Week in Focus: Loyalty and Technology

Week in Focus: Loyalty and Technology
What you need to know

The UK government loses loyalty points in Hong Kong as technology extends its reach into daily life.

Hong Kong continues its depressing slide towards totalitarianism with the disqualification of one electoral candidate, the questioning of another, and the re-disappearance of a bookseller across the border in China.

During a visit to China, UK Prime Minister Theresa May aped her predecessor David Cameron in professing a "Golden Age" in UK-China relations. They are indeed golden for China, in that May's desperation to declare post-Brexit Britain open for Chinese business ensured she kept schtum on human rights and, more glaringly, the situation in Hong Kong.

May's failure to address infringements on Hong Kong's way of life, supposedly protected until 2047 under the Basic Law, during a meeting with Xi Jinping was cause for celebration in China. The Global Times said that May and France's President Emmanuelle Macron’s unwillingness to speak out on human rights, “shows that the Sino-European relationship has, to a large degree, extricated itself from the impact of radical public opinion.” The Guardian was not amused.

Beijing's suppression of pro-democracy activity in Hong Kong should come as no surprise, nor should the fact that the country's tech titans are pushing ahead with ever more sophisticated means to keep the domestic population in line. Tencent Holdings this week trialed a new consumer credit service, Tencent Credit, which will eventually allow users of WeChat and QQ the chance to enjoy discounts and other perks, provided they maintain high scores in "honor, security, wealth, consumption, and social," according to Tech in Asia.

WeChat was pushing boundaries elsewhere as well, launching an unmanned WeChat-branded store in Shanghai. In Taiwan, Taipei now has an unmanned 7-Eleven (complete with the wonderfully-branded FacePay service), while Amazon has launched an AI-powered supermarket in the US. American retail jobs are already growing scarce, and the trend appears to be heading East as the world races to make cashiers redundant.

Elsewhere, technology and the data derived from its use had unforeseen impacts as maps published by fitness app Strava revealed the locations of military bases around the world, including missile command centers in Taiwan.

Back in the natural world, an ivory ban went into effect in Hong Kong to global applause, but jaguar teeth are being poached in Bolivia at record rates to supply Chinese appetite for libido enhancing powders.

Here's hoping for better news next week,

TNLi