How democracies should confront China’s digital rise


Would an alliance of democracies help combat China’s technological expansion and check the spread of digital autocratic norms? asks Steven Feldstein, a senior fellow in the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s democracy, conflict, and governance program.

Specifically, many experts are proposing the creation of “Technology 10” or “T-12” groupings to counter China’s digital ambitions, safeguard the West’s technological leadership, and allow liberal democracies to shape emerging technologies. But there are convincing reasons for assembling a more intentioned response to China’s and Russia’s techno-nationalist agendas, he writes for the Council on Foreign Relations:

China’s efforts to subvert liberal norms in multilateral institutions and dominate next generation technologies like 5G networks [PDF] that will enhance its influence and sway are troubling. It is imperative for democracies to carefully consider the significance of these threats and to take appropriate steps to counteract their expansion. But policymakers should also be wary about jumping hastily to ill-fitting solutions that deserve more thought and deliberation. Democracies should ask themselves whether forming yet another elite club of wealthy states represents the best means to counter China’s and fellow authoritarians’ digital rise, or whether pursuing alternative approaches—such as assembling a less formalized but broader coalition of countries—would be a wiser path.

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