Can't a naked man paddle his kayak during a typhoon in peace?

That'd be a no. Read the rest

China's super-rich get the lion's share of British plutocrat visas

The UK will give you a visa if you "invest" USD2.65M in the country; historically these "millionaire visas" were used by Eastern European oligarchs and other looters whose "investments" were in shell companies or high-end, empty luxury flats, or similar socially useless ways of laundering their fortunes. Read the rest

Chinese iPhones crash when users try to type Taiwanese flag characters

A now-fixed bug in Ios caused Chinese-localized Iphones to reboot any time the user tried to enter the character combination for a Taiwanese flag or the word "Taiwan"; the bug was caused by Apple's China-only censorship and surveillance software. Read the rest

Trump's tariffs will kill making, especially STEM education, while encouraging US manufacturers to go offshore

With Trump poised to exact high tariffs on goods from China, it's tempting to declare the gadget party over: everyone is going to pay through the nose for electronics, from makers to Apple, and that's the end of the story, right? Read the rest

China is sending its ethnic minorities to torture camps to be brainwashed out of Islam

During the Cultural Revolution, millions of dissidents (and those suspected of dissidence) were sent to "re-education camps" where torture and slave labor were augmented by marathon "self-criticism" sessions where prisoners would have to engage in prolonged recitations and disavowals of their heresies. Read the rest

Visit to a cashier-less, employee-less convenience store in China

Scotty of Strange Parts went to an employee-less convenience store in Yiwu, China. To enter it, he scanned a QR code on the outside of the building and the door unlocked. Inside, it looks like a tiny 7-Eleven. Everything in the store has RFID stickers on them. You select the items you want and put them on a sensor pad. A QR code appears on a display -- you scan it and that's how you pay.

After visiting, Scotty goes back to his place in Shenzhen and examines the RFID stickers under his microscope. Read the rest

China has perfected the internet control playbook and now it's exporting it to the world

After decades of back-and-forth over internet freedom, China has figured out a method for allowing people to use the internet for social and business purposes, but not for political reform -- a combination of huge boiler-rooms full of censors, centralization of internet services under tight government control, and control over standards to ensure that surveillance and censorship are always possible. Read the rest

China announces crackdown on ASMR videos as pornographic

In the five years since I first wrote about "Autonomous sensory meridian response" (ASMR) a folk-neurological condition that describes the pleasant shivers some people experience when hearing certain soft noises, ASMR has gone mainstream -- my ten year old daughter describes the texture of the slime she makes as "really ASMR." Read the rest

China mandates radio-tracking beacons in all cars

As of July 1, registering a car in China will involve registering an RFID radio-beacon that will be planted on the car in order to track its movements. Read the rest

Tour of a printed circuit board factory in China

Scotty Allen is a nomadic engineer, entrepreneur, adventurer, and storyteller who lives in San Francisco and Shenzhen, China. His YouTube series, Strange Parts, is a must-watch for me. In his latest video, he went to JLCPCB, one of the largest prototype printed circuit board manufacturers in China.

If you'd like to listen to my podcast interview with Scotty, here you go. Read the rest

Chinese city has a "zombie walkway" for slow-walking smartphone users

The city of Xi'an in Shaanxi province has designated one of the sidewalks on Yanta Road for "phubbers" -- slow-walking smartphone users who shuffle while they read and text. Read the rest

Street interviews: what Chinese think of white foreigners

Asian Boss, a YouTube channel that features person-in-the-street interviews around Asia on different topics, went to Shanghai to ask people about what they thought of white foreigners living in China, about skin lightening, and about "white monkey workers" -- white people hired by Chinese companies to appear at dinners and events to make the company seem more international. Read the rest

China's pervasive "social credit" scheme is still in development, but already profoundly shaping public behavior

Since its first stirrings in 2015, the Chinese social credit schemes have sprouted a confusing and frightening garden of strange growths, from spraying and shaming jaywalkers to blacklisting millions from flying or using high-speed rail, including journalists and other critics of the Chinese state. Read the rest

Facebook gave user data to 'at least 4 Chinese companies,' including tech giant ID'd as security threat by U.S. intel

Despite Mark Zuckerberg's internal war on transparency, the Facebook data abuse reveals just keep on coming. Read the rest

Redditor claims Chinese border guards installed malware on his phone

BigTyPB: "I saw the installation process, an icon appear on the home screen, the police ran the application and then the icon hid itself. Not sure if it rooted my phone or what. I know something was running on my phone because they used a handheld device to confirm our phones were communicating with their system before letting us go." Read the rest

Strange Parts visits an industrial production materials market in Yiwu, China

Scotty of the Strange Parts Youtube channel says, "today we're exploring the Industrial Production Materials Market in Yiwu, China, which is filled with all sorts of amazing factory machines and tons of other strange parts of all shapes and sizes. We see injection molding machines, plastic bottle machines, looms of all shapes and sizes, zipper machines - even a machine that makes face masks!" Read the rest

Tibetan man gets five years in prison for speaking about his native language

For the crime of talking to a western media outlet about his native tongue, Tashi Wangchuk has been sentenced to prison.

Back in 2015, Mr. Tashi spoke to the New York Times about his concerns that Tibetans were in danger of losing their native language. It was a problem that had been brewing for a while. Tibet declared independence from the much larger nation in 1913. They had their culture, their Dalai Lama and their territory. Things were good… for around 36 years. In 1949, Mao Zedong got China all hot and horny for Communism. Looking to regain the lands that they felt belonged to them, for political and defensive reasons, The People’s Republic of China invaded Tibet in 1950, invaded Tibet, scourging the nation’s culture, language and beliefs in an effort to bring it into line with China’s political doctrine.

China’s never relented its stranglehold on Tibet’s politics but, over time, it did come to allow a certain amount of levity for ethnic minorities, not just in Tibet, but in other Chinese territories (both traditionally recognized or taken by force). Diversity in custom and language were begrudgingly tolerated. In 1984, China went so far as to protect the right to the preservation of language and culture, so long as it didn’t get in the way of their political agenda, under the law. So, when Mr. Tashi chatted with The Grey Lady, he assumed that he and the Chinese government would be cool.

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

The most recent iteration of the Central People’s Government holds a more assimilationist approach to governance: One people, one language, yadda yadda. Read the rest

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