Posts

TikTok App on Phone

US Looking Into Banning Tik Tok And Other Social Media Apps From China

The United States is looking to potentially ban certain social media apps that come from China in an attempt to increase security access between the two countries. The main app that’s in question is Tik Tok, and according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the administration is taking this matter “very seriously.” 

Tik Tok alone has become one of the most popular social media apps on the internet currently. The free platform allows users to make videos that are up to a minute long and edit them with intricate filters, sound effects, music, graphics, and more. The feed algorithm on the app allows users timelines to be filled with content Tik Tok thinks you’ll like based on other posts you’ve liked and who you follow. 

Embed from Getty Images

This specific algorithm is one of the reasons that Tik Tok has grown so much in popularity within the past year, as users can have any sort of interest and likely find a hashtag/page geared towards it. However, Pompeo made it clear in an interview with Fox News that Tik Tok was the administration’s number one priority in terms of platforms to potentially ban. 

Pompeo also went onto state that smartphone users should only download the app if “you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party,” however, a spokesperson working for Tik Tok in America was quick to refute these claims that the app gives personal information to the Chinese government. 

“TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the US. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”‘

Embed from Getty Images

The United States and China have been experiencing major tensions within the past few years in general. These recent remarks from Pompeo are likely a direct result of that as well. National security, trade, and technology was at the center of all tensions between the two nation’s governments, and once Covid-19 became an issue that stemmed from a market in China, the pressure began to boil over. 

Tik Tok is in fact owned by a Beijing-based startup company known as ByteDance, and has been often criticized by the US government for being a potential threat to national security due to its ties to China. Once again, the administration has been quoted multiple times alleging that the company “could be compelled to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party,” despite there being no evidence to prove that. 

Tik Tok has made statements in the past regarding security and claims that the company operates through data centers located outside of China, so none of the data is subject to Chinese law. Data for US users specifically is stored in the US with backups in Singapore, according to the company. This past May an executive spokesperson claimed that “the national security concerns are unfounded.”

India’s government has also claimed they would ban Tik Tok and other Chinese apps due to a posed “threat to sovereignty and integrity,” which also likely fueled the US to follow suit. With over 40 million American users, however, it’s likely the app won’t be going anywhere without a good fight from social media users across the country.

Corona Outbreak

Coronavirus Outbreak In Beijing, China Worries Health Officials

Beijing, China is reinstating strict lockdown measures and massive coronavirus testing after a brand new group of cases for Covid-19 appeared in the metropolitan’s vast food market. The government’s main concern is getting a full-on second wave of the virus, as many health care experts have warned that a second wave of the virus in general would likely be much worse than the first wave. 

Initially, Beijing reported 36 new cases of the virus as of Monday June 14th, combined with new cases that appeared last week that’s 79 new infected individuals. The cases are reportedly linked to the Xinfadi market in the southern part of the city. This market is mainly known for carrying fresh fruit and vegetables and has since been shut down. 

China’s government in general has had one of the quickest and most effective methods of containing the spread of this virus, especially when compared to how federal governments abroad have handled the pandemic. Beijing was considered to be one of China’s “safest” cities in regards to the virus after the country effectively stopped the spread of the virus a month ago. Now, the possibility of a second wave has their government scrambling. 

Embed from Getty Images

Citizens, however, are already taking to social media to speak out against the “wartime measures” that the government is implementing in order to prevent a second wave. For example within the Fengtai district of Beijing, where the Xinfadi market is located, officials announced that the launch of a “wartime mechanism” as well as the creation of a command center would be made to curb the spread. 

The Global Times is a tabloid that recently took to Twitter to share a video of a paramilitary police force wearing intense gear and patrolling the market after it was shut down this past weekend. Authorities have also implemented a mandatory lockdown on 11 residential areas that are near the market. The lockdown in those areas is so strict that residents won’t be able to leave their property; all of their food and daily necessities will be delivered right to them. 

Beijing has also set up 193 testing facilities within its city alone and has since tested more than 76,000 residents; 59 tested positive. Fengtai district specifically has also collected test samples from almost 9,000 individuals who were working in the Xinfadi market, so far 6,000 of those samples have been tested as negative for the coronavirus. 

Within the testing they also were able to interview and contact-trace the virus based on each individual’s personal accounts. The Beijing government also released a public statement urging any citizen who visited the market self-quarantine for 14 days. 

Embed from Getty Images

Public school classes were scheduled to resume this week in Beijing, but that has since been cancelled. Life in Beijing was reportedly almost completely back to normal before this week. Multiple businesses, schools, restaurants and malls reopened. This was a testament to China’s intense handling of the virus, as they essentially completely eradicated it before fully reopening. 

“There is no way Beijing becomes Wuhan 2.0. The world will see China’s powerful capacity in controlling the epidemic, including (the) government’s strong leadership, respect to science, public’s willingness to cooperate and nationwide coordination of control measures. We will win again,” Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of Global Times, wrote in a post.

Beyond just the market, Beijing authorities are still trying to trace the direct source of the outbreak. Initially the virus was detected on a chopping board for fish used by a seller of imported salmon at the market, which has led officials to fear that the virus contaminated a lot more citizens than they currently believe. 

Investigations are still underway, but if China’s response to these new cases is anything like their initial response to the pandemic, residents should be okay as long as they continue to listen to national health and safety guidelines.

Positive COVID-19 Test

New Covid-19 Cases In China Spark Concerns For A Second-Wave

Coronavirus flare-ups in China and South Korea are prompting worldwide fears of a second-wave of the virus, especially considering China was one of the first countries to enact lockdown policies to fully flatten the curve. These new cases appearing in parts of Asia that have already almost fully recovered from the virus has other countries reconsidering reopening. To catch new infections and further trace the source of the virus, China is continuing to test its millions of residents. South Korea has also done the same and dispatched thousands of officers to help with the contact tracing. 

Other parts of Asia, such as Russia, are still coping with their first-wave of the virus. Russia specifically is still experiencing 10,000 new cases every day, making them the country with the second-highest number of confirmed infections worldwide; trailing the US which is the most infected. 

Embed from Getty Images

Wuhan, China, where the virus is believed to originate from, is also mandating every resident gets tested again amid new cases appearing in China. Over the next 10 days authorities in China will be testing the 11 million Wuhan residents, which is a direct response to six new coronavirus cases appearing in the city. 

The reason they’re mandating such a heavy response to six cases is because those were the first new cases to appear after 35 days; Wuhan lifted their 76-day lockdown on April 8th. In South Korea authorities are also demanding that all clubs and bars in the capital city of Seoul close down again after more than 100 new cases appeared that were traced back to the establishments. In Seoul specifically more than 8,000 police have been deployed to assist with contact tracing over 11,000 residents. 

“If the government of Korea hadn’t done this, then there would be 119 people out there infecting other people. So that actually gets to the point of tracing people,” explained Dr. Jerome Kim, a leading epidemiologist in the country. 

Embed from Getty Images

Back in Russia, healthcare professionals are coping with a hospital fire tragedy that killed four patients being treated for the coronavirus. This is the second fire to take place in a Russian hospital that’s been linked to faulty ventilator machines. President Vladimir Putin’s main spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, has also recently been hospitalized amid suspicion that he was also infected. Peskov is just one of many men in Putin’s inner circle who have tested positive after working in close-contact with the president. 

Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, is confident that “ the country is on a steady path to ending its epidemic. [Our] government may lift the national state of emergency for much of the country as soon as Thursday — more than two weeks earlier than the current May 31 expiry date.”

Tokyo is likely to remain under emergency declaration, especially considering all of the international workers/individuals who have been flying in and out of the city before this pandemic to plan the 2020 Summer Olympics. For now, like most aspects of this pandemic, only time will tell how much worse it’s going to get in Asia, and how much we should use their experiences to better ourselves as a country.

iPhone SE

Apple Releases ‘Low-Price’ iPhone SE To Combat Coronavirus Demands

In China, Apple recently announced that they would be discounting pricing on all iPhone 11 models, and now with the release of their new low-price iPhone SE models as well, Apple is hoping they’re putting themselves in a better business position to recover economically from the coronavirus pandemic. 

China accounts for about 15% of Apple’s annual revenue, it’s also where a majority of their manufacturing takes place. Apple is waiting to see how their second-quarter reports look before implementing these discounts, especially considering the United States and Europe have closed down all retail business locations in general amid Covid-19 concerns. China will be the only country that will be able to reopen parts of their market to sell these products, as they’ve begun easing out of their lockdown policies.

Embed from Getty Images

“Apple is better positioned than most to experience a rapid recovery in a post COVID world. We see demand as pushed out, not canceled,” analyst Amit Daryanani said.

As Daryanani stated, while consumer spending in general has slowed down due to the coronavirus pandemic, Apple is relatively prepared and equipped to recover. As the second-most valuable tech company in the world, experts from Apple aren’t necessarily worried, but by launching the $400 iPhone SE model, they’re definitely taking some precautionary measures. 

Apple analysts predict that they’ll see a 6% decrease in revenue from this past quarter, and an 11% decrease in general net income. To prepare for this decrease, several online Chinese retailers have discounted their iPhone 11 pricing as much as 18% off of the original price. 

Embed from Getty Images

This isn’t the first time Apple has offered random and obscure online sales for their products as a means of increasing demand in times of economic distress. During the 2008 recession, Apple discounted their Macbook pricing as a means of increasing demand, which ended up increasing Apple’s revenue for that year exponentially.  

As previously mentioned, Apple announced the low-priced iPhone SE model this week, and social media has remained relatively quiet about it. The company, however, is hopeful that momentum will begin to pick up in the coming weeks, as individuals looking to purchase a new iPhone will likely want the cheapest and easiest option for acquiring it during a pandemic. 

“The cheaper iPhone SE could tempt iPhone owners to opt for a newer device, something they might have otherwise delayed in a weak economy. People want to avoid uncertainty in a downturn. Having a brand like Apple that can showcase quality and make people less worried about breakdowns or after-sales service can bring in buyers,”  said Nicole Peng, who tracks the smartphone sector at research firm Canalys.

Initial data has already proved that China’s smartphone market is recovering when compared to what it looked like when this pandemic began. Reports showed that iPhone sales in China increased by 21% last month when compared to sales from this time last year. While experts are still predicting a decrease in net income, this immediate increase in smartphone sales before the pandemic is even over is a good sign for the world’s many businesses/companies, and their economic futures after this quarantine is over.

Corona virus Testing

Wuhan, China To Continue Testing Residents For Covid-19 As Lockdown Lifts

Wuhan, China is where the coronavirus pandemic initially began. Now, China has begun to loosen their two-month lockdown policy as the virus has slowed down its spreading exponentially compared to where the country was even a couple of weeks ago. Even though China is seeing a decrease in positive cases for covid-19, they will continue to test residents vigorously to avoid any kind of resurgence in case numbers; their overall goal is to loosen the lockdown enough so that they can begin to rebuild their economy, while still enforcing distancing measures.

One of the biggest concerns among all healthcare professionals and government officials worldwide is being able to detect patients who are asymptomatic and may not even know that they’re carrying/spreading this virus. This is the number one issue when it comes to Wuhan loosening their policies, as they’re worried they’ll just end up right back where they were a few months ago. 

Embed from Getty Images

Feng Jing is a Wuhan resident who lives in the Tanhualin neighborhood in the city. Jing has been running a group of community workers who have looked after the Tanhualin neighborhood and ensured that everyone was following the proper lockdown protocols and keeping themselves healthy and safe; sort of like a pandemic neighborhood watch group. 

“We carry out comprehensive health checks everyday and keep detailed records of [our residents] health conditions. Currently our neighbourhood is an epidemic-free community – it’s been 45 days so far, so we don’t have this situation. There is [also] no likelihood of asymptomatic cases in this community,” Jing Said. 

Jing’s neighborhood isn’t the only Wuhan territory that’s seeing improvement in terms of new coronavirus cases. Leaders in China recently reported that this past Thursday only 42 new cases appeared throughout the entire country, to compare on both Wednesday and Thursday 60+ new cases appeared. 

Embed from Getty Images

As previously stated, China’s government’s main goal is to accelerate the country’s economic recovery, which they will do by loosening how many “non-essential” workers will be able to return to work in the coming weeks. It’s difficult, however, to make those types of decisions, as the government is also focusing on ways to ensure that infected individuals still aren’t able to come into China from other countries. So while there’s a huge focus on economic growth, there’s also an even larger focus on keeping the country healthy.

In general, the coronavirus has infected over 1.4 million people worldwide, and over 87,000 individuals have died, and while this virus may have originated in Wuhan, it’s unfair to blame one city for the world’s overall unpreparedness for a pandemic such as this. 

In Wuhan specifically, the city is looking to spend what equates to $28.4 million on upgrading the city’s 400+ farmers’ markets, where it’s believed the virus first appeared. Several of the earlier cases of Covid-19 were linked to seafood markets in Wuhan that sold exotic species of animals as well, leading many to believe cross-contamination was the culprit of it all.

“Once reopened, the farmers markets should ensure no trade in wild animals and no trade in live poultry. Infrastructure in the markets should also be improved and become more similar to supermarkets.” Hong Zhihua, vice director of Hubei’s Patriotic Health Campaign Committee Office, said.

Many Wuhan residents share Zhihua’s perspective, and so does the government. Hopefully within the coming weeks, we’ll all see China improve massively in terms of coronavirus recovery, and the rest of the world will follow suit. For now, it’s imperative that we all stay inside as much as possible to stop the spread.

Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus: What Are The Risks Of A Virus Outbreak?

Since news broke that the coronavirus has been identified in China and has now spread further afield, many have been unsure as to what this means and the potential risks posed. So what are the risks associated with the outbreak of a new virus?

The most important factor is the nature of the virus and how it manifests itself in its host. The coronavirus is known to cause respiratory illness in humans but in the vast majority of cases the patient will recover quickly. As with all viruses, if a person’s immune system or general health is already compromised through illness or due to their current medication, there is a far greater risk of complications, some of which could be fatal.

Indications so far suggest that the coronavirus is airborne, meaning that it can be passed from one person to another through close contact. One medical professional in China who contracted the virus himself stated that the virus could be contracted through the eyes. Airborne viruses are much more worrying for health professionals and the wider community, as they are much more difficult to control. The delay between contracting the virus and displaying symptoms can also hamper efforts to contain the spread, as the longer the incubation period, the harder it is to determine who is likely to have been infected and could then be infecting other people. Health experts have suggested that the incubation period for coronavirus is around 14 days, and it has not been determined whether those infected are contagious prior to symptoms beginning.

Embed from Getty Images

As more cases across the world are identified, it is natural to feel a degree of panic as to what this might mean. Naturally any spread of a new virus is of concern, as it can affect more vulnerable members of the community, such as the elderly, children or the sick. Although coronavirus is not deadly to the vast majority of healthy individuals, there will be those who contract it that could die as a direct result. This fear is further heightened by the risk of coronavirus entering hospitals and other care facilities, where the vast majority of individuals there will be considered high risk. There is also a worry with new viruses which are yet to be fully analyzed, as they may have additional undiagnosed health risks for certain people; such as the Zika virus causing birth defects if contracted by the mother during pregnancy.

When a virus is on the move, many simply want to know what steps they can take to help stop the spread of infection. In China particularly, but elsewhere too, some people choose to wear face masks to help prevent them catching viruses and other airborne bugs. The general advice given so far is similar to general viruses such as the flu; wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds with soap, avoid touching the face, mouth and nose with unwashed hands and try to avoid those who are sick or unwell.

If you have been in contact with someone who has since been diagnosed with coronavirus, don’t panic. If you are not displaying symptoms, there is nothing that can be done yet, so there is no need to visit a health facility. If you do begin to display symptoms, phone your health care provider and explain your symptoms and the reason why you are concerned it could be coronavirus – this will either be because you have recently traveled to the affected area, or because you have been in contact with someone who then became unwell with the virus. There are different regional procedures in place for handling potential new cases of coronavirus, so check online to determine what the next steps are in your particular locality.

Embed from Getty Images

There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus, and the focus is on managing the symptoms until your immune system is able to naturally fight it off. For the vast majority of people infected with the virus, they will experience a short period of feeling unwell, accompanied by a headache, runny nose, cough, sore throat and fever. Very much like with the panic surrounding Bird Flu several years ago, there are countless viruses circulating at all times of the year, and so just because you are displaying flu-like symptoms, does not mean that you have contracted coronavirus.

If you or someone close to you is displaying flu-like symptoms, ensure that they rest up, take plenty of fluids and take regular over the counter pain relief to ease any discomfort. Usually the symptoms will subside after a few days, but if there are any causes for concern or health begins to deteriorate, call your healthcare provider as soon as possible for advice.

A final point to note is upcoming travel plans. To help contain the virus and avoid it spreading further, it is normal procedure to place limitations on travel both in and out of the affected areas. If you are planning to travel to China in the near future, be sure to check the latest travel information and advice with your airline well before your planned journey.

Coronavirus Symptoms

How Worried Should You Be About The Coronavirus?

If you’ve been keeping up with the news as of late, you most likely have heard about the coronavirus that’s causing some hysteria. However, whenever a new outbreak of disease occurs, there’s a lot of misinformation and media-induced panic that circulates throughout the internet, causing people to become much more anxious than they likely need to be. In times such as this, it’s important to research the facts, and best methods for keeping yourself healthy. 

First, we need to understand where this virus originated; in this case it’s the city of Wuhan, China. The current strain of coronavirus that is spreading is known as a “novel coronavirus” meaning that it’s a strain that’s never been encountered by human beings before. Those originally infected in Wuhan are believed to have contracted it from the Huanan seafood wholesale market located in the center of Wuhan. This market see’s some of the most foot traffic for the area on any given day and the virus likely grew within the fish that were sold and distributed amongst hundreds of Chinese citizens. As we know, this would not be the first instance in which humans contracted a new disease from animals; swine flu and Ebola being a few notable examples. 

The symptoms of this virus aren’t that different from the flu when it’s in its most minor form. Those with the coronavirus have experienced severe coughs, fever, and breathing difficulties. The biggest concern regarding the virus is that it causes pneumonia, and in the most severe cases organ failure. Since it’s a viral form of pneumonia, antibiotics and traditional flu medicines won’t work to combat it. 

Embed from Getty Images

WUHAN, CHINA – JANUARY 22

It’s important to note now that those who have been drastically affected by the virus, or have unfortunately passed due to its symptoms, were, for the most part, already in poor health. Such as when an older individual contracts pneumonia or the flu, they’re at a greater risk for further complications simply due to their age and the health of their bodies. So when you see tweets or headlines regarding the rising death rates due to this virus, know that for the most part the deaths were caused by a combination of ailments that the coronavirus further amplified. 

The virus, like any other, is spread from human to human transmission, as confirmed by China’s national health commission. As of January 27th, there have been 2,700 reported cases of the virus and 56 deaths in China, however, experts believe that the actual number of those affected worldwide has likely reached upwards of 100,000. However, many of the individuals may not even be aware they have it, and will likely just develop regular flu symptoms as a result.

When it comes to the expert opinions, doctors and health professionals alike are the most concerned with the spreading of the disease. As previously stated, there’s much more of a focus on individuals who already are in poor health who contract the virus, as they are the most likely to develop more severe symptoms.

Embed from Getty Images

The National Health Service (NHS) recommends going to the doctor if you’ve recently traveled to China, or been in contact with someone who has/who has had a confirmed case of the coronavirus, and you’re experiencing severe cough symptoms for multiple days. However, for the most part the NHS is urging everyone not to panic, and treat all cold or cough symptoms as you normally would. If you find yourself experiencing a severe cough with other ailments such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, or an overall sense of weakness, then visit a doctor as you normally would, and again, don’t panic. In times like this it’s very easy to self-diagnose every little symptom as something 100 times more severe than what it actually likely is. 

The fact that the virus is now in the US and spreading outside of China is worrisome, but expected by experts. Now it really is all a matter of containment and treatment of those infected. What’s likely to happen now is The World Health Organization will declare a “public health emergency of international concern” in regards to the outbreak. The declaration itself sounds scary, but it’s actually a positive thing, as it ensures that a majority of the world’s medical resources and tools will be directed to strictly helping combat this virus. 

Prevention for the coronavirus is the same as any other virus. Make sure you’re washing your hands thoroughly (at least 20 seconds every time) throughout the day, keep hand sanitizer on you at all times, and disinfect the spaces where you spend most of your time (bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, office) and things you touch the most throughout the day (your desk, computer, cell phone).

Impeachment 2

Trump’s Impeachment Looks at President Trump’s View on Friendship

Next week will see President Donald Trump go on trial to defend the accusation that he offered $400 million in military aid to the Ukraine if they gave him information he could use on his political enemies.

And although it is only Trump’s “deal” with the Ukraine that is on trial, it seems that a new story regarding his world view is appearing in the media, making America’s strong relationships with its allies seemingly being based on how much money he can get from them, such as larger subsidies for US troops based in locations including South Korea.

Trump had also bragged about the fact that Saudi Arabia had placed $1 billion into a US bank account in an attempt to gain a detachment of US troops – a claim that has been declared untrue.

And while it seems that Trump is only out to get as much money as he can from his new found “friends,” he is also restricting them too. He has threatened European allies with 25% auto tariffs if they did not enforce a dispute mechanism against Iran with regards to the nuclear deal. He also threatened to take action against Iraq that would “make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame” if the country evicted US troops from the country, as is their sovereign right.

This came alongside the news that Baghdad had been warned by the US that its central bank’s account in New York could be frozen, which was seen as a clear attack to destroy their economy.

Embed from Getty Images

It is actions like these that make many think that if this is the way America treats its friends, they may end up lonely soon. It has also been noted that by having a foreign policy purely designed to increase the country’s wealth goes against the United States’ mission to make the world safer for democracy.

As is always the case, Trump has his supporters who cannot see anything wrong with what he is doing. Trump’s announcement that the world has been “ripping off” America has been seen by many as exaggerations, however many others agree with him saying that creating deals with other countries is the way America has always worked.

Several text messages have been released by the House Intelligence Committee and have thrown a new name into the Ukraine issue. Robert F. Hyde – Connecticut’s congressional candidate – had sent texts where he seemed infuriated with then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Texting Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani, Hyde said, “she had visitors.” Before adding “Hey broski tell me what we are doing what’s the next step.”

In retaliation to the messages being released Hyde’s Twitter account for his election campaign appeared to renounce Parnas as “some dweeb we were playing with” while Adam Schiff, House Intel leader was dismissed as a “desperate turd.”

Yet despite Trump’s dubious ways of keeping his friends happy he seems keen to be rebuilding his relationship with China.

Following on from the recent trade war with China, which saw many of China’s technology giants including Huawei being banned in the country as well as TikTok being banned from all US military, it seems that the two countries have been working towards a deal that should keep both countries happy.

Embed from Getty Images

Trump’s trade deal with China was reported during the week and if Trump’s assurances that President Xi was watching on TV in Beijing is to be believed, the Chinese President would have been shocked with what he heard in the 40 minute tirade Trump delivered to Chinese leaders, CEOs, cabinet members and lawmakers as well as the world’s media. Trump was keen to announce that the impeachment is a “hoax,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer “tosses and turns” and is unable to get a good night’s sleep as well as other facts that many were not expecting to hear.

He continued to thank President Xi who is “a very, very good friend of mine” before explaining that “we’re representing different countries. He’s representing China, I’m representing the US, but we’ve developed an incredible relationship.”

Following on from Trump’s fallout with Iran many countries in the Gulf and Europe fear retaliation. The President’s unpredictable behavior alongside his habit of off-the-cuff speeches has left many governments concerned that although the American President will react when American lives are at stake, he may not be so supportive if regional interests are under attack or even merely threatened.

A great example is Trump’s reluctance to react when Iran allegedly attacked vital Saudi oil facilities last year. Although America has declared that one of its policy priorities is to protect Saudi Arabia there clearly are conditions. Ilan Goldenberg from the Center for a New American Security is an expert on Middle East issues and said there are two sides to these “battles.”

“On the one hand, they are happy that Trump is willing to sanction and pressure and take Iran down a notch.” However it appears that “they are nervous that he is unsteady and goes too far… No one really knows what Donald Trump will do”

Whatever Trump does decide to do, it is unclear whether being his friend is beneficial to you or not.

Plastics

China Wants To Ban All Single-Use Plastic By 2025

China has announced their plan to help combat the damaging effects of climate change by reducing their plastic waste as a country. One of the most harmful man-made products that’s currently killing our planet is single-use plastic. These products not only are impossible to decompose, but are the most wasteful in terms of use. Things such as the Great Pacific garbage patch and the microplastic epidemic currently taking over could’ve all been avoided had policies such as the one China is about to implement been around. 

By 2025, China is planning on reducing their single-use plastic product distribution and use greatly, starting with a ban on single-use plastic straws and bags throughout the country. Obviously, this is a major shift for such a large country, hence why the government is giving itself a 2025 goal. China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) made a statement this past Sunday (1/19) in which they claimed that certain plastics will be banned in different territories at specific times throughout the next five years to gradually phase out all single-use plastic. 

Embed from Getty Images

It’s expected that the government will start with larger metropolitan areas first and then move to banning plastics in more suburban/rural areas as time progresses. It’s much easier to regulate plastic product distribution in larger cities, as most receive their shipments of single-use plastic products from the same companies, so they can collectively switch to more sustainable options. Rural areas are given more time so residential businesses can transition at their own pace. 

For example, “thin, single-use plastic bags will be banned in most stores in large cities by the end of 2020, but smaller cities and villages have until 2022 or even 2025 to begin phasing them out. By the end of 2025, hotels will no longer be allowed to provide single-use plastic items and no postal service nationwide will be allowed to use any plastic packaging,” according to the NDRC.

Embed from Getty Images

China has mapped out other plastic ban specifics in their official new policy for the next five years, including a ban on all single-use plastic cutlery within China’s catering industry by the end of 2020. The plan is to have all plastic tableware phased out of China’s restaurants by 2025, however, with the takeout industry being as huge as it is, single-use containers will only be partially phased out by the end of the five years. Plastic straws will also be banned entirely throughout the whole country by the end of the year. 

A policy as major as this one happening in a country as impactful as China is extremely important, and will hopefully set a precedent for other major countries. China alone produces up to 30% of the plastic products distributed throughout the world every year, making it the number one plastic manufacturer on the planet.

The significance of that statistic is major, for example, the Yangtze River in China carries more plastic pollution into our oceans than any other water way in the world, according to the World Economic Forum. Plastic levels in our oceans are at an all time high, with an estimated 8 million tons of it being dumped into them every year, a majority of which is coming from China. While it can be argued that the damage has already been done, at least China is leading the way on making major systematic changes to at least try and combat the harmful repercussions of humanity’s actions. 

Along with the new policy, Chinese lawmakers announced that they would be creating a new comprehensive recycling program for the entire country to abide by. This way, it’ll be easier to organize and regulate the recycling process in a country as massive as this one. China is hoping it can return its country’s health to what it once was, and hopes the rest of the world catches up with them soon. Our oceans are hoping for the same.

Mother & Daughter searching for food

Live-Streaming Is Helping Farmers Combat Poverty In China

Geru Drolma lives in Western China’s Sichuan province, and is making a huge name for herself as an entrepreneur. What started out as a means-to-an-end idea that would give Drolma some money for her monthly expenses has given her a huge social media following and a successful, sustainable business that’s benefiting all those around her. 

Drolma has been hunting for wild fungi to sell at the local markets in her area for over a year now. She’s Tibetan, meaning that for generations before her, past Tibetans within her bloodline have forged pathways throughout the mountains in her area that lead to spots with the best vegetation. Fungi and vegetation varieties may not seem like a steady way to make an income, however, today the Chinese market for them is extremely lucrative. The rarest fungi are grown for one month out of the year, at the base of a tree, only at a very specific elevation (13,000 feet). The process to finding these fungi may seem dramatic, but at $1,000 a kilo, it’s definitely worth it. 

They’re known as Matsutake mushrooms, and for Drolma, finding them has always been a family affair, and according to her that’s the only way she’s been able to be successful. “Matsutakes can only be found by experienced people. My husband, for example, hasn’t dug out a single one so far!” Drolma told TIME Magazine also stating that her father has taught her from a very young age how to spot areas of the earth that are likely to inhabit wild fungi. 

Embed from Getty Images

One day, while Drolma was on her daily 5 a.m. hike up the mountains to collect her harvest, she decided to live-stream her process using the Chinese app Kuaishou. Her first post alone had over 600,000 views and countless comments between Drolma and other local harvesters. After a few more live-streams she made the decision to dedicate herself full-time to live-streaming, and after a few weeks she created such a name for herself and her rare fungi finds that she caught the attention of local farmers and villagers. 

Drolma went on to set up a collective deal with the local villagers and farmers in regards to her fungi finds and the demanding market it was creating. These fungi aren’t just used for elegant cuisine, but also as bases to a lot of medicine, both holistic and pharmaceutical, so the business she was generating was quite substantial. 

Through her collective Drolma and her team were able to generate $500,000 in revenue during the five month fungi picking season. This accomplishment is not only huge for Drolma, but every villager living in her area, which is historically known as one of China’s most impoverished areas, according to TIME.

“My family strongly opposed our decision to concentrate on live-streaming at the beginning. They didn’t understand online money you cannot see or touch, and said that I acted like a beggar by taking videos during private times like meals. But I never thought about giving up.” Drolma now has 1.9 million followers.

Embed from Getty Images

As previously stated Drolma uses the live-streaming app Kuaishou, which works beyond the limits of cookies and data outreach to connect its users to content they want to see. The app actually uses AI technology as a means of recording and storing data regarding users’ interests to connect them with other users who are the same. 

“All uploaded content is forensically parsed: the facial expressions of those featured, any objects included or action taking place, what background music is playing, even the style of a protagonist’s dancing. Any words uttered are automatically transcribed by embedded voice recognition software and mined for keyword tags. Kuaishou doesn’t only show users content that directly correlates to their interests, but also attempts to broader the topics they see depending on what works with similar profile types,” according to TIME.

15 million videos are uploaded to the platform everyday amongst the app’s 700 million users. The creative side of Kuaishou allows anyone, with any amount of photography/editing experience, to create Hollywood-level masterpieces with its extensive list of special effects and editing tools. Additionally, the app has an online store and gift application extension, which allows entrepreneurs like Drolma to easily make money through the app. 

What AI has done here is given someone with a vast amount of knowledge regarding ancient Tibetan culture and Chinese fungi a platform to not only share her knowledge, but make a business for herself. There are endless possibilities within this technology, and now those without the many resources it normally takes to run and operate a business can simply do it from their phone.