Tag Archives: China

China ICT4D Resources

China is not a country that has explicitly laid out its plans for information and communications technologies development, but they have published a few documents that outline some of the ways they plan to improve these areas of development. The closest document they have to a ICT4D policy is called, “China’s Informatization Strategy and its Impact on Trade in ICT Goods and ICT services”, was published by the General Office of the CPC Central Committee and General Office of the State Council of China in 2006. China’s 5 year plans published by the National People’s Congress, most recently published in 2010, also contain some information related to ICTs.

Government Publications:

China’s Informatization Strategy

China’s 12th 5-Year Plan can be found by searching for it, but is only available in downloadable .pdf files

Other Agency and Organization Publications:

Rural Informatization in China can be downloaded from the World Bank. This is a working paper, so new versions are published when major changes need to be made.

IDC’s Top 10 Predictions for China’s ICT Market in 2014 and Beyond is a press release from a data analysis company highlights some of the more important indicators and what they might mean for the future.

 

Remember that the Chinese government is not keen on publishing documents that are clear in their intentions or expectations. So, market trends, data indicators, and other sources of information are the best way to understand China’s relationship with ICT4D’s.


Smartphones and their increasing connection to cyber warfare

Last week, our presentations on ICT technologies and their applications in different ICT sectors educated us about the challenges that developing countries face when implementing these projects. We also learned how access to information is critical to all aspects of ICT4D and its’ different offshoots. We completely changed gears with the guest speaker on Tuesday but we still discussed how important this access to information is. Cyber security and cyber warfare have emerged in the last decade as innovations in technology continue to advance rapidly. In the world of cyber warfare, hacking and cyber espionage have become extremely common. In the CIA and NSA, the United States has hundreds, if not thousands, of workers devoted to keeping tabs on cyber terrorists and their organizations and preventing them from attacking us as well as ensuring that our data is secure.

But the questions about how secure is our data have come up numerous times over the last few years, as cyber espionage from China have emerged and individuals like such as Julian Assange and Edward Snowden have leaked U.S. military and government data. If one of the most powerful countries on earth’s private information and data is susceptible to two individuals, how secure is the technology we use in our own homes on a daily basis? We have talked all year about how mobile phones, especially smartphones, are a critical tool in international development and ICT technologies. But I learned from this CNN article that as smartphones, which have more than 100 times the computing power than the average satellite, provide more hope for ICT4D and digital communication they also make us more vulnerable to cyber attacks.

This is concerning because emails have become less and less secure in recent times, forcing people to rely heavily on their smartphones. And in developing and emerging markets, such as China, this is an even bigger problem because smartphone users download apps from third party sites because Google Play is banned. Many of the apps on these third party sites contain AndroRAT, a new software developed by hackers that makes it very easy to inject malicious code into a fake version of an app. Smartphones will continue to be a popular destination for hackers and as this technology becomes increasingly ubiquitous in the developing and developed worlds, we will need to find ways to secure mobile phone data and information.


Regulating the Internet: The Case of China

In class on Thursday, our guest speaker Ralph Russo gave an informative, engaging, (and a little bit terrifying) presentation about cyber security.  It brought up a lot of questions about the internet, regulations, cyber terrorism, and cyber security.  With legislation being drafted to try to increase the government’s ability to monitor information on the web, many people are becoming increasingly interested in this topic.

One thing Ralph Russo mentioned was that there was no way to regulate the internet.  Which makes sense – with all the users and information out there, how could it even be possible?  However, it seems that China is – or trying to – regulate and monitor all internet use.

Under strict censorship and other laws that control the media, China tries to protect the information that goes in and out of the country, as well as keep a hold on their regime.  For example, China logs every IP address to your personal information – Chinese and foreigners alike.  In the Beijing airport, I was required to scan my passport and register my IP address in order to access the free WiFi.  Apparently, some websites are restricted for viewing and some websites even redirect to the Chinese government websites (a tactic that Iran is now using).  A new agency was just formed to further regulate and enforce internet censorship.

This seems to contrast what Ralph Russo was saying.  What is correct?  Is China actually able to monitor and regulate the internet like they say?  Or is it simply a dream and a large effort that cannot be reached?

Sources: 1, 2, 3

 


Cyber Security Measures in the U.S.

Our guest speaker Ralph Russo, professor at Tulane University in the Homeland Security Program, discussed all things Cyber Security with us today. He mentioned the concept of malware or malevolent software that essentially allows hackers to gain access to information, disrupt a computer’s operation or perform whatever actions the hacker desires. One of the main issues he brought up is the United States’ concern about malware being on U.S. devices bought from China. I decided to look into this a little bit more and found the following article.

The article outlines a “new provision of the government’s latest spending law requires three federal agencies — NASA and the departments of Justice and Commerce — to buy gear only after performing a cyber-security risk assessment carried out in consultation with law-enforcement agencies”. This is because the government is worried about its important agencies and the threat of cyber attacks to them. There are many U.S. suspicions against China’s participation in cyber attacks on the U.S. Particularly because a U.S. research firm claimed “to have traced numerous cyber attacks to a specific unit of China’s People’s Liberation Army, one operating within a particular building in Shanghai.”

The threat of cyber attacks is growing therefore cyber security is an extremely relevant topic in today’s world. However, fortunately this is not an unknown threat to our government and cyber security measures are starting to be implemented as the newest law exemplifies.


No Facebook?! — Social Media in China

An article on Fobes.com written by Henry Fong, the CEO of Yodo1 (a company that helps developers enter the China mobile gaming market) gave me some insight into the social media situation in China. My favorite quote from the article is Fong’s statement: “Facebook and Twitter will never dominate China (even if they were allowed there)” – so I will dissect this a little bit for you.

Yes, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook are all blocked in China. Although China has it’s own set of state-approved versions of these networks, you must wonder, why can’t they just use Facebook like the rest of us? Fong argues that Facebook is not conducive to China (or, rather, China is not conducive to Facebook) because its two main sources of revenue are advertisements and gaming; but both of these activities are highly regulated in China, and would require government licenses at every turn. With such strict monitoring, the system would be slow and inefficient, and therefore, unpopular.

Fortunately, China seems to be doing just fine without Facebook in the way of social media. In fact, according to Fong, there are more social media users in China than there are Facebook users in the entire world. As of October 2012, there were approximately one billion social media users in a population of 1.4 billion.

China’s social media platforms share the spotlight more equally compared to the US—several of their networks exceed 100 million active users, while in the US, Facebook and Twitter largely dominate the social media scene. The following Chinese social media networks have exceeded 100 million users (the parenthesis indicate the US ‘equivalent’ to these Chinese networks– also see picture below):

  • QQ/Qzone (Facebook): 700 million +
  • Sina Weibo (Twitter): 400 million +
  • Tencent Weibo (Twitter): 200-250 million +
  • WeiXin (WhatsApp): 100 million +
  • Douban (MySpace): 100 million +
  • Renren (Facebook): 100 million +

Image

(photo shows social media equivalents in China)

In China, there are many more popular social media networks to choose from, and therefore more competition. This would likely also prevent US networks like Facebook or Twitter from “dominating China,” as aforementioned.

On a slightly different note, given these high penetration rates, a lot of pressure is being put on the government and businesses in China to understand and utilize social media in order to effectively reach their citizens and clients, respectively. As the population of internet and social media users increases, more and more pressure is being put on the government to increase transparency, which could be a good thing for the citizens of China.

To close, a quote by Sam Flemming (Founder and CEO of CIC, the first and foremost provider of social business intelligence in China) : “China has the most complicated, fragmented and developed social media landscape in the world with a unique online culture that requires its own specialized understanding.”

Sources:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2012/10/25/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-chinese-social-media/

http://globalthinkers.com/2011/12/social-media-in-china/


Historical ICTs: Yodeling and Fire Signals

 

The development of the ICT industry is centered on constructing ways for individuals and societies to communicate with one another and the different ways in which they experience space and time. Although the implements of modern technology such as cellphones, computers and the internet have increased the speed at which we communicate, rapid communication over large distances and regions is by no means a new concept. This notion was presented to me by Tim Unwin in, “ICT4D: Information and Communication Technologies for Development” and intrigued me. Before reading this I had never given any thought to how individuals and societies communicated over considerable distances and so I am going to briefly explore two traditional ICTs: yodeling in the Swiss Alps and signal fires along the Great Wall of China.

When examining yodeling and fire signals as ICTs it is interesting to look at how both forms of communication worked as ways to relay information of vast distances. During the Ming Dynasty, from 1368-1644, guards on the Great Wall of China employed the use of fire signals, as an efficient was to communicate. Fire signals could send a message swiftly across the entire 6,700-kilometer long wall. These signals included different sets of patterns that signified enemies, allies and the number of people approaching.

The same complex system of communication is also seen in the communicative mode of yodeling. According to an article on wisegeek.com the first official record of yodeling in the Swiss Alps is from 1545 and most experts agree that it was used as a way for herders, their stock and Alpine villages to communicate with one another. This mode of communication has since then become incorporated into the traditional music of the region.

These two forms of ICTs originated long before phones, broadband, or even electricity and I feel that is important to remember that people have always had the need and resources to communicate with one another. Exploring these two forms of historical communication within the confines of ICTs I am interested in learning more about how they adapt the defenition of ICTs and how new technologies have expedited the communication process.


China National ICT Resources

The official ICT national policy of China is listed as the ‘State Informatization Plan’. Informatization isn’t a phrase that’s used very frequently, so make sure it doesn’t auto-correct to ‘information’ or ‘informational’ if you are searching for information. Other useful things to search for include the 5-year plans, which usually include goals related to technology & development.

1) National Policy Overview – It’s unclear whether the entirety of the policy itself is available in English or not. However, these are two power points that I think provided a good overview of the policy itself.

2) World Bank Reports and Resources– This should probably be the first place you go.  It’s an all around great resource for any country, so I’d recommend starting with the ICT home page and searching ‘China’ (or any other country) plus other key words for relevant information. You can also visit Worldbank.org/chinaict to view chapters of a book related to China’s national strategy. Here are some resources within the World Bank that I recommend:

3) Industry Overview – Two excellent reports on the state of the the ICT industry & market in China.

4) DataTrading Economics has a good master list of ‘communication’ indicators in China. Additional indicators are available on the World Bank website.


Facebook vs Asia’s Top Social Networks

Social media and social networking have grown increasingly in number within recent years. The front-runner in the social networking world is Facebook. Most people you know probably has a Facebook account and continuously update their statuses and communicate with their friends from all over the world.  With its current trend, Facebook is project to grow at exponential rate to over-take many other popular social media platform in other countries. Facebook is now internationally used, even in countries that block the social networking site. However, users still manages to over-ride this restriction by the government. Countries such as South Korea, Japan, and China have a large population of social media users. China has RenRen, South Korea has Cyworld, Japan has Mixi, and the US has Facebook, but it is projected that Facebook will soon take over the realm of social media in these countries and cause a decrease in those already existing social media websites. However, for Facebook to be widely adapted in these countries, mobile usage function and a user-friendly platform are needed.

A prime example, in South Korea the incumbent, long-running largest social network, has been seeing massive user migration to Facebook. Just in February 2012 alone, there was a 52.4% user reversal. For a foreign company and social networking site fairly new to South Korea, currently 1 out of every 5 Koreans are on Facebook and the 10 million users benchmark had been reached. Cyworld has been around for over 10 years in Korea through SK Telecom, the number one Korean mobile carrier with 52% of the market share. Cyworld could be said to have invited the Virtual Good market in South Korean with over 90% of the entire Korean population being active on the site. It is surprising that Cyworld is currently losing users to Facebook, a foreign company. South Korea is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world and known to utilize “home grown” entities, it is interesting how Facebook has garnered so many users. This could be due to the widespread usage of smart-phones, such as iPhones, where Facebook is already built into the system. Perhaps, it is the international widespread appeal that lead South Koreans to switch over to Facebook, but one things is certain it trend is here to stay. There are now many functions on Facebook that enables its international expansion, such as language settings where Facebook can be displayed in a wide array of languages. Facebook isn’t just making wave in South Korea, but other technology giants in the world. I do believe that as Facebook expand in users, it will soon over shadow these foreign social networking sites in those countries like it did to Myspace in the US.

More information can be seen HERE.


Ai Weiwei: Social Media for Social Change

The Chinese government closely monitors Internet traffic and censors citizens’ ability to access share/access information.  As we discussed in class, the country’s strict censorship has been dubbed the ‘Great Firewall of China’.  Recently I watched a documentary called Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry by Alison Krayman. The film depicts Ai, an international artist and political activist, as he speaks out against the Chinese government, largely through social media as a medium for his art.  He states, “Internet is the answer to achieve a civil society,” and explains that Twitter and blogs provides Chinese citizens with a sense of freedom they have never had before.

He has used these platforms to mobilize citizens and raise international awareness of unethical practices of the Chinese government.  In 2008, the Sichuan Earthquake had devastating effects on the state of China. The communist government did not reveal details of citizen casualties, especially among school children.  Investigations proved that poor construction of Chinese schools led to the unnecessary death of thousands of young students.  Through the Internet, Ai Weiwei organized volunteers to visit schools and even knock door-to-door to learn of the specific children that were harmed by the disaster.  In total, Ai developed a database of over 5,219 students killed and created a memorial piece of art in their honor.

Through the power of social media, Ai strives to transform China into a “modern society” and promote freedom of speech for the Chinese people. He encourages young people to get involved in social media as this powerful medium allows individuals to instantly reach the masses and has the potential to make a significant impact on society.

Here is a TED Talk about Ai Weiwei and his efforts in China to leverage social media for social change.


Renren vs. Facebook

For this weeks blog post I focused on social media sites of the United States and their parallels in China. Being that I use Facebook so much I decided to look into Renren, which has been referred to as “the Facebook of China.” While at first the two sites seem extremely similar, according to this blog post on Echouser there are actually many differences in function and usage.

Renren was founded in 2005 by a Chinese graduate of Delaware University. It started small, almost exclusively used in a few university crowds in Beijing, but by February of 2011 it had reached 160 million users. Similar to and inspired by Facebook, the Renren interface looks strikingly similar to Facebooks. However, the way Renren approaches social media and encourages networking amongst its users is quite different.

According to the author of this article, Renren is used more for focusing on the users close group of friends, while Facebook focuses more on feeds and events than Facebook friends. In short, Renren is more about the “who” and Facebook is more about the “what.”

The author supports this view with a few examples. Firstly, Renren has a special attention section where users are able to focus more on the activity of close friends. However, on Facebook there is the Top News section which is about showcasing events and promoting popular activity, rather than focusing on activity of certain people. Secondly, Renren has friend recommendations and birthday reminders, while Facebook does not. This shows there is more emphasis on events and a less personal feed on Facebook than Renren.

This argument from the author peaked my interest the most because I am not so sure I agree with it. While I do not use Renren so I cannot speak comparatively, I do know that my experience with Facebook is very personal and focuses on my close friends. I recognize that there is a large amount of advertisement and event promotion on Facebook, but I’m still not convinced by the authors argument.

In the context of this class I think the difference in usage will play a role in the use of these social media sites in information communication. Being that Renren is arguably more useful for communicating with close friends, it would be a better site for contacting close friends during a disaster while Facebook is used not only for contacting others but also largely for sharing general information about disasters. However, the lesser amount of information sharing on Renren could be attributable to the newness of the site and lower level of financial income to improve the site. In the future as the company grows it could become wealthier and capable of a greater capacity of information sharing like Facebook does. Also, the article says Renren has a journal log section that Facebook does not, which could provide a place for people to express their views and feelings, perhaps about politics or current events, whereas Facebook discussions exist almost exclusively on status updates. Perhaps more informative dialogue and communication could exist with an app like this on Facebook.