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  • Everyone loves Reddit!

  • Especially Chinese tech companies.

  • Tencent is investing millions in Reddit.

  • Which is weird, because Reddit is blocked in China.

  • So what's their real motivation?

  • Welcome back to China Uncensored.

  • I'm Chris Chappell.

  • Reddit.

  • The tech company that calls itself

  • thefront page of the internet

  • is looking to expand it.

  • Reddit has just raised 300 million dollars

  • in the company's fourth round of funding.

  • Half of that is from a major Chinese tech company.

  • But who cares if it's from a Chinese company?

  • Because this round funding puts Reddit's valuation

  • at an astronomical 3 billion dollars.

  • Now that's a lot of money,

  • especially if you consider what Reddit actually is.

  • It's basically a no-frills online message board

  • where people create discussion threads called Subreddits

  • and then vote up or down posts

  • they think are awesome or lame.

  • Example—a Subreddit called 'funny'.

  • Where Reddit user B_rodriguezzz

  • posted a photo captioned

  • Jamaican Super Lotto winner taking NO CHANCES

  • ...was upvoted by 119 thousand people.

  • Or the SubredditWho's the dumbest person you've ever met?”

  • which features a post by a teacher

  • about a 9th grade student who allegedly

  • ate an entire 24 pack of crayons,

  • puked,

  • and then did it again the next day

  • andtazed himself in the neck before a football game.”

  • NoahtheRed's post was upvoted nearly 18 thousand times.

  • Anyway, you get the idea.

  • This company is worth 3 billion dollars.

  • And that's of course why Chinese tech giant Tencent

  • is investing a whopping $150 million in Reddit.

  • Tencent is headed by Ma Huateng,

  • also known as Pony Ma...

  • Who's apparently trying to figure out exactly

  • why offering to invest 150 million in Reddit

  • has sparked such a torrent of fury.

  • See, Reddit users started rebelling

  • as soon as they heard about the Chinese funding deal.

  • Rebelling how?

  • By posting content that would be banned in China.

  • Like Tank Man,

  • the guy who famously stood up to stop tanks

  • that were rolling out of Tiananmen Square in 1989

  • that had just run over pro-democracy protesters,

  • including these students on hunger strike.

  • Or also on Tiananmen Square,

  • but more recently

  • police brutally arresting practitioners

  • of the banned Falun Gong spiritual group.

  • But not all the backlash is gloomy.

  • There's the cheery design proposal

  • for Reddit's new logo

  • featuring Winnie-the-Pooh.

  • The cuddly bear is often censored in China,

  • because of its obvious resemblance

  • to Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

  • But don't worry,

  • it's unlikely Xi Jinping will see

  • all those Winnie-the-Pooh memes,

  • because since last August,

  • Reddit itself has has been banned in China.

  • Now Reddit users are afraid that their beloved platform,

  • known for uncensored free speech,

  • is going to get censored to meet

  • the demands of the Chinese Communist Party.

  • See, Tencent has a history of censoring things

  • the CCP doesn't like.

  • Its Chinese platforms QQ and WeChat

  • are both heavily censored,

  • and they work with Chinese authorities

  • to give them access to user data.

  • Amnesty International did a report back in 2016

  • on tech companies protecting users

  • against threats to privacy

  • and freedom of expression.

  • The results?

  • Not so good for Tencent.

  • Chinese firm Tencent came bottom,”

  • the report reads,

  • scoring zero out of 100,

  • ranked as the company

  • taking least action on messaging privacy,

  • and the least transparent.”

  • Snapchat,

  • which Tencent owns a 10 percent share of,

  • came in third from the bottom.

  • Who would have thought the app

  • that scans millions of users

  • with advanced facial recognition technology

  • so they can wear cute dog ears

  • would have privacy issues?

  • But defenders of Tencent's investment in Reddit

  • say that Tencent is a private company,

  • so there's no real danger they'd bring in censorship

  • or leave a back door

  • for the Chinese communist party to access, right?

  • Well, Tencent is a private company...

  • with Chinese characteristics.

  • What I mean is, in China,

  • pretty much every company that's made it big,

  • is only big because it has links to the Communist Party.

  • Here's Tencent CEO Pony Ma,

  • and another famous tech CEO, Jack Ma

  • no relation

  • clapping during a speech Xi Jinping gave

  • two months ago inside the Great Hall of the People.

  • Boy, they were given great seats.

  • In that speech where everyone was forced to clap,

  • Xi Jinping said that the Communist Party

  • would maintain leadershipover all tasks.”

  • That includes tech companies.

  • Both Jack and Pony were also honored at that event

  • for theiroutstanding contributionsto China's economy.

  • So yeah, they may be called private companies.

  • But they're still under the direction of the Party.

  • According to the Financial Times,

  • more than 35 Chinese tech companies,

  • including big ones like Sina and Baidu,

  • have quietly set up communist party committees,

  • whichassess a company's daily operations

  • to ensure they do not stray from party objectives.”

  • Think of it like your company's HR department,

  • but one that's working for

  • the authoritarian state you live under.

  • You do not want to get called in

  • for that performance assessment.

  • But it's not all bad!

  • Xu Zewei,

  • founder of Chinese fintech platform 91 Finance,

  • was quoted in the Financial Times article

  • as saying thatto be affiliated with the Communist party

  • is good for our brand

  • andwhen recruiting,

  • we specifically seek out party members.”

  • Trey McArver, co-founder of a consultancy

  • that advises companies on how to do business in China,

  • put it even more bluntly.

  • No company,

  • private or state-owned,

  • gets ahead in China without aligning itself

  • with the party's larger goals.”

  • Take a company like Huawei,

  • the world's biggest telecom equipment maker.

  • Not only does it make telecom equipment,

  • but it also helps the communist party

  • with little things on the side, like espionage.

  • Just last month,

  • the Polish government arrested a Huawei employee

  • on allegations of spying for China.

  • And federal prosecutors in the United States

  • are pursuing a criminal investigation of Huawei

  • for allegedly stealing trade secrets

  • from American business partners.

  • Investing in US technology

  • is one of the Chinese Communist Party's strategic objectives.

  • And it's not just the well-known companies like Reddit

  • that they're interested in.

  • Chinese private companieswhich, again,

  • once they get to a certain size,

  • pretty much all have links to the Party

  • have been investing heavily in Silicon Valley.

  • That's partly because they want to get in on US technology.

  • Why?

  • It's all part of China's secret plan

  • to rule the world through high-tech.

  • Just kidding.

  • It's not a secret plan.

  • It's calledMade in China 2025”,

  • and it's even been promoted by state-run media like CGTN.

  • China has been making great efforts

  • to promote its manufacturing industries

  • since the implementation of the Made in China 2025 plan.”

  • According to the US Chamber of Commerce,

  • it's “a 10-year comprehensive blueprint

  • aimed at transforming China

  • into an advanced manufacturing leader.”

  • Well that doesn't sound all that dangerous.

  • Except experts like Michael Brown,

  • who runs the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit,

  • says there's a big worry in the intelligence community.

  • They fear the Chinese regime could get their hands on

  • too much sensitive U.S. technology,

  • transfer it back home,

  • and pose a threat to American national security.

  • "They don't play by the same rules that we do,” says Brown.

  • So cybertheft is on the table

  • and industrial espionage is on the table.”

  • So China's big play in Silicon Valley

  • is about way more than Reddit or Snapchat.

  • It's about finding ways to acquire the newest technologies

  • and ship them back to China,

  • where they can be help China

  • dominate the world's tech industries,

  • inform the Chinese military,

  • or be useful in the state surveillance apparatus.

  • And just how big is China's

  • big play for American innovation?

  • This chart from Reuters

  • shows that since 2015,

  • when the Made in China 2025 plan was launched,

  • the amount of Chinese cash

  • flowing into US startups exploded.

  • Last year it surpassed 3 billion dollars.

  • Now, I'm not saying these investors

  • are all accessing sensitive technology.

  • And Chinese venture capital is still a minority

  • compared to American venture capital.

  • But according to Adam Lysenko,

  • an analyst for the Rhodium Group,

  • the risk exists that Chinese companies

  • could access sensitive technologyin an early stage

  • where U.S. government,

  • military and other security individuals

  • haven't had a full chance to evaluate

  • the implications of those technologies."

  • But there is is some good news

  • on the national security front.

  • The Trump administration has taken steps

  • to curb the risk of Chinese investment

  • in US technology.

  • Trump signed a new law clamping down on

  • China's access to American innovation.

  • It broadens the authority

  • of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

  • That's the committee that examines national security risks

  • of foreign investments in the U.S.

  • Already the committee has recommended blocking deals.

  • They've done that several times so far,

  • including putting a halt to

  • a Chinese state-backed company's attempt

  • to buy a US semiconductor company for 1.3 billion.

  • And the administration's harder line

  • on protecting American intellectual property

  • has slowed the flow of Chinese funding.

  • And those deals have mostly stopped,

  • partly because of the hassle of having to deal with

  • a potential CFIUS review.

  • So the real danger of Chinese investment in US technology

  • is not so much about social media sites like Reddit.

  • But, does Tencent's investment in Reddit

  • mean that Reddit posts will be censored

  • to please the Chinese Communist Party?

  • Right now, it's unlikely,

  • unless Reddit wants to get unblocked in China

  • and is willing to self-censor to do it.

  • Other US tech companies,

  • like Facebook and Google,

  • have been willing to self-censor

  • to get into the Chinese market.

  • Which is bad,

  • because it normalizes

  • and legitimizes state censorship.

  • But Tencent's Reddit investment