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Christina Larson
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Christina Larson

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It was a pleasure to help Brad Stone report from Beijing for this profile of Xiaomi, China's fast-growing cell phone maker: 

"Perhaps Lei can use scarcity to his advantage yet again—making Xiaomi phones as rare and coveted in foreign markets as they are back in Beijing. Outside the convention center, the crowd of Xiaomi fans finally begins to thin out. Ma Yun Yan, 24, has dyed red hair, a pink baseball cap, and a T-shirt that reads 'Don’t trust anyone.' She took a three-hour flight from Nanning to attend the event and is considering a MiPad with a yellow plastic back, because 'yellow is bright and young.' Nearby, Zhao Zhe, 29, says he’s a big fan of MIUI but complains the MiPad is “not cheap enough” and says the experience of trying to buy a Xiaomi gadget online is mafan—a lot of trouble.

"The crowd may be hoping for a final appearance from Lei, but they leave disappointed. He is somewhere else, though he continues to post all afternoon and evening to his 8.6 million followers on Weibo. 'We’ll definitely fully push forward on Android tablets,' he writes to one fan concerned about the MiPad’s competitiveness. 'We have great determination.'" 
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MIT Technology Review's 2014 "10 Breakthrough Technologies" issue is now online. I was honored to interview pioneering scientist Weizhi Ji at the Yunnan Key Laboratory of Primate Biomedical Research in western China. Last fall, his team of researchers used a new method of DNA engineering known as CRISPR to modify the fertilized eggs of monkey twins by editing three different genes. The twins’ healthy birth marked the first time that CRISPR has been used to make targeted genetic modifications in primates—potentially heralding a new era of biomedicine in which complex diseases can be modeled and studied in monkeys. (See the "Genome Editing" section.)  http://www.technologyreview.com/lists/technologies/2014/
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Earlier this month, I spent a week reporting in Burma (Myanmar), a fascinating country undergoing enormous changes. On Sunday March 30, Burma launches its first national census in 30 years -- the country probably has about 60 million people, but even its government isn't quite sure. While a census is dearly needed, the survey design has provoked controversy and outrage for excluding a category code for the Rohingya people, a Muslim minority group facing violent discrimination and marginalization at hands of a dangerous ethnic-nationalist movement (led in part by extremist Buddhist monks). The fight over the census reveals the darkest side of Burma's transformation story, as brutal ethnic tensions mount. 
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Christina Larson

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On the last day of 2013, Xiaomi founder and Chief Executive Officer Lei Jun took to a Chinese social network to announce his ambition for 2014: shipping at least 40 million smartphones. That would mean more than doubling last year’s sales volume, as Xiaomi sold 18.7 million smartphones in 2013. 

“The mission we’re trying to accomplish”—selling hardware at razor-thin margins—“is very different from what Apple’s trying to achieve,” as Lei Jun said at the Global Mobile Internet Conference in San Francisco last fall: “I believe that we are more similar to Amazon (AMZN), because we are actually using the hardware to build a software platform.”
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“On Weixin, close friends talk to each other and share information”—and potentially, shopping tips, says iResearch's Will Tao. “We all know each other on Weixin. But we don’t know each other on Weibo. So the strategies [for making money] are different.”
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Christina Larson

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While Seoul is the home of “Gangnam Style,” named for the upscale, status-obsessed district parodied in singer Psy’s hit song, and a mecca for plastic surgery in Asia, the rise of conspicuous consumerism doesn’t fully explain how Koreans’ financial habits changed so quickly. 
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Christina Larson

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The Tiananmen Square massacre has been effectively erased from China’s collective memory through careful editing of history textbooks and censorship that blocks foreign websites and books describing the events of June 4, 1989. In her excellent new book, The People’s Republic of Amnesia, Louisa Lim, a former Beijing correspondent for NPR, describes an informal poll of Beijing university students in which just 15 out of 100 could identify the famous “Tank Man” photo—the iconic image of a lone protestor trying to block a column of tanks in Beijing.
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Christina Larson

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Last week, China's government released new details of a nationwide soil survey showing almost a fifth of China's farmland is polluted. Heavy metals like cadmium and arsenic in soil are absorbed into the food chain and threaten human health. Here's my March 28 news article on soil pollution in Science magazine. (The red river behind me was badly tainted by an open-pit mine upstream; it provides irrigation water for the farming village of Shangba in Guangdong province.) http://www.sciencemag.org/content/343/6178/1415.summary
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I'll be talking about "Pollution and Sustainbility" this morning at 10:45, along with +Kaiser Kuo +Ian Johnson +Isabel Hilton +Jeff Wasserstrom, at the Assoc. Asian studies meetings. Hope to see some of ya'll there.  http://www.asian-studies.org/conference/2014-Conference-Brochure.pdf
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Due to rampant over-prescription, Chinese people consume per capita 10 times the amount of antibiotics annually as Americans. This happens in part because Chinese patients frequently request antibiotics -- and in part and hospitals depend on revenue from drug sales. Government funding covers just 20 percent of hospital costs. Drug sales make up most of the funding gap, and antibiotics sales account for about 25 percent of all drug sales.
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“The first generation of migrant workers generally had no chance to get a good education; they didn’t have adequate knowledge or skills to seek better jobs,” says Huang Leping, director of the Beijing Yilian Legal Aid Center, which often assists migrant workers. “But those born after 1980 are different. They have a strong desire to be integrated into city life, and they focus on whether their career can provide social security and other benefits to root them in the cities.” In short, they expect more.
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My first piece from Korea ... 

“Korea is big enough for a local market, but its size also forces you to think beyond,” says David Lee, the 33-year-old founder of Seoul’s Shakr Media, which runs video site shakr.com. He says that many Korean startups, like the country’s media companies, cater first to a domestic market. But because South Korea has just 50 million people, startups concerned about long-term growth need to think internationally from the get-go.
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In her circles
128 people
Have her in circles
952 people
Patrick Chovanec's profile photo
Work
Occupation
Magazine writer.
Skills
Focus on China, Asia, environment.
Story
Tagline
China Correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek magazine; Contributing Correspondent for Science magazine
Introduction
I live in Beijing and write about the environment and the human side of China's economic boom.
Basic Information
Gender
Female