Reports and papers

China’s Digital Power: Assessing the Implications for the EU

27 Jan 2022 - 11:49

What are the implications of China’s growing footprint in digital tech for the EU? Digital Power China, a group of engineers and China scholars has addressed this question in this new report.

The chapters are co-authored by engineers and China experts on semiconductors, 5G and beyond, AI/IoT, information campaigns, standardization and connectivity. All chapters reflect on four sets of challenges ranging from economic to political, security and values – and provide specific policy recommendations to policymakers in Europe.

Questioning long-held beliefs, this report systematically pairs engineering and China knowledge to facilitate a well-grounded EU policy response.

Contributions by Clingendael experts

AI and IoT Developments in China and the Relevance for EU Policy – a scoping study
By Sanne van der Lugt, Frans-Paul van der Putten and Carlo Fischione

The risk of one-sided dependencies is greater with respect to the IoT than AI, as China has a competitive advantage in the former, the authors argue in this chapter. If the EU sticks to its principle of open markets even though European companies find it difficult to compete with China in the arena of the more advanced technologies, the EU risks to losing these companies and the Chinese government could leverage the dependency created for its political aims.

Read this chapter on page 47-64.

Projecting digital power internationally: Europe’s digital China challenge
By Brigitte Dekker & Maaike Okano-Heijmans

This chapter highlights the consequences of China’s digital power projection for the EU, especially in China’s backyard – a region the EU now calls the Indo-Pacific – and in the EU’s own neighbourhood of Africa, Central Asia and the Western Balkans. China’s moves will require the EU and its member states to adopt an integrated approach that connects the dots between the digital agenda, the connectivity agenda – now known as the Global Gateway – and its policies on priority regions. The chapter’s four policy recommendations encompass all the dimensions of digital connectivity: (a) invest in market and standard-setting power to complement the EU’s regulatory power; (b) prioritise the Indo-Pacific region and Africa; (c) develop issue-based cooperation networks and digital governance that put people first; and (d) invest in digital development assistance and capacity building.

Read this chapter on page 93-103.

Download report.

Follow @franspaulvdp@BrigitteDekker_ and @MaaikeOh on Twitter.