Turkey Intrigue, Kim’s Congress, Mongolian Privacy


Turkish politics comes with no shortage of intrigue. Before Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced his resignation yesterday, the first word of the depths of his rift with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came via an anonymous blog post succulently entitled The Pelican File. Meanwhile main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu described Davutoglu’s departure as a “palace coup,” amid growing concerns about Erdogan’s thirst for power.

The ramifications of the resignation go well beyond the corridors of Ankara or internal differences in the AKP ruling party. Turkey is at the center of major international conflicts, from its relationship with other key Sunni-dominated countries in the Gulf to the Kurdish question to the fate of a continuous stream of Europe-bound refugees crossing its border with war-torn Syria.

One long-held dream for some was the idea that Turkey could eventually become part of the European Union. Writing in Geneva-based Le Temps, Boris Mabillard says there should be no rush to integrate Turkey, and the EU “betrays its own values by turning a blind eye to Erdogan’s authoritarian drift.” In more immediate terms, the stakes of foreign policy can be tallied in the Turkish border city of Kilis. For years, it has been forced to absorb countless Syrian refugees. Now, it’s Syrian missiles.


Leader Kim Jong-un is expected to further cement his power at North Korea’s first congress since 1980. BBC reports that some foreign journalists have been invited but banned from entering the guarded congress â€" and whisked off instead on a factory tour.


An out-of-control blaze has swallowed whole neighborhoods in Canada’s energy heartland and now threatens two oil sands sites as it edges south.


Happy birthday to George Clooney, turning 55 today! What else? Check today’s 57-second shot of history.


It’s not just liberals who can’t stomach the idea of a Donald Trump presidency. Even the GOP’s highest ranking elected official, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan is not ready for Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee. See his interview here.


For the second time this month, SpaceX has landed the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a ship at sea, after bringing a Japanese communications satellite to orbit, Space.com reports.


As part of the next Act in the Greek austerity drama, a three-day strike kicks off today to protest a Parliamentary vote Sunday on pension and tax reforms, a prerequisite for the cash-strapped country to receive more international bailout money. Read more on the Greek Reporter.


Guatemalan Marimba â€" Antigua, 1989


"Today we have to admit that this dream of one European state with one common interest, with one vision … one European nation, this was an illusion," EU Council President Donald Tusk said during a meeting on the state of the European Union in Rome.

  • UK/London election results later today â€" Follow The Guardian live blog.
  • The tiny U.S. island territory of Guam holds its Democratic primary Saturday.
  • Don’t forget mom on Sunday: It’s Mother’s Day!


As part of our Rue Amelot essay series, French writer Martin de Bourmont reminisces about his year in Mongolia, and the very, very different notions of privacy that living in a yurt entails: “In a typical Mongolian household, washing, changing, cooking and relaxation all take place in the company of others. There is literally no room for private thoughts. ... Though living in central Ulaanbaatar may now resemble life in Seoul or Beijing, many urban Mongolians living in provincial cities or on the capital’s urban periphery continue to live a profoundly communal life.”

Read the full essay, The Limits Of Modern Privacy, Lessons From Mongolia.



Experts say self-driving cars will allow drivers and passengers to do other things, like eating breakfast or putting on mascara â€" or, obviously, having sex.

â€"Crunched by Sruthi Gottipati

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How China Flipped From Tech Copycat To Tech Leader

Long perceived as a country chasing Western tech, China's business and technological innovations are now influencing the rest of the world. Still lagging on some fronts, the future is now up for grabs.

At the World Semiconductor Conference in Nanjing, China, on June 9

Emmanuel Grasland

BEIJING — China's tech tycoons have fallen out of favor: Jack Ma (Alibaba), Colin Huang (Pinduoduo), Richard Liu (Tencent) and Zhang Yiming (ByteDance) have all been pressured by Beijing to leave their jobs or step back from a public role. Their time may be coming to an end, but the legacy remains exceptional. Under their reign, China has become a veritable window to the global future of technology.

TikTok is the perfect example. Launched in 2016, the video messaging app has been downloaded over two billion times worldwide. It has passed the 100-million active user mark in the United States. Thanks to TikTok's success, ByteDance, its parent company, has reached an exceptional level of influence on the internet.

For a long time, the West viewed China's digital ecosystem as a cheap imitation of Silicon Valley. The European and American media described the giants of the Asian superpower as the "Chinese Google" or "Chinese Amazon." But the tables have turned.

No Western equivalent to WeChat

The Asian superpower has forged cutting-edge business models that do not exist elsewhere. It is impossible to find a Western equivalent to the WeChat super-app (1.2 billion users), which is used for shopping as much as for making a medical appointment or obtaining credit.

The flow of innovation is now changing direction.

The roles have actually reversed: In a recent article, Les Echos describes the California-based social network IRL, as a "WeChat of the Western world."

Grégory Boutté, digital and customer relations director at the multinational luxury group Kering, explains, "The Chinese digital ecosystem is incredibly different, and its speed of evolution is impressive. Above all, the flow of innovation is now changing direction."

This is illustrated by the recent creation of "live shopping" events in France, which are hosted by celebrities and taken from a concept already popular in China.

10,000 new startups per day

There is an explosion of this phenomenon in the digital sphere. Rachel Daydou, Partner & China General Manager of the consulting firm Fabernovel in Shanghai, says, "With Libra, Facebook is trying to create a financial entity based on social media, just as WeChat did with WeChat Pay. Facebook Shop looks suspiciously like WeChat's mini-programs. Amazon Live is inspired by Taobao Live and YouTube Shopping by Douyin, the Chinese equivalent of TikTok."

In China, it is possible to go to fully robotized restaurants or to give a panhandler some change via mobile payment. Your wallet is destined to be obsolete because your phone can read restaurant menus and pay for your meal via a QR Code.

The country uses shared mobile chargers the way Europeans use bicycles, and is already testing electric car battery swap stations to avoid 30 minutes of recharging time.

Michael David, chief omnichannel director at LVMH, says, "The Chinese ecosystem is permanently bubbling with innovation. About 10,000 start-ups are created every day in the country."

China is also the most advanced country in the electric car market. With 370 models at the end of 2020, it had an offering that was almost twice as large as Europe's, according to the International Energy Agency.

Photo of a phone's screen displaying the logo of \u200bChina's super-app WeChat

China's super-app WeChat

Omar Marques/SOPA Images/ZUMA

The whole market runs on tech

Luca de Meo, CEO of French automaker Renault, said in June that China is "ahead of Europe in many areas, whether it's electric cars, connectivity or autonomous driving. You have to be there to know what's going on."

As a market, China is also a source of technological inspiration for Western companies, a world leader in e-commerce, solar, mobile payments, digital currency and facial recognition. It has the largest 5G network, with more than one million antennas up and running, compared to 400,000 in Europe.

Self-driving cars offer an interesting point of divergence between China and the West.

Just take the number of connected devices (1.1 billion), the time spent on mobile (six hours per day) and, above all, the magnitude of data collected to deploy and improve artificial intelligence algorithms faster than in Europe or the United States.

The groundbreaking field of self-driving cars offers an interesting point of divergence between China and the West. Artificial intelligence guru Kai-Fu Lee explains that China believes that we should teach the highway to speak to the car, imagining new services and rethinking cities to avoid cars crossing pedestrians, while the West does not intend to go that far.

Still lagging in some key sectors

There are areas where China is still struggling, such as semiconductors. Despite a production increase of nearly 50% per year, the country produces less than 40% of the chips it consumes, according to official data. This dependence threatens its ambitions in artificial intelligence, telecoms and autonomous vehicles. Chinese manufacturers work with an engraving fineness of 28 nm or more, far from those of Intel, Samsung or TSMC. They are unable to produce processors for high-performance PCs.

China's aerospace industry is also lagging behind the West. There are also no Chinese players among the top 20 life science companies on the stock market and there are doubts surrounding the efficacy of Sinovac and Sinopharm's COVID-19 vaccines. As of 2019, the country files more patents per year than the U.S., but far fewer are converted into marketable products.

Beijing knows its weaknesses and is working to eliminate them. Adopted in March, the nation's 14th five-year plan calls for a 7% annual increase in R&D spending between now and 2025, compared with 12% under the previous plan. Big data aside, that is basic math anyone can understand.

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