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Reblogged:East Minus West Isn't Even Zero

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A story in the South China Morning Post that would be pilloried as an advertisement if it appeared in a reputable Western outlet title-gushes China Launches World's Fastest Internet With 1.2 Terabit Per Second Link, Years Ahead of Forecasts.

The first thing that came to my mind was:
So what? They censor it.
But I went ahead and read the "news" anyway and remembered a few other things about this story that would be fishy, even if the claims are 100% true.

Let's take a look at some of these:
The achievement -- a collaboration between Tsinghua University, China Mobile, Huawei Technologies, and Cernet Corporation -- smashes expert forecasts that 1 terabit per second ultra-high-speed networks would not emerge until around 2025.
Cool, if true, but this is only about a year early -- by whatever unclear or arbitrary standard they're using.
Most of the world's internet backbone networks operate at just 100 gigabits per second. Even the United States only recently completed the transition to its fifth-generation Internet2 at 400 gigabits per second.
There's lots of context missing here, but it's revealing that this "news" agency felt the need to compare this alleged "collaboration" with "the United States," as if this were a race between planned economies.

As woefully imperfect as the United States is at practicing capitalism, the fact that there isn't a truly comparable "backbone" here could mean anything from There isn't yet a need for one that would justify its cost to Regulation or other aspects of central planning have interfered with such a goal being accomplished.

Conversely, perhaps if either country were freer, something like this (or better) would have been built long ago, and without the government stiff-arming -- I mean "collaboration." (Companies collaborate all the time for profit without making a big deal out of it, so that aspect of the brag smells funny to me.)

This comparison means nothing in and of itself, but it only becomes more interesting to contemplate as we continue...
Huawei Technologies vice-president Wang Lei told the same press conference at Tsinghua University on Monday that the network was "capable of transferring the data equivalent of 150 high-definition films in just one second".
I think they might have added, as long as none of those films is about Winnie the Pooh to that last sentence. But even that would be too generous.

Moving along...
If they won't even allow this, what difference does it make how much their "backbone" can carry? (Image by the Guardian. The author believes his use of this exemplary image to be protected as Fair Use under U.S. Copyright law.)
The new backbone network marks another advance for China, which has been concerned about its reliance on the US and Japan for routers and other components of internet technology.

All of the system's software and hardware has been domestically produced, with the technical research team making advancements in everything from routers and switches to optical fibre connections. [bold added]
I'd be much more impressed by this claim absent China's tendency to steal Western intellectual property.

The whole thing reminds me of a book I heard about years ago titled East Minus West = Zero: Russia's Debt to the Western World, which outlined how dependent Russia was on the West for its economic development.

While China was never as backward as Russia, its failure to respect intellectual property and violations of individual freedom make a complete mockery of this milestone on many levels as it is.

But the fact that the information will be filtered means that whatever the government over there does with its new toy, it will be less useful to the individuals there than it could have been, even if we assume that (a) it is economically justified and (b) wouldn't have been built much sooner (and with actual Chinese innovation) in a free China.

East minus West isn't even zero.

-- CAV

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