknames such as Crazy Jack and Boss Lee.

Most of the buyers are Chinese. Those buyers then sell to Chinese companies that ship the bags, filled with cobalt, to China for processing into rechargeable, lithium-ion batteries that power laptops and smartphones and electric cars.

There is a world-wide race to lock up the supply chain for cobalt, which will likely be in even greater demand as electric-car production rises. So far, China is way ahead.

Chinese imports of cobalt from Congo, the world’s biggest producer of cobalt, totaled $1.2 billion in the first nine months of 2017, compared with just $3.2 million by India, the second-largest importer, government data show.

“We’re realizing that the Congo is to [electric vehicles] what Saudi Arabia is to the internal combustion engine,says Trent Mell, chief executive of exploration company First Cobalt Corp. , based in Toronto. Chinese firms are keenly aware of Congo’s importance to electric vehicles, he says, and “trying to control the whole ecosystem…from cobalt mining to battery production.” Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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In Defense of Democracy

Posted by hkarner - 31. Januar 2018

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong and a former EU commissioner for external affairs, is Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

Democracies have had a bad few years, but that is no reason to tout the virtues of dictatorships and authoritarianism. History shows that, when it comes to prosperity and human wellbeing, societies that defend economic and political freedom come out on top.

SYDNEY – Imagine that you, like me, are a typical product of Western liberal democracy, and are invited to give a lecture to a group of Chinese students in Beijing or Shanghai on its benefits. Ignoring the fact that, in reality, the Chinese government would never allow such a lecture, ask yourself: What would you say?

First and foremost, it would be advisable to acknowledge that you do not speak from a position of moral superiority. Western civilization in the first half of the twentieth century was not very civilized. Human rights were trampled. Class war destroyed entire political systems. There were large-scale violent conflicts and much ethnic cleansing. Given this history, Westerners are in no position to lecture on civil liberties or humane values.

It is also worth noting that the global march toward democracy, which seemed nearly inexorable after the fall of the Berlin Wall, now seems to be reversing. According to Stanford University’s Larry Diamond, several countries that were democracies at the beginning of this century have since shifted to different systems. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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China’s Search for Quality Growth

Posted by hkarner - 31. Januar 2018

Andrew Sheng, Distinguished Fellow of the Asia Global Institute at the University of Hong Kong and a member of the UNEP Advisory Council on Sustainable Finance, is a former chairman of the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, and is currently an adjunct professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing. His latest book is From Asian to Global Financial Crisis.

Xiao Geng, President of the Hong Kong Institution for International Finance, is a professor at the University of Hong Kong.

China’s leaders have demonstrated a willingness to accept lower rates of GDP growth as they shift toward a more balanced growth model that emphasizes human wellbeing. It will not be easy to realize the vision of „people-centered“ development that President Xi Jinping announced in October 2017, but the country is on the right track.

HONG KONG – As Chinese President Xi Jinping begins his second five-year term, shifting toward “quality growth” is at the top of the country’s policy agenda. Across China’s government, a quiet but resolute commitment to fostering a new growth model that corrects the distortions created by decades of double-digit growth – including corruption, pollution, rising inequality, and other structural imbalances – is taking root.

Over most of the last 40 years, China focused on rapid land-based development, driven by local initiatives aimed at attracting infrastructure investment, human resources, and tax revenues. The creation of special economic zones, industrial parks, and free-trade zones facilitated such development, as they benefited from a large pool of cheap labor migrating from rural areas.

Throughout this process, China used GDP growth as its main measure of success. This enabled the establishment of well-defined goals and incentives for local officials as they competed with one another. But it also caused serious problems – such as environmental damage, inequality, excessive debts, overcapacity, and corruption – to flourish. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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How China Benefits from African Debt

Posted by hkarner - 30. Januar 2018

January 29, 2018, By George Friedman and Xander Snyder

The level of debt owed by African governments in countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, and Tanzania has increased markedly since the 2008 financial crisis. Problematic though sub-Saharan African debt may be, debt levels vary country by country and therefore mitigate the possibility of a continent-wide crisis. Still, widespread default could create opportunities for outside powers that covet the region’s natural resources.

How It Happened

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, global interest rates were low, and money was cheap. Investors who sought greater returns turned to riskier investments, including African sovereign debt. Countries across the continent took on debt to fund infrastructure and other development projects. Countries such as Nigeria and Botswana still have debt burdens of under 50 percent of GDP—the level at which debt is generally considered high for developing countries. Other countries such as Mozambique and South Africa have debt burdens of more than 100 percent of GDP. Median public-sector debt in sub-Saharan Africa was 48 percent in 2016. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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How to Lose a Trade War

Posted by hkarner - 29. Januar 2018

Stephen S. Roach, former Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia and the firm’s chief economist, is a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute of Global Affairs and a senior lecturer at Yale’s School of Management. He is the author of Unbalanced: The Codependency of America and China.

The Trump administration’s imposition of so-called safeguard tariffs on imports of solar panels and washing machines is directed mainly at China and South Korea. But, while neither country is responsible for America’s large trade deficit, further protectionist measures seem certain – and will leave US consumers worse off.

NEW HAVEN – Protectionist from the start, US President Donald Trump’s administration has now moved from rhetoric to action in its avowed campaign to defend US workers from what Trump calls the “carnage” of “terrible trade deals.” Unfortunately, this approach is backward-looking at best. At worst, it could very well spark retaliatory measures that will only exacerbate the plight of beleaguered middle-class American consumers. This is exactly how trade wars begin.

China is clearly the target. The January 23 imposition of so-called safeguard tariffs on imports of solar panels and washing machines under Section 201 of the US Trade Act of 1974 is directed mainly at China and South Korea. Significantly, the move could be the opening salvo in a series of measures.

Last August, the US Trade Representative launched Section 301 investigations against China in three broad areas: intellectual property rights, innovation, and technology development. This is likely to lead to follow-up sanctions. Moreover, a so-called Section 232 investigation into the national security threat posed by unfair steel imports also takes dead aim at China as the world’s largest steel producer.

These actions hardly come as a surprise for a president who promised in his inaugural address a year ago to “…protect [America’s] borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs.” But that’s precisely the problem. Notwithstanding the Trump administration’s cri de coeur of America First, the US could well find itself on the losing side of a trade war.

For starters, tariffs on solar panels and washing machines are hopelessly out of step with transformative shifts in the global supply chains of both industries. Solar panel production has long been moving from China to places like Malaysia, South Korea, and Vietnam, which now collectively account for about two-thirds of America’s total solar imports. And Samsung, a leading foreign supplier of washing machines, has recently opened a new appliance factory in South Carolina.

Moreover, the Trump administration’s narrow fixation on an outsize bilateral trade imbalance with China continues to miss the far broader macroeconomic forces that have spawned a US multilateral trade deficit with 101 countries. Lacking in domestic saving and wanting to consume and grow, America must import surplus saving from abroad and run massive current-account and trade deficits to attract the foreign capital.

Consequently, going after China, or any other country, without addressing the root cause of low saving is like squeezing one end of a water balloon: the water simply sloshes to the other end. With US budget deficits likely to widen by at least $1 trillion over the next ten years, owing to the recent tax cuts, pressures on domestic saving will only intensify. In this context, protectionist policies pose a serious threat to America’s already-daunting external funding requirements – putting pressure on US interest rates, the dollar’s exchange rate, or both.

In addition, America’s trading partners can be expected to respond in kind, putting export-led US economic growth at serious risk. For example, retaliatory tariffs by China – the third-largest and fastest-growing US export market – could put a real crimp in America’s leading exports to the country: soybeans, aircraft, a broad array of machinery, and motor vehicles parts. And, of course, China could always curtail its purchases of US Treasuries, with serious consequences for financial asset prices.

Finally, one must consider the price adjustments that are likely to arise from the inertia of existing trade flows. Competitive pressures from low-cost foreign production have driven down the average cost of solar installation in the US by 70% since 2010. The new tariffs will boost the price of foreign-made solar panels – the functional equivalent of a tax hike on energy consumers and a setback for efforts to boost reliance on non-carbon fuels. A similar response can be expected from producers of imported washing machines; LG Electronics, a leading foreign supplier, has just announced a price increase of $50 per unit in response to the imposition of US tariffs. American consumers are already on the losing end in the Trump administration’s first skirmishes.

Contrary to Trump’s tough talk, there is no winning strategy in a trade war. That doesn’t mean US policymakers should shy away from addressing unfair trading practices. The dispute-resolution mechanism of the World Trade Organization was designed with precisely that aim in mind, and it has worked quite effectively to America’s advantage over the years. Since the WTO’s inception in 1995, the US has filed 123 of the 537 disputes that have been brought before the body – including 21 lodged against China. While WTO adjudication takes time and effort, more often than not the rulings have favored the US.

As a nation of laws, the US can hardly afford to operate outside the scope of a rules-based global trading system. If anything, that underscores the tragedy of the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have provided a new and powerful framework to address concerns over Chinese trading practices.

At the same time, the US has every right to insist on fair access for its multinational corporations to operate in foreign markets; over the years, more than 3,000 bilateral investment treaties have been signed around the world to guarantee such equitable treatment. The lack of such a treaty between the US and China is a glaring exception, with the unfortunate effect of limiting of US companies’ opportunities to participate in the rapid expansion of China’s domestic consumer market. With trade tensions now mounting, hopes of a breakthrough on a US-China investment treaty have been all but dashed.

Trade wars are for losers. Perhaps that is the ultimate irony for a president who promised America it would start “winning” again. Senator Reed Smoot and Representative Willis Hawley made the same empty promise in 1930, leading to protectionist tariffs that exacerbated the Great Depression and destabilized the international order. Sadly, one of the most painful lessons of modern history has been all but forgotten.

 

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Why China Will Beat Tesla in the Electric Car Race

Posted by hkarner - 22. Januar 2018

Date: 21-01-2018
Source: TIME

From a cursory look at the recent news from Tesla, a casual observer could be forgiven for thinking that the dream of transitioning the world to electric vehicles has stalled. The Tesla brand is more closely associated with electric vehicles than any other, and in the past year the company has struggled to deliver the $35,000 Model 3. CEO and founder Elon Musk described the internal delays related to producing Tesla’s battery and an outside supplier’s falling behind as “production hell,” while customers vented on social media and the company declared a record third-quarter loss of more than $600 million.

As Tesla scrambles to maintain its position as the world’s foremost electric-vehicle brand, traditional automakers in the U.S. and Europe have invested billions of dollars to advance the technology. And a slew of Chinese companies are churning out hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles a year. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Why U.S. Companies May Lose the AI Race

Posted by hkarner - 20. Januar 2018

Date: 19-01-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Chinese rivals are gaining fast because of rising investment, as well as freer access to enormous amounts of data about people

Last fall, a U.S. intelligence-community contest sought algorithms that could identify surveillance images of people out of a database of millions of photos. The dark-horse victor was Shanghai-based artificial-intelligence startup Yitu Tech.

The five-year-old company beat out 15 rivals for a $25,000 prize. But Yitu had an advantage: access to Chinese security databases comprising millions of people that it could use to train and refine its algorithms.

Competitors, who worked from smaller databases, had “one hand tied behind our back,” says Paul Nicholas, chief executive of CyberExtruder.com Inc., a Newark, N.J., startup that entered the contest.

The contest represents a growing concern about the global race to develop and profit from artificial intelligence, which frequently uses large data sets to learn skills like facial recognition and cancer diagnosis. Big U.S. technology companies are leading the race. But their Chinese rivals are catching up quickly because of growing investments, as well as freer access to enormous amounts of data about people, often compiled with the help of government agencies. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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For These Young Entrepreneurs, Silicon Valley Is, Like, Lame

Posted by hkarner - 20. Januar 2018

Date: 19-01-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

China’s startup founders used to see a pilgrimage to tech’s mecca of innovation as a rite. Now, not so much.

Last week, a group of Chinese startup founders and investors made a pilgrimage to Silicon Valley. They toured a Tesla assembly line, complained to senior Apple executives about its slow app-reviewing process in China and brunched on baked eggs and avocado at Russian billionaire investor Yuri Milner’s hilltop mansion.

Silicon Valley has loomed large in China’s tech world in the past two decades. China’s internet industry started by copying Silicon Valley technologies and business models. That’s why there’s the Google of China ( Baidu Inc. ), the Uber of China (Didi Chuxing Technology Co.) and the Groupon of China (Meituan-Dianping). Some of the biggest Chinese internet companies, such as e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. , were funded by Silicon Valley money. Translations of best-selling books by Silicon Valley sages, such as “Zero to One” by Peter Thiel and “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz, became instant best sellers in China too. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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