Imported paranoia, May 18:
[China] has also learned something from the most paranoid of all nations, the US, about how to go overboard when it comes to safety. In its drive to be seen as a responsible protector of the national health, China is alienating much of Latin America and scaring people out of their wits… In fact, I have seen a wider adoption of American-style control-freak behavior of the least efficient sort. In Chengdu, for example, once a free-wheeling feeding frenzy of bicycle mania, crosswalk guards have begun forcing bicyclists to cross intersections counter-clockwise, which means that one must wait for three light changes to make a u-turn. At the same time, cars continue to drive down sidewalks like they are in a chase scene in a movie. Of all the American practices to adopt, this sort of niggling pointless enforcement is the worst.
Microsoft: This is what we call strategy, May 19:
Microsoft is now teaming up with the city of Hangzhou to battle piracy. Hangzhou will crack down on counterfeiting of Microsoft products in return for deep discounts on those products, and a sizable (though undisclosed) investment in the city that will include the building of new technology centers. The hope is that Hangzhou will set an example for other cities that are vying to become technology hubs – thus stemming piracy from the ground up rather than the top down. Will it work? Who knows? There are issues of scalability in this strategy. In how many cities can Microsoft build new technology centers? And the plan does have the ring of “we will pay you to stop stealing from us.” Then again, the previous strategy hasn’t exactly been gangbusters. Furthermore, as anyone in the IPR field will tell you, the problem with IPR infringement in China isn’t central government support, but rather the lack of local enforcement.