First, America increasingly relies on strong-arm tactics instead of competence. For example, in the de facto 5G competition, Washington cannot offer Europe a better product at a better price, so it forbids European countries to buy from China. The US cannot compete with China in manufacturing, so it resorts to a trade war. The US cannot make the crucial EUV lithography equipment to make advanced semiconductors, as neither can China, but it can forbid ASML, the Dutch company, from selling to China. Similarly, the US cannot compete with Russia in the price of natural gas to Europe, so by means of sanctions it seeks to keep Europe from buying from Russia. This is not reassuring.
Second, the Chinese are a commercial people, agile, fast to market, cutthroat, known for this throughout Asia. America is a bureaucratized military empire, torpid by comparison. America has legacy control over a few important technologies, most notably the crucial semiconductor field and the international financial system. Washington is using these to try to cripple China’s advance.
A consequence has been a realization by the Chinese that America is not a competitor but an enemy, and a subsequent explosion of investment and R&D aimed at reducing dependence on American technology. There is the well-known 1.4 trillion-dollar five-year plan to this end. One now encounters a flood of stories about advances in tech “to which China has intellectual-property rights” or similar wording.
They seem deadly serious about this. Given that Biden couldn’t tell a transistor from an ox cart, I wonder whether he realizes that every time the US pushes China to become independent in x, American firms lose the Chinese market for X, and later get to compete with Chinese X in the international market. Anyway, give Trump his due. He lit this fuse.
A few snippets
The above beast, developed entirely in China, is the first to use high-temperature superconducting magnets to keep the train floating just above the rails. HTSC magnets are a Big Deal because they can achieve superconductivity using liquid nitrogen as coolant instead of liquid helium for classic superconductivity, this costing, say the Chinese, a fiftieth of the price of using helium. The use of HTSC is very, very slick. The train will extensively use carbon-fiber materials to keep weight down, suggesting that the Chinese cannot distinguish between a train and an airplane.
Asia Times “China’s Hydrogen Dream is taking Shape in Shandong”
“A detailed pilot plan being worked out to transform Shandong, a regional industrial powerhouse, into a “hydrogen society” holds out much hope of delivering on the green promise.”
The article, hard to summarize in a sentence, is worth reading. As so often, the Chinese do things, try things, while the US talks, riots, imposes sanctions, sucks its thumb, and spends grimly on intercontinental nuclear bombers.
“Huawei is Developing Smart Roads Instead of Smart Cars”
“Multiple sensors, cameras, and radars embedded in the road, traffic lights, and street signs help the bus to drive safely, while it in turn transmits information back to this network-“
“Quantum Cryptography Network Spans 4,600 Km in China”
Quantum Key Distribution, QKD, allows unhackable communications. China read Ed Snowden’s book on NSA’s snooping, realized it had a problem, and set out to correct it. If this spreads to other countries—see below—much of the world could go black to American intel agencies.
The Chinese may have thought of this.
“…colleagues will further expand the network by working with partners in Austria, Italy, Russia and Canada. The team is also developing low-cost satellites and ground stations for QKD.”
The last sentence is interesting. If China begins selling genuinely secure commo gear abroad, it is going to make a lot of intel agencies very unhappy. Did I mention that the Chinese are a commercial people?
“Chinese scientists achieve quantum information masking, paving way for encrypted communication application.”
My knowledge of this might rise to the level of blank ignorance after a good night’s sleep and three cups of coffee. However, the achievement made the American technical press, and suggests Chinese seriousness about gaining privacy.
The video below shows how China constructs high-speed rail lines as if painting a stripe on a highway. Since they can’t innovate, they have to get by with inventing things.
China to Europe rail freight: “Over 10,000 trains and 927,000 containers were forwarded via the China-EU-China route in 2020, China Railways has announced. The current volume of traffic has grown by 98.3% year-to-year, covering 21 countries and 92 cities in Europe.”
America makes aircraft carriers. China sells stuff.
NikkeiAsia: “What China’s Rapidly Expanding Nuclear Industry Means for the West”
One Chinese reactor in Pakistan just went live, with another expected in a few months. Says Nikkei, “The Karachi reactor is just the latest of these to come onstream, with the World Nuclear Organization listing a dozen different projects at the development or planning stage across a dozen countries from Argentina to Egypt in its recent survey. Many more are under discussion.”
In addition, says Nikkei, China intends to have the whole industry from technology to materials indigenous to China and outside of American sanctions. See above, about driving China to make things.
First China-Built DRAM Chip Reaches Market DRAM, dynamic random-access memory, appears in almost everything electronic and is a juicy market. Chang Xin Memory, which makes it, redesigned it slightly to remove American technology. If Chang Sin can ramp up volume, which has yet to be established, guess what foreign companies won’t sell much of in China any more.
Even in my short two weeks recently in China, I saw that the Chinese do not believe in vertical motion. An American, encountering a mountain, would, sensibly enough, go up and over. This is not the Chinese way. They go through. Similarly, on finding a valley, they do not go down and up. They go across. There may be some genetic abnormality behind this, or maybe interbreeding with space aliens. But it results in hellacious bridges.
“Is China Emerging as the World Leader in AI?”
“Summary. China is quickly closing the once formidable lead the U.S. maintained on AI research. Chinese researchers now publish more papers on AI and secure more patents than U.S. researchers do. The country seems poised to become a leader in AI-empowered…”
Some argue that Chinese patents are of low quality. Maybe so. But don’t bet the college funds.
“China begins construction of world’s longest superconducting cable project”
“China’s first 35 kV high-temperature superconducting cable demonstration project has started construction by State Grid in Shanghai and it is expected to be completed by the end of the year. This is the world’s largest transmission capacity, the longest distance, 2000A current the highest commercial 35 kV superconducting cable project.”
Regarding the 5G War Trump could have bought 5G from Huawei, gotten a sweetheart deal, great prices, factories in America, and so on. Instead he banned Huawei from the US and then twisted arms of the vassal states of Europe. Thus neither America or Europe has the service, but China is rolling it out fast. Brilliant, Don. This gives China a running start on smart factories, smart cities, autonomous vehicles, and the like.
America talks about 5G, China uses it.
NikkeiAsia: “The port is an example of how operator China Merchants Group has been working to automate and mechanize more operations using ultrafast fifth-generation wireless technology. By developing innovative ways to run the port as efficiently as possible, the company aims to accelerate overseas expansion.”
Aviation Week “Face It: The J-20 is a Fifth Generation Fighter”
Says AvWeek: “Clearly, Chengdu’s engineers understand the foundation of fifth-generation design: the ability to attain situational awareness through advanced fused sensors while denying situational awareness to the adversary through stealth and electronic warfare. The J-20 features an ambitious integrated avionics suite consisting of multispectral sensors that provide 360-deg. coverage. This includes a large active, electronically scanned array radar designed by the 14th Research Institute, electro-optical distributed aperture system, electro-optical targeting system, electronic support measures system and possibly side-array radars.
“In a 2017 CNTV interview, J-20 pilot Zhang Hao said: “Thanks to the multiple sensors onboard the aircraft and the very advanced data fusion, the level of automation of J-20 is very high. . . . The battlefield has become more and more transparent for us.”
Most of the story is visible only if you have a subscription to AvWeek.
Asia Times: Tesla loses lead to local upstart in China’s EV market .
The headline is kidding. The car that is outselling Tesla is a \$4,200 el cheapo for short-haul shopping and picking up the kids in the city.
Sexy as a truss ad, but…useful. I’m telling you, put the college funds in this company, not truss ads. Made by an SAIC-GM partnership, majority owned by China, where it was designed and made. Will be sold internationally.
“Unlike Tesla, which requires purpose-built charging stations, the Mini can be plugged into a home power system to charge, which takes about nine hours. It has a range of about 120 kilometers and a top speed of 100 kilometers per hour, according to the carmaker’s promotional materials.” Designed and put into production in one year. (Did I mention that the Chinese are a commercial people?)
China’s Y-20 strategic transport aircraft gets key indigenous engine: reports Chinese design. How close it is to being ready for prime time is not clear, but it is flying. An inability to make high-end engines has been a problem for China.
The WS’20 is a high-bypass turbofan of Chinese design.
Finally, Global Times”, Beijing’s news site: “China’s trade volume increases 37% y-o-y in April, marking 11 consecutive months of positive growth”