China: The Curse of the Cell Phone


October 12, 2005: China has launched another two men into space, for a five day orbital mission. Using equipment bought from the Russians, and modified a bit, the Chinese were confident enough about the reliability of the gear to show the launch live to the nation. The manned space program is seen more as a propaganda effort, to make Chinese feel good about themselves. But some Chinese scientists say there is a practical reason to get men on the moon (to obtain rare materials like Helium 3).

October 10, 2005: In the last generation, China's GDP has quadrupled. But about half of that new wealth is held by twenty percent of the population. China expects to double GDP again in the next five years. The large number of Chinese who are still poor, are not happy. Some three million of them have taken part in over 70,000 violent demonstrations during the course of the last year. That's a sharp increase over the last few years. Better communications, particularly cell phones and the Internet, means that news of economic conditions, and much else, quickly gets around the country despite government attempts at censorship.

October 7, 2005: The government is now trying to censor text messaging, which is very popular among the nearly 200 million cell phone users. At the same time, cell phone use is very popular in police and military units, and is changing the way these units operate. But this is making the military more vulnerable to electronic countermeasures that can eavesdrop, or disrupt, cell phone communications. Building military grade cell phone networks is much more expensive, and the government has shown no interest in spending that kind of money. Meanwhile, the U.S. is known to be working on many ways to interfere with cell phone networks, and has built sturdy cell phone systems for military use.


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