Technology

A robotic dog powered by Huawei Cloud is seen at a booth during Huawei Connect in Shanghai, China, 23 September 2020. (Aly Song/Reuters)

China's whole-of-nation push for technological innovation

Innovation features prominently in the proposals for China's 14th Five-Year Plan. Apart from building up long-term resources such as education and basic scientific research, much government weight will be thrown behind building self-reliance in core technologies, including in the semiconductor industry, says Erik Baark and Qian Jiwei.
This illustration picture taken on 17 February 2019 shows the 5G wireless technology logo displayed on a smartphone and a wireless signal sign. (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP)

Southeast Asia a contested venue for telecommunication superpowers building 5G networks

Many Southeast Asian telecommunication providers have rolled out their 5G masterplans and selected vendors this year, with Covid-19 prompting the need to accelerate the upgrading of digital infrastructure. However, while most Southeast Asian countries welcome collaboration with Chinese telecommunication vendors including Huawei, some telecommunication providers in Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines have recently moved away from partnering with Chinese companies. ISEAS academic Melinda Martinus finds out SEA's preferred vendors for developing 5G networks, and the reasons behind these shifts in preferences. Are Chinese companies still well-positioned to seize the opportunities in this arena?
Huawei's new Honor 20 smartphone is seen at a product launch event in London, Britain, on 21 May 2019. (Peter Nicholls/File Photo/Reuters)

When a nation’s Honor is at stake: Huawei’s mega sale

Huawei confirmed that it is selling Honor, its budget-friendly smartphone brand to the state-backed consortium Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology Co., Ltd. Looks like all hands are on deck to save Huawei, says Yang Danxu, amid tough chip sanctions from the US. But will these efforts be enough?
A family wearing face masks walks outside a shopping mall in Beijing on 11 October 2020. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

Chinese housewives: The driving force behind China's e-commerce platforms

China has its army of housewives to thank for its early and deep foothold in e-commerce. The theory goes that with more time on their hands and being fiercely price-conscious, these housewives will never fail to take advantage of discounts for online shopping, and even more importantly, spread the word and get others to do the same.
A man wearing a face mask looks at a robot at the China National Convention Centre, the venue for the upcoming the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) in Beijing on 3 September 2020. (Wang Zhao/AFP)

Chinese villagers: The unsung heroes behind China's rapid AI development

Yin Ruizhi points out that China’s AI industry was able to scale up so quickly thanks to an army of rural folk ready to do the laborious yet essential task of data annotation.
A man visits a Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) booth, at China International Semiconductor Expo, in Shanghai, China, 14 October 2020. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Chinese companies drawn to chip-making like bees to honey

Amid international supply chain restrictions that have stalled China’s chip manufacturing industry, Chinese companies are heeding the country’s clarion call to quickly skill up and help China achieve self-reliance in the field. With all and sundry throwing their hats into the ring, it seems that the country’s currently counting more on enthusiasm, rather than expertise, to make it happen. Will this mean more haste, less speed?
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.
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?
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.