They’re watching you—well, those grannies on the corner wearing the red armbands certainly are (see p. 62). For decades, these stalwart seniors have kept a beady eye on their neighbors to make sure they don’t get up to any mischief.
They were omnipresent at any event, even gaining the nickname the “world’s fifth intelligence agency” for their sterling work foiling shared-bike litterbugs. But the efforts of this volunteer workforce may soon not be needed—thanks to Alibaba, Tencent, and other corporations.
Millions have happily signed up for programs such as Wechat Wallet and Alipay, along with attendant social credit schemes, including the already-massive Sesame Credit. Soon, every purchase made in China that isn’t in cash (and these numbers are growing) will be itemized, tracked, geo-tagged, cached, and analyzed in a vast consumerist utopia (or capitalist conspiracy; or Orwellian experiment) in big data we’re calling the “Cloud Country” (see p.24).
Plus we look at why Yunnan’s food has become so fashionable; what will happen to Dafen, once the “world’s art factory”; a history of advertising in modern China; the discovery of a new species of gibbon; and why China’s aviation industry is losing money as fast as it can grow...