March 2, 2022
Image: Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty
In this week’s newsletter, we will cover how China’s diplomatic position affects its citizens and tech companies abroad.
Ukraine misinformation and war jokes hurt Chinese citizens. As soon as news broke that Russia had invaded Ukraine, warmongers, ultranationalists and incels in China swarmed to social media. They spread misinformation, cheered for the war as well as the possibility of taking in female refugees from Ukraine and were gleeful that this could be a lesson for Taiwan.
Chinese major social media platforms finally stepped in to crack down on accounts after messages from China appeared to put Chinese expats’ lives in danger.
To be sure, Chinese web users share a wide range of opinions on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But the anti-war voices are frequently drowned out by pro-war content — and sympathetic views toward Ukraine are prone to censorship.
In the midst of all this, China’s norm-setting algorithm rules went into effect on Tuesday.
Tech companies pay the price for China’s muddy war response. DiDi and Lenovo have been under fire domestically for reports that they are suspending their Russian services. Ultranationalists accuse the Chinese tech companies of siding with Western forces. As a result, DiDi, which had planned to exit Russia before the war, had to backtrack while facing a reputation crisis at home. Zeyi Yang has the story.
Gen Z is poised to help everyone - from a rural small business to a tech giant - rethink how their business operations can help alleviate the digital divide. It’s time to give Gen Z a seat at the table for the generation that sees how tech can be a benefit but often is the barrier for advancement.
Beijing’s crackdown on online tutoring has not stopped. Beijing’s strikes last year against private tutoring almost wiped out the entire industry in China. And now Beijing’s municipal Education Commission has proposed that the regulations be extended to cover tutoring apps targeting kindergartners (previous rules only aimed at tutoring services that catered to elementary school students and older). Many online tutoring firms that pivoted to address the younger audience may feel like they’re on pins and needles now.
Chinese tech companies have to tell users about their algorithms. China’s new regulations designed to restrict tech companies’ usage of algorithmic recommendations went into effect yesterday. The regulations have the potential to shape the global algorithm regulatory landscape.
Chinese tech companies were making inroads into Ukraine. Then the war began. The South China Morning Post reports that a number of firms, including smartphone makers Xiaomi and Oppo, were scaling up their businesses and launching new products in Russia before the country invaded Ukraine. But the Chinese tech companies seeking global expansions are now caught in the economic crossfire.
China’s EV industry takes a hit. China's electric vehicle manufacturers are currently feeling the squeeze from rising costs and lowered government subsidies. The steep increase in prices for EV battery materials, particularly lithium, is jeopardizing the otherwise booming industry.
Chinese chip companies’ record fundraising. Despite U.S. chip sanctions on China throughout 2021, China’s chip companies raised a record $10.8 billion in a booming market driven by a global chip shortage. EqualOcean, a Chinese tech information service provider, reported Wednesday that the total funds Chinese semiconductor firms raised in 2021 increased 40.7% from 2020.
People often think of the digital divide as being just about broadband access, but it is also about understanding the needs and tech literacy levels across roughly six generations. Gen Z could help companies develop products and apps that better serve the needs of our communities, our country and our world.
State media propagates Russian disinformation. On Feb. 26, China state broadcaster CCTV reported that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had left Kyiv, citing Russian State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin’s social media post. Chinese state media in more recent days has been trying to debunk rumors and misinformation online. Maybe the platforms should put together their own fact-checking team.