Technology

Amazon workers, environmental advocates, labour groups, and small business owners participate in a rally and news conference to protest plans for a new Amazon air cargo mega-hub at the Newark International Airport on 6 October 2021 in Newark, New Jersey, US. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

Worsening global digital divide as the US and China continue zero-sum competitions

In the digital era we live in, seven “super platforms” in the US and China constitute two-thirds of total market value worldwide. Yet we hardly see any significant joint efforts or “healthy competition” between the US and China to help combat digital divides in the least developed countries. These are places where more than 80% of the population are still offline and the problem has been compounded by the pandemic. How can the US and China do more where help is most needed?
A man plays an online game on a computer at an internet cafe in Beijing, China, 31 August 2021. (Florence Lo/File Photo/Reuters)

A metaverse with Chinese characteristics?

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg recently said, “Think of the metaverse as an immersive virtual world where people can spend time together and hang out, much like you can do today with virtual reality, dialed up to 11.” Stocks of companies working on constructing the said metaverse have been on the rise. China, with its huge video game market, should have a head start in this realm, but authorities are sounding words of caution. They fear the metaverse will be as ephemeral as it seems and worse, even harder to regulate. How will it get a piece of the pie in its own way?
The Alibaba Group signage is seen during the company's 11.11 Singles' Day global shopping festival at their headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, 11 November 2020. (Aly Song/Reuters)

After reining in the tutoring sector, will the Chinese government target internet titans next?

With the Chinese government’s recent big crackdown on the education sector, some people are concerned that other internet platforms such as Alibaba and Meituan might be next. Technology specialist Yin Ruizhi explains why it is unlikely that Chinese internet titans will be hit as hard.
This file photo taken on 31 May 2021 shows an employee of the semiconductor manufacturer Bosch working in a clean room during the preparations for the series production of semiconductor chips on innovative 300-millimetre wafers in Dresden, Germany. (Jens Schlueter/AFP)

Why no country can win the chip war

Though the Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on many industries, annual global semiconductor sales still increased by 10.8% in 2020 to reach US$464 billion. The current global semiconductor supply chain is highly internationalised. While it is dominated by a small number of countries and regions, none of them has full control over every segment in the supply chain and geopolitics can be a risk factor. While the US has imposed sanctions and trade restrictions on China to hinder its development in chip making, academic James Pang says that given the nature of the industry, the current status quo will be maintained for some time.
A man checks his phone while walking in Lujiazui financial district during sunset in Pudong, Shanghai, China, 13 July 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Kai-Fu Lee: Five ways artificial intelligence will put China ahead

Dr Kai-Fu Lee recently spoke at a summit reviewing the development of artificial intelligence. He gave five predictions about the industrial changes that would be brought about by the combination of artificial intelligence and other new technologies. Lee feels these changes would allow China to lead the world in science and technology in the next 20 years or so. This is the edited version of his speech.
In this file photo taken on 13 April 2021, a man walks past an Alibaba sign outside the company's office in Beijing, China. (Greg Baker/AFP)

China’s cloud war: Tencent and Alibaba up their game as cloud giants eye world markets [Part 2]

In recent years and since the pandemic led to the surge in livestreaming, e-learning and other online activities, the demand for cloud computing and related services has increased significantly. Chinese companies led by frontrunners Huawei, Tencent and Alibaba are launching into all-out competition in the cloud services sector. While Huawei has been fiercely climbing the ranks with the injection of talent and funding, Alibaba and Tencent are not resting on their laurels either. What could be their winning war chests? And are they ready to take on the world? Caixin journalist Zhang Erchi finds out.
People watch a lights performance at TelcoDR Cloud City during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain, 29 June 2021. (Albert Gea/Reuters)

China’s cloud war: Huawei leading the three-cornered fight? [Part 1]

In recent years and since the pandemic led to the surge in live streaming, e-learning and other online activities, the demand for cloud computing and related services has increased significantly. Chinese companies led by frontrunners Huawei, Tencent and Alibaba are launching into all-out competition in the cloud services sector. In particular, Huawei Cloud experienced a surge in year-on-year earnings of 168%, despite US sanctions. Huawei Cloud is also aiming to clinch the top spot in the sector, erstwhile occupied by Alibaba Cloud. Caixin journalist Zhang Erchi takes a deep dive into the issue to get a sense of who's really leading the fight. In part one of the story, he focuses on Huawei.
The app of Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi is seen on a mobile phone in front of the company logo displayed in this illustration picture taken on 1 July 2021. (Florence Lo/Illustration/File Photo/Reuters)

Why platform companies seek monopoly and what happens when governments rein them in

Leaked data from one platform company may not pose a major national security threat, but data from multiple platforms combined might, warns technology specialist Yin Ruizhi. As countries become more wary of internet security risks, it will be increasingly difficult for platform companies to get listed overseas. What is the alternative then?
An employee plays a video game at the Espot gaming centre in Paris, on 31 May 2021. (Stephane de Sakutin/AFP)

When the virtual world is fairer: Why more youths are addicted to gaming

Technology specialist Yin Ruizhi examines the psychology of getting into “the zone” when playing games and the comfort of being immersed in a more egalitarian world.