The bearable mediocrity of Baidu’s ChatGPT competitor, Ernie Bot
3. President Xi Jinping visited Russia this week to meet with Vladimir Putin. Economic relations between the two countries have weakened in recent years. (Wall Street Journal $)
4. A year after the China Eastern Airlines crash that killed 132 people, the Chinese government still has no conclusion on what went wrong. (Associated Press)
5. Jiang Yanyong, the Chinese doctor who exposed the cover-up of the SARS outbreak in 2003, has died aged 91. (NPR)
6. Someone keeps cutting the undersea cables connecting a Taiwanese archipelago to the internet. Taiwanese authorities blame the accidental damage to Chinese ships. (Vice)
7. Guo Wengui, a controversial Chinese billionaire with close ties to Steve Bannon, was arrested in New York on Wednesday for a billion dollar fraud scheme. (NBC News)
- “The New Federal State of China,” an entity launched by Guo and Bannon in 2020, greatly exaggerated its role in rescuing Ukrainian refugees in 2022 and used it for political promotion. (Mother Jones)
lost in translation
During the first two years of the pandemic, Chinese insurance companies popularized “covid insurance” – people can pay a single premium of a few dollars and recover thousands of dollars if they catch covid. But as journalist Yu Meng wrote in the Chinese publication Connecting, it can be extremely difficult to obtain this payment.
Yu took out covid insurance in early 2022 and tested positive in a home antigen test in December, amid a nationwide spike in infections after China eased its pandemic control measures . The insurance company gave him a number to call, but no one answered. Yu reports that there are at least 60,000 more people who have filed a claim with the same company. Some called dozens of times a day and others sued the company. Some have filed complaints with the Chinese insurance regulator. But very few people were ultimately paid.
At one point, when she finally managed to join the company, a customer representative said to Yu, “Do you know how many complaints we have? You think the people above me didn’t calculate the costs? Of course they did. It can reach billions and lead to the bankruptcy of the company. Do you think the state will allow a public company to go bankrupt? Can you imagine that?” In the end, Yu, who had expected to receive 20,000 RMB ($2,900), accepted 5,000 RMB. His parents, who had taken out the same insurance, waived the reimbursement.
One more thing
Even children can no longer escape the AI craze. Recently, the local government of the eastern province of Zhejiang, China, announced that it would integrate more artificial intelligence education into the curricula of primary and secondary schools. The intensity of the lessons is not yet clear, but I wonder: are we going to come full circle and see Chinese children using Ernie Bot to do their Ernie Bot homework?
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