"techno-authoritarian superpower" (with chinese characteristics)
September 10, 2021 12:34 AM   Subscribe

China and Big Tech: Xi's blueprint for a digital dictatorship [ungated] - "By controlling a huge volume of data, Beijing is conducting a grand experiment in 21st century authoritarian governance."

The Chinese control revolution: the Maoist echoes of Xi's power play [ungated] - "The Chinese leader is extending the party's dominance over civil society. The flurry of activity has many of the hallmarks of a new political era." 'Reversing Gears': China Increasingly Rejects English, and the World [ungated] - "A movement against Western influence threatens to close off a nation that succeeded in part by welcoming new ideas."

Xi's Gamble [pdf] - "Xi has placed China on a risky trajectory, one that threatens the achievements of his predecessors."

Xi Jinping's crackdown on everything is remaking Chinese society [ungated] - "The far-reaching campaign affecting industry and individualism comes as the leader prepares for a contentious third term."

Analysis: Unleashing reforms, Xi returns to China's socialist roots - "Championing the common people gives him a moral high ground to consolidate his authority within the party and makes it hard for his political opponents to attack him. After all who can be against social equality?"
posted by kliuless (54 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
One of the really notable things about the way the argument over technology is being framed in some of the arguments I've managed to read from China is that it isn't so much the way it often appears to be framed here, as a more strictly conservative maneuver for control alone, instead the essays or "screeds", as the Translation link has it, are relying on a mix of supporting theory, the obvious fear of "feminization" in the concern over "sissy boys", but they also quote things like Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death as an argument for stricter control in order to fight US soft power, or as one essay linked in the Translation essay has it, at least in translation, "tittytainment", believed to be numbing the masses ala Brave New World.

Other articles emphasize how tech is being used to better manage control over the wealthy to fight against growing income disparity between the rich and poor and to allegedly better address the needs of the masses in real time by being able to better see bureaucratic inefficiency and corruption as they occur. The truth of any of this is obviously suspect to some degree, but the arguments are themselves of importance in how they wield arguments of aesthetics and a different theory of social balance than that of the US towards whatever ends.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:00 AM on September 10 [3 favorites]


Spent four years of my life there, and so glad to now be in slightly less authoritarian and very much less capable of control Republic of Uzbekistan. Wife and youngest son waiting to fly out of Beijing tomorrow, and seems just the right moment to say buhbye to China.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:43 AM on September 10 [13 favorites]


A friend of mine (in Australia) taught English in a provincial city in China in the early 00s, and the experience instilled a lifelong abhorrence of the Chinese Communist Party in her. Other than that, her views are robustly left-wing.
posted by acb at 2:50 AM on September 10 [2 favorites]


Although we are not trying to “kill the rich to aid the poor,” we need to find a practical solution to a worsening income gap that allows the rich to keep getting richer while the poor keep getting poorer.

So... they considered the "kill the rich" option and discarded it as impractical?
posted by chavenet at 3:13 AM on September 10 [5 favorites]


Its amazing how two superpowers, ostensibly from opposite ends of the political spectrum have aligned their socioeconomic trajectories toward the same technologically mediated outcome.
posted by AlbertCalavicci at 5:55 AM on September 10 [5 favorites]


huh. This all seems terrifying enough, but it feels a little propagandistic? I mean, i find it alarming how quickly we have shifted from the 'war on terror' to the new cold war with china. Obama talked about it (the pivot to asia), Trump campaigned on it ("china china china" etc.), and now here we are. I really wish there was a way to focus on the existential threat we already have (climate change), instead of racing toward another one (global nuclear war).
posted by thedamnbees at 6:01 AM on September 10 [14 favorites]


, i find it alarming how quickly we have shifted from the 'war on terror' to the new cold war with china

The cheques must have cleared.
This summer, the Senate will likely pass a broad, bipartisan package to counter China, including the Strategic Competition Act, which contains a number of hardline stances, some inserted by Senator Marco Rubio. The act expands unilateral sanctions on China, requires referring to Taiwan as a government, and strikes references to “One China” policy. According to Tang, the act also appropriates $100 million annually for 2022 through 2026 for the U.S. Agency for Global Media—including government propaganda programs, such as Voice of America and CIA-backed Radio Free Asia—to spread information on “the negative impact of activities related to [China’s] Belt and Road Initiative.”

Tang speculates the Belt and Road Initiative is targeted because it isolates U.S. trade power and therefore reduces U.S. sanction power. The appropriation is part of a larger $1.5 billion Countering Chinese Influence Fund to combat the “malign influence of the Chinese Communist Party globally.” The act also requires that the Committee of Foreign Investment review any higher institution donation above $1 million for fear of espionage. Senator Mitt Romney recently said he’s “very, very reluctant to bring in students from China ... here to steal technology.”
posted by Space Coyote at 6:35 AM on September 10 [6 favorites]


> Other articles emphasize how tech is being used to better manage control over the wealthy to fight against growing income disparity between the rich and poor...

I wonder whether their primary concern is income disparity as much as a fear of private parties aggregating wealth and power to rival the government, now that they've witnessed the consequences of that in the US, England, Russia and elsewhere.
posted by at by at 7:12 AM on September 10 [11 favorites]


I wonder whether their primary concern is income disparity as much as a fear of private parties aggregating wealth and power to rival the government, now that they've witnessed the consequences of that in the US, England, Russia and elsewhere.

I'd say that's a fair guess given how they can witness firsthand how guys like Musk are willing to acquiesce to their demands in order to chase money. Doesn't take much imagination to see that same attitude could be working against them if practiced internally. Given their population and economic growth, better to get everyone to bend to their wants than rely on the "free market" to build power.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:22 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


Two standard responses-- "yeah, but there's no difference between the US and the PRC, both are technologically-mediated tyrannies" and "I'm too smart to fall for another attempt to scare the hell out of the American people"-- amount to dismissing the very idea that there's a problem. If you want to reflect on the alternatives for the future world order, ask folks from Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Vietnam. I'm not sure you'll find a lot of people clamoring for Xi Jinping Thought and its supporting hardware. Those are the people to ask, because they are in a position to choose (at least temporarily).
posted by homerica at 7:28 AM on September 10 [16 favorites]


So... they considered the "kill the rich" option and discarded it as impractical?

The CCP's leadership and their families are extremely, personally, rich.

So yes, it would be impractical.
posted by airmail at 7:38 AM on September 10 [11 favorites]


homerica, if Chinese authoritarianism is the problem, what is the solution? All the sabre-rattling in the world is not going to stop China from retaking Hong Kong and Taiwan, should they choose to do so. Do you think we should fight world war three to protect democracy in those places? I don't, but it sure seems we're headed in that direction.
posted by thedamnbees at 8:26 AM on September 10 [3 favorites]


I wonder whether their primary concern is income disparity as much as a fear of private parties aggregating wealth and power to rival the government, now that they've witnessed the consequences of that in the US, England, Russia and elsewhere.

It’s worth remembering that China has its own long history where dynasties have begun with land reform, had a constant accumulation of resources by the wealthy, then seen the central government collapse due to lack of revenue. That may be more on their mind than what’s happening in the US.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:38 AM on September 10 [7 favorites]


So yes, it would be impractical.

The battle is not over insane wealth, the battle is over whether you got that wealth via approved political corruption (Xi) or via other forms of corruption (Jack Ma et. al.) and thus whether you can be "trusted" or not. Xi Jinping has spent the last few years methodically ruining everyone who got rich without his approval under the guise of "anti-corruption" campaigns, while also banning any publication that dared mention where his corrupt cronies got their money.

Insane corrupt wealth is just fine, it's merely that you must get that wealth in corrupt ways that tie you to the Right People.
posted by aramaic at 8:42 AM on September 10 [11 favorites]


> Its amazing how two superpowers, ostensibly from opposite ends of the political spectrum have aligned their socioeconomic trajectories toward the same technologically mediated outcome.

The best takes I've seen on contemporary China discuss this quite a bit. I think it's really important. I do think there are a lot of qualitative differences that matter a lot, but I think this general point is the key to cutting through the whataboutism that plagues discussions of China.

> huh. This all seems terrifying enough, but it feels a little propagandistic? I mean, i find it alarming how quickly we have shifted from the 'war on terror' to the new cold war with china.

This is another factor that makes discussing so hard. There are a lot of legitimate issues, but there are also so many opportunists. The republicans don't care about China, they just care about another bogeyman to further their domestic agenda. Sigh. It's hard.

> homerica, if Chinese authoritarianism is the problem, what is the solution? All the sabre-rattling in the world is not going to stop China from retaking Hong Kong and Taiwan, should they choose to do so. Do you think we should fight world war three to protect democracy in those places? I don't, but it sure seems we're headed in that direction.

Hong Kong is a lost cause. But for Taiwan, I think it's much less clear. War is the extreme case, and of course possible...but much short of war, countries and companies have let China set the agenda on Taiwan for a long time. It's understandable to some degree, but if you want to know what countries can do, it is stop treating China like a child when it comes to Taiwan. As is, the current state of Taiwan discourse has a lot of countries sort of...treating it as acceptable that if Taiwan does X or Y then China "has" to go to war with them. China is created this idea that these extreme military actions are totally inevitable, and everyone lets them get away with it...because they want access to trade with China, or because they think China is sort of unreasonable and authoritarian and just "does that sort of thing." I think there is a lot that can be done short of war, but it's hard when so many western countries themselves are facing rising nationalism, authoritarianism, etc etc.


I currently live in China, and I'm very pessimistic about the current trajectory of the country. I know (Chinese) people directly affected by a lot of the current regulations, and have chatted with a lot of (Chinese) people about it...doesn't make me an expert, of course, as just to say that this is stuff I've been thinking a lot about recently. My wife and I had been mulling over whether we could see ourselves even considering staying in China long (or even medium) term...but this has cemented, at least for me, that I really can't accept it.

The change that scares me is the most is actually the gaming ban...why? Because it is representative of a theoretical, legal, and technological framework for very invasive social policy, all brought to you by the same country that had the one child policy.

The change that hurts the most is all of the rhetoric against BL dramas and media, which I have been a big fan of :<

I really love my life in China, but the trajectory is bleak. That said, I really hate how the conversation is generally framed (which I touched on above, I suppose). It's either america good/china bad or america bad/china good. The bad in America and the bad in China have a lot in common! But this current by China has me so uncomfortable because I think they are laying the foundations for very radical social regulation, especially because they are really freaked out that nobody wants to have kids (and many people don't want to get married). Still, I don't think China should be framed as _uniquely bad_. China is doing some bad things, but it is often a matter of degree, not kind. Is it scary and bad? Yes. But it is not uniquely scary and bad. I'm 100% sure that many western right wingers will draw from these grand social experiments and make them their own.

The thing that frustrates me, and this is very in line with how the Chinese government does things, is that a lot of these regulations are in industries that really do need regulation, or speaking to issues that are very serious...but they are extremely superficial treatments that will not solve the problem at all, but will let a bunch of mid-tier party officials get their promotions. My wife is a teacher, I know a lot of teachers, I know a lot of parents, I know a lot of kids, and the regulations in education absolutely will do nothing to solve education inequality issues or make people want to have kids. But now huge swaths of teachers have had a huge amount of income taken a way, companies have gone under, etc...I don't feel too bad for the companies, but I do feel bad for the teachers. My wife and I are ok because we don't have kids or a mortgage, but teachers don't make very much here and a huge portion of their income often came from tutoring in various capacities. You can (and maybe should) get rid of that, but teacher's wages really need to be increased...but none of this gets to the point that _this is not what is creating educational inequality_ and _it will not make people want to have kids_.

The fundamental issue is that getting ahead in China is extremely difficult, extremely stressful, and involves a bunch of different extremely competitive bottlenecks. I know young people in all stages of the process and it is extremely brutal--people are being filtered out over and over again. A lot of people don't realize how many Chinese people don't even go to high school...then there's the high school exam, then there's exams for grad school, public service, teaching, basically any job...all of which are very, very competitive! And often for jobs with very low salaries! It's not a sustainable system, and it's no surprise that people don't want to have children and put them through the meat grinder. The elites don't want to fundamentally reform this system becasue they can set their children up to benefit from the pyramid scheme. But as is, people have to bust their asses endlessly for the mere chance of a mediocre job.

I know of many, many children who have had nervous breakdowns in high school. Mental health issues are way, way up and are a really serious issue in schools. Suicide is up (though often covered up).

Again, this is not "China is uniquely bad"...many countries have issues with how hard it is for people to get ahead, with how much stress students are under, etc. But in China it's really bad and it's just so ironic that in what is shaping up to be an absolutely massive wave of regulation, the government does shit like ban kids from playing video games instead of thinking about why they need the escape.

Heh, a Chinese high schooler I know was very incensed about the change and was like...so you're telling me video games are banned because they're "bad for us," but cigarettes are not only legal but are a national industry? And alcohol as well? You're telling me we have to be 18 to play video games freely, but can have sex at 14? And they're absolutely right! It's all superficial, but the common thread is that there is now an _aesthetic_ foundation to the way in which they want to shape people's lives. Men should be manly and nationalistic. Women should be cute and submissive and pump out babies. And they are laying the foundation, legal and technical, to move on this vision. Honestly, everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop on dinks...but, heh, the irony THERE is that IVF is quite expensive and difficult and not always easy to access, so people I know who DO want children have had to pay a huge amount to try! Not to mention that the cost of childcare continues to skyrocket...but no, the issue is that women enjoy pretty boys on TV.

I'm rambling, but it's really sad to watch this from on the ground (I live in a small city), and it's sad to face/admit that we really just can't be here long term. I think in my heart I always knew that, but I have found an amazing community here (lots of LGTB people, for example) I never expected to find and I will be really sad to leave it.

But again, I think it's key to underscore that China is not uniquely bad. A lot of what they're doing borrows heavily from playbooks written by the US, even! Which is a huge irony. Still, while they're not uniquely bad, they are still going in a scary direction that is worthy of criticism. Of course, the ccp also loves to play into "criticizing china is racist" or "you're criticizing china to support american empire," because they completely hamstring legitimate debate...but it's complicated because a lot of china criticism IS racist (yellow peril), and a lot of china criticism IS supporting american empire (every republican). It fucking sucks.
posted by wooh at 8:55 AM on September 10 [60 favorites]


Thanks for the inside POV wooh. I really miss China these days and I am at the brink of accepting that I could basically live there for the rest of my life. America is just too expensive for me, I also am really starting to hate cars and the vast majority of America is totally car-dependent.

Ideologically though I dread China becoming predominant in international politics. The entire inferiority/victim complex that wooh describes can be an extremely toxic mindset. What's astounding to me is that even the most liberal Chinese people I know still say things like "There's no pollution in Beijing" or "Tibet has always been a part of China".

The change that scares me is the most is actually the gaming ban...why? Because it is representative of a theoretical, legal, and technological framework for very invasive social policy, all brought to you by the same country that had the one child policy.

Agreed although it hardly seems unprecedented to me. I first went to China about ten years ago, when sites like Google were still whitelisted. There has been a steady creep of increasing restrictiveness throughout that time. It has become clear to me that the goal of the CCP is Total Information Control (in contrast with the T.I.Awareness of the US 'deep state'). It seems like they're pretty close to accomplishing that goal too. Again what confounds me is the uniformity of nationalist thought throughout Chinese society, and how little interest most Chinese people seem to have in investigating or discussing anything outside of the purview of the CCP, at all.
posted by viborg at 9:27 AM on September 10 [3 favorites]


A friend of mine (in Australia) taught English in a provincial city in China in the early 00s, and the experience instilled a lifelong abhorrence of the Chinese Communist Party in her. Other than that, her views are robustly left-wing.

Chinese is barely socialist, and is DEFINITELY authoritarian. Plenty of leftists would take issue with support for this kind of system. I can't say for sure this isn't some weird astroturf account, but as a hub for leftist anti-CCP content on Twitter, depressed astronaut is decent.

> Its amazing how two superpowers, ostensibly from opposite ends of the political spectrum have aligned their socioeconomic trajectories toward the same technologically mediated outcome.

The best takes I've seen on contemporary China discuss this quite a bit.


wooh are any of these best takes on Twitter? I used to follow more of the mainstream Western journalists reporting from or near the "Guo" but it was really baffling how many of them were willing to engage in a circlejerk of speculation about the COVID lab leak hypothesis earlier this year. I unfollowed most of them at that point.
posted by viborg at 9:31 AM on September 10 [4 favorites]


Twitter...some that come to mind:
@brianhioe is an easy one. Heck he just came out with an article I need to read about china and the American left
@rzhongnotes her account is not as focused on pure journalism but she does talk a lot about these sorts of issues, and also talks about China studies as a field and a lot of systemic issues (racism against Asians etc)
@jeannette_ng she's less focused on China policy than more just issues in writing and whatnot, but her blog is incredible. She speaks about issues like Han nationalism in Chinese media (which she and I both love!), About cultural appropriation, and other tough issues with an incredible amount of precision. She's able to nail the nuance while avoiding a lot of the nasty tropes that plague the discourse

I like them both because they're critical of China, but in the way I described above. There are other people related to the HK protests that I have found have had some good takes..but that's just sort of getting into the more general sphere of accounts that cover various parts of Asia. If you look at who Brian and rui retweet for example you can find more as well. It's tough. Tankies have a stranglehold in many areas but I've found a light with some of the post-HK protest writers as well.

Which reminds me...

@newbloommag is edited by Brian above and has had some good stuff but I can't endorse all of it as I haven't read enough of it (hopefully they won't go the way of Jacobin)
posted by wooh at 9:54 AM on September 10 [5 favorites]


If you want to reflect on the alternatives for the future world order, ask folks from Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Vietnam. I'm not sure you'll find a lot of people clamoring for Xi Jinping Thought and its supporting hardware.

The usual response to this I see from tankies, besides whattaboutism, is that these are all puppets of the US and thus don’t count or are concealing the true feelings of their people. Yes, even Vietnam, since any anti-China sentiment is proof of US influence.
posted by star gentle uterus at 10:30 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


I think the better response is that, as a consequence of China emerging as a global superpower, certain new realities have to be recognized. Specifically, that Hong Kong (and to a lesser degree Taiwan as wooh says) is going to end up firmly within China’s sphere of influence, and that the western powers can’t do a damn thing about it, despite their propaganda campaign.
posted by thedamnbees at 11:08 AM on September 10 [2 favorites]


For me it was very striking, for example, to be in Laos going to an ethical elephant sanctuary with my mom, and for our guide, a local Laos person, to just say out of the blue, "I hate Chinese people" as he was pointing out all the negative environmental and social impacts of Chinese development in the region. But then we can see the ravages wrought by US neocolonialism in plenty of other countries and the issue doesn't seem quite so clear cut.

On Hong Kong the issues seem much more clear. The CCP is in fact acting as an oppressive occupying power there, and if you want to label that statement of fact as "propaganda" then that's on you. I don't doubt this debate could go on indefinitely but it also seems pretty clear most folks already have their minds made up about it one way or the other.
posted by viborg at 11:28 AM on September 10 [3 favorites]


Chuang is a worthwhile journal for heavy-duty leftist analysis of China.

New Bloom is a pretty solid read, in my experience. The article on China and the American left is pretty scathing, and sums up a lot of worries I have about leftist approaches to China. I can't shake the feeling that the facile "China can't be imperialist/capitalist because it's socialist/was a victim of imperialism/etc." argument I hear from some quarters is growing in popularity, either because the people espousing such a line don't know much about China, or take everything proffered by the CPC at face value because they're naive and/or using it to support an existing worldview.

If/when China decides it's had enough of Taiwan and invades the island, I wouldn't be surprised if a not insignificant section of the American left is passively fine with it, again due to ignorance, because they're okay with the idea that Taiwan "belongs" to China, or because the American right wing is vocally in favor of Taiwan (in bad faith, of course) and thus Taiwan must be bad, similar to some of the tankie bullshit I heard about Hong Kong.

As you can tell, I'm pretty bitter about leftist discourses around China. It's maddening to talk to other socialists who are fine on most issues, but then turn around and defend shit like repression of civil society in HK or reeducation camps in Xinjiang, spout talking points from blatantly nationalist projects like the Qiao Collective, or, like star gentle uterus mentioned, yell "CIA puppet!" about anyone in China or the region who has the temerity to question China's current trajectory and its impact.

All that aside, I do hope I can spend time in China again someday. Like wooh said, it's not uniquely bad, and there's so much good about it, too.
posted by heteronym at 11:30 AM on September 10 [10 favorites]


viborg, I think things can be factually true and still be used for the purpose of propaganda. In this case, I think the purpose of the propaganda is to support the new Cold War, with all the defense spending it entails, at a time when we should be cooperating to stop climate change.
posted by thedamnbees at 12:13 PM on September 10


I think in my heart I always knew that, but I have found an amazing community here (lots of LGTB people, for example) I never expected to find and I will be really sad to leave it.

@tony_zy: "In the past 4 months, I've buried myself in creating this short doc on China's stunning underground queer ballroom scene. There's so much love and support in the community. I hope this vid brings you as much joy as it did for me."
posted by kliuless at 1:49 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


>...the common thread is that there is now an _aesthetic_ foundation to the way in which they want to shape people's lives.
In group: those of us with good taste.
Out group: ugh, those people with no taste.
posted by k3ninho at 2:02 PM on September 10


Metafilter: those of us with good taste
and/or
Metafilter: ugh, those people with no taste
posted by k3ninho at 2:03 PM on September 10


In this case, I think the purpose of the propaganda is to support the new Cold War, with all the defense spending it entails, at a time when we should be cooperating to stop climate change.
thedamnbees

You keep saying this, but it's hard to determine what the actual position you're espousing is. As noted above, China's actions in Hong Kong aren't theoretical, they are real acts of oppression happening right now with no sign of slowing down. Should the international community not respond to those actions in deference to climate change? If China decides to invade Hong Kong or Taiwan, should the world stand silent because of climate change? If that sounds like just picking on China, if the US decides to embark on another idiot imperial adventure, should the world keep quiet because of climate change? Should countries hold their criticism of US racial or social injustices because climate change?

Is your position that climate change is such a great danger that all other concerns, be they human rights or war or anything else, should be overridden in its name? That's certainly a position you can argue for, but it seems like it provides cover for an awful lot of terrible actions.
posted by star gentle uterus at 2:33 PM on September 10 [6 favorites]


The documentary linked by kliuless is seriously worth watching. Might even deserve its own FPP, although I think it hits on a lot of the same topics as this one.

I was reminded of the Bauhaus' famous Letzter Tanz in 1925: a party befitting the fin de siècle.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:40 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


All the sabre-rattling in the world is not going to stop China from retaking Hong Kong and Taiwan, should they choose to do so.

Hong Kong (and to a lesser degree Taiwan as wooh says) is going to end up firmly within China’s sphere of influence, and that the western powers can’t do a damn thing about it, despite their propaganda campaign.

Serious question, and I spent the $5 to get an account just so I could say this: how do you think a Taiwanese person like myself should feel when I read sentiments like this?

You have the luxury of being able to say, "There's nothing to be done," and then going about the rest of your day. (If you're like many Western leftists I've known, you might even feel a little good about yourself for saying this—"Today I resisted American imperialism by fighting against New Cold War State Department propaganda!")

As a Taiwanese person, I do not have this luxury. I see how Taiwanese people who speak up get flooded with hate from little pink trolls, who call us frogs and cockroaches and homophobic slurs, and openly fantasize in loving detail about bombs that will kill all of us (but leave the semiconductor factories untouched). The idea that this would stop if we just gracefully accepted our "fate" of becoming subjugated under yet another colonial regime is utterly laughable.

If you don't feel like you, as a Westerner, can do anything for Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, etc. then the least you can do is listen to and amplify what people from those places have to say. We have ideas about what we feel should be done on the ground and internationally. It doesn't all begin and end with US military intervention, and the fact that when someone expresses concern it is immediately met with the reflexive concern-trolling of "Oh, so you want America to start World War III then?" is just another example of Americacentric thinking.

This whole thing reminds me of climate catastrophe doomsaying, which is generally discouraged on this site for a number of reasons. So you think that there is nothing to be done, no escape from this inevitable fate. And? So what? Ok? Guess I'll die?
posted by cultanthropologist at 3:27 PM on September 10 [46 favorites]


Well yes, if China “invaded” Hong Kong and Taiwan I would definitely not want to start WW3 in order to protect their freedom. Haven’t we had enough US wars to preserve freedom and democracy by now?
My point is that the next idiotic imperial American adventure is almost certainly going to be directed at China, and it’s going be justified in part by China’s real, imagined and/or exaggerated violations of human rights. I think it’s worth maintaining some scepticism about western news coverage of China, and it’s worth considering that the military industrial complex (that’s still a thing, right?) might be trying to influence public opinion. I mean, maybe I’m way out in left field here, but it seems like confronting China over human rights abuses probably won’t do much to end those abuses. But stoking tensions does result in more defense spending, more weapons, more nukes, more money for defense contractors, and incidentally, a shit-ton of carbon emissions. And that’s assuming WW3 doesn’t break out, which would be much much worse. We don’t have time for this shit. We need to de-escalate. And it sucks but yeah, we shouldn’t let international relations hinge on domestic human rights abuses. I’m Canadian and we have only just recently begun unearthing the mass graves of our horrifyingly recent genocide. You can write these stories about any country. Going to war, cold or hot, over our commonly held sins is insane.
As the story goes, Reagan said to Gorbachev “if aliens invaded earth, would you ally with us to defeat them?”, and Gorbachev said “yes of course!”, and that was the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

So I guess my point is that climate change is precisely that collective existential threat, and anything we can do to make allies of each other should be our top priority.
posted by thedamnbees at 4:16 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


I feel like I’m posting too much so i’ll just answer your serious question. I can’t tell you how to feel, but my advice would be to accept your new insect overlords. When push comes to shove, the Americans won’t have your back, mark my words.
posted by thedamnbees at 4:32 PM on September 10


I think most of you are looking at Taiwan and thinking "it's such a small place and it's so far away, why should I care?"

And I'm here to say, that's a big fucking mistake. Taiwan is a major manufacturer of semiconductors and holds over $230 billion in US debt. It's a top 20 country ranked according to GDP and it's military is similarly ranked, comparable to maybe Sweden or Australia.

And with that said, can any of you imagine the shit that would happen if Sweden or Australia got invaded and taken over? And if for some reason you do care if Sweden or Australia got invaded and taken over, ask yourself this: Why do I care if those countries get invaded, but not Taiwan?
posted by FJT at 4:34 PM on September 10 [7 favorites]


bees, if that is a joke, it is in seriously poor taste and you should consider why you felt the need to say that. How can I believe you're actually serious about the problem of "stoking tensions" and anti-Chinese sentiment when you just compared Chinese people to an insect hive mind?

It's flippant attitudes like this which make it abundantly obvious that Westerners in the imperial core do not care about us and never have. I am well aware that "Americans won't have my back," thanks. I didn't need you to tell me this.
posted by cultanthropologist at 4:42 PM on September 10 [12 favorites]


it's a simpsons reference
posted by thedamnbees at 4:50 PM on September 10


Mod note: Couple comments removed. thedamnbees, I think your first instinct to stop commenting was the right one, please follow through on that at this point.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:11 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


This is usually something that happens in the twilight of a regime. The Ottomans and East Germany are two historical examples. Huge volumes of data are collected on everyone, analyzed and then it just crawls up into its own ass and dies.
posted by interogative mood at 5:43 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


C Derick Varn has an interview with Daniel Bessner re: Leftist "Anti-Imperialism" (YT Link - timestamped to the start of that part of the discussion)
posted by symbioid at 5:49 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


Taiwanese, Hong Kongers, Uyghurs, Tibetans—and let's go even further and extend this to Syrians, Burmese, Bosnians, Tigrayans, and other peoples that I'm unfortunately forgetting right now—are routinely accused by Western leftists of "stoking tensions" by virtue of merely existing and having the temerity to accurately describe the things that are happening to them. Are there propaganda operations that will take advantage of this? Obviously. The most powerful propaganda is that which is based on truth. It's the same principle underlying Chinese, Russian, etc. opportunistic usage of BLM, the George Floyd riots, the Native genocide, etc. to paint a certain picture of America. It works because it's accurate!

But it is far more important that people be able to speak about the injustices against them, rather than have their every complaint shushed because of the fear that their words might be used by some superpower to do something bad (which they were already planning on doing anyway, and would do regardless), or accuse them of being paid CIA shills. The suffering of the periphery and the marginalized does not exist purely with regard to how Americans should feel about it.
posted by cultanthropologist at 5:51 PM on September 10 [11 favorites]


Sorry mods last post I promise delete if need be no hard feelings!
If you think the Black Lives Matter movement is Chinese and/or Russian propaganda you literally have no idea what you are talking about.
posted by thedamnbees at 6:09 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


That's not what was said, thedamnbees. Re-read the comment, please.
posted by heteronym at 6:15 PM on September 10 [7 favorites]


i was responding to cultanthropologist
posted by thedamnbees at 6:18 PM on September 10


I know, and you appear to be misreading their comment.
posted by heteronym at 6:22 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


? I was saying that BLM is a real and extremely justified grassroots response to real injustices that has nevertheless been opportunistically used by Russian propagandists. However, just because Russian propaganda operations took advantage of this, does not make the injustices to which BLM is responding any less real, nor does it in any way change whether or not Black Americans should continue to speak about the problems which they are facing. Because they should.

Similarly, telling Hong Kongers that they should not speak about the police brutality that they are facing, Uyghurs that they should not speak about their detained family members, etc. because their words could potentially be opportunistically be used by Western propagandists is morally bankrupt, and reveals a pathological Americacentricism.
posted by cultanthropologist at 6:29 PM on September 10 [12 favorites]


i stand corrected, i did misread the comment. cultanthropologist memail me if you want to continue this conversation. I love arguing, even when i turn out to be wrong :)
posted by thedamnbees at 6:35 PM on September 10


Daryl Morey, then general manager of the Houston Rockets, an NBA team, got into a tremendous amount of trouble from the league for tweeting in support of the Hong Kong protestors. Hollywood studios, such as the Walt Disney company, are now infamous for cowtowing to the wishes of Chinese censors. Those are just two high profile examples of a fundamental characteristic of the global economy starting in the late 80's and early 90's: the fundamental interconnectedness of the Chinese and Western (particularly American) economies. In the mid 00's, a name was even given to this interconnection: Chimerica. (Note: Not a huge fan of Niall Ferguson).

I'm honestly far more interested in that than I am in the opinions of powerless leftists regarding whether the Chinese government is imperialist or anti-imperialist. US businesses like Apple, Ford, GM, and Disney that want to sell to Chinese consumers and use Chinese labor have far more power and are far more likely to censor criticism of the Chinese government because they are in the position to do so. Indeed, they already have in the two instances I pointed out above.

All of this makes the current anti-Chinese sentiment eminanting from the US government somewhat difficult for me to take seriously. I have no doubt elements of the US MIC want to use a cold war with China to justify government purchases of their hardware. Those companies only represent the a part of the US economy, though. The US and Chinese economies simply are much more intertwined than the US and the USSR ever were. Do companies like Apple, GM, Ford ect. along with US investors really want to blow up the world economy in a hot war? I have my doubts.

Still, I remain ignorant both of the mentality of the Chinese government and Chinese population and the mentality of a US elite that seems to have a psychological need for American empire - or at least an enemy against which the US can define itself. I feel like I've been hearing that Chinese government either was going to fall and transition into a US style democracy or descend into fascism for my entire life. Maybe it will happen someday. I dunno. I just don't trust much of what I read about it.

That's not to say I'm a fan of the Chinese government or doubt the human rights abuses. Its just that, as I get older, I feel more and more the limits of my epistemological standing in the world. Did Europeans on the eve of WWI have any idea war was about to break out?
posted by eagles123 at 10:51 PM on September 10


the fundamental interconnectedness of the Chinese and Western (particularly American) economies.

Well, yes, but that's kinda what makes the recent developments in China so fraught with meaning. They essentially appear to be trying to leverage their market against neo-liberalism to develop a stronger state apparatus with the assistance of the very governments that also oppose them.

China is at the very least signaling a desire to take the place of the US as the focal point of the global economy, and thus be able to exert pressure or control over a far larger portion of the world stage. By accepting corporate entrance into their huge and growing market, but only on their terms, while denying their own companies like ability to enter foreign markets on foreign terms, they are demanding that the global economy shift towards favoring Chinese interests because they are aware neo-liberalism cannot easily prevent that shift due the dominance of corporate oligarchy.

The claims over seeking to prevent the level of disparity in wealth most of the west faces may be self serving for those in power, but it also can serve to increase that leverage in much the same way the US developed into the dominant power post WWII. A growing middle class with growing consumption needs that accompany it could make China the market the rest of the world relies on for their own economic health, as it once did the US. The accompanying interest in "aesthetic" demands and focus on forcing more Chinese centered communication, rather than English, suggests a desire to supplant the US in more than just the economy, also as the hub of world culture.

Many of the "reforms" they are seeking to implement aren't really that far from how things were in the US back in the immediate post-war era. There was a similar, though not identically enforced, requirement for much of the media to provide certain kinds of acceptable imagery, movies, TV, and radio programs were only nominally free in what kinds of entertainment they could broadcast until the late sixties and it too was highly "masculinist". There are/were differences in how media was nudged into doing this and a very different environment in written works and criticism, but the rough outlines have similar enough form to give some pause regarding the attempt to control the image they wish to show internally and to the rest of the world.

It's easy to dismiss aesthetics as of lesser importance, but assertion of a controlled aesthetic has been of major importance to authoritarian regimes. You can't expect all people to grasp the intricacies of specifics in argument, but if you can control the frame of discussion and create a sense of unease or even disgust for some "other" than you have already won half the battle. The emphasis on controlling data and aesthetics suggests Xi is well aware of this and won't hesitate to use it for greater gain, at considerable expense to those on the wrong side of the desired façade. This matches with the use of argument from people like Postman who criticized the US in ways that were entirely valid from the frame of speaking against consolidation of power. Using those same arguments to build power is a very different and dangerous thing for having a root of truth in a certain context being used for another. It will complicate the way the rest of the world responds to China for their wielding of important anti-capitalist arguments.

(Oh, and, yes, many in Europe were aware of the likelihood of WWI erupting, but didn't realize how horrible war would be in the new technological era.)
posted by gusottertrout at 1:52 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]


PLA[1] vs. army[2]
posted by kliuless at 3:21 AM on September 11


China is searching for a model for how to govern a large, technologically advanced industrial society without resorting to liberal democracy. The assumption that liberal democracy would be a preferable model has to contend with the example set by the other major world power. This system of liberal democratic freedoms just let half a million of its citizens die in a pandemic while its elected leader disparaged face-masks and suggest they inject bleach. A demented white supremacist TV-show-host, who led a lynch mob into the halls of powers after losing an election and continues to dominate one half of its politics. The half which controls the judicial system and is currently banning abortion and legalising the murder of protestors by motor vehicle. To say nothing of doing absolutely everything in its power to accelerate the greenhouse effect. If this is what the world’s biggest liberal democracy can produce, one cannot necessarily fault China for pursuing an illiberal and undemocratic alternative.
posted by moorooka at 9:52 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]


China is searching for a model for how to govern a large, technologically advanced industrial society without resorting to liberal democracy.

I think it's worth considering the possibility that the ultra-rich right in the US has observed China's ability to have minimally-restrained crony capitalism and immense wealth concentration without democracy and has decided to give it a shot here. China isn't trying to figure out how to have an advanced technological society without liberal democracy, they've figured it out (for now). It's the GOP, using know-nothing politics and the power of belligerent stupidity that is trying to get what the CCP already has.
posted by tclark at 10:22 PM on September 11 [5 favorites]


China is at the very least signaling a desire to take the place of the US as the focal point of the global economy, and thus be able to exert pressure or control over a far larger portion of the world stage. By accepting corporate entrance into their huge and growing market, but only on their terms, while denying their own companies like ability to enter foreign markets on foreign terms, they are demanding that the global economy shift towards favoring Chinese interests because they are aware neo-liberalism cannot easily prevent that shift due the dominance of corporate oligarchy.

Heh


Using those same arguments to build power is a very different and dangerous thing for having a root of truth in a certain context being used for another. It will complicate the way the rest of the world responds to China for their wielding of important anti-capitalist arguments.

That assumes governments susceptible to anti-capitalist arguments. Maybe that describes certain non-western governments or future western governments run by generations less friendly to capitalism, but at this point political leaders in the US, Europe, Japan, Australia ect. are hardly going to be convinced to view China favorably by nods to Marxism, Maoism, or any kind of anti-capitalist leftism. Both major US political parties are staunchly capitalist, as are their corporate backers, and even the insurgent left such as it exists in the US is basically composed of social democrats regardless of whatever internal arguments they have amongst themselves when they discuss their ideal political and economic systems if they had total control of the world.

Not only do Chinese consumers represent a massive market, Chinese investors increasingly own large portions of western corporations, and Chinese factories manufacture a large portion of the consumer goods western corporations sell. Its almost certain that the devices enabling us to hold this conversation were manufactured at least in part in China.

Now, I'm not saying that's a good thing, but up until the last five or so, the idea that we should negatively view this state of affairs was largely denounced as protectionist at best and racist at worst. Krugman spent a better part of the 90's basically insinuating as much when people on the left objected to policies basically moving large portions of US manufacturing to China. Doctrinaire "neoliberals", the few that still exist, continue to point to the Chinese success at raising 100 of millions of their citizens out of poverty as evidence of the success of their vision for global capitalism.

It's just hard for me to believe that western leftists convinced by Chinese anti-capitalist messaging are a meaningful influence next to lobbying by business interests that benefit from the current Chinese economic relationship with the rest of the world. I don't see that changing for the foreseeable future, by which I mean the next 10 to 20 years. And Xi Jinping is 68 years old. The cult of personality he's building around himself certainly is noteworthy and alarming, but he's not going to be around forever. What happens when the center of the personality cult becomes too old to lead or dies?

Also, China blowing up its relationship with the rest of the world by taking military action to prosecute its territorial claims will have a cost to the Chinese as well. Its one thing to target celebrities and the odd billionaire, its quite another thing to destroy the business interests of the party officials and business leaders dependant upon Chinese ties with the West.

I guess its just hard for me to believe that everyone would act so foolishly as to harm their economic interests in that way. I'm not saying its not possible, but it certainly seems like both sides would be harming themselves far out of proportion to whatever they think they might gain.

(Oh, and, yes, many in Europe were aware of the likelihood of WWI erupting, but didn't realize how horrible war would be in the new technological era.)

And today we have ICBMS that can deliver nuclear warheads anywhere on earth, as well cruise missiles, drones, and biological weapons. The machine guns, high powered artillery, and mustard gas unleashed in WW1 certainly made that conflict far more destructive than most imagined at the time, but those technologies pale in comparison to the destructive power of modern armements. Related to that, its not clear to me that the carrier groups the US would deploy against China would fair any better against the swarms of missiles and drones China would launch against than the battleships that dominated navies in the run-up to WWII faired against bombs and torpedoes dropped from aircraft during that conflict. It was clear to impartial strategists in the lead-up to WWII that aircraft made the battleship obsolete as a mainstay of navel power, but entrenched interests amongst military leaders meant navies were slow to adapt to the technological changes.
posted by eagles123 at 10:35 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]


Regarding the linked quote, sure, the basic idea isn't new, there's a reason its referenced as 'techno-Leninism" among other things, and it isn't for the drum track. But it'd be a mistake, I think, to think of that as a defining comparison as the world has changed much since the Soviet era and China's position is a much stronger one than the Soviets ever had in the world economy.

That, and my previous posts, aren't to suggest I'm predicting a future, I'm not capable of such a thing, just suggesting that the relative global power balance has changed in ways that make China's tactics more potentially workable as it isn't just the changes within China that matter, but the changing nature of the rest of the world as well.

It's reasonable to point out Xi Jinping is getting up there in years and his "cult of personality" may not outlast him, but it's only a cult of personality if it isn't effective and fades when he does. If his reforms actually provide a greater sense of prosperity within China and become part of a longer lasting system of governance, then it isn't a personality cult. At the same time, one has to note much of the rest of the world is also caught up in perhaps even stronger cults of personality, Putin, Modi, Boris, Trump, and so on, the rightward tilt of global politics is an important factor in why the Chinese critiques may carry a different weight than Soviet one's did. (Obviously Trump isn't still in power, but who will be in 2024? And is the US going to be able to rid itself of "Trumpism"?)

Some of the elements that made capitalism as practiced in the US so globally attractive to many are being lost as climate change and protectivism threaten to close off possibilities for immigration that once so helped the US develop its wide range of scientific and cultural dominance. China is likewise closed off of course, but if the rest of the world is too, then that matters much less and influence is more strongly felt through other avenues. The role of the global South and its relationship with China will be an important factor, as the West has been no good friend to the South for its history.

The other thing worth noting, that goes towards the anti-capitalist messaging, is that China is already affecting change in how companies in the US and elsewhere do business and design their products, so unlike the Soviets, the claims of control this time have merit. Perhaps as importantly those updated capitalist critiques likewise have merit and point towards the difficulties the West will have to grapple with regardless of China. Runaway inequality of wealth is a deeply serious problem that China may use to its advantage, but could cripple many nations in the west even if that never happens.

Likewise the way nations respond, or don't to the coming challenges of climate change and its destabilizing effects will occur regardless of China, but the more secure and unified states may do better than those facing other internal challenges over inequality, in all its forms, and the associated rules of governance in play to deal with those issues. Match that with the imbalance between governments and the ultra-wealthy who will continue to make decisions without regard for societal effect, and China's position in feeding that beast may serve to help their own stability. None of that is to cheer for China as there will be a serious cost to some within their borders and outside that is morally unacceptable, but that is a separate issue from the consolidation of influence and power itself.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:55 AM on September 12 [3 favorites]


For starters—thank you, cultanthropologist, for joining the site and this discussion.

> telling Hong Kongers that they should not speak about the police brutality that they are facing, Uyghurs that they should not speak about their detained family members, etc. because their words could potentially be opportunistically be used by Western propagandists is morally bankrupt

Strong agree, and it'd be nice to imagine that no one hoping to be taken seriously would suggest intentionally suppressing the truth simply because it might be inconveniently used for propaganda. Moreover, if the strength of a political position is undermined by someone loudly telling the truth, I think there is perhaps a fundamental problem worthy of reconsideration there.

Or more bluntly: if someone feels threatened by the Hong Kongers, Taiwanese, Uighurs, or other minorities speaking out about their mistreatment, it seems to me they are, if not on the wrong side of history, at least on the wrong side of justice. Hopefully that still counts for something.

> China is searching for a model for how to govern a large, technologically advanced industrial society without resorting to liberal democracy.

Personally I am a bit surprised at how anathema the idea of democracy seems to be to the Chinese leadership. Certainly we have seen in the US that it is quite possible for elites to amass and maintain vast wealth within the structure of a self-identified democratic state, so it's not clear that democracy would mean the end of China's leadership clique, which presumably has as its primary concern the maintenance of its own power/position and wealth/privilege. My understanding is that, at least within China's majority Han population, the CCP is not exactly unpopular; it strikes me as a bit odd that they wouldn't want the additional stamp of legitimacy that putting their policies to a referendum would bring.

Two explanations come to mind: one is that the leadership clique is full of actual, no-shit true believers in "Socialism with Chinese characteristics" (中国特色社会主义), in that they are convinced that they have stumbled on a solution to the fundamental human problems of governance and resource distribution that's more efficient and more stable than democratically-directed government of any variety. Certainly the last decade or so of US politics, and the COVID pandemic in particular, might provide ammunition for this view. But the need for harsh internal repression of pro-democracy viewpoints doesn't seem consistent with this level of internal faith in the natural superiority of the Chinese System as a form of government.

The other explanation is rather the opposite: that the PRC's leadership class is only notionally committed to socialism, and both is in fact, and understands itself to be, a basically authoritarian state. Authoritarian states tend to be unstable over long time periods and generally topple from within, so this is consistent with the CCP's pathological need for internal control and repression of dissent. This would be consistent with frequent US-based analysis of the CCP's relationship with China's people as consisting of a "grand bargain": economic and disposable-income growth in exchange for toleration of the ruling clique's parasitic existence on the body politic.

> Did Europeans on the eve of WWI have any idea war was about to break out?

While some people undoubtedly predicted the outbreak of war correctly, it should be remembered that the European balance of power had survived a number of crises (e.g. and e.g.) similar to the one that actually triggered the war. Someone sitting in Vienna in the summer of 1914 could, I think, be forgiven for thinking that the ongoing crisis would resolve itself short of actual war, and certainly without a world war.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:20 AM on September 13 [2 favorites]


I don’t think that those two explanations are really so distinct. The Chinese leadership probably have, objectively, “ stumbled on a solution to the fundamental human problems of governance and resource distribution that's more efficient and more stable than democratically-directed government of any variety”; the evidence is pretty much staring us in the face in terms of living standards, technological development and public health outcomes. And part of that solution is authoritarian repression of political currents that intend to replace this system with one that resembles the system that produced Trump or Modi. The CCP has no need to persue the type of “stamp of legitimacy” that would be conferred from an expensive electoral pantomime if this comes at the risk of producing an outcome similar to what has recently prevailed in the United States or India.
posted by moorooka at 10:55 AM on September 13


Ant split says more about money than Ma [ungated] - "The attack on Ant is but one of spike of a multipronged plan to maintain Beijing's near monopoly not only in the creation of currency, but the provision of credit and the clearing of the entire economy. That plan includes a crypto ban and the launch a central bank digital currency, the design of which will create a centralised ledger granting the People's Bank of China access to each and every single transaction done using it."

-India looking to tax cryptocurrency trades and ecosystem in the country -ET Now
-Tech Epochs and the App Store Trap[3,4]

Knocking down Chinese tech walls [ungated] - "China is knocking down the walls and breaking up the powers of its Big Tech companies at a pace that regulators and politicians in the US can only dream of. The two biggest Chinese tech companies, Alibaba and Tencent, promised to open up their online empires on Monday and end the lack of interoperability between their platforms... The plan would also require Ant to turn over the user data that underpins its lending decisions to a new and separate credit scoring joint-venture that would be partly state-owned, according to two people familiar with the process. 'The government believes big tech's monopoly power comes from their control of data,' said one person close to financial regulators in Beijing. 'It wants to end that.'"

China aims for 'civilised' internet with focus on 'socialist values' - Xinhua - "Cyberspace should be used to promote education about the ruling Communist Party and its achievements, according to guidelines published by the State Council, the news agency reported."
A clear-cut stand should be taken against "historical nihilism", defined as any attempt to use the past to question the party's leading role or the "inevitability" of Chinese socialism, and good moral values should be promoted, such as by publicising cases involving model workers, it said.

Behavioural norms in cyberspace should also be strengthened by cultivating ethics and rules that conform to socialist core values, it said, adding that efforts should be made to help young people use the internet "correctly" and "safely".

Internet platforms will be required to improve self-discipline and governance over content platforms such as live streaming will be strengthened, with the public encouraged to participate in supervision.
China uses anti-fraud app to track access to overseas financial news sites [ungated] - "Chinese police are using a new anti-fraud app installed on more than 200 million mobile phones to identify and question people who have viewed overseas financial news sites, according to individuals summoned by the authorities... A second user in eastern Shandong province said police called him on four consecutive days after the app showed he had visited what it labelled 'highly dangerous' overseas information providers, including Bloomberg. 'They said they would remove the 'dangerous' label on Bloomberg but nothing happened,' the user said. 'The authorities also don't disclose how they determine whether an overseas website is fraud-related.'"

-China blocks Bloomberg for exposing financial affairs of Xi Jinping's family
-Xi Jinping Millionaire Relations Reveal Fortunes of Elite [ungated]

China is already affecting change in how companies in the US and elsewhere do business and design their products, so unlike the Soviets, the claims of control this time have merit.

How Hollywood Sold Out to China - "A culture of acquiescing to Beijing's censors is now the norm, and there's little sign of it changing."

AI 2041 — the dance between artificial intelligence and human society [ungated] - "Medical examinations will no longer require human contact, with smart toilets analysing patients' excrement without any need for handling test tubes."
But the book fails to reflect on the most glaring example of its harmful application. No mention is made of the role leading Chinese AI companies play in enacting China’s sprawling surveillance state — unsurprising given Lee’s financial stake in the issue.

His venture capital firm Sinovation was an early investor in Megvii, whose facial recognition technology is used by Chinese security services to enforce strict population control measures. The New York Times reported in 2019 that Megvii’s AI had been trained to identify Uyghur Muslims, enabling police to track their movement in Xinjiang. The company denies that their tech is used to violate human rights.

Chen’s short stories in AI 2041 also lack the dark and witty introspection that makes his earlier work so convincing. The writer gained notoriety with his 2011 short story, The Fish of Lijiang, a brilliantly crafted tale of a burnt-out office worker who goes to a holiday resort frequented in his youth to escape the drudgery of his digitalised existence. The protagonist falls deeper into despair upon discovering that everything in the resort is fake, including the holographic fish he presumed to be the only remaining sign of real life.
also btw...
The next Big Tech battle: Amazon's bet on healthcare begins to take shape [ungated] - "The company is in the process of unveiling a flurry of consumer-facing healthcare services, such as an online pharmacy and telehealth. At the same time, it is steadily developing its capabilities with AWS — an effort to create a new operating system for care that ranges from managing healthcare records to applying AI to predict when a person may become ill."[5,6]

-We've Spent Billions to Fix Our Medical Records, and They're Still a Mess. Here's Why.
-The Billionaire Who Controls Your Medical Records
-Hospitals and Insurers Didn't Want You to See These Prices. Here's Why. [ungated]
posted by kliuless at 3:27 AM on September 15


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