aerial photography of great wall of china

The Wednesday Politics Thread Digs a Hole

In the midst of yet more traveling and having a last-minute realization that it’s time to write another header. Surely something is happening in China — let’s take a look!

China Is 3D Printing a Massive 590-Foot-Tall Dam … And Constructing It Without Humans

Chinese engineers will take the ideas of a research paper and turn it into the world’s largest 3D-printed project. Within two years, officials behind this project want to fully automate the unmanned construction of a 590-foot-tall dam on the Tibetan Plateau to build the Yangqu hydropower plant—completely with robots.

Popular Mechanics [archive]

How China’s lockdowns are taking a toll on global companies

International brands are revealing the damage to their bottom lines from China’s “zero Covid” policy, where tens of millions of people remain in lockdown and almost every major business has been disrupted.

In recent weeks, dozens of mainland Chinese cities, including the financial hub of Shanghai, have been locked down as authorities work to stamp out the coronavirus. For industries ranging from Big Tech to consumer goods, that’s destroying both supply and demand — and giving executives another major headache.

CNN [archive]

Dropping zero-COVID policy in China without safeguards risks 1.5m lives – study

Shanghai, a city of 25 million people, has been locked down for nearly six weeks as it battles China’s biggest coronavirus outbreak yet, with anger among residents and economic pressure mounting.

But the new research published in Nature Medicine suggests that while dropping “zero-COVID” completely could be risky for public health, the impact could be greatly mitigated by focusing on other interventions like vaccinating the elderly.

“The level of immunity induced by the March 2022 vaccination campaign would be insufficient to prevent an Omicron wave,” the authors wrote.

Reuters [archive]

Biden says he’s discussing the future of China tariffs imposed by Trump

Asked by a reporter if he would drop the tariffs on China imposed by former President Donald Trump, Biden said, “We’re discussing that right now. We’re looking at what would have the most positive impact.”

Pressure from the business community has been ramping up on the Biden administration to lift the tariffs as inflation has worsened. Easing tariffs could help alleviate some of the inflationary pressure facing importers.

In his speech on Tuesday preceding the questions about the tariffs, Biden outlined his administration’s efforts to combat inflation, which he cast as the “number one challenge facing families today.”

CNN [archive]

Trump Kept Asking if China Was Shooting Us With a ‘Hurricane Gun’

Near the beginning of Donald Trump’s time in office, the then-president had a pressing question for his national-security aides and administration officials: Does China have the secret technology — a weapon, even — to create large, man-made hurricanes and then launch them at the United States? And if so, would this constitute an act of war by a foreign power, and could the U.S. retaliate militarily? Then-President Trump repeatedly asked about this, according to two former senior administration officials and a third person briefed on the matter.

“It was almost too stupid for words,” said a former Trump official intimately familiar with the then-sitting president’s inquiry. “I did not get the sense he was joking at all.”

Rolling Stone [archive]

U.S. Presses Taiwan to Buy Weapons More Suited to Win Against China

The Biden administration is quietly pressing the Taiwanese government to order American-made weapons that would help its small military repel a seaborne invasion by China rather than weapons designed for conventional set-piece warfare, current and former U.S. and Taiwanese officials say.

The push by the Biden administration has broadened and accelerated similar efforts by officials in the Trump and Obama administrations. Democratic and Republican officials and lawmakers say one lesson of the Ukraine war is the United States must help transform Taiwan into a “porcupine” to deter potential attacks from China.

The New York Times [archive]

Wednesdays, am I right? That said, just because it’s the middle of the week doesn’t mean that the McSquirrel Rule isn’t still in effect — so no throwing/threatening to throw hurricanes at anyone.