Hello Interconnected Readers:
Fresh off a two-weekend break, I’m excited to publish another issue of our new monthly product launched last month. It is now called “Tomorrow’s News”, not the original name “Articles That *Will* Matter”, because it is a better match with its Chinese name 明日要闻. The Chinese name was suggested by one of our readers, who shared his idea via Twitter. (Thank you @luciano7845! )
The goal of this monthly issue is to intentionally not pay attention to news of the day and highlight stories that will still have an impact one year, three years, or even ten years from now. Thus, “Tomorrow’s News”. I purposely gather articles from both English and Chinese language sources, because that balance is important. However, I won’t place an artificial number on how many articles of this calibre I’ll highlight per edition; quality trumps quantity.
With that in mind, I’m highlighting these four stories in this August 2021 edition of “Tomorrow’s News”:
- “Unpacking China’s game-changing data law” (English Source: Protocol)
- “The race to build Africa’s 5G networks is entangled in a U.S. push to cut Huawei’s dominance” (English Source: Rest of World)
- “Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issues another draft policy for public comment, focusing on self-driving and OTA” (Chinese Source: Huxiu)
- “Office Secrets: 996 tastes bitter, but ‘company-funded dating’ is sweet” (Chinese Source: 36Kr)
Before you read on, please check out our previous deep dive post: "What Does Databricks Do?"
“Unpacking China’s game-changing data law” (English Source: Protocol)
Why this will matter: the release of China’s Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) could be its biggest source of “soft power” yet. This law ties personal data regulation directly to national security interests, which will make the PIPL an attractive example to emulate for other countries seeking to regulate their own citizens’ data. This article mentions Vietnam, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka as countries currently working on their data localization policies. I can see all four nations taking a page out of the PIPL, consequently augmenting China’s soft power. (What country’s government doesn’t want more “national security”?) The US-led soft power projection via “regime export” has largely failed (see the Afghanistan pullout). But soft power projection via “regulation export” is easier, especially in the realm of technology and data regulation where it’s mostly a vacuum except for the EU’s GDPR. This is a vacuum that China is filling faster than the US.
“The race to build Africa’s 5G networks is entangled in a U.S. push to cut Huawei’s dominance” (English Source: Rest of World)
Why this will matter: while the direct confrontation between the US and China gets the most attention, the proxy battle for influence in emerging markets is where the long term “chess game” is played. Africa is one of those markets. The pieces in this “chess game” used to be roads, bridges, and airports. They have now shifted to telecom infrastructure, specifically 5G. This article, well-reported by Abubakar Idris who’s based in Nigeria, highlights an important development -- the increasing sophistication of African government officials and businesspeople in navigating the US-China power dynamic. The main character of this story, Parallel Wireless, is an American company leveraging OpenRAN (an open source implementation of 5G that’s largely untested) and fear around Huawei to gain market share in Africa. But the company is also funded by In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture investment division. In the eyes of African officials, this tie is no less worrisome than Huawei’s tie to the Chinese government.
“Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issues another draft policy for public comment, focusing on self-driving and OTA” (Chinese Source: Huxiu)
Why this will matter: this draft regulation from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is important in two ways. First, this release happened shortly after the Cyberspace Administration of China also released its own draft policies related to self-driving. Are these announcements coordinated or is it another example of “turf war” between these two agencies? That’s unclear, which is the important point to watch for -- the internal battle and non-monolithic nature of the Chinese government. We highlighted this point in Tomorrow’s News July edition as well. Second, the pace in which self-driving regulations are forming in China is noteworthy. Regardless of what goes into these policies, if you truly believe in the long-term promise of self-driving (I do), then you can bet that whichever country comes up with a reasonable set of regulations first will be treated as the next technology leader. People tend to imitate each other. Countries do too.
“Office Secrets: 996 tastes bitter, but ‘company-funded dating’ is sweet” (Chinese Source: 36Kr)
Why this will matter: this article is about office romance among young people working in Chinese tech companies. Readers may find a “soft” story like this out of place on Interconnected, but grasping the human impact of working in tech is important to understanding larger issues like 996, “lying down”, involution, and even the long-term demographic decline of China. Of the 616 people who responded to 36Kr’s survey about office romance, more than 70% have had romantic feelings toward a co-worker. Among this 70%, 61.3% are men, 38.7% are women. This gender split may very well be an indicator of the broader gender imbalance that resulted from the now-defunct one-child policy, which will take multiple generations to re-balance. And as the title of the article sardonically suggests, 996 may be an awful way to work, but at least you save money on dating, because you can meet and hang out with the “man/woman of your dream” on investors’ dime!
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刚刚结束两个周末的休假，今天很高兴发表新一期的 "明日要闻"。“明日要闻” 是上个月我们推出的新产品，此名字也是一位《互联》的读者通过Twitter提议的。感谢读者@luciano7845!
- “解读中国的新数据法” (英文来源: Protocol)
- “建设非洲5G网络的竞争与美国消弱华为市场地位的复杂纠缠” (English Source: Rest of World)
- “工信部再发征求意见稿，指向自动驾驶和OTA” (Chinese Source: 虎嗅)
- “办公室隐秘实录：996很苦，但「公费恋爱」很甜” (Chinese Source: 36氪)
为什么重要：新出炉的《个人信息保护法》可能是中国未来 "软实力" （soft power）的主要来源。这部法律将个人数据监管与国家安全利益直接挂钩，这将使《个人信息保护法》成为众多其他国家寻求监管本国公民数据的范例之一。这篇文章中提到了越南、印度、巴基斯坦和斯里兰卡等国家目前正在制定其数据本地化政策。我觉得这四个国家都有可能吸收《个人信息保护法》其中的某些条款和做法，从而增强了中国的软实力。(哪个国家的政府不希望有更多的 "国家安全"？）以美国主导的通过“体制输出”的软实力在很大程度上已经失败（见阿富汗撤军）。但通过“法规输出”的软实力会更容易，特别是在科技和数据监管领域，除了欧盟的GDPR以外，总体都还是一片空白。这个空白，中国正在比美国更快地填补。
“建设非洲5G网络的竞争与美国消弱华为市场地位的复杂纠缠” (英文来源: Rest of World）
为什么重要：虽然中美之间的直接对抗备受关注，但在新兴市场争夺影响力的“代理战”（proxy war）才是长期的 "棋局" 所在。非洲就是一个例子。这场棋的棋子曾经是公路、桥梁和机场。现在已经变成电信设施，尤其是5G。这篇文章由驻尼日利亚的一位记者 Abubakar Idris 精心报道，并提到一个重要的发展 -- 非洲政府官员和商人在驾驭中美权力平衡方面越来越成熟。文章里的主角，Parallel Wireless，是一家美国公司，试图利用OpenRAN（一个开源版的5G，目前没有很深的实战测试）和对华为的恐惧在非洲获得市场份额。但此公司也拿了中情局风险投资部门In-Q-Tel的投资。在非洲官员的眼中，对这种关系的担忧程度不亚于华为与中国政府的关系。
为什么重要：工信部的这项法规草案的重要性有两点。首先，这次发布的时间在网信办发布了自己的自动驾驶相关政策草案的不久之后。这两项公告是协调好的，还是两个机构之间在 “争地盘，争亮点”？还不清楚，也正式其中的重要性 -- 中国政府不是一个单一的组织，也是有很多内部斗争的。我在 “明日要闻” 的7月版中也强调了这一点。第二，中国对自动驾驶拟定法规的速度值得注意。不管政策内容是什么，如果真的相信自动驾驶的长期前景（我相信），那么哪个国家首先提出一套合理的法规，就会被视为下一个科技领头人。人与人之间会经常模仿。国家也一样。
为什么重要：这篇文章是关于在科技公司工作的年轻人之间的职场恋爱。读者可能会觉得这种 "软" 新闻在《互联》上出现有点奇怪。但了解在科技行业工作对人的生活中的影响，对理解像996、"躺平”、内卷，甚至中国长期的人口下降等更大的问题很有价值。在回应了36氪问卷的616人中，超过70%的年轻人曾对同事心动。在这70%中，61.3%是男性，38.7%是女性。这里的性别差距，很可能是一胎政策所导致的性别不平衡的结果，也需要多代人的努力来重新平衡。正如文章的标题所言，996的工作方式很苦，但至少能省谈恋爱的开销，可以用投资人的钱与自己的“梦中情人” 约会。