In 1999, Jiang Zemin, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) started to advocate a “go-out” strategy, with the aim to integrate into the international system designed to capture market influence and advantages. The strategy is based on another strategy, namely the “two markets, two resources”. “Two markets, two resources” seeks to secure China’s domestic market, not only through reliance hereof but also on the provision of resources from international markets.
20 years after the CCP codified the “go-out” strategy, its principles are still influential in shaping China’s economic programs, including the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Strategic Emerging Industries (SEI) and Made in China 2025 (MiC 2025). These plans have positioned China to profit from and exert influence on the international system, and now the country is set off to enter a new phase in its quest for global dominance. In a Chinese article titled “Do you know “Made in China 2025” and do you understand “China Standards 2035”? This is even more important!” [translated by author], Chinese commentary notes that while the MiC 2025 policy is now well known, the goal and plan of China Standards 2035 is even more important, deeper and more ambitious.
After two years of research, the China Standards 2035 will be published later this year. It is a national strategy to set global rules across industries, with a specific focus on emerging technologies. Standards define how technologies and industries around the world work and how different systems are able to work together. In general, standards are set by a combination of private companies and international industry associations. Depending on the industry and product, standards are enforced either as a convention or as formal agreements. As many of the patents and technical standards for next-generation technologies have not yet been formed, an official noted that the China Standards 2035 is an opportunity to surpass the rest of the world. Compatibility is not the only purpose of standards, they also accelerate innovation. When open standards are used, companies can follow established practices and do not need to devote resources to develop internal systems.
The aim of the 2035 Standards is to influence how the next generation of technologies will operate. As China seeks to become a global leader in high-tech innovation, the China Standards 2035 work together with other industrial policies, such as MiC 2025. The 2035 Standards endorses and builds upon MiC 2025. MiC 2025 is a key industrial policy for industrial development in China through which China aims at becoming a major manufacturing power by the year 2025. Before setting global standards, China must first become self-sufficient in producing high-tech products. Among other emerging areas, the China Standards 2035 are concerned with 5G internet, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence.
China Briefing, an information platform on business in China, notes that “due to China’s stage of development at the time of the internet boom, government leaders generally consider that China missed out on the opportunity to shape standards for products like smartphones and software. As such, policymakers emphasize the importance of China dominating fields that they see will drive the next industrial revolution, such as automation and green technology. This will take the shape of government support for these industries, such as through investments in “new infrastructure” that are likely to be part of China’s post-COVID-19 economic stimulus.” Before turning its sights globally, China’s central government will prioritize coordinating standards across the country. Eventually, setting global standards will require China to push its companies and preferences on an international scale. This includes increasing Chinese participation in multilateral bodies, such as the WTO. Also, the BRI will play an instrumental role in spreading Chinese standards.
The MiC 2025 policy raised concerns about the Chinese government’s intention to seek global dominance and give domestic companies preferential treatment while disadvantaging foreign competitors. Yet, the China Standards 2035 could be viewed as a confirmation of these concerns. If the country is to lead the global standard setting, China is able to influence them in a way that benefits its own strengths and ambitions and they might be used to privilege domestic companies such as Huawei. As China’s influence on global technology grows and more technical and technology standards are defined by Beijing, questions about China’s access to data will likely continue to rise.
Datenna has released the China-EU FDI Radar. An ongoing research initiative investigating Chinese state-influenced acquisitions in the EU. The aim is to provide greater transparency on Chinese investments in Europe and the links with the Chinese government. It currently covers the period from 2010 to the present. Our findings are displayed on an interactive map.