Understanding China’s Digital Strategy

Understanding China’s Digital Strategy
Episode 1 of "China’s Strategic Approach to the Digital Revolution"

Podcast with Emily de La Bruyère and Doug Strub
April 8, 2022

This is the first 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’s Doug Strub speaks with nonresident fellow Emily de La Bruyère, the project’s principal investigator, about the nature of China’s digital ambitions and what’s driving China’s strategy to achieve these goals.

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.

Doug Strub is assistant director of NBR’s Center for Innovation, Trade, and Strategy, and was a co-editor of this project’s report on China’s digital strategy.

Time Stamps

[1:46] What’s driving China’s digital strategy?

[4:31] How is China’s digital strategy contributing to Beijing’s goal of increasing its leadership in the global system?

[6:30] How is China implementing this strategy?

[9:10] You argue that this strategy is leading to the emergence of a new global digital architecture that’s disrupting the current system and creating the foundation for a new type of geopolitical power. Can you elaborate on these concepts?

[13:02] So you see this as a new type of power because it gives Beijing more access to and control over the flow of data, and this allows China to influence external information environments?

[16:21] How does China’s use of the commercial sector as a tool to achieve its digital objectives fit into this strategy?

[19:45] You write about the benefit China derives from its scale, centralization, and industrial capacity, and argue that these features may be newly and uniquely determinative for the digital contest. Can you elaborate on how these are unique to China and how they work in Beijing’s favor?

[23:56] Can you talk about the roles of offensive versus defensive objectives in shaping China’s approach? And is one more dominant than the other?

[26:28] How successful do you think Beijing has been so far in carrying out its digital strategy? Do you think they’ll be able to achieve their objectives? And if so, how much longer do you think this will take?

[29:35] How concerned should both governments trying to preserve liberal values in the digital domain and just average people around the world who may not be paying much attention to these issues be?

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.

Media Contact: [email protected] or (202) 347-9767.

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

This podcast was edited by Doug Strub at NBR.