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Amazon partnered with China propaganda arm to win Beijing's favor,...

by Tracie Dransfield (2022-07-16)

LONDON, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Inc was marketing a collection of President Xi Jinping's speeches and writings on its Chinese website about two years ago, when Beijing delivered an edict, according to two people familiar with the incident.
The American e-commerce giant must stop allowing any customer ratings and reviews in China.

Some books portray China's battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan, in heroic terms. One is titled "Stories of Courage and Determination: Wuhan in Coronavirus Lockdown." Another begins with commentary from Xi: "Our success to date has once again demonstrated the strengths of CPC (the Communist Party of China) leadership and Chinese socialism."

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The 2018 briefing document spells out the strategic stakes of the China Books project for Jay Carney, the global head of Amazon's lobbying and public-policy operations, ahead of a trip he took to Beijing.

The top-rated hair gadget promises perfect curls with minimum effort, and many shoppers attest to its bold claims, calling the hair tool 'amazing' and a 'game-changer'. This set comes with a glamorous silky pink storage bag and compact mirror. 

Unlike Google Glass, for example, which had a small heads-up display for displaying information and a camera for capturing the world around you, the Echo Frames are audio-only. This greatly limits their augmented reality potential in their current form and I have yet to find any Alexa skills designed for being used out and about.

Instead, the big appeal is the support for Alexa, which the Frames can summon anywhere. But in practice, Buy Book the Day One Edition of Amazon's Echo Frames is very much a beta product. If Amazon wants to truly lead in smart glasses, it needs to make big improvements on the frames' sound quality, build and performance.  This essentially frees Alexa from the limitations of a home speaker or an app on your phone.

The glasses themselves feel like the cheapest thing in the package. The irony is that all the other pieces included in the box give off the impression of a premium product, including the leather glasses case and braided charging cable.

Amazon touts the Echo Frames as having "open-ear technology," which is marketing speak for having little downward-facing speakers next to your ears, as opposed to buds inside them.  Overall, the Frames' audio is middling, and if you're looking to use these as headphone replacements, it's best to look elsewhere.

Amazon's public-policy team came up with the China Books project as a novel way "to get what we wanted on Kindle and other things," the person said. According to a former Amazon executive involved in talks with China, the company secured some, but not all, of the government approvals it needed to sell Kindle devices and e-books.
That situation gave the government leverage over the retailer, the former executive said. "It was a wink and a nod."

Among them are two Chinese companies, Tiktok developer ByteDance and video-surveillance firm Hikvision, as well as multinationals Nike, Samsung and Philips, according to the 2018 briefing document and a 2019 blog on AWS's website.

I was able to get roughly 6 hours, 40 minutes of battery while doing that mix, though on days where I did more music streaming I noticed the battery drain quicker.  During my testing over the past couple of weeks, I played a lot of music, made several phone calls and asked a bunch of questions to Alexa.

26: An earlier version of the story incorrectly said that Bose's Frames were not available with a prescription. The sunglasses can be purchased or updated with prescription lenses in the US.

The Frames are IPX4-rated, so all the electronic components should be able to withstand sweat or splashes of water. And just like regular glasses, they fogged up whenever I stepped outside and wore a mask on a hot summer day in New York. That said, they're not waterproof so you still shouldn't take them in a pool or to the beach. 

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Still, by 2018, Amazon was receiving an "increasing number of requests from (Chinese) watchdogs to take down certain content, mostly politically sensitive ones," stated the briefing document prepared that year for Carney.

The 2018 briefing document advised Carney to raise the government's request on Guo when meeting a top Ministry of Commerce official in Beijing, and stress that China shouldn't make requests that involve data stored abroad.

They've earned nearly 100,000 five-star ratings, with owners raving about their decent sound offering, lightweight feel, Buy Book reliability and ease of use.  Now £109, the Apple AirPods with Charging Case (Wired) are stylish, lightweight and convenient, offering hands-free calls from your iPhone.