The Economist – August, 2017

PRC military reform: shrinking and flexing

more Chinese trade barriers: imports of 24 categories of solid waste banned

Economist advocates government monitoring of vehicle location and collection of engine data as part of a new tax on driving

OBOR: launched in 2013, $900 bn in Chinese investment so far, 86% of projects have Chinese contractors, 27% have local contractors, 18% have contractors of foreign origin

Shared, self-driving electric cars are the future

Pig organs for people: separating the PERVs from the pigs

Ping Xiao’s flexible ceramics: an Anglo-Chinese composite

“the faithful heir” of traditional Chinese culture finds another way to limit imports

During the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese Communist Party sought to overturn the “four olds”: old customs, old culture, old habits, and old ideas.  Temples, mansions, and tombstones were ravaged.  Today, the CCP has taken to presenting itself as “the faithful heir” of traditional Chinese culture.  Every art form is being given a Chinese twist, and publishers have been asked to limit imports of foreign children’s books.

Ant Financial and Alipay

Ant Financial has 520 mn payments customers in China and controls 51% of China’s $11 trillion internet-payments market.  Yu’e Bao, an Ant money-market fund has $166 bn in assets.  Ant Financial just signed a deal to install its payment system in millions of American retail outlets and is trying to buy MoneyGram.  Currently, Visa and MasterCard extract over 0.10 cents for every dollar of payments.  Ant takes less than 0.03 cents.  CFIUS is looking into the MoneyGram deal.

Africans are leaving the fields, but not flowing into factories

Between 2000 and 2010, the proportion of sub-Saharan Africans employed in agriculture fell by 11 percentage points.  For every ten than left agriculture, only two went into industry.  The rest entered the service sector.  The worry: as automation becomes an increasingly good substitute for labor, the development path of moving from agriculture to labor intensive manufacturing may be closing.  The hope: cut flowers, call centers, and tourism.

more restrictions on imports into China

A law passed in February requires foreign providers of digital scholarly databases to censor their contents in China.  In March the customs authorities tightened rules on importing books.

Artificial Intelligence:  Good news – AI will still need humans to train algorithms (nothing like training your replacement) and handle exceptions (the Maytag repairman as the future of work?)

Proto-zoa: using proteins from genetically engineered yeast to produce a substitute for leather

Robo garment-making: you say Sewbo, I say Sewbot, and another labor-intensive industry succumbs to automation?

Blood and Silk: Power and Conflict in Modern Southeast Asia