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This past Sunday was the Lunar New Year, the most important holiday for Chinese and several other Asian cultures. It’s difficult to celebrate this holiday with China Report readers, as I originally planned, when I know many people are still grieving and scared from the mass shootings that have happened over the past few days—first on New Year’s Eve in Monterey Park, a predominantly Asian city not far from Los Angeles, and then in Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco, on Monday afternoon.
But the Lunar New Year is also supposed to be an opportunity for us to reset and seize new opportunities. And I hope that, like me, you are preserving the sorrow, rage, and joy from the past year in your memory and letting it guide you on a new adventure to change the world and stop tragedies like these from happening again.
In that spirit, I’ve recently revisited some of my favorite China-focused MIT Technology Review stories from the last year and gone back to the people I interviewed. I asked them: As the new year begins, have the challenges that once troubled you been resolved? Have you stuck to the goals you set in 2022? What are you planning and hoping for in the Year of the Rabbit?
I’m very grateful to everyone who has let me tell their stories—which I hope have helped all of us understand more about tech and China and, more broadly, the people around us. So here’s China Report’s Lunar New Year check-in with four of these individuals.
Liu Yang, the robotaxi driver in Beijing
Since we talked in the summer of 2022, Liu Yang had briefly stepped out of his robotaxi. Baidu, his employer, was permitted to test self-driving taxis in Beijing’s Shougang Park without any safety operators like Liu onboard. So he moved to working in the ground crew, checking on the vehicles in between rides and troubleshooting any issues.
But this month, he got behind the wheel again, this time in the robotaxis transporting Baidu employees between two of the company’s main office buildings in the city, a 15-minute ride. His riders these days are less curious about the car, since they were the ones who developed the self-driving technology. But he’s still talking shop often; as one of the most senior employees in the 10-driver team shuttling employees, Liu often teaches the newcomers how to adjust to the role of a robotaxi driver.
“This year, I don’t have many big plans for my personal life. I just want to do my job right,” Liu says. For now, there are still driving scenarios that need Liu’s intervention, but he knows his experience in Shougang Park foreshadows a broader trend: When the technology becomes safe enough, all robotaxi drivers will be out of a job.
What’s his plan for when that happens? Liu says it’s the same as when we last talked: “I can move to jobs like 5G remote driving operators.”
“Teacher Li,” whose Twitter feed unexpectedly became the hub of information for zero-covid protests
The Italy-based Chinese artist known as Teacher Li has close to 1 million Twitter followers now, and the sudden fame has upended his life. Since he worked around the clock last year to post real-time footage of people protesting China’s zero-covid policies, he’s been doxxed, his family back home has received pressure from the Chinese government, and his Twitter account was temporarily shadow-banned for unclear reasons.
As China enters a new era of covid policies, Li is still posting follower submissions, but the scope has greatly expanded: updates on labor protests, social media censorship, and even the Spring Festival Gala, an annual televised event that has been highly politicized in past decades but is still watched by the whole country.
Trained as a painter, Li is reconsidering his career during the Year of the Rabbit. “My plan for the new year is to reconstruct my future. My life path has been altered … and how my future will look is an open question,” he says. Some media outlets have invited him to join their newsrooms, but he hasn’t made up his mind yet. First, he plans to write some guides to painting as closure to his first professional career. After that, he’ll explore his possibilities in journalism.
Global Anti-Scam Org, the volunteer group that has exposed crypto scams on LinkedIn and other platforms
I found GASO last summer when I was reporting on the fake LinkedIn personas that defrauded victims of millions of dollars in cryptocurrency-based “pig-butchering scams.” The targets were largely people of Chinese descent living around the world. While many victims felt powerless after the scammers took their money and disappeared, GASO was formed by some who came together with the hope of preventing more people from falling into the
By: Zeyi Yang
Title: Resolving to live the Year of the Rabbit to the fullest
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2023/01/25/1067267/lunar-new-year-revisit-stories/
Published Date: Wed, 25 Jan 2023 11:00:00 +0000