Technologizer posts about China

The New York Times is publishing an outstanding series of articles by Charles Duhigg and David Barboza on working conditions at the Chinese factories where Apple’s products are built:

More troubling, the groups say, is some suppliers’ disregard for workers’ health. Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhonescreens. Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions inside the Chengdu plant, according to a Chinese group that published that warning.

Apple (which declined to comment for the Times) is not the only company that has issues like this: Foxconn, its principal supplier, assembles 40 percent of the world’s consumer electronics, period. And Apple may be moving in the right direction when it comes to doing stuff about this and discussing the situation openly. But if you own Apple products or other gadgets made in China–and you do–you owe it to yourself to read the Times’ stories.

Posted by Harry at 7:53 am

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The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Cisco and China are involving in a Chinese project to install half a million surveillance cameras in the city of Chongqing. They’ll supposedly be used merely to help prevent crime, but the WSJ has a quote from HP’s Todd Bradley that’s kind of chilling: “It’s not my job to really understand what they’re going to use it for.”

Posted by Harry at 10:06 am

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China Denies Google Claims of Beijing Gmail Frame-Up

By  |  Posted at 11:04 am on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

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The tension’s definitely ratcheting up as Google and China trade accusations and denials over who’s responsible for weeks of sluggish Gmail service.

Google recently claimed no foul and blamed China for turning the country’s version of Gmail into a slideshow. The company then took it one further, suggesting the slowdown was “a government blockage carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail” (though Google didn’t offer technical evidence to illustrate the problem).

As the slowdown continues to morph into an “all but” shutdown, it’s China’s turn to deny. Beijing officially rejected Google’s claims yesterday, its Foreign Ministry spokesperson calling the accusations “unacceptable” at a routine news conference, though that’s all she said.

Continue reading this story…



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Google Blames China for Slowing Down Gmail

By  |  Posted at 7:24 am on Monday, March 21, 2011

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The concept of “free internet” never really takes hold until the very first moment you sit down at a Chinese computer and type in “Facebook.com.” Here in China, it’s blocked. And even though tech giant Google pulled out of mainland China over a year ago, it’s only been harder to access Google’s services recently.

One of the most noticeable effects of China’s Great Firewall as of late has been Gmail’s increased inaccessibility. The slowdown has been reportedly going on for weeks, since early March. A source in Beijing reports that Gmail has been “…slower definitely. By far. Sometimes we’ve been unable to connect, and many times unable to use Gchat.”

Continue reading this story…



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Lenovo’s Ebox is a Kinect Clone — For China

By  |  Posted at 9:03 am on Friday, August 27, 2010

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Surprise! PC Maker Lenovo is making a video game console called the Ebox, and has no qualms about mentioning it in the same breath as Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360.

Like Kinect, the Ebox operates without a controller, instead using a camera that beams out infrared light to detect body shapes. “We are the world’s second company to produce a controller-free game console, behind only Microsoft,” Jack Luo, president of Lenovo’s spin-off gaming company eedoo Technology, told China Daily.

Lenovo plans to debut the Ebox in China this November, but the launch could get pushed to next year. Games for the console will have elements of Chinese culture, intended to appease a government that prohibits the sale of game consoles for fear that they physically and mentally harm the nation’s children. At launch, 30 games will be available, and 16 global game developers have reportedly signed on.

So, what are the odds that the Ebox becomes available stateside? IDG News reports that the console will launch throughout Asia sometime after the debut in China, with other overseas markets to follow, but I’m guessing those plans hinge on whether the Ebox is a success in its home country. The reported support from game developers is encouraging, but so far the lack of photo or video of actual games being played raises some skepticism.

Anyway, let’s see how Microsoft’s Kinect performs first, as it remains to be seen whether controller-free play is the future of gaming or just a passing fad. If Kinect somehow becomes an industry-changing force on par with Nintendo’s Wii, Lenovo’s Ebox won’t be the only clone to watch out for.



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Google’s China gambit is working, at least for the moment: It says that the government there has renewed the company’s license to operate its Web site, which provides a variety of non-search services, plus a link to its uncensored Hong Kong search engine.

Posted by Harry at 8:09 am

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Earlier this year, Google killed its censored version in China and began redirecting users on the mainland to its uncensored Hong Kong engine. Now it’s saying that the Chinese government is unhappy with this approach and that Google’s license to run a Web site will likely expire as of the end of this month. But it’s trying a last-ditch workaround: Giving Chinese users a page with various services that the government doesn’t find objectionable, plus a link to the Hong Kong search engine.

I hope it works–but even if it doesn’t, I admire what Google is doing.

Posted by Harry at 12:28 am

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Not surprising: the Chinese government is now censoring Google’s uncensored search engine and otherwise reacting negatively to Google’s termination of its filtered version yesterday. Good coverage by James Fallows here and here.

Posted by Harry at 12:41 pm

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The Internet Spying Problem Back Here

By  |  Posted at 11:28 pm on Tuesday, February 9, 2010

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US-China relations have turned contentious over the past several months, particularly in regard to the issue of “Internet freedom.” But neither nation has an unblemished record on Internet privacy, says Eben Moglen, a Columbia University law professor and founder of the Software Freedom Law Center.

Last month, Google declared that it has discovered cyberattacks on its systems targeting Chinese humans rights workers, and made a decision to terminate the censored version of Google in China as a response.

Continue reading this story…



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Now Bill Gates has joined Steve Ballmer in seemingly contending that Chinese censorship of the Internet isn’t that big a deal:

You’ve got to decide: Do you want to obey the laws of the countries you’re in, or not? If not, you may not end up doing business there…

[snip]

The Chinese efforts to censor the Internet have been very limited. It’s easy to go around it, and so I think keeping the Internet thriving there is very important.

You can certainly make the case that by staying in China, U.S. Internet businesses are more likely to bring about greater freedom of expression than if they refuse to abide by censorship laws and abandon the country. And Gates is right that the Great Firewall of China is easy to circumvent. But I’ve used the Internet in China–as, surely, has Bill Gates–and I wouldn’t call the censorship “very limited…”

Posted by Harry at 11:50 am

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Clearing up confusion on Google’s China move (the company isn’t a flop in that country, and hasn’t already begun uncensoring its search results).

Posted by Harry at 2:46 pm

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Excellent editorial from the Washington Post on the Google-China situation (one of many, not all coming to the same conclusions).

Posted by Harry at 10:58 am

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5Words: More About the Chinese Attacks

By  |  Posted at 7:27 am on Thursday, January 14, 2010

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Chinese attackers targeted Acrobat vulnerability.

China: foreigners welcome, censorship mandatory.

Looks like Yahoo was hacked.

Mossberg reviews wireless Sony e-reader.

Haiti imagery in Google Earth.

Facebook-using crook nabbed, finally.

Are digital music prices fixed?

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Exactly Right, Google. Exactly Right

By  |  Posted at 3:57 pm on Tuesday, January 12, 2010

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For as long as western companies have been doing business in China–under Chinese laws–there’s been a fundamental question that’s been a subject of immense controversy: Are they helping to make China more free, or are they helping the Chinese government prevent more freedom?

Until now, Google has been one of a number of U.S. Web companies that has willingly provided a censored version of its services in China as a prerequisite of doing business there. It’s maintained that providing the Chinese people with access to some information is better than denying them access to Google entirely, and its Chinese search engine has carried a disclaimer that some links are suppressed.

But now that’s changing. In a fascinating blog post, Google has disclosed that it discovered a sophisticated hacker attack on its systems in mid-December. Its investigation revealed that the target was the accounts of Chinese human rights activists, and that the attack encompassed other large companies. It further found that the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists had been breached through such means as malware installed on their computers.

Continue reading this story…



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China Requiring Websites to Register or Face Blocking

By  |  Posted at 8:33 am on Tuesday, December 22, 2009

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New regulations handed down by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology over the weekend seem to suggest China may be creating a “whitelist” of approved websites. The Ministry said it is now requiring all websites to register, or face possible blocking by the authorities.

China’s latest censorship move seems born out of an effort to limit pornography, however critics seem to see porn being used as an excuse for broader net controls. Whether or not this extends to websites based outside of the country is unclear, although Chinese media is reporting that it will. If it goes through, the strategy would be a complete reversal of the way Chinese Internet regulators were previously doing business.

Under the previous system, websites were blocked on a case by case basis as soon as the Ministry learned about them. Here, everybody seems blacklisted first — and have to prove their non-subversiveness before being allowed into the walled garden that is the Chinese Internet.

The idea may be dead in the water: China could hurt itself economically as those who use the Internet to trade goods may find themselves unable to do business if the foreign site does not register. Additionally, the country does have a fairly long record of coming up with half-baked censorship schemes that are either not enforced or reversed after international outcry. A whitelist is certainly something that would cause the latter, I’d venture to guess.

China also last week limited .cn registrations to business users, Time reported last Friday. As far as I know, it would be the only TLD where private citizens are prohibited from purchasing domains. I wonder if ICANN would have something to say about that.



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