Monthly Archives: September 2010

Chat with the Chinese Communist Party

A chat with the Chinese Communist Party?

No, it is not a Second Life hoax, you can actually get a “direct” channel (with a slight time lag…) to Zhongnanhai, the center of power in China. Netizens can write to their leaders – a bold step for an organization that usually seems to operate in a parrallel world and is not known for transparent communication skills.

Initial posts from netizens were geared towards property price issues and public housing. Whether even more sensitive questions (e.g. corruption) will be allowed in the forum is to be seen. For memory, when the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention launched its website in 2007, the site crashed due to the overwhelming response from Chinese netizens.

Let’s see if the gates of Zhongnanhai are flooded too!

Reverse high-speed chase

According to the World Bank China is expected to have more high-speed railway lines than the rest of the world put together by 2012!

If all goes according to plan – in China, more than elsewhere, if there is a political will, there is a way - the Chinese high-speed network will overtake any existing network either in  number of kilometers, spectrum of population densities served and variety of topographies traversed.

During the 1990s Chinese scholars and policy-makers had accustomed us to circling the globe to learn about best practices. Now the reverse is taking place: developing and developed countries alike are looking at the Chinese experiment trying to learn some lessons.

Reality check

Under pressure from investors to streamline its operations, Vodafone sold this week its 3.2% stake in China Mobile – SK Telecom, which had acquired 3.3% of China Unicom, sold its entire stake last year.

The honeymoon between Vodafone and China Mobile has lasted a decade and that’s not too bad for a foreign investor in China, particularly when managing to make a healthy profit with the operation (more than doubling its investment). The marriage was no doubt promising. The world’s two largest mobile operators working hand in hand to develop global standards and markets at home and abroad. But the the initial hope to own 15-20% of China Mobile at some point and to be granted a license to operate in China had to meet with the reality of the ground. In spite of its listing on the Hong Kong and New York stock exchanges remains – and probably for quite some time – a firm tightly controlled by the government.

Constructive engagement “à la Vodafone” may have run its natural course. As time goes by, the value proposition to partner with a foreign operator has become less and less attractive. The 3 Chinese telecom operators sit on piles of cash, allowing them to acquire any technology (or company) they need. In a not-too-distant future they may even start to threaten more mature markets, something that had just become easier now that the strategic investor left.

Quantum teleportation

They did it! Well, not quite the [sci-fi] physical teleportation you may be thinking of but still a quantum leap.

According to China Brief a team of 15 researchers from Tsinghua and a Physcial Science Lab managed to extent quantum teleportation from the range of 100 meters to a distance of 16 kilometers by using a blue laser.

So what? While you may not go for a quick roundtrip to Beijing in a split second, quantum technologies have a promising future in the areas of cryptography and secure satellite communications – a distance of 16 kilometeres displays a similar degree of light distortion as from the earth to a satellite abd thus have interesting military applications.

It so happens that the Chinese scientists were not really the first to manage quantum teleportation over such a long distance – a team of US scientist reached 23 kilometers using infrared. The difference is that with a blue-laser one can also reach submarines. The [war]game is far from over.