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China’s technology protectionism and its non-negotiable rationales

Author: Martina F. Ferracane and Hosuk Lee-Makiyama
Price FREE
Publisher European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)
Publication date 27 June 2017
Publication synopsis China's restrictions on the internet and the ICT sector are tightening, with over 50 measures targeting this sector implemented just in the last decade. The rationale for these restrictions is not merely about shielding the country from foreign competition or security threats, but also to defer politically challenging reforms. Much of the rationale behind such digital protectionism is historically unprecedented and uniquely Chinese. This paper explores the policy framework applied to the digital sector in China. More often than not, China's digital mercantilism is interlinked with non-commercial objectives, such as public order, fiscal governance and national security, making them more difficult to reform or to negotiate. China's technology restrictions protract many economic and political reforms, but inaction also comes at a cost: Digitalisation is necessary to spur consumption, improve industrial productivity and revitalise the Chinese economy.

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