Today’s characteristically luminous insights will be disordered and structurally horrifying, the sort of essay that would have sent my high-school English teacher into anaphylactic shock. In exculpation I plead laziness.
Recently I wrote a column on China’s digital yuan, now in late-stage testing. Bare-bones explanation: You download a digital-wallet app with which you can then send payments to anybody in the world who also has the app, no forms, bureaucracy, or bank account needed. OK, that’s cute, you say. Then, with my phenomenally perceptive, pincer-like grasp of the inescapable, I thought, it sounds scalable. If you can do it with thirty bucks (in yuan) for a hat from some store, why not with fifty million dollars (in yuan) for a shipment of oil from Iran? Sure, with more security and so on, but same mechanism.
Interestingly, such payments would be completely independent of, and opaque to, Washington. And independent of…SWIFT, eeeeeeek! Do you suppose China has thought of this?
Well, I thought, this is mere speculative maundering by some guy in Mexico who is admittedly pig ignorant of international finance. And of course China itself was saying that the dijjywan had nothing to do with the dollar, oh no, was solely for domestic use, and for retail sales. Not important. Move on. Nothing to see here.
But then, this: China is consulting, whatever that means, with Hong Kong, Thailand, and the UAE over using the dijjywan for international payments. Uh…say what? Thailand and the UAE are not particularly domestic to China. And I doubt that Beijing is intensely interested in the retail market of the UAE, which has the aggregate population of a large city bus. Methinks China has Something In mind. And it don’t bode good for sanctions, the petrodollar, and the like.
Nuther subject: Being fascinated by what looks like a shift of the world’s technological and economic center of gravity from the West to Asia, I poke about the web in the manner of an Ernest truffle hound, to see what the wily Orientals are doing. My results are not too systematic. My distinct impression is that things are happening over there, ideas popping up on Wednesday and in volume production by Friday afternoon, of energy and movement. By contrast, America looks asleep at the wheel. Except that it doesn’t have a wheel. A few almost random examples:
Business Insider:“ “China is moving ahead with a huge robot farming project…powered by 5G cellular technology, the agricultural tractor with self-driving mode can also be remotely controlled to carry out multiple intelligent functions” says Chinese governmental site Global Times
Beijing has successfully powered up its “artificial sun” nuclear fusion reactor for the first time, China’s People’s Daily reported on Friday. It’s designed to be a clean energy source, similar to the real Sun.”
The foregoing is overexcited as neither China nor anyone else has demonstrated controlled fusion, but it shows that the country is in the race.
Global Times (Again, mouthpiece of Beijing): China needs to increase its nuclear warheads to 1,000.” Because of American hostility.
Education. China finds its brightest students with a grueling entrance exam. America dumbs down elite high schools because they don’t have enough unqualified minorities. Thomas Jefferson High School in Virginia has already been enstupidated, and the NYC schools are on the block. The purpose of schools is to admit students who can’t do the work.
New York Post: “With this year’s state math and English exams canceled, a watered-down grading policy enacted, and the tossing of attendance, the key factors for admission to selective schools have been dropped or diminished…. “
America Ties with China in 2019 Math Olympiad
Well, not exactly. The 2019 U.S. team is: Vincent Huang, Luke Robitaille, Colin Tang, Edward Wan, Brandon Wang, and Daniel Zhu. China, it seems, tied with itself.
BBC: China’s Chang-e Five lunar-sample return mission safely parachutes into Mongolia. Very sophisticated engineering, and it worked. The US is ahead in space exploration, its Perseverance mission now on Mars being a marvel, but the gap ain’t what it used to be.
From NIO, a Chinese Electric Vehicle Start-up
If a car looks like this, I want one. Nio is working on a system in which “gas” stations remove a depleted battery and replace it with a charged one, thus eliminating the problem of long charging time. Will it fly? I don’t know, but those folks over there are scurrying. China, Japan, and South Korea, for example, are rapidly advancing hydrogen-powered fuel-cell cars.
China’s Quantum Computer Beats Google’s Sycamore in ‘Computational Supremacy’, Claims New Study
Also a bit overdone. My grasp of quantum computing equals that of a hardboiled egg, but this seems to indicate that China is holding its own in a field that is a Very Big Deal.
Below: “China Finishes Building World’s Largest Radio Telescope”
China has finished building the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), the world’s largest single-aperture telescope. This photo was taken on July 3, 2016, the day the huge dish’s last panel was installed” Gret big sucker. Four years ago. China has the money to spend on pure science. Wow.
MagLev.net: “The next-generation Chinese medium-low speed maglev doubles the top speed of the first generation and it becomes driverless…Most of the R&D work is done in Hunan Province….”
Miles of high-speed rail in the US: 0. Miles of maglev rail in US: 0. Likelihood of either any time soon: 0. Cost of new B21 intercontinental nuclear bomber: $550 million. Each.