China’s Big Data Play

Big Data: Transforming the Design Philosophy of the Future Internet,”
Hao Yin, Yong Jiang, Chuong Lin, Yan Luo, and Yunjie Liu, 
IEEE Network,
July/August 2014 pp 14-19

For proof of how the tendrils of Chinese policy reach into science, five Chinese engineers offer their view of the current design of China’s Internet in this paper from IEEE Network. Most of the discussion is highly technical in nature, but one issue that cropped up is the paper’s complaint how “vendor lock-in” has made the current cost structure of the Internet far too high to be sustainable – a complaint that is surprising given the pervasiveness of the Internet in China, and how hardware and networking costs have been plunging for two decades.

There is more than a bit of politics in this. The study was co-funded by the Chinese government via the Ministry of Science and Technology’s National Basic Research Foundation of China, also known as Project 973 (because of its creation in March 1997), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (directly administered by the State Council), and Intel Corporation. The complaint about “vendor lock-in” is clearly aimed as a broadside against Intel, though in consideration of its role in the study, the authors clearly felt it impolitic to name names.

There is likely much more in the way of technical nationalism to be found in this paper, but this example is sufficient to underscore how China is content to infuse (i.e., taint) scientific research with politics and posturing. That the paper was accepted for publication by the IEEE should not exonerate the authors for their posturing, however well-couched.

If China doesn’t like paying Intel prices only to see the cash flow overseas, Intel’s substantial local investments notwithstanding, that is the right of the nation’s leaders. Injecting what appears to be a political snipe into a scientific paper, however, gives comfort to those who would discount legitimate Chinese research for fear of political considerations that would turn the science into junk.

Are Chinese Intellectual Property Courts Fair?

Lan Rongjie, “Are Intellectual Property Litigants Treated Fairer in China’s Courts? An Emprical Study of Two Sample Courts,” Indiana University Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business, Working Paper #16, January 2021.

The world is abuzz about how Chinese courts have found against Apple’s claims of the iPad trademark in the PRC, and what it will mean for both Apple and IPR in China in the future. Against what we see happening this week, it is useful to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

In an empirical study of two courts in China, Lan Rongjie finds that for several reasons, you are more likely to get a fair trial in an IPR case in Chinese courts than in any other type of civil action.

Apparently, judges are more likely to defer to experts in such cases, and they are likely to be much more careful in rendering a verdict, especially when foreign parties are the plaintiffs.

The paper will be of scant comfort to Apple’s attorneys this week, but it does remind us that companies as varied as Louis Vuitton, Starbucks, and Lego have all won intellectual property cases against local Chinese businesses.

Film Piracy, Organized Crime, and Terrorism

This pdf book from the RAND Corporation makes the case that the effects of pirated DVDs reach far beyond the emptier pockets of major film corporations. This is an argument that Foreign Policy publisher Moises Naim makes at great length in his book Illicit, but this RAND work does a far more thorough and systematic job of documenting the link than Naim does. Further, RAND lays out some concrete steps to deal with the problem (impractical though they may be.