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China’s melting pot — hot pot. (Hai Di Lao)

As an American, I’ve grown up with the “melting pot” and “salad bowl” buzz words of our immigration nation. But when I lived in Beijing from 2013 to 2018, everyday interactions made it clear that China does not have the same history or tradition of immigration as the U.S.. So I turned to a favorite, the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) to learn more. Their report, How immigration is shaping Chinese society, lays out some of the key themes of China’s uncertain journey to becoming an immigration country.

There is a lot to unpack when it comes to immigration. In 10 pages, the report touches on talent and demographics, integration and discrimination, and geopolitics and policy. Mercator provides some recommendations throughout the report, but given the breadth of topics covered, the report is setting out broad contours rather than building up a case based on evidence. This report was a great way to whet the appetite, but a satisfying exploration requires a deeper excavation, and more data. …

Can China’s Tech Titans Pull Off a Space Landing? — Report Squared

Anyone who says that China is not innovative or entrepreneurial is kidding themselves. China’s tech-scape is astonishing. But the factors that enable success within China might be the very factors that produce failure elsewhere.

For years it was a common refrain that China could only produce copycats, and that censorship and internet controls meant that innovation a la Silicon Valley was impossible. Today there is still a certain lack of awareness from outside observers as to the complexity and dynamism of China’s tech ecosystem.

McKinsey’s Global Institute’s August discussion paper certainly sets the record straight. The multifaceted and rapidly evolving land of Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, (or BAT), and beyond is impressive. The report showcases the numbers China has posted in e-commerce and digital payments, the emergence of “super apps” and solutions tailored to inefficiencies in the market, and the influx of investment into new tech and financing for M&A. …

What’s behind China’s Social Credit System? — Report Squared

China’s government is built on planning. Despite having undergone “reform and opening” for the past thirty plus years, government ministries still release five-year plans, industry plans, and provincial plans that are all geared at molding markets, allocating resources, and dictating policies. One feature of these plans, however, is that there is often a gap between what plans promise, and what is achieved. China’s social credit system aims to close this gap.

The May issue of MERICS China Monitor describes the components of a proposed all-encompassing system, a social credit system, that will determine everyday decisions in society and business. Here the Western notion of “credit” has been morphed into something entirely different. For individuals, the social credit system means creating and tracking digital footprints using online monitoring, facial recognition software, financial records, on and on. …

Lilian Rogers

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