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What Asia made differently - TikTok vs. the US - China Internet Report 2020.

What Asia made differently - TikTok vs. the US - China Internet Report 2020.
By ChinaBriefs Team • Issue #8 • View online
We are back. Kind of.
2020 took a strange turn. In January, we had a nice new ChinaBriefs issue about Digital Trends 2020 lined up - then COVID19 hit. First, in China, then in Europe. Now it is already July, and as the world slowly restarts, we are doing the same with ChinaBriefs.
Since January, SARS-CoV-2 has spread to every corner of the globe, turning COVID19 into a truly global catastrophe. Living through this in the West (meaning Europe + US) while following the developments in Asia felt and still feels surreal at times. 
Take Germany, for example - compared to countries like Italy, Spain, France, and especially the US, we did pretty well with less than 10.000 COVID19-related deaths and a comparatively mild lockdown.
But the comparison to South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, or Vietnam looks much less favorable: many countries in Asia acted faster and more adequately, resulting in fewer deaths and less economic damage - a fact that many in the West are still not aware of. 
So we start this issue by giving you a different perspective into COVID19 and how to deal with it - one from Asia. But we also have prepared two current topics from our usual beat and a little announcement:
  1. COVID19 - Views from the Asian Perspective.
  2. TikTok vs. the US - what is going on here?
  3. China Internet Report 2020
  4. Online-Workshop “Digital China”
As always, we are looking forward to any kind of feedback!! So pls send us an email ( or leave a comment on one of our channels on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Thx & stay healthy 😷
B. & M.

Western Countries vs. Asian Countries.
Western Countries vs. Asian Countries.
1 - COVID-19 - an Asian Perspective.
Here are three insightful posts from the last couple of months each highlighting a different aspect of how Asian countries reacted to COVID19. 
Japan deviated early on from the recommended process to fight the pandemic: it never did a lot of testing, ignored smaller outbreaks, and refrained from countrywide lock-downs. Instead, Japanese authorities focused on finding and isolating clusters of infections. 
For months the approach of Japanese epidemiologists puzzled their Western colleagues. After reading an article in Science, leading German virologist Christian Drosten finally realized in late May 2020 what Japan was actually doing and what we in the West could learn here. 
But it never was a secret what Japan was trying to do. There were articles like this one, which described the Japanese strategy in every detail. They realized very quickly two simple facts:
  1. COVID19 is not spreading like the flu, where every infected person gives the virus to 1 or 2 others. Instead, most people infected with SARS-CoV2 don’t infect anyone else, while a very small number of people do infect many others.
  2. These so-called super-spreading events usually have three things in common: they happen in (1) enclosed spaces with poor ventilation, where (2) many people in close proximity are engaged in (3) conversations and vocalizations at close range.
All three conditions have to come together for a super-spreading event to happen. Where this occurs Japan authorities act swiftly and decisively, while ignoring more or less anything else.
Proving this logic, there were no transmissions in crammed Tokyo subways. Because while it is an enclosed space with poor ventilation and many people, Japanese don’t talk on the train (and do wear masks 😷), so the third condition is not met. Therefor the subway seems to be safe. A Karaoke bars with many people? Not so much! 
Comparing the spread of the flu vs SARS-CoV2
Comparing the spread of the flu vs SARS-CoV2
This Japanese approach has worked well so far, and as mentioned above articles about it were published as early as March. So why didn’t anyone in the West use this knowledge in April or May? Probably because it was published in Japanese.
And this points to a wider problem: many Asian scientists can read Western publications in English, but nearly no Western scientist can read anything published in Chinese, Japanese or Korean.
Have you ever thought about how hard it will get to follow the latest research on AI, quantum computing or 6G telecom systems in the years to come without understanding Asian languages…?
Compaq used to be the fastest startup to hit $100 million in revenue, then the youngest firm to break into the Fortune 500, then the fastest company to hit $1 billion in revenue. By 1994 it was the largest PC maker in the world. Wow! After that, it started to outsource all the “hard work” (aka manufacturing) to Asia, focusing on branding & sales and by doing so it started its decent into oblivion. 
Who talks about Compaq in 2020?
Ben Thompson does! And he uses its example to compare the Western “society of talk” (focusing on branding & sales) to an Asian “society of Action” (actually producing stuff by hard work).
Which to him explains why Asian countries are way more successful in coping with COVID19: because they immediately started to do the hard work of testing & tracing at scale with a whatever it takes approach - while Western countries started to talk:
There the only options are to give up the economy or give in to the virus: the possibility of actually beating the damn thing is completely missing from the conversation. (…) The first problem of being a society of talk, not action, is the inability to even consider hard work as a solution;
Using tech to fight something like COVID19 is a double-edged sword. It always comes with the risk of enabling a kind of surveillance, that could be hard to rid of once we got rid of the virus. 
How AI, Big Data & Co. can be used quite effectively to fight the pandemic without compromising citizen rights or democratic values, was demonstrated in Taiwan - on many levels:
  • Track COVID-19 with Big Data Analytics
  • Location-Tracking for Self-Isolation
  • Detect & Control Shortages of Critical Supplies
  • Use of AI, Data Analytics and Digital Communication for Accurate Public Information
2 - TikTok vs. the US - what is going on?
By now, everyone knows that TikTok comes from China. And it is the only Chinese Social Media service that got traction outside its home country - with more than 2 billion downloads globally, according to Sensor Tower Store Intelligence estimates. 
But TikTok could also become the first Chinese internet company that gets banned in the US - just like Facebook, Google or Youtube, which all have been banned from Mainland China for years. 
In another interesting post on Stratechery, Ben Thompson explains the possible reasoning behind such a move. He first describes what TikTok did right…
It made it easy to create videos, ensuring a massive supply of content (even if most of the supply is low quality) and then relied on its algorithm to surface compelling content.
….and then goes on to explain why TikTok is so dangerous that it might get banned.
Spoiler: it is NOT about all the different data issues and also not about the fact that TikTok is so addictive especially to kids that in few years, it will probably look as ridiculous as putting Cocaine into Coca-Cola. 
Instead, the real danger comes from what makes TikTok so successful: its algorithm!
Because it can drive public opinion in the US the same way Facebook & Twitter can - the difference: the TikTok algorithm is not controlled by an American company… 
Btw, our friends at Tech Buzz China have translated and annotated a very interesting interview with Zhang Yiming, Bytedance founder and global CEO. It’s from 2018, but still gives a lot of context about Bytedance, the company behind TikTok.
3 - China Internet Report 2020.
The South China Morning Post’s research division has published the China Internet Report for 2020 - a year dominated by dramatic topics like a global pandemic and a brewing tech cold war. 
The trends reflect this accordingly. But the report also includes some interesting thoughts about a topic that is already entering its third phase in China, while still being nascent in the West: live streaming! 
The Chinese Internet Trends for 2020 according to SCMP are:
  1. Lasting Impact of COVID-19 on China’s Tech Sector
  2. China’s Accelerated Self-reliance for Tech
  3. The Year of Mass Adoption for 5G
  4. Live-streaming’s Third Phase in China
  5. Chinese Tech Companies Listing Back Home
You can download a free and a paid Pro Edition from the website of the South China Morning Post or watch the summary on Youtube:
China Internet Report 2020: Top trends in China's internet industry in 2020
China Internet Report 2020: Top trends in China's internet industry in 2020
4 - Online Workshop "Digital China"
Last but not least, we want to give you a quick heads up about something new we will be starting next week: a monthly online workshop on “Digital China” - for anyone who doesn’t know much about Digital Trends in China yet, but is wondering whether he or she should change that.
It won’t be a Webinar - we promise! By now we all have sit through enough of those, right? 😴 Instead, it will be an online conversation with a very small group of participants (about 10-12) and lots of interaction. 
During the 4 hours long session we will together try to answer these three questions:
  1. Why is Digital China relevant for me?
  2. How does the Chinese Internet work differently?
  3. What can I learn from Chinese Digital Companies? 
At this time, these events will be in German only. But if you are interested in an English version, do let us know
And if you want to book a seminar, use this 25% discount code for ChinaBriefs subscribers: “cbrief25”
See you next week? 
Online Workshop Digital China @ Tomorrow Academy (German only)
Online Workshop Digital China @ Tomorrow Academy (German only)
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ChinaBriefs Team

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