Listened China’s hi-tech war on its Muslim minority – podcast from the Guardian

Some of the technologies pioneered in Xinjiang have already found customers in authoritarian states as far away as sub-Saharan Africa. In 2018, CloudWalk, a Guangzhou-based tech startup that has received more than $301m in state funding, finalised an agreement with Zimbabwe’s government to build a national “mass facial recognition programme” in order to address “social security issues”. (CloudWalk has not revealed how much the agreement is worth.) Freedom of movement through airports, railways and bus stations throughout Zimbabwe will now be managed through a facial database integrated with other kinds of biometric data. In effect, the Uighur homeland has become an incubator for China’s “terror capitalism”.

Darren Byler explains how smartphones and the internet gave the Uighurs a sense of their own identity – but now the Chinese state is using technology to strip them of it.

This provides another perspective to the report from Chris Buckley, Paul Moz and Austin Ramzy. This is another piece exploring the rise of surveillance capital and social credit in China.

Bookmarked How China Turned a City Into a Prison (nytimes.com)

Children are interrogated. Neighbors become informants. Mosques are monitored. Cameras are everywhere.

Chris Buckley, Paul Moz and Austin Ramzy report on the step up of surveillance in China in response to the Uighurs. This reminds me of an ABC investigation into China’s social credit. Although it might seem harmless to accept Westfield’s capturing of gender or McDonald’s personalised drive-thru service, but this is only the beginning. We need to be informed and have an eye on tomorrow.
Replied to |k| clippings: 2018-11-11 — 11/11 at 100 by an author (Katexic Clippings)

Abandoned? Post-apocalyptic? Or not…the Chongqing Metro Station in the Middle of Nowhere.

When I saw the image of subway entry seemingly in the middle of nowhere I thought it must be some sort of joke. However, I soon uncovered a different world. One involving rapid development:

Development of transport in China

The speed at which all this is happening in China makes me wonder why we speak about ten year plans in Melbourne, Australia.

In part this scenario of a station in a field reminds me of the discussion of the development of infrastructure before people in Stockholm:

In contrast, places like Vällingby, a Swedish suburb outside Stockholm built in the 1950s, were sited around a new Metro station. Building rail infrastructure through built-up areas is extremely expensive, but building it through farmland, before new neighborhoods are built, is comparatively cheap.

Bookmarked Zambia may serve as a crystal ball for countries looking to deal with Beijing by an author (ABC News)

China is building up the African nation of Zambia, but people are worried about what is riding on the deal with Beijing for the Zambians.

Even more interesting than Chinese ownership (do they own the third world?) was the ownership of business for 20 years:

Liu Ruumin came to Zambia from China 20 years ago … As a young man, he took a job with a state-owned construction company at a time before the internet had connected Zambia to the rest of the world.

This investment, both private and state, is nothing new and is a part of a long-term strategy.

It would be fascinating to see a breakdown of Chinese investment and ownership from around the world.

Bookmarked Leave no dark corner – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) (mobile.abc.net.au)

Social credit will be affected by more than just internet browsing and shopping decisions.

Who your friends and family are will affect your score. If your best friend or your dad says something negative about the government, you’ll lose points too.

Who you date and ultimately partner with will also affect social credit.

Matthew Carney provides an insight into the digital dictatorship that China is exerting over its citizens through the use of “social credit”. This is a part of the wider push to use facial recognition in schools and universities and shopping centres. Yu Hua provides a different perspective on China’s rise, looking at the changes in generations. Foreign Correspondence also dives into the topic:

via Audrey Watters

Bookmarked Why Revolutionaries Love Spicy Food How the chili pepper got to China. (Nautilus)

Food historians have pointed to the province’s hot and humid climate, the principles of Chinese medicine, the constraints of geography, and the exigencies of economics. Most recently neuropsychologists have uncovered a link between the chili pepper and risk-taking. The research is provocative because the Sichuan people have long been notorious for their rebellious spirit; some of the momentous events in modern Chinese political history can be traced back to Sichuan’s hot temper.

Andrew Leonard looks at how chilies found their way to Sichuan. There is some argument that there is a correlation between risk-taking revolutionaries and the heat of the chilies. What is interesting is the history of the capsicum and the place it holds in other cultures.

The act of eating chili peppers is an acquired taste in Mexico. Children do not come out of the womb craving a scorching hot cuisine. They’re trained, by their families, to handle the chili’s burn with small doses that gradually increase.

Personally, I love chilies, but never remember been ‘trained’ when I was young. I think I like the sensation of experiencing what I eat, not just tasting it.

Via Katexic newsletter

Listened A not so diplomatic future from Radio National

Diplomacy is often viewed as a way of smoothing the friction points between states, but international relations are becoming increasingly assertive and highly personal.

In the latest edition of Future Tense, Anthony Funnell takes a look at the current state of diplomacy around the world. From Trump’s focus on hunches and China’s emphasis on ‘us against them’, we certainly live in some testing times.

🎧 On Foreign Aid (Future Tense)

Eleven Chinese warships reportedly sailed into the East Indian Ocean this month, amid a constitutional crisis and state of emergency in the Maldives. In part, this is claimed to be in connection with aid.

As Future Tense captured in the first of a two part series, China is an emerging player when it comes to overseas aid. The problem with this is that much of it is not actually ‘aid’ money. As Brad Park explains:

China actually provides a lot of state financing that is more commercially oriented and is provided market terms or close to market terms. And so much of the money in fact that is going to Russia is not aid in the strict sense of the term, they are loans offered on close to market rates, and China is offering those loans in part because it’s one of the world’s largest net creditors, it’s sitting on very large reserves, it wants to earn an attractive financial return on its capital, and so it has an aggressive overseas lending programs. So China wants those loans to be repaid with interest.

This is also a part of China’s growing international expansion.

In part two, Samantha Custer, Abhijit Banerjee and Stephen Howes discuss the sustainable development goals developed by the United Nations. These provides the policy and guidance for how aid should be spent.

Bookmarked China’s Dystopian Tech Could Be Contagious (The Atlantic)

As private enterprise takes an increasingly prominent role in the creation and management of ostensibly public urban space, as neo-authoritarianism spreads unchecked, and as pervasive technology weaves itself ever more intimately into all the sites and relations of contemporary life, all of the material conditions are right for Chinese-style social credit to spread on other ground. Consider what Sidewalk Labs’ neighborhood-scale intervention in Toronto implies—or the start-up Citymapper’s experiments with privatized mass transit in London, or even Tinder’s control over access to the pool of potential romantic partners in cities around the world—and it’s easy to imagine a network of commercial partners commanding all the choke points of urban life. The freedoms that were once figured as a matter of “the right to the city” would become contingent on algorithmically determined certification of good conduct.

Adam Greenfield discusses China’s move to measure ‘social credit’. He explains that there is nothing within the context that would stop it spreading globally. This is a position supported by Bruce Sterling.

One of the consequences that Greenfield shares is the impact such changes would have on urban environments:

A dominant current of urbanist thought in the West sees order in cities as uncontrived—an emergent outcome of lower-level processes. Canny observers like Georg Simmel, Jane Jacobs, and Richard Sennett hold that virtually everything that makes big-city life what it is—and big-city people who they are—arises from the necessity of negotiating with the millions of others with whom city dwellers share their daily environments. In cities that are set up to afford this kind of interaction, people learn to practice what the sociologist Erving Goffman called “civil inattention.” They acknowledge the presence of others without making any particular claim on them. This creates the streetwise, broadly tolerant urban character of big, bustling cities from Istanbul to Berlin to Dakar, Senegal.

I am reminded of Steven Johnson and his discussion of where good ideas come from.


via Cory Doctorow

Listened Three Great Potentials – China’s growing international role from Radio National

We take a look at three sectors in which China is beginning to dominate: trade, artificial intelligence and energy.

In this episode of Future Tense, Prof Nick Bisley, Will Knight and Tim Buckley discuss the investments that China is driving, whether it be opening up the Pakistan corridor or control of important resources and rare metals. Having travelled through some of South-East Asia in the past, it is amazing how much investment China has made.