Zhengzhou

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A security sign in a Berlin train station warns passers-by about an automatic face-recognition system. Photograph: Michele Tantussi/Getty Images

I once thought that I was in serious trouble with the German police. As a young PhD student in the 1980s, I was speaking at a conference on distribut(...)

Drivers at a rest area between Zhengzhou and Shanghai in China. Unmarked trucks carry loads of iPhones destined for New York, London and other places around the world.  Photograph: The New York Times

A vast, boxy customs centre acts as a busy island of commerce deep in central China. Government officers, in sharply pressed uniforms, race around a m(...)