Technology

A man uses his phone outside Beijing Railway Station in Beijing on 19 August 2020. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Can the Great Firewall of China ever be overcome?

A Chinese app called Tuber barely had time to take root before it was yanked out of existence. It apparently gave Chinese netizens a way across the Great Firewall of China to foreign websites. In practice, those who jumped to try the app noted that it was not as revolutionary as touted to be, yet this could be a glimmer of things to come. With netizens becoming more discerning and information flows increasingly hard to stem anyway, Yang Danxu muses that a lighter touch may be the way to go.
A news report on Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech in the city of Shenzhen is shown on a public screen in Hong Kong, 14 October 2020. (Roy Liu/Bloomberg)

Xi's five-year plan for Shenzhen: A hard road ahead?

Shenzhen has grown rapidly over the past 40 years, such that its GDP reached a massive 2.7 trillion RMB in 2019. Just this month, the Chinese government released a five-year plan to make Shenzhen a “pilot demonstration area for socialism with Chinese characteristics”. Amid plans for reforms and new initiatives, EAI academic Yu Hong asks: How much autonomy will Shenzhen have, and what challenges will it face?
People wearing face masks walk past a flower display dedicated to frontline healthcare workers during the Covid-19 pandemic in celebration of the upcoming National Day of the People's Republic of China, in Beijing on 29 September 2020. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

China’s public healthcare system: Robust enough for 1.4 billion people?

David Ng goes over several key indicators in China’s healthcare system to see how China’s public healthcare system holds up. With medical advances driving up healthcare expenditure and a fast-ageing people, the most populous nation of the world has got its work cut out.
A Tesla China-made Model 3 vehicle owner sits inside a car during a delivery event at Tesla's Shanghai factory in China, 7 January 2020. (Aly Song/File Photo/Reuters)

Are smart cars really smart? Ways not to be held hostage by apps and tech

Chinese academic Zhang Tiankan looks at Tesla’s recent network outage incident in September and remembers a similar one suffered by Chinese consumers in May this year — a no-response "smart" car or a "missing" one on your connected car app is no fun at all. Zhang says while technology is useful, we must be aware that over-reliance can leave us vulnerable to malfunctions or prone to disparaging those who have yet to embrace the digital age.
This photo taken on 26 September 2020 shows first-year students holding a Chinese flag during a commencement ceremony at Wuhan University in Wuhan, Hubei, China. (STR/AFP)

Geopolitics is the biggest threat to China-US relations, not trade or tech wars

Contrary to doomsday predictions, the US-China trade and tech relationship is actually rather sturdy. After all, it was their economic and trade complementarity that brought them finally to agree on a phase one trade deal, and against all odds, US direct investments into China grew by 6% (from a year earlier) in the first half of the year. Geopolitics and volatile brinkmanship in the name of power relations could instead be the greater threat. But between Trump and Biden, which is the lesser evil?
Robin Li, co-founder and chairman of Baidu.com Inc., poses during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, on 23 January 2008. (Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg News)

What happened to Baidu, once China's golden boy of innovation?

Wang Yanbo picks apart news of Baidu’s alleged plans to raise up to $2 billion over three years to invest in a biotech start-up, which would use AI technology to develop drugs and help diagnose diseases. Is this yet another example of business giants flailing into unchartered territory to seek new growth? Wasn’t China’s multi-billion dollar search market Baidu’s to harvest once Google ceased its Chinese operations in 2010 amid cyberattacks and censorship issues?
Delivery workers wearing face masks ride scooters in front of Lujiazui financial district, in Shanghai, China, 10 July 2020. (Aly Song/File Photo/Reuters)

Socialism and universal basic income: Creating happy societies in the age of the knowledge economy

Lance Gore analyses that the knowledge economy offers great potential for bettering the lives of people. But capitalism may not be the best route to take. Power in the hands of a few, income gaps, job losses and wage cuts in the digital age bear this out. Can China offer a third way as it seeks to marry socialism with a market economy? The West is already considering some proposals with a socialist bent such as the Universal Basic Income (UBI). Surely, proponents of socialism can think of even more revolutionary ideas?
This photo taken on 1 September 2020 shows elementary school students attending a class on the first day of the new semester in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province. (STR/AFP)

Why online education fails to thrive in China amid the pandemic

The pandemic has provided a chance for a review of online internet platforms. Technology specialist Yin Ruizhi explains why online education platforms are getting the shorter end of the stick and why this offers a lesson for others hoping to ride the digital wave.
A man visits the 2020 World Semiconductor Conference in Nanjing, Jiangsu, China, on 26 August 2020. (STR/AFP)

Is China winning? China lags far behind the US in innovation

Huawei will stop producing its flagship Kirin chipsets from 15 September due to US restrictions and also because China still does not have the ability to produce them on its own. Hong Kong physicist Xu Shijie ruminates on ancient Chinese philosophy's idea of a perpetual cycle of order and chaos, and opines that while the tumultuous events of 2020 seem to signal a move away from a US-led world order, this does not mean that China has the upper hand. Recognising that it still needs to buck up on innovation and kick the habit of seeking quick success will help China build a better world for everyone.