The Chinese technology of tomorrow – OZY

More than four decades ago, when China was emerging from the ashes of Mao Zedong’s rule, its then-leader, Deng Xiaoping, identified technology as one of the “four modernizations” the country needed to embrace to catch up with the times. ‘West. Today, these roles have reversed. China is a world leader in many technology areas, from 5G and artificial intelligence to transportation and e-commerce. Join us on today’s Daily Dose for a deep dive into the future of Chinese tech and how it could change everything from how children might study to how we travel.

AI & Robotics

1 – BAT

You might know FAANG: It’s short for Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google (now Alphabet), the five giants that rule American technology. Well, its counterpart in China is BAT: Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. And although they each dominate their own areas – Baidu is China’s biggest search engine, Alibaba is the king of e-commerce and Tencent is the boss of social media and gaming – there is one area they control. together: artificial intelligence. Between them, the three companies are investors in more than half of China’s top 190 AI companies.

2 – Classroom, with Chinese characteristics

At the start of school, students put on their headbands and begin an exercise where the AI-powered device on their head measures how well they focus on an assigned task. Their scores are sent to their parents. It’s just one of the countless ways China is using AI to revolutionize school – from robots that take attendance and teach basic lessons to facial recognition cameras that ensure students pay attention in class. It’s controversial, but the things that work could shape our future classrooms.

3 – Robot colleagues

China wants to automate its manufacturing to increase its productivity. But unlike the West with its declining youth population, China has to find jobs for tens of millions of new job seekers every year. So he struck a clever balance that also holds promise for other emerging but young economies like India, Indonesia and Nigeria: the so-called “cobots”. They’re robots that work alongside human co-workers instead of replacing them, and they’re ideal for small businesses that want to automate some of their systems but can’t afford – and don’t need – large robots at home. industrial scale.

4 – Data farms

The predictive accuracy of AI depends on the volumes of data serving it. And that’s where China’s giant AI farms come in. They’re big hubs where thousands of workers sit in terminals, sifting through mountains of data and using it to fine-tune the systems behind everything from cars driverless with facial recognition. Don’t miss the irony: China’s AI prowess ultimately depends on human labor.

5 – Big Brother

But there is a darker side to China’s use of AI. Beijing is building the world’s first AI-based police system. It has used facial recognition to monitor the Uyghur minority community in Xinjiang and robot police for security in other cities, raising concerns about misuse. China is also integrating AI into military infrastructure. It has already tested drones that can carry passengers.


1 – edge of the pandemic

The United States and Europe have faced delays in rolling out this technology that could transform everything from transportation to healthcare. But the coronavirus crisis isn’t holding China back: It’s building tens of thousands of base stations every week and already has more than 450 million 5G users, according to official figures. Making up for this lead will not be easy.

2 – geopolitical storm

But spreading globally will be just as difficult for China. The United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada have banned China’s largest 5G network maker, Huawei, citing security concerns. Others like Singapore have chosen Huawei’s rivals. But will bans alone be enough to help the West gain 5G supremacy?

3 – Setting the standards

Even though China faces international challenges, it is leading the process of setting global standards for 5G technology, submitting more technical recommendations to the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union last year than the three nations. following – South Korea, the United States and Japan – together. This could give Beijing an edge in deciding international rules for 5G use.

4 – City of the future

Dusty and isolated, the city of Yinchuan is China’s unlikely candidate for a 5G model city of the future. It plans to use technology to power everything from smart street lighting and automated garbage disposal to traffic management and facial recognition-based payments on public transport. Could this be what all of our cities will look like in a decade?

5 – Health in the Himalayas

China has started using 5G networks for emergency medical care. And the country’s ambitions are reaching new heights – literally. China is building 5G antennas atop Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak. Officially, the idea is to help hikers and climbers access the internet from heights where it was previously impossible. But this 24/7 access to the summit of Mount Everest could also have strategic advantages.


2 – Boom and Bust

Only recently has it become apparent that China’s cycling tradition is undergoing a technological makeover. A nation of cyclists that transitioned to luxury cars has returned to modern bike sharing. Startup Ofo’s distinctive yellow bikes have become ubiquitous in Chinese megacities, and 60 other companies have followed its path, convinced it would lead to success. It did for a while, but poor infrastructure meant no one broke even, and a long-awaited cycling revolution came to a halt, with many of these businesses closing. It is a cautionary tale. Not everything works, even in China.

3 – automatic ace

For years, China has suffered from a reputation as a copycat – former President Donald Trump insisted that Beijing stole everything from vaccine data to military secrets. But one area where China is making a clear break is in automotive innovation. And supported by their government, Chinese companies are buying up international companies with expertise to make up for the lack of adequate domestic talent. This allows them to be at the forefront of developing some of the smartest and most sophisticated cars in the world.

4 – space dreams

And the country’s ambitions are not limited to planet Earth. As it battles the United States in outer space – China launched its first mission to Mars in July 2020 – the country is also spawning a rapidly growing private space industry that may soon be able to compete with SpaceX.


1 – The world on your phone

Combine Facebook, WhatsApp, Amazon, Uber and PayPal into one – and that’s WeChat, the Chinese super app. It has nearly 1.2 billion users across China and growing in Southeast Asia and other parts of the continent. And while India banned the app and President Trump once threatened to block its use in the United States, WeChat’s unparalleled integration of social media and e-commerce has made China the test market. ideal for major global brands, including the biggest luxury giants.

2 – The Next Amazons

Jeff Bezos’ Amazon is the world’s largest e-commerce platform, but and China’s Alibaba are second and third and nipping at its heels. Alibaba’s 24-hour earnings on China’s Singles Day in 2019 exceeded Amazon’s sales in the previous quarter.

3 – Upstarts

But new contenders threaten to challenge these behemoths by focusing — for a start at least — on more niche, but still broad, audiences. Mogujie is a social e-commerce platform that only sells young women’s fashion, while XiaoHongShu targets women between the ages of 18 and 35 who want to buy luxury goods overseas.

Go further


  • China’s Troublemakers: This must-read book charts China’s dramatic rise from tech backwater to world leader, and introduces you to the secret code that will drive the next generation of Chinese success.
  • AI Superpowers: This brilliant book by AI pioneer Kai Fu Lee – the former director of Google China – contains rich insights into the artificial intelligence empire that Beijing is building.


  • Crocodile in the Yangtze: This documentary, available on YouTube, takes you behind the scenes of a young Jack Ma, a former English teacher, who takes on eBay to build Alibaba.
  • Too big for China: Also available on YouTube, this documentary takes you from foot soldiers to CEOs of the next Chinese startups that could rule the world.

Listen (Podcasts):

  • The harbinger: Produced by Yale graduates who work at China’s top venture capital firms, this podcast will introduce you to the country’s next big tech CEOs.
  • Tech Buzz China: This bi-weekly podcast will keep you up to date with Chinese innovations.

HR McMaster on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’

In 2018, after a tumultuous year as Trump’s national security adviser, HR McMaster stepped down and ended his illustrious military career. After serving under five administrations, he learned a lot about how to lead (and how not to). Now McMaster is speaking honestly with Carlos Watson about his disagreements with Trump, his military philosophy and his love for Motown.


OZY is a diversified, global, forward-looking media and entertainment company focused on “new and next.” OZY creates space for new perspectives and provides fresh perspectives on everything from news and culture to technology, business, learning and entertainment. / #OZY

Welcome to the new + the next!

Cathy W. Howerton