[Cross Post] Why China could be a very important country.

post by pixel_brownie_software · 2020-02-29T23:42:50.423Z · EA · GW · 2 comments


  Technological powerhouse
  The rise of the communist regime
  Conflicts with the US

This was originally from a post I published on my blog on 27th October 2019 about China. This post is intended to encourage discussion rather than be some scientific study about the topic. If anyone has expertise in these areas please let me know.

Hello there!

TL;DR, China's economy is pretty big, they are large fans of open-source software, the US has deteriorating relationships with China due to tariffs and China may have serious communism issues.


Whether you know it or not, China is quite a powerful country which has a largely growing technology industry especially in a city called 'Shenzen'. However it is often facing issues with communism and conflicts with the US which in my opinion, is more or less both of their faults.

I was going to put in agriculture of China, but I had far more to write about regarding their technology - though China's agriculture production is pretty high.

Keep in mind that this is one of my first long-form content blog posts so it will be subject to criticism, and any kind of criticism is welcome. I don't expect you to only use this blog as a source of knowledge for China - though I would be grateful if this blog made you think about China a little more or have you learn something about it as it did with me. I suggest you read relevant studies, blogs, books or videos as well. Most the sources are in the bottom of this post, so please read them.

There is a lot to mention about China and this blog only scratches the surface of China so don't be surprised if I make another post about china. I've also heard that countries like India and Russia also have a large amount of potential; they may get their own posts. Without further ado, time to get started on China.

Technological powerhouse

China is quite powerful in terms of technology thanks to a city named "Shenzen" which is like the silicon valley of china. It is home to the Tianhe-1 which is a super computer which can process about 1000 trillion operations per second, it is also being used to work on 1,400 research projects for research centres and companies every day, which is over double its counterparts in the US.

China is also one of the manufacturer of iPhone parts in the US. In 2017 telecom equipment including mobile phones counted for 25% of total exports to the US and another ~25% was electrical machinery. China's new economy has expanded 2 times as fast as the overall economy throughout the 2010's and created 20 times the number of jobs than other sectors, mainly traditional. China seems to play quite an important role in the US's imports as well as their technology experiencing large amounts of growth.

Though, China was not always like this, since technology wasn't its highest priority. Though, in China's 10th 5 year plan (2001-5) they did increase funding into technology by more than 1.5% of its GDP into it. Only in the late 2000's did they look to develop their open-source technology culture, when Android an open-source operating system, was released.

It was embedded in china's history that it was a country that wanted to avoid dependency on foreign technology without knowing how it was produced. Since Android is open-source, this paved the way for china to make a lot of projects open source. China is the 2nd largest group contributing to open source projects on GitHub. The reason for this heavy involvement was that China wanted to integrate with the rest of the world's tech infrastructure and governments and agencies were willing to make this move. Due to the fact that China has many open source projects, they are increasingly active collaborators, which is pretty great, given the short amount of time this has taken to progress.

There are a variety of industries making their tech open sources like healthcare, transportation, energy etc. Companies like Hauwei, Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent have contributed their code around cloud infrastructure and machine learning. Despite this growing movement, it is still pretty weak compared to contributions from the US and Europe.

There are open source projects like Alibaba (Dragonfly) which is a software that distributes files as efficiently as possible contributed largely by super power Alibaba. Open source in China is even important for their collaborations with other countries like the US, which I will get to much later on.

There is a city called "Shenzen", which is known as a technological powerhouse as it houses many tech giant as well as having a population of 12 million people. 40 years ago it was just a fishing village which became a breeding ground for fundamental research and development. It is also known as China's 'Silcon valley', it is also the location of China's 4th major science centre where the Chinese government intend to become a global technology and innovation powerhouse.

The Chinese ministry of Science and Technology as well as the National Development and Reform Commission manage the science centres like technology parks and government funded labs. These areas undertake basic research in fields like nuclear reactions, quantum physics and astrophysics. Beijing, Shanghai and Hefei are the science centres in china. We have also established that Shenzen is quite powerful in terms of technology, but the scientific research there is very basic, but in the 13th 5 year plan China plans to have high level talent and offer an open research area in Shenzen, there is expected to be built a large-scale technology infrastructure and national labs, focusing on fields of biological science, cyberspace and materials science - which could possibly contribute to bio security, cyber security and then some.

The rise of the communist regime

It has not been too long since the 70th anniversary of the communist state in china. Although there are plenty of human rights relating to ethnicity, religion, fair trial and workers and increased well being in things like education and jobs. The ruling party has achieved quite a lot like building the word's second economy (over $15 trillion) behind the US. Despite this, the leadership is quite flawed in terms of leading government because , there is not a consideration towards the expression of human rights.

Xi Jinping (the secretary of the communist state) suggested the idea of the "Chinese dream", which is more similar to Lenin's vision of communist Russia where all people have access to the shared prosperity of the nation, rather than the 'American dream'. Over the decades people have climbed out of poverty though there has been a large inequality gap. Although post-Mao china did see economic equality, that was only because everyone was poor - very similar to Russia during Stalin's process of collectivization, where it tried to share resources but was inefficient for the people. They say that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result, this is what trying to enforce communist ideas is. The Chinese government blame the US and Taiwan for funding the protests in the city, although Hong Kong's SAR government as well as the central government of policymakers are to blame for causing the uproars in the first place.

In July 2019 someone publicly demonstrated to have Xi to resign and implement universal suffrage but this failed and they died when they were in detention. There were also protests by truck drivers, security guards and hotel workers in the 10 days leading to October 1st 2019, over the same thing. Xi Jinping did not do anything to pacify this aggression, which I don't think would be great for someone who wants to accomplish "access to shared prosperity" with their people.

Managing the communist regime is a very difficult task for the leaders, so difficult in fact that they are kept awake at night - especially since there is a lot of hyperbole on their end about China quickly becoming a world power.

Xi's party faced long-term and complex challenges, and the only party that could defeat them is themselves, the ruling party has 89 million members. Xi often refers to the collapse of the Soviet Union which happened when it had 20 million members. Funnily enough the soviet union collapsed short of it's 69th year anniversary which makes china's communist party pretty powerful (as it has over 4x the members).

Xi did an anti-corruption campaign to prevent official corruption, but there is a catch, the government officials are averse to making any decisions and tend to deflect responsibility therefore resulting in poor progress in reform. Soon after, bureaucratic lethargy became a new target in this campaign but it has not produced any notable results.

Conflicts with the US

China has a number of conflicts with the US. An example of this is in trade, where Trump encourages consumers to buy american by making imported goods more expensive by putting $360/£296 billion tariffs on Chinese goods. It doesn't really help that China also puts a tariff of over $100 billion on US goods.

Donald trump mentioned in his first speech regarding national security strategy that "China and Russia challenge American power, influence and interests attempting to erode american security and prosperity". He also claimed that these two countries were developing advanced weapons that could threaten the US, possibly taking us back to the cold war. Trump said the two countries would be determined to make economies less free and fair, and to control data and information and expand their influence. Although Trump does seem to have a point about the economy of China being unfair, as was established earlier with the Chinese dream and lack of freedom of rights. There were no details about the weapons though.

China's GDP figures have dropped due to the the trade conflict with the US, having lower target economic growth of 6% - 6.5% (whereas 10 years back it would have been ~10%) and it is predicted that in the next 10 years growth would be 5%. Chinese investment in the US fell by 70%, due to Chinese companies not willing to put up with months in a review process with the Comitte of Foreign Investment in the United States, and needing to risk being turned down - the US would not like this either.

Trade between US and China seems to be at stake also as trump criticized Beijing's efforts to militarize areas in the south china seas which can endanger the free flow of trade. They did this by surrounding Navy vessels around a Philippine island, during the time that Trump was too focused on Chinese trade tensions and North Korea's missile and nuclear tests. Probably not the smartest move on Trump or China's end.

Politics aside, China's tension with the US is also quite concerning as it is where Microsoft does more research and development than anywhere outside of the US, with Beijing employing over 200 scientists and involving over 300 visiting scholars and students - it also recruits for roles in machine learning, something that is very important in the development of AI. The trade embargo concerns Microsoft's chief executive Satya Nadella who mentions that “A lot of AI research happens in the open, and the world benefits from knowledge being open,” - perhaps referring to China's tendency to have open-source software. Nadella goes on to mention that this has been true since the scientific revolution and putting barriers on this would worsen the situation.

Though some people oppose the idea of Microsoft researchers collaborating with China's National University of Defence technology, when they were working on AI technologies. They thought that this technology could be used for oppressive means, and could be the communist party in china using america as a way of boosting the communist party's human rights ideas.

There is also a problem with opportunities for the Chinese researchers to work in the US, as visas are for shorter periods - making the researches unsure of whenever they will complete their projects. As a result they would go to other countries, but there is a catch to that, since the capacity at top universities in other countries for Chinese students is limited. UK and Australian universities are likely to see a greater demand for Chinese students in the not too soon future.


We have looked at China's open source and innovative technology as well as their communism and conflicts with US. I believe that China and the US are both to blame for their conflicts as they keep on imposing tariffs and insulting (for a lack of a better term) each other. Despite this, China is quite important because of a few reasons, one is that its communism is pretty large and almost nothing can stop it, if this goes out of hand you could only imagine what would happen. Secondly their technology industry is a large asset to not only US companies like Microsoft but the open source community since their contributions are pretty high.

Their science industry is also growing quite rapidly which, with some collaboration with other countries could help solve the world's most pressing problems. However if relations which China go sour, these problems may be a lot harder to solve.

That's all from me!





Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Prabhat Soni · 2020-06-14T08:18:34.714Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
I've also heard that countries like India and Russia also have a large amount of potential; they may get their own posts.

I think an interesting question is : how does the importance of China, Russia, India (and few other countries) compare with each other? If we could get a quantitative answer to this question, it would help to guide how we spend our resources in these high-profile, emerging-EA locations.

comment by pixel_brownie_software · 2020-06-18T23:03:45.704Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

that is a rather interesting point,

though when i made that point, i was pretty much just taking what 80k said about their problem profile on china and put it in my post. they mentioned about india and ruissia in that post and i thought it would be interesting to at least metion them.