Technology

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.
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. 
A shop for Chinese telecom giant Huawei features a red sticker reading "5G" in Beijing, 25 May 2020. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

China looks forward to a new world of 5G connectivity

The China-US 5G race has led to the rapid growth of certain industries, in particular, e-sports and working on the go. Technology specialist Yin Ruizhi examines the possibilities of 5G technology.
Silicon Valley has long had a "relationship" with China, regardless of the White House. (iStock)

The ‘adultery’ between Silicon Valley and China

Hong Kong commentator Chip Tsao notes the “adulterous” relationship between Silicon Valley tech companies and China, the inevitability of technology transfer, and the US government’s naive demand for parity in all its dealings with China.