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  • Author: Zachary Haver
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: In recent years, the maritime law enforcement (MLE) forces of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have dominated the contested waters of the South China Sea (AMTI, December 4, 2020). While the exponential growth and increasing assertiveness of the China Coast Guard (CCG) have captured headlines, the evolving role of technology in China’s MLE operations has received less attention. New communications infrastructure and monitoring systems, for example, help Chinese MLE forces monitor and control contested maritime space in the South China Sea (CMSI, January 2021). These investments align with China’s broader pursuit of information superiority in the South China Sea, which involves building up electronic intelligence, counter-stealth radar, and other capabilities (JHU APL, July 2020).
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Communications, Armed Forces, Satellite
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, United States of America, South China Sea
  • Author: Sergey Sukhankin
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Following the 2013 announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) at a speech given by People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping during visit to Kazakhstan, Central Asia has been a key regional priority and an indispensable element for the success of the BRI as a whole (PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs, September 7, 2013). Over the years, the BRI—nebulously defined from the start—has come to be associated with a variety of policy and investment programs. A previous series of articles has covered security-related developments associated with the BRI aimed at maintaining stability and protecting economic investments across the region (China Brief July 15; October 19; August 12).China has also begun to expand its export of digital infrastructure and surveillance technology under the umbrella of the BRI. The digitalization strategy—ostensibly aimed at promoting the international integration of technology with infrastructure and finance as well as spreading digital innovation abroad—is often referred to as the Digital Silk Road (DSR, 数字丝绸之路, shuzi sichou zhi lu). The high-level emphasis on promoting the DSR has only grown under the COVID-19 pandemic (CGTN, June 10, 2020). Across Central Asia, the DSR has been primarily represented by efforts to export China’s Smart/Safe City programs, which allow governments to collect, store, process and analyze vast amounts of personal information. The promotion of the so-called “informatization” of society (信息化, xinxi hua) and data commodification are yet more driving forces behind China’s DSR ambitions in Central Asia.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Surveillance, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Digital Policy
  • Political Geography: China, Central Asia, Asia, Uzbekistan
  • Author: Ryan Fedasiuk
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: On Monday, November 12, 2018, the recently-appointed director of China’s Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission (CAC) Zhuang Rongwen (庄荣文) summoned senior executives from WeChat and Sina Weibo for a “discussion” (Central CAC, November 16, 2018). While there is no transcript of the meeting available to the public, one thing is certain: It did not go well. For months, Zhuang had been telegraphing his discontent with the state of censorship in China—and specifically, the role that social media giants had played in undermining it (New America, September 24, 2018). His official statement about the meeting, which was uploaded to the CAC’s website a few days later, accused China’s largest internet companies of “breeding chaos in the media” and “endangering social stability and the interests of the masses.” Under his watch, he vowed that the Central CAC would “strictly investigate and deal with the enterprises that lack responsibility and have serious problems” (Central CAC, November 20, 2018). Rarely do Party officials offer such scathing public admonitions.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Internet, Surveillance, Censorship
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Luke Patey
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Much of Europe’s attention to Asia is currently being captured by China. However, if the European Union and its member states are serious about maintaining a rules-based global order and advancing multilateralism and connectivity, it should increase its work in building partnerships across Asia, particularly in the Indo-Pacific super-region. To save multilateralism, go to the Indo-Pacific. RECOMMENDATIONS: ■ Multilateralism first. Unpack and differentiate where the United States and China support the rules-based order and where not, but also look to new trade deals and security pacts with India and Southeast Asia partners. ■ Targeted connectivity. The EU should continue to offer support to existing regional infrastructure and connectivity initiatives. ■ Work in small groups. EU unanimity on China and Indo-Pacific policy is ideal, but not always necessary to get things done. ■ Asia specialists wanted. Invest in and develop career paths for Asia specialists in foreign and defence ministries and intelligence services.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Emerging Markets, International Organization, Science and Technology, Power Politics, European Union
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Taylor Butch
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: In October 2015, People’s Republic of China (PRC) President Xi Jinping visited the United Kingdom at the request of Queen Elizabeth II, marking the first time that the PRC head of state had done so in ten years. In the lead-up to the visit, both Chinese and British officials had publicly acknowledged the significance of this meeting, calling it a “golden era” in relations between the two countries. Five years on, U.K.-China relations remains steady, but there are increasing signs of tension in the relationship. Rising controversies over Huawei’s role in 5G infrastructure, and Beijing’s actions to suppress opposition in Hong Kong—as well as tensions over the origins of the coronavirus pandemic—lie at the heart of this downturn in relations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Science and Technology, Communications, Infrastructure, COVID-19, 5G
  • Political Geography: China, United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Hong Kong
  • Author: Richard Weitz
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: China and Russia are the two most influential space players besides the United States. Whereas in the past NASA was Moscow’s partner of choice, many influential Russians now look to China as their main future partner. Sino-Russian cooperation regarding global positioning and navigation satellites, space exploration, and space security has been growing and will likely continue.
  • Topic: Security, International Cooperation, Science and Technology, Weapons , Space
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Asia
  • Author: Jacopo Maria Pepe
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: As the coronavirus pandemic fuels technological and geopolitical competition among the great powers, Europe’s relations with China and Russia are facing new challenges and risks. Still, the reconfiguration of power in Eurasia also brings unexpected opportunities for European actors in the area of connectivity. To seize them, the EU needs to reconcile its aspiration to be a globally accepted “normative-regulatory” power with both its limited financial means and its more assertive attitude to geopolitics.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, European Union, Geopolitics, Strategic Competition, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Eurasia, Asia
  • Author: Wonho Yeon
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: Recent developments in advanced technology are changing the concept of hegemonic competition. The key feature of technologies in the 4th Industrial Revolution is dual-use. Emerging technologies such as 5G, AI, big data, robotics, aerospace, supercomputers, and quantum computer-related technologies can be used for both civilian and military purposes. The more you invest in the development of advanced technologies, the closer you will be to economic and military hegemony. Therefore, it is no wonder that the U.S. harbors great concerns facing the rise of China in these advanced technologies. To estimate and compare the innovation productivity of the U.S. and that of China, this study constructs a structural estimation model in which each country produces international patents using R&D expenditures and R&D researchers. Empirical results have presented novel findings indicating that China’s innovation productivity has surpassed that of the U.S. since 2015. At the same time we can observe that the U.S. has the world’s largest intellectual property surplus and keeps expanding it, while China’s intellectual property deficit has been growing every year. Given the two contradictory facts - China’s high innovation productivity and low intellectual property balance - we can conclude that China is strong at “innovation” but weak at “invention.” Knowing this, the U.S. eventually began to target this vulnerability. This is the U.S.’ Tech-Decoupling strategy. To achieve U.S.-China tech decoupling, the U.S. has been strengthening trade and investment sanctions against China. In specific, the U.S. has been utilizing the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA), Section 889 of the 2019 National Defense Authority Act, and the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA). In return, China is responding to the U.S. sanctions with the new “Long March” strategy rather than a tit-for-tat strategy. In other words, China has been setting long-term aims and responding to the U.S. sanctions by improving institutional arrangements, refining industrial policies, and developing its own technologies such as “Dual-circulation strategy” and “New Infrastructure Plan.” Ironically, increasing pressure from the U.S. is expected to further strengthen China’s R&D capabilities in advanced technology and accelerate its competitiveness in emerging industries. With the onset of the 4th Industrial Revolution, China is rapidly closing the quality gap and technology gap in major industries where Korea has a comparative advantage. If Korea does not adequately respond to changes, it may be difficult to maintain a comparative advantage over China. Thus, now that U.S.-China tensions are intensifying, Korea is facing a pivotal moment in determining the future path of its economy.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Sanctions, Investment, Innovation, Trade, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, Korea, United States of America
  • Author: John Seaman
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: From emerging technological fields such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities to traditional sectors including energy, health care, railways and agriculture, China is increasingly proactive in nearly every domain where technical standards remain to be developed and set. Technical standards are the definition of processes or technical specifications designed to improve the quality, security and compatibility of various goods and services, for instance GSM for telecommunications or WiFi for wireless Internet. They can be thought of as basic specifications or technologies on which other technologies or methods will evolve – creating lock-in effects and path-dependency for future products and technological trajectories. Defining standards can provide significant benefits for society at large, but can also carry significant implications for which technologies will dominate future markets and provide substantial advantages to those who master standardized technologies. Chinese policymakers have become keenly aware of the relationship between technical standard-setting and economic power. Indeed, a popular saying in China posits that third-tier companies make products, second-tier companies make technology, first-tier companies make standards. In 2015, the State Council highlighted China’s deficiencies in the field and set out to transform the country’s standardization system, seeking to harness the capacity of standard setting not only to improve the daily lives of its citizens, but to drive innovation, boost China’s economic transformation toward the industries of the future, and turn China into a premier purveyor of international technical standards.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Communications, Multilateralism, Standardization
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Kadri Kaska, Maria Tolppa
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Centre for Defence and Security - ICDS
  • Abstract: Increasingly, China’s expanding role in the evolution and development of both the global economy and digital technologies must be acknowledged. A vivid example of this is the active debate over the development of 5G networks over the past few years, in which countries increasingly understand that the impact of new technologies on national security interests must be taken into account when they are implemented. Recent amendments to the Electronic Communications Act in Estonia will create a basis for managing such security risks in our country. Major conceptual difference is that China treats the internet above all as an information space that, to be protected from “subverting state power, undermining national unity [or] infringing upon national honour and interests”, must be strictly organised and controlled by the government.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Governance, Cybersecurity, Internet, Economy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia