How Technology Is Changing the Lives of Chinese People

IN the third decade of the 21st century, this notion has begun to poorly reflect reality. In fact,the development of technology has become one of the main engines of Chinese growth. Several statistics may put things into perspective. China’s annual research and development (R&D) spending grew 169 times over from around 14.3 billion yuan ($2.21 billion) at the beginning of the 1990s to 2.44 trillion yuan in 2020. Based on exchange rate conversion, China’s total R&D expenditures overtook Japan’s in 2013, taking the second place in the world.

It’s hard to pinpoint China’s scientific and technological advances as it leads in countless areas from renewable energy to 5G network, and high-speed rail to artificial intelligence (AI), and has numerous world-leading companies. The four great inventions of contemporary China (high-speed rail, Alipay, bike-sharing, and online shopping) are leading a new trend in convenience and efficiency, and are changing the livelihoods of Chinese people. Today, I will share a few of the latest achievements in Chinese technology.

5G Network

A high-profile technological miracle is the giant leap China has taken in eventually establishing itself as a world leader in 5G. With a 1 billion-strong population of internet users currently, China is now acknowledged as the global paradise for mobile communications where tech-savvy users with at least one smartphone are now deeply immersed in a mobile internet-linked world: Real-time video calls or conferences, geographically unbound mobile payments, shopping, food ordering, and taxi-hailing, among other activities that are all powered by the country’s almighty mobile network.

China’s rise as a global leader in the 5G era, with domestic heavyweights including Huawei sitting atop the world’s 5G-related patents. China, for its part, has been pushing even harder into a head start in next-generation wireless communication.

Cooperation with telecom companies China Unicom and China Mobile has brought super-fast 5G networking, Chinese manufacturer Yutong Bus has dispatched four electric self-driving buses in an open-road trial project on “Intelligent Island” in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou in 2019. The buses, called Xiaoyu, are at Level 4 on the autonomous scale, which means they can drive themselves without any human intervention under certain conditions. Yutong said it ran a Level 4 bus at the Boao Forum for Asia on the resort island of Hainan in March 2019, entertaining over 200 guests. If you travel to Zhengzhou or Boao, taking Xiaoyu Bus will absolutely be an unforgettable experience!

High-speed Travel

For many Chinese, the best choice for traveling is high-speed rail(HSR), even better than airplanes. At the beginning of 2022, the mileage of China’s high-speed railways exceeded 40,000 kilometres, ranking first in the world.

In the 1980s, if you want to travel from Beijing to Shanghai (equivalent to the distance from Tsumeb to Oranjemund), it would take you 17 hours on the green-skinned train, compared with only 4.5 hours on the high-speed rail now.

Now the Beijing-Shanghai HSR, one of China’s busiest and fastest rail lines, carried 1.35 billion passengers during its first decade of operation, traveling a distance equivalent to approximately 40,000 revolutions around the globe. When riding on an ultra-fast, comfortable HSR from Shanghai to Beijing, you can even book a food delivery via your smartphone before the train stops at any station.

Navigation Satellites

An autonomous driving car packed with vegetables, fruits, and fresh seafood was driving to a residential area in Beijing’s Shunyi district in July 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic put many people to stay at home. By receiving the signal of BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS), the driverless car could adjust its route in real time operation while being guaranteed to stay on the right track.

(An autonomous driving car for takeaways in Beijing)

It was just one of various scenarios that the Chinese home-grown navigation system was applied to in quotidian life. With the last BDS satellite successfully sent into space in June 2020, it marked the completion of the country’s domestically developed BeiDou constellation.

It is reported the positioning accuracy of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System has reached 2.6 meters in the Asia-Pacific region and 3.6 meters globally. That means even if you’re in the Kalahari Desert, you don’t have to worry about getting lost as long as you use the BeiDou system. Just like GPS services, BeiDou can be used all around the world as well. Maybe you’re using the BeiDou system right now!

FAST (Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope)

BeiDou is used to observe the earth from space, while FAST is watching the spacing from the earth.

FAST is the acronym of Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, a radion telescope located in Guizhou, southwest China. It also has a nickname – TianYan, which means eye of heaven or sky eye. The TianYan parabolic dish is the world’s largest Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) used for spotting pulsars and other energetic astronomical targets. It is also the only one that can do specific types of observations following the collapse of the Arecibo Observatory radio telescope in Puerto Rico. TianYan will also be used occasionally to search for alien life.

China has opened TianYan to the global scientific community starting on April 1st,2021. Foreign scientists are able to submit applications to China’s National Astronomical Observatories online. After review, observation times will be doled out starting on August 1st last year. Around 10 percent of observation times is allotted to global astronomers in 2021. Since the first discovery in 1968, about 3,000 pulsars have been discovered,among which there are 201 discovered by the China’s FAST. That is quite amazing!

China has many other technological achievements worth knowing about, such as the Jiaolong manned deep-sea research submersible that can be used to explore the ocean, the AI smart assistants used by almost every household, and face recognition-enabled ticket checking machines. With the increasing accessibility of the internet, you may learn more about new Chinese technologies and inventions from the internet, but the best way to learn about China is absolutely to see it with your own eyes!