More anti-money laundering measures hit China as top three Bitcoin exchanges freeze withdrawals

Bitcoin's spiking prices have been driven almost entirely by Chinese money-launderers trying to beat the country's currency controls -- controls that have tightened so much that it's tanking the world's real-estate markets as offshore buyers abandon their deposits and disappear. Read the rest

Chinese government creates gate-guarded private village for hedge-funds near Hangzhou

Yuhuang Shannan -- an hour's high-speed train journey from Shanghai -- is a newly formed, walled village in which only hedge fund employees and their visitors are allowed to venture, a kind of Canary Wharf with Chinese characteristics, with schools staffed by non-Chinese teachers, a private club, and its own health care facilities. Read the rest

In China's once poverty-stricken villages, former peasants manufacture a single product for one retailer

Alibaba subsidiary Taobao has given rise to "Taobao Villages" -- 18 villages that were once among China's poorest places, where former peasant farmers have attained prosperity by working in factories that produce a single class of goods (for example, Daiji township, a remote town in Shandong where most working age people have moved away, is now a high-speed-fiber linked booming factory town dedicated to "acting and dance costumes"). Read the rest

China's "citizen scores" used to blacklist 6.7m people from using high-speed rail or flying

China's nightmarish "citizen scores" system uses your online activity, purchases, messages, and social graph to rate your creditworthiness and entitlement to services. One way your score can be plunged into negative territory is for a judge to declare you to be a bad person (mostly this happens to people said to have refused to pay their debts, but it's also used to punish people who lie to courts, hide their assets, and commit other offenses). Read the rest

Piketty: the poorest half of Americans saw a "total collapse" in their share of the country's wealth

In a new analysis of the World Income Database published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Thomas Piketty and colleagues from the Paris School of Economics and UC Berkeley, describe a "collapse" of the share of US national wealth claimed by the bottom 50% of the country -- down to 12% from 20% in 1978 -- along with an (unsurprising) drop in income for the poorest half of America. Read the rest

China to require fingerprints of all foreign visitors as new security step

China's Ministry of Public Security said today that starting on Friday--tomorrow--at one airport then at others, the government will begin recording fingerprints of each foreign visitor upon arrival. China is ramping up security along its borders, according to reports in state media.

Read the rest

Here's what Chinese smog does to a high-speed train

Chinese social media has been blowing up this year with images of high speed trains that have passed through heavy smog on their routes. Here's the same train when it's clean: Read the rest

China's capital controls are working, and that's bursting the global real-estate bubble

More news on the Chinese crackdown on money-laundering and its impact on the global property bubble: the controls the Chinese government has put on "capital outflows" (taking money out of China) are actually working, and there's been a mass exodus of Chinese property buyers from the market, with many abandoning six-figure down payments because they can't smuggle enough money out of the country to make the installment payments. Read the rest

Why connecting to wifi is such a pain in the phone

A group of computer scientists from Tsinghua University, Tencent and Tsinghua National Laboratory for Information Science and Technology have posted a first-of-its-kind paper to Arxiv, analyzing the problems that make connecting to wifi networks so achingly slow. Read the rest

Three states considering "right to repair" laws that would decriminalize fixing your stuff

Section 1201 of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it both a crime and a civil offense to tamper with software locks that control access to copyrighted works -- more commonly known as "Digital Rights Management" or DRM. As the number of products with software in them has exploded, the manufacturers of these products have figured out that they can force their customers to use their own property in ways that benefit the company's shareholders, not the products' owners -- all they have to do is design those products so that using them in other ways requires breaking some DRM. Read the rest

China's private data-brokers will sell you full dossiers on anyone in the country

China is engaged in a bizarre dystopian experiment to use social network ratings to punish political dissidence, "antisocial behavior" and noncomformity, using data pulled from many sources, including purchases on China's major ecommerce networks like Alibaba; but you don't have to be the Chinese government to spy on people with an extraordinary degree of creepy precision: for a very small amount of money, China's private data-brokers will let you spy on anyone in the country. Read the rest

The first-ever close analysis of leaked astroturf comments from China's "50c party" reveal Beijing's cybercontrol strategy

The Harvard Institute for Quantitative Science team that published 2016's analysis of the Chinese government's '50c Party', who flood social media with government-approved comments has published a new paper, How the Chinese Government Fabricates Social Media Posts for Strategic Distraction, not Engaged Argument, in which they reveal their painstaking analysis of a huge trove of leaked emails between 50c Party members and their government handlers. Read the rest

These are the Chinese bros who make bras and underwear

This short documentary by Enric Ribes and Oriol Martínez is titled Xiong Di, which translates in English to "brother" or, according to the directors, "fellas."

"I repeat the same things every day,” says Qu Maomao, 27. “Same clothes, same place, same process." (Dazed)

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98% of Bitcoin trading volume over the past six months was in Chinese Renminbi

In case you were wondering why Bitcoin experienced a crazy spike recently: China's economy is a hyperinflated bubble, poised to burst and the Chinese central bank is depreciating the Renminbi -- so China's wealthy are getting their cash out of the country as fast as they can, using any means necessary: suing themselves, spending huge whacks of cash while on vacation, and converting it to Bitcoin (this is especially urgent now that the Canadian real-estate money laundry is shutting down) -- this is just the latest salvo in the Chinese capital flight story. Read the rest

China's anti-money-laundering rules could burst Canada's real-estate bubble

China has adopted stringent new anti-money-laundering rules that will make it nearly impossible for small investors -- for example, middle-class families who pool their savings -- to get their money out of the country in order to buy condos in Canada's superheated property market (not just Canada, of course!). Read the rest

Timelapse of dangerous Beijing smog rolling in

On January 2, YouTuber Chas Pope captured a noxious cloud of Beijing smog rolling toward his building.

I made this earlier today - a bank of AQI400+ smog arriving in Beijing within the space of 20 minutes. It's already gone viral on the Chinese internet, let's see what happens internationally...

Luckily, Beijing subways have the answer: your own anti-smog rebreather!

Beijing Airpocalypse Arrival (YouTube / Chas Pope) Read the rest

Beijing subway ad for an anti-smog rebreather

Bloomberg Asia journalist David Ramli tweeted this photo of a bicep-mounted anti-pollution filter for joggers, displayed on the wall of a Beijing subway station, the day after Beijing posted record pollution levels, 24X the WHO recommendations, with 24 other cities issuing red alerts. (via JWZ) Read the rest

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