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Digital divide

China’s economic planners have plotted ways of shifting resources from energy-rich areas to energy-consuming ones for years. Thus the massive investment in projects such as the 20,000-kilometre West-to-East Gas Pipeline that delivers natural gas from western China to markets in the east of the country, as well as the various pipelines carrying fuel imported from Russia and Central Asia to more affluent cities in China’s southeast.

Similar thinking underlines the South-to-North Water Diversion Project, which cost at least $62 billion (twice as much as the Three Gorges Dam) to complete. It aims to pipe 45 billion cubic metres of water a year from the south to the more arid areas of the north, including Beijing.

And now another major shift of resources is underway, although this time of a much newer commodity in the Chinese economy: data. Step forward the East-to-West Computing Resources Transfer Project, ...


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