Category Archive 'China'
14 Oct 2019

Nike’s New Ad Campaign

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Predicted by Genesius Times.

13 Oct 2019

Inferior to South Park

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01 Oct 2019

Red China Celebrates 70th Anniversary by Unveiling New Missile

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China unveiled its “ultimate doomsday weapon” during the military parade celebrating the Communist Regime’s 70th Anniversary.

The Sun:

The Dongfeng-41 is a 7,672 mph intercontinental ballistic missile [carrying 10 nuclear warheads]that is said to have the furthest range of any nuclear missile and could reach the US in 30 minutes.

20 Sep 2019

Big Brother is Monitoring Your Brain in School in China

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Downright frightening.

HT: Karen L. Myers.

26 Aug 2019

It’s Already Happening Here

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Chinese Social Credit Score

Fast Company notes that Red China’s social credit system is quietly being emulated in Western societies by tech companies, acting on the basis of their own political prejudices and entirely on their own authority.

Have you heard about China’s social credit system? It’s a technology-enabled, surveillance-based nationwide program designed to nudge citizens toward better behavior. The ultimate goal is to “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step,” according to the Chinese government.

In place since 2014, the social credit system is a work in progress that could evolve by next year into a single, nationwide point system for all Chinese citizens, akin to a financial credit score. It aims to punish for transgressions that can include membership in or support for the Falun Gong or Tibetan Buddhism, failure to pay debts, excessive video gaming, criticizing the government, late payments, failing to sweep the sidewalk in front of your store or house, smoking or playing loud music on trains, jaywalking, and other actions deemed illegal or unacceptable by the Chinese government.

It can also award points for charitable donations or even taking one’s own parents to the doctor.

Punishments can be harsh, including bans on leaving the country, using public transportation, checking into hotels, hiring for high-visibility jobs, or acceptance of children to private schools. It can also result in slower internet connections and social stigmatization in the form of registration on a public blacklist.

China’s social credit system has been characterized in one pithy tweet as “authoritarianism, gamified.”

At present, some parts of the social credit system are in force nationwide and others are local and limited (there are 40 or so pilot projects operated by local governments and at least six run by tech giants like Alibaba and Tencent).

Beijing maintains two nationwide lists, called the blacklist and the red list—the former consisting of people who have transgressed, and the latter people who have stayed out of trouble (a “red list” is the Communist version of a white list.) These lists are publicly searchable on a government website called China Credit.

The Chinese government also shares lists with technology platforms. So, for example, if someone criticizes the government on Weibo, their kids might be ineligible for acceptance to an elite school.

Public shaming is also part of China’s social credit system. Pictures of blacklisted people in one city were shown between videos on TikTok in a trial, and the addresses of blacklisted citizens were shown on a map on WeChat.

Some Western press reports imply that the Chinese populace is suffocating in a nationwide Skinner box of oppressive behavioral modification. But some Chinese are unaware that it even exists. And many others actually like the idea. One survey found that 80% of Chinese citizens surveyed either somewhat or strongly approve of social credit system.

Many Westerners are disturbed by what they read about China’s social credit system. But such systems, it turns out, are not unique to China. A parallel system is developing in the United States, in part as the result of Silicon Valley and technology-industry user policies, and in part by surveillance of social media activity by private companies.

Here are some of the elements of America’s growing social credit system.

The New York State Department of Financial Services announced earlier this year that life insurance companies can base premiums on what they find in your social media posts. That Instagram pic showing you teasing a grizzly bear at Yellowstone with a martini in one hand, a bucket of cheese fries in the other, and a cigarette in your mouth, could cost you. On the other hand, a Facebook post showing you doing yoga might save you money. (Insurance companies have to demonstrate that social media evidence points to risk, and not be based on discrimination of any kind—they can’t use social posts to alter premiums based on race or disability, for example.)

The use of social media is an extension of the lifestyle questions typically asked when applying for life insurance, such as questions about whether you engage in rock climbing or other adventure sports. Saying “no,” but then posting pictures of yourself free-soloing El Capitan, could count as a “yes.”

A company called PatronScan sells three products—kiosk, desktop, and handheld systems—designed to help bar and restaurant owners manage customers. PatronScan is a subsidiary of the Canadian software company Servall Biometrics, and its products are now on sale in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

PatronScan helps spot fake IDs—and troublemakers. When customers arrive at a PatronScan-using bar, their ID is scanned. The company maintains a list of objectionable customers designed to protect venues from people previously removed for “fighting, sexual assault, drugs, theft, and other bad behavior,” according to its website. A “public” list is shared among all PatronScan customers. So someone who’s banned by one bar in the U.S. is potentially banned by all the bars in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada that use the PatronScan system for up to a year. (PatronScan Australia keeps a separate system.)

Judgment about what kind of behavior qualifies for inclusion on a PatronScan list is up to the bar owners and managers. Individual bar owners can ignore the ban, if they like. Data on non-offending customers is deleted in 90 days or less. Also: PatronScan enables bars to keep a “private” list that is not shared with other bars, but on which bad customers can be kept for up to five years.

PatronScan does have an “appeals” process, but it’s up to the company to grant or deny those appeals.

Thanks to the sharing economy, the options for travel have been extended far beyond taxis and hotels. Uber and Airbnb are leaders in providing transportation and accommodation for travelers. But there are many similar ride-sharing and peer-to-peer accommodations companies providing similar services.

Airbnb—a major provider of travel accommodation and tourist activities—bragged in March that it now has more than 6 million listings in its system. That’s why a ban from Airbnb can limit travel options.

Airbnb can disable your account for life for any reason it chooses, and it reserves the right to not tell you the reason. The company’s canned message includes the assertion that “This decision is irreversible and will affect any duplicated or future accounts. Please understand that we are not obligated to provide an explanation for the action taken against your account.” The ban can be based on something the host privately tells Airbnb about something they believe you did while staying at their property. Airbnb’s competitors have similar policies.

It’s now easy to get banned by Uber, too. Whenever you get out of the car after an Uber ride, the app invites you to rate the driver. What many passengers don’t know is that the driver now also gets an invitation to rate you. Under a new policy announced in May: If your average rating is “significantly below average,” Uber will ban you from the service.

You can be banned from communications apps, too. For example, you can be banned on WhatsApp if too many other users block you. You can also get banned for sending spam, threatening messages, trying to hack or reverse-engineer the WhatsApp app, or using the service with an unauthorized app.

WhatsApp is small potatoes in the United States. But in much of the world, it’s the main form of electronic communication. Not being allowed to use WhatsApp in some countries is as punishing as not being allowed to use the telephone system in America.

RTWT

This article fails to note the censorship and deplatforming regimes quite thoroughly already in place in giant social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, or the censorship of conservative speech by Google, or the removal of firearms videos by YouTube, or the denial of banking services to firearms dealers by a number of big banks. In the West, we get soft authoritarianism via Capitalism.

30 Jul 2019

Li ZiQi

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Li Ziqi, young Chinese girl, has become a huge celebrity through her videos which demonstrate beautifully the preparation of traditional Chinese foods.

R.A. tells her story.

Li Ziqi said in an interview, “I am shooting about my imaginary life in the future.” In an elegant traditional Hanfu, she appears in a place like Utopia, surrounded by a landscape with an old-fashioned attractiveness, all natural ingredients, simple and practical cooking utensils, traditional yet retro cooking steps that fascinate her audience deeply. It helps to relax a lot of people who are living a busy urban life. Her videos with an ancient style are very eye-catching, just like being washed by a chilly wind. The word “traditional” describes her videos the best.

All by her own effort, Li Ziqi has explored a whole new area of short videos – making delicious meals in an ancient style. Watching her videos may make you feel like traveling in a time machine, as if a versatile beautiful lady from ancient China has come to the modern Internet world. Her videos have also made her audience dream of “Taoyuan Meng” (the dream of Utopia) as well.

RTWT

HT: Vanderleun.

29 Jul 2019

Chinese Emperor’s Terracotta Army Based on Hellenistic Art

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The Independent reports on a surprising breakthrough in our understanding of Qin Dynasty China.

Ancient Greeks artists could have travelled to China 1,500 years before Marco Polo’s historic trip to the east and helped design the famous Terracotta Army, according to new research.

The startling claim is based on two key pieces of evidence: European DNA discovered at sites in China’s Xinjiang province from the time of the First Emperor in the Third Century BC and the sudden appearance of life-sized statues.

Before this time, depictions of humans in China are thought to have been figurines of up to about 20cm.

But 8,000 extraordinarily life-like terracotta figures were found buried close to the massive tomb of China’s First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, who unified the country in 221BC.

The theory – outlined in a documentary, The Greatest Tomb on Earth: Secrets of Ancient China, to be shown on BBC Two on Sunday – is that Shi Huang and Chinese artists may have been influenced by the arrival of Greek statues in central Asia in the century following Alexander the Great, who led an army into India.

But the researchers also speculated that Greek artists could have been present when the soldiers of the Terracotta Army were made.

One of the team, Professor Lukas Nickel, chair of Asian art history at Vienna University, said: “I imagine that a Greek sculptor may have been at the site to train the locals.”

Other evidence of connections to Greece came from a number of exquisite bronze figurines of birds excavated from the tomb site. These were made with a lost wax technique known in Ancient Greece and Egypt.

There was a breakthrough in sculpture particularly in ancient Athens at about the time when the city became a democracy in the 5th century BC.

Previously, human figures have been stiff and stylised representations, but the figures carved on the Parthenon temple were so life-like it appeared the artists had turned stone into flesh.

Their work has rarely been bettered – the techniques used were largely forgotten until they were revived in the Renaissance when artists carved statues in the Ancient Greek style, most notably Michelangelo’s David.

Dr Li Xiuzhen, senior archaeologist at the tomb’s museum, agreed that it appeared Ancient Greece had influenced events in China more than 7,000km.

“We now have evidence that close contact existed between the First Emperor’s China and the West before the formal opening of the Silk Road,” the expert said.

“This is far earlier than we formerly thought.

RTWT

18 Jul 2019

Mobile Payments Rendering Cash Obsolete in China

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What could possibly be better for state surveillance and control? (Logic Magazine)

This summer I spent a month in Beijing. I’d last lived in China in 2016, and I was relieved to find my favorite noodle shops in their usual niches. But this time round, navigating the city felt inexplicably different. The cabs I tried to hail passed me by. On the subway, other riders jostled past me, swiping their phones at the turnstiles as I fumbled with my ticket. When I tried to sneak into the cafeteria in Renmin University for a cheap lunch, clutching my grubby backpack, I made it past the guards only to be stopped at the cash register—apart from student cards, the only form of payment accepted was Alipay.

It gradually dawned on me that that was why Beijing felt like a different city from the one I knew: in the two years since I’d left, the whole city had switched over to mobile payments on China-specific platforms to which I, a foreigner, had no access. These days in Beijing, the green and blue logos of mobile payment providers WeChat Pay and Alipay appear everywhere, from breakfast stalls to five-star hotels.

Just about every foreigner who’s visited China in the last ten years comments on the dizzying speed at which physical infrastructure is built. When I first moved to Shanghai in 2012, I worked in the city’s financial district, home to a skyscraper nicknamed the “bottle opener”: according to Wikipedia, it’s the world’s tallest building with a hole in it. But these days, China’s part in the race to build the world’s tallest building appears to be waning. China’s much-vaunted speed in infrastructure building has more recently been directed at the digital rather than the physical world.

RTWT

11 Feb 2019

Shang Owl

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10 Jan 2019

Will China Surpass the US as the Leading Economic (and Military) Power?

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Noah Smith, at Bloomberg, thinks China will inevitably come to rule the economic roost, simply as the result of its four-times-larger population.

J.R. Dunn does not agree, arguing that China is fatally handicapped by its collectivism and authoritarianism.

Population imbalance – China’s “single-child policy” is a world-class example of unintended consequences. Initiated by the Communist Party in September 1980 to control population, the policy forbade more than one child outside exceptional circumstances. It immediately ran up against cultural preconditions – in China, as in most of Asia, male children are prized for both economic and religious reasons. Females marry out of the family, which means they are not available to care for elderly parents. It is also up to the male child to maintain religious observances regarding ancestors to assure a worthy and stable afterlife. (This is still taken quite seriously even with China’s policy of national atheism.) The result was a wholesale massacre of females by both abortion and infanticide measuring in the millions. Today China has a surplus of males, officially acknowledged as being around 4% but probably much higher. This means that millions of Chinese men will never marry and, in many cases, will never have a girlfriend. This will inevitably lead to frustration, anger, and acting out. The Chinese version of Fight Club will be no joking matter.

Another effect is legions of older people with not enough of a younger population to support them, a social security problem that dwarfs any such in the West.

The Chinese solution is likely to be simplicity itself: shoot the punks and let the geezers starve. Either way, it means social upheaval.

Social Credit – The most recent Chinese communist brainstorm involves the “Social Credit” (shehui xinyong) system, which has no connection whatsoever to the utopian early 20th-century economic proposal of that name. Under the Chinese system, citizens are issued 1,000 “credits” and then monitored cybernetically, electronically, and socially. Any “anti-social” or anti-party activity results in credits being taken away. It’s impossible to add points. After points drop to a certain level (It’s unclear exactly what this actually is. It’s also unclear how many points each offense costs, along with other details.), penalties kick in. These range from being banned from airline travel and expelled from high-ranking schools to cutting down internet access and taking your dog away.

The China lobby excuses the policy by comparing it to Western customer loyalty programs and asserting that it’s not in place around the whole country yet. In truth, it’s a typical aspect of Chinese communism, which loosens the reins for a period before tightening them again. Mao instituted the “Thousand Flowers” campaign in the ’50s that encouraged criticism of the party, following up a few years later with the Great Cultural Revolution, in which those critics were shot or sent to the Gobi.

Like it or not, progress of any sort – social, scientific, artistic – is propelled by the mavericks. Beethoven, Tesla, Einstein, Patton, Kubrick, Trump…all individualists – cantankerous, arrogant, belligerent – who pushed against social inertia, no matter what the consequences. Their story, from Socrates on, is the story of the West. With the “Social Credit” program, China is returning to its immemorial preference for stasis, which has led to disaster time and again. The end result will be a society that is stratified, ossified, and petrified. There is evidence that this is occurring right now.

To these failings we can add an entrenched system of intellectual theft on a worldwide scale that curtails any tradition of serious research and scholarship. Pollution on an order as yet unwitnessed elsewhere, ravaging public health to a degree unknown but doubtlessly horrendous. Central Asian provinces constantly on the verge of revolt. Open hostility from virtually all of China’s neighbors, including such touch-me-not states as Japan, India, and Vietnam.

Some failings are more subtle. A popular restaurant near Peking consists of dining areas surrounding a large pit containing a number of lions, who are fed live goats, sheep, and other livestock for the viewing pleasure of diners. This is a level of decadence that leaves the West in the dust (itself a concept that boggles the mind) and suggests serious social and psychological issues that have yet to be acknowledged, much less grappled with.

And these problems, we’re told, are going to be overcome by a national leader who poses as Mao while having the gravitas and charisma of a junior accountant – not to forget his national party stocked from bottom to top with virtual clones of himself.

RTWT

29 Dec 2018

How and Why Imperial China Made Eunuchs

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Inkstone News:

The presence of eunuchs in the Forbidden City, the ancient home to many Chinese emperors, was a long-standing tradition.

These emasculated men served as palace menials, spies and harem watchdogs. An army of eunuchs was attached to the court, primarily to safeguard the imperial ladies’ chastity.

Confucian values deemed it vital for the emperor, seen as heaven’s representative on Earth, to produce a direct male heir to maintain harmony between heaven and Earth.

Not wanting to leave anything to chance during a period with a high infant mortality rate, the world’s largest harem was placed at the emperor’s disposal to ensure enough heirs would survive into adulthood.

Court chronicles record Chinese kings keeping emasculated servants in the eighth century BC, but historians generally date the appearance of eunuchs in court to the reign of Han Huan Di (AD146-167).

The government role occupied by eunuchs meant that over time they were able to exert enough influence on emperors to gain control of state affairs and even cause the fall of some dynasties.

The power of the eunuchs endured partly due to the ambitions of the consort families and partly as a result of the secluded lifestyle which etiquette prescribed for the emperor.

The eunuch system came to an end when it was abolished on November 5, 1924, when the last emperor, Puyi was driven out of the Forbidden City, where he had been living since the 1912 revolution.

Coercion: About an eighth of those who became eunuchs were young children bowing to parental pressure. Families would receive a cash reward for donating their sons, but they also hoped their children would have a more comfortable and prosperous life in the palace.

Poverty: Some adults, with no economic means to lead an honest and acceptable way of life, preferred emasculation to a life of begging and stealing.

Free choice: Some men, who could only envision a life of futility and hardship, were envious of the seemingly easy lifestyle enjoyed by palace eunuchs.

Punishment: Emperor Guangwu of Han (who reigned between 25 and 57BC) commuted all death sentences to emasculation. Successive emperors followed this edict.

The How-It-Was-Done comes here.

28 Aug 2018

The Chinese Military is Studying Military History

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Lyle J. Goldstein, in the National Interest, reports that The Chinese military appears to be making a careful study of the military history of its likely main opponents: the US and Japan.

China’s military has not had much combat experience in recent decades, and this is recognized among Chinese military leaders as a potentially serious problem. The reasons for this scarcity of battlefield know—how are obvious and might even be praise-worthy. It has been nearly four decades since Beijing undertook a significant military campaign, so how would its armed forces have attained this knowledge? As I have argued many times before in this forum, nearly four decades without resorting to a major use of force represents very impressive restraint for any great power.
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“China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has sought to remedy its lack of actual combat experience by the careful study of military history, including the bloody Pacific War as I have noted in other Dragon Eye columns. August is steamy in the South Pacific and so the Guadalcanal campaign that began in August 1942 was hell. It was through that campaign that the fate of the Pacific was decided. While the dazzling miracle of Midway gets infinitely more attention, the grinding attrition battle just a few months later of Guadalcanal, which could be termed the ‘Verdun’ of the Pacific War, ultimately proved to be the turning point. Losing 38 ships and perhaps over 700 aircraft proved devastating for Japan, although these losses were quite similar to those suffered on the American side. The difference, of course, was that America could replace these losses quite easily.

“Late last year (Dec 2017), the Chinese Navy’s official magazine Navy Today [当代海军] carried a reasonably detailed analysis of the crucial Guadalcanal campaign. The article concludes that Japan’s ‘command decisions and weapons development errors greatly increased the losses [指挥决策和装备研发上的失误更是大大加速了失败],’ together with fundamental problems in Japan’s strategic culture. The Chinese analysis of Japanese mistakes in the campaign is neatly divided between errors in strategic judgment, operational and tactical errors, as well as mistakes in developing appropriate weaponry.

“At the grand strategic level, this Chinese Navy analysis assesses that Japan’s mistakes in the Guadalcanal campaign were partly a failure to reckon with the true significance of the Midway battle a couple of months prior in June 1942. Tokyo seemingly maintained its offensive posture in the South Pacific without recognizing the fundamental fact of ‘the mobilization of America’s enormous industrial capacity [美国强大工业机器启动].’ The analysis asserts that much of the Japanese military was not even informed of the truly devastating results (for Japan) of Midway and that Tokyo’s decision-making was plagued by an incessant and pervasive cult of the offensive. It is noted that the South Pacific could have been invaluable to Japan’s effort to sever U.S. supply lines, but that a critical shortage of airborne intelligence inhibited effective decision-making. The great importance of the U.S. capture of Henderson Field early in the Guadalcanal campaign is noted, and this Chinese analysis concluded, meant that the Japanese pilots flying from distant Rabaul could not offer effective support to Japanese ground troops on the contested island, while Japanese carriers ‘would not dare to overreach by approaching Guadalcanal’ [未敢过分接近瓜岛]. Japanese strategic decisions are assessed to have been plagued by poor coordination between ground and naval forces in the completely ‘unclear situation [情况不明].’”

RTWT

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