Fans of rice-cooking implements, I have great news: your options are probably about to become greatly diversified, thanks to China’s tech industry.
To explain why, I’ve got to start with the Two Meetings. While China is not a real democracy, it does have a rubber-stamp legislature called the National People’s Congress that gets together for two weeks each year to maintain the illusion. The NPC has 3,000 elected representatives, and because their work isn’t particularly serious, it includes a lot of celebrities. Famous actresses, directors, singers, even tech CEOs – the Two Meetings is a chance for all of them to get together, make speeches about issues that are important to them, and exert some very small influence over the machinery of China’s governance.
This year’s Two Meetings are in session right now, and one improbable hot theme has already emerged: rice cookers.
Do it for China
The discussion of rice cookers is, of course, symbolic. What China’s business celebrities and pundits are really discussing is China’s mostly-deserved reputation for producing lower-quality products. But the discussion has already blown up: a Sina Tech article on Dong’s comments has attracted nearly a thousand comments. Now numerous tech sites are already speculating that Xiaomi will come out with a rice cooker.
That might sound like a joke, but it isn’t. Xiaomi actually announced plans to produce a smart rice cooker even before the Two Meetings, so the Xiaomi rice cooker is definitely happening. But that’s probably just the tip of the iceberg.
I think the viral “rice cooker” discussions happening now will make the “smart rice cooker” a kind of patriotic vanity project that will attract other Chinese hardware companies too. The “made in China rice cooker” is being turned into a symbol of China’s tech prowess (or lack thereof), and I highly doubt that Xiaomi will be the only tech company that wants to prove China can cook rice just as well as – or even better than – Japan.
So yeah, get ready for rice cookers that play nice with your smartphone, because China’s probably about to make a whole heap of them.
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