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Letter from Shenzhen

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From Logic Magazine, Xiaowei R. Wang publishes the article Letter from Shenzhen. She writes:

Most transactions center around one app: WeChat. WeChat is an app made by Tencent that has become crucial to life in China, especially with Tencent’s state-sponsored initiative of 智慧生活 (zhihuishenghuo, smart living). WeChat enables access to messaging, video chat, payment systems, and public services. And it has nearly one billion users — about as many users as Facebook Messenger. In fact, many of WeChat’s features have recently been eerily appearing in Facebook Messenger.

I use WeChat to message a friend while standing in the middle of a rice paddy, to pay for snacks and water in a remote village, to buy train tickets, to book hotel rooms, to order taxis, to get takeout, and to send my aunt photos. If I wanted to, I could also use it to pay electricity bills, top up my mobile phone account, make hospital appointments, and check the weather.

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She dives into life in China – WeChat, Taobao, and life from the rural village to Guangzhou and the electronics capital Shenzhen. The discussion goes into white-labeled shanzhai electronics and the new shanzhai which is open-source on hyperspeed — where creators build on each other’s work, co-opt, repurpose, and remix in a decentralized way, creating original products like a cell phone with a compass that points to Mecca (selling well in Islamic countries) and simple cell phones that have modular, replaceable parts which need little equipment to open or repair.

You need to read this article to get a view of China today.


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