Adam, a colleague, and I were talking today about how rising wages, operation overhead and razor-thin profit margins for US corporations in the last decade or so has resulted, if not partially, to the idea of off-shoring/outsourcing. That, and (the threat of competition) with the waltzing-in of globalization.
One of the biggest beneficiaries? China, of course. With so many people (1.3+ billion, 0.629% growth) there’s clearly no shortage of labor. What ensued was a back-and-forth about whether China will sometime soon industrialize to such a level that erstwhile benefits that (off-shored) companies banked on while operating there would be offset by rising operating costs and increased global competition, as they did in the US. That foreign, and even local companies, soon find the pros and cons of having your business there are now breaking even, perhaps even surfing the Sigmoid curve to the “declining” phase. Could that happen? If so, would that mean that the nucleus of outsourcing would be shifted again someplace else? (Africa?).
Adam seemed to suggest that it may happen, though he didn’t specifically mention Africa; that’s just what was going through my head I thought not, because wages in China probably won’t rise as at the rate that they did here so production costs may be kept sufficiently low for several years, decades maybe. Plus China’s economic model is different (socialist v. capitalist). Not a particularly huge detriment, since China’s economy is only second to that of the US.
We soon realized the conversation was rapidly spiraling to macroeconomics, not exactly an engineer’s forte. We did somehow segue to talking about the Great Firewall of China! With over 100 million internet users, 600k+ bloggers, 60 million unique IP’s (seriously guys? IPv4 addresses are projected to run out by May 2012, lakini at this rate..) how do they manage to ‘censor the internet’? There were some rumors on the internets that they wanted to curtail www access during the Olympics. Didn’t materialize. They caved. Partially.
To use an internet service, you must also sign up with the local police department. At a wangba (a.k.a cyber cafe) your connection can be nixed for visiting prohibited websites. More interesting factoids here.
Another interesting find, and the answer to our question: how do they do it? Well, turns out with a force of about 30,000 internet cops! Turns out, however, the Great Firewall is porous..