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China in 2050, Using Mobile Tools to Track COVID-19, Telemedicine: RAND Weekly Recap

July 31, 2020

This week we discuss where China will be in 2050; privacy concerns surrounding mobile tools used to track COVID-19 infections; what types of supports parents need while their kids are at home; how telemedicine can help provide more specialized health services; when and how the Putin era might end; and why the United States fails in “irregular warfare.”

Chinese flag, yuan, and soldiers, image design by Katherine Wu/RAND Corporation; photos by Dmytro and Mike/Adobe Stock

Image by Katherine Wu/RAND Corporation; photos by Dmytro and Mike/Adobe Stock

Where Will China Be in 2050?

Tensions between the United States and China continue to rise. Just last week, the Trump administration closed China's consulate in Houston, accusing diplomats there of economic espionage. Meanwhile, Beijing remains intensely preoccupied with internal security and deeply suspicious about Washington's intentions. China's “secretive approach to the pandemic” is a prime example, says RAND's Andrew Scobell.

How might this relationship between the world's two most powerful countries change over the next three decades? Scobell and his colleagues authored a new study that examines this question. The report outlines four possible scenarios for China's future—triumphant, ascendant, stagnant, and imploding—and concludes that either an ascendant or a stagnant China is most likely. Notably, the authors say that the kind of country China becomes is neither preordained nor completely beyond America's influence.

COVID-19 content displayed on a mobile phone, photo by da-kuk/Getty Images

Photo by da-kuk/Getty Images

COVID-19 Mobile Surveillance Tools May Raise Privacy Concerns

Dozens of countries, including the United States, are using mobile phone tools and other data sources to track the spread of COVID-19. These tools can help communities respond to the crisis, but they also pose serious privacy risks. To help measure and address these risks, RAND researchers developed a privacy scorecard. Public health officials can use this resource to evaluate the privacy protections of mobile surveillance programs, build public trust, and prevent the abuse of mobile data.

Jennifer Panditaratne helps Hazeline with her reading assignments as she is homeschooling in Broward County, Florida, U.S. May 29, 2020. Picture taken May 29, 2020, photo by Maria Alejandra Cardona/Reuters

Jennifer Panditaratne helps daughter Hazeline with her schoolwork, Broward County, Florida, May 29, 2020

Photo by Maria Alejandra Cardona/Reuters

With Kids at Home, What Kind of Help Do Parents Need?

With schools and child care centers closed, many parents have become teachers and full-time caretakers. RAND researchers surveyed parents about their greatest needs during this difficult time. Notably, parents with multiple children across age groups and parents experiencing financial difficulty reported a greater need for learning resources—from ideas on how to motivate their children to guidance on how to support kids' social and emotional needs.

Man speaking to his psychologist via telemedicine, photo by Merlas/Getty Images

Photo by Merlas/Getty Images

Telemedicine Can Help Provide More Specialized Care

For safety-net health providers that reach underserved populations, telemedicine can help extend care for some specialized services, such as psychiatry and diabetic retinopathy screening. That's according to a new RAND study. But to sustain these improvements, the federal government and other entities that pay for care need to increase their long-term support for telemedicine. As telehealth has rapidly expanded during the pandemic, these findings may shed light on how to continue these services in the long term.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin takes part in a video conference call with members of the Security Council at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia June 4, 2020, photo by Alexei Nikolsky/Reuters

Vladimir Putin takes part in a video conference call with members of the Security Council at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, June 4, 2020

Photo by Alexei Nikolsky/Reuters

When and How Will the Putin Era End?

Recent changes to Russia's constitution mean that President Vladimir Putin can stay in power until 2036 if he wishes. A new RAND paper by Ambassador John Tefft explores the many factors that will affect the selection of Putin's successor, whenever he does step down. The U.S.-Russia relationship will likely be competitive, if not adversarial, for some time to come. But with a patient, careful approach, Washington can manage Putin's transition out of power and create the basis for improved relations with any successor, says Tefft.

A group of U.S. NATO Implementation Force (IFOR) soldiers climb off a destroyed Bosnian tank March 16, 1996, that was hit in 1992, at the beginning of the war between Bosnian Moslem and Serbs, photo by Peter Andrews/Reuters

A group of U.S. NATO Implementation Force soldiers climb off a destroyed Bosnian tank, March 16, 1996

Photo by Peter Andrews/Reuters

Why the U.S. Fails in Irregular Warfare

The war on drugs in Bolivia. Peace enforcement in Bosnia. Counterinsurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq. In each of these cases—and nearly every other conflict of this kind over the last 40 years—the United States has failed to achieve its strategic objectives. That's according to a new “analytical memoir” by RAND's Charles Cleveland, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general. “Time and time again, I saw tremendous success at the tactical level … followed by strategic muddling and eventual failure,” he says. Cleveland draws on his experience to identify recommendations for how to develop the world-class way of irregular war that the United States will need moving forward.

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