China aims to dominate the biggest technologies in our lives
Generation China is a CNET series about how the country is staking out positions in big areas of tech, from 5G to social media, with players like Huawei and TikTok.
Roger ChengFormer Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
ExpertiseMobile, 5G, Big Tech, Social MediaCredentials
SABEW Best in Business 2011 Award for Breaking News Coverage, Eddie Award in 2020 for 5G coverage, runner-up National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Award for culture analysis.
China, once merely a manufacturer of commodity goods, has been on a mission to transform itself into a supplier of high-tech products, everything from electric vehicles to
equipment, part of a 10-year plan called Made in China 2025 (It rarely references this plan publicly any more because it sparked concerns from other countries). The end goal is to use the country's full resources to catch up -- and eventually surpass -- the West in various technological fields, a move the White House has said "threatens not only the US economy but also the global economy as a whole."
Throwing a spanner in the works has been the impact of the novel coronavirus, which initially shut down significant parts of China before ravaging the rest of the world. The US is still unable to get a handle on the rate of new infections as the death toll tops 130,000, throwing into question how investment in new technology looks over the coming months.
While we won't dive too deeply into the ever-shifting political back and forth between the US and China, the stories will look at how the work to develop these technologies informs the dynamic between these two nations.
And, to be clear, it's a dynamic that isn't as simple as two rivals duking it out. In many ways, the two countries are also dependent on each other.
"There is no doubt competition in the AI and 5G space, but also cooperation in many areas," said Sandy Shen, an analyst at Gartner, who noted that multinational companies have research centers and labs in China, where locals contribute to global projects.