China’s Digital Strategy in Action

China’s Digital Strategy in Action
Episode 2 of "China’s Strategic Approach to the Digital Revolution"

Podcast with Emily de La Bruyère, Nigel Cory, Samantha Hoffman, and Karen M. Sutter
April 8, 2022

This is the second of three episodes in the Asia Insight podcast miniseries China’s Strategic Approach to the Digital Revolution examining the findings of the NBR report “China’s Digital Ambitions: A Global Strategy to Supplant the Liberal Order.” NBR nonresident fellow Emily de La Bruyère, the project’s principal investigator, is joined by three of the report’s authors—Nigel Cory, Samantha Hoffman, and Karen Sutter. They discuss the implications of China’s construction of digital infrastructure abroad, the expansion of Chinese digital platforms overseas, and Beijing’s efforts to reshape global digital norms and regulations to better reflect its values and interests.

Emily de La Bruyère is a nonresident fellow at the National Bureau of Asian Research and co-founder of Horizon Advisory, a consulting firm focusing on the implications of China’s competitive approach to geopolitics.

Nigel Cory is associate director at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

Samantha Hoffman is a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Karen Sutter is a senior analyst focusing on U.S.-China trade, investment, and economic issues, with over 30 years of experience focusing on U.S.-Asia economic, political, technological, and national security issues.

Time Stamps

[0:12] Introduction

[2:11] A lot of coverage of China’s digital infrastructure abroad focuses on 5G and surveillance. What is this missing?

[4:58] One of the ways digital infrastructure can grant China access or control over data is the touchpoints that data provide, which makes this different from other types of infrastructure that can transport resources. Could you explain this idea of touchpoints and how they relate to the controller’s access to or influence over the digital environment.

[7:48] China relies on its commercial sector to deploy these systems, is that different than what other countries are doing? And how much of a role is this playing in China’s digital strategy?

[9:50] How does digital governance connect to this question of digital infrastructure and platforms?

[15:34] How do Chinese data laws and regulations fit into this, and why does this matter?

[30:25] The pushback I often hear is that China’s approach appeals to a lot of people, and that it’s filling a vacuum, and that we need digital governance and digital infrastructure, so what’s the problem?

[35:34] How do we address these challenges? What are some policy responses that could be implemented?

About Asia Insight

The NBR podcast series Asia Insight features interviews with top Asia experts about key issues affecting the Indo-Pacific region, with a focus on implications for U.S. policy and businesses. Subscribe to Asia Insight on Podbean and Apple Podcasts and let us know what you think of the podcast on Twitter.

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Asia Insight theme music is by Laura Schwartz of Bellwether Bayou.

This podcast was edited by Doug Strub at NBR.