Saturday, June 15, 2024

Three takeaways about the state of Chinese tech in the US

Computer scienceThree takeaways about the state of Chinese tech in the US

Catch up with China

1. A batch of documents mistakenly unsealed by a Pennsylvania court reveals the origin story of TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance. Who knew it started out as a real estate venture? (New York Times $)

2. Vladimir Potanin, Russia’s richest man, said he would move some of his copper smelting factories to China to reduce the impact of Western sanctions, which block Russian companies from using international payment systems. (Financial Times $)

3. Chinese universities have found a way to circumvent the US export ban on high-end Nvidia chips: by buying resold server products made by Dell, Super Micro Computer, and Taiwan’s Gigabyte Technology. (Reuters $)

4. TikTok is testing “TikTok Notes,” a rival product to Instagram, in Australia and Canada. (The Verge)

5. Since there’s no route for personal bankruptcy in China, those who are unable to pay their debts are being penalized in novel ways: they can’t take high-speed trains, fly on planes, stay in nice hotels, or buy expensive insurance policies. (Wall Street Journal $)

6. The hunt for the origins of covid-19 has stalled in China, as Chinese politicians worry about being blamed for the findings. (Associated Press)

7. Because of pressure from the US government, Mexico will not hand out tax cuts and other incentives to Chinese EV companies. (Reuters $)

Lost in translation

Until last year, it was normal for Chinese hotels to require facial recognition to check guests in, but the city of Shanghai is now turning against the practice, according to the Chinese publication 21st Century Business Herald. The police bureau of Shanghai recently published a notice that says “scanning faces” is required only if guests don’t have any identity documents. Otherwise, they have the right to refuse it. Most hotel chains in Shanghai, and some in other cities, have updated their policies in response. 

China has a national facial recognition database tied to the government ID system, and businesses such as hotels can access it to verify customers’ identities. However, Chinese people are increasingly pushing back on the necessity of facial recognition in scenarios like this, and questioning whether hotels are handling such sensitive biometric data properly. 

One more thing

The latest queer icon in Asia is Nymphia Wind, the drag persona of a 28-year-old Taiwanese-American named Leo Tsao, who just won the latest season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Fully embracing the color yellow as part of her identity, Nymphia Wind is also called the “Banana Buddha” by her fans. She’s hosting shows in Taoist temples in Taiwan, attracting audiences old and young.

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