Standards 2035 for New Techs: China Needs More to Dislodge Europe, U.S.

Regardless of recent developments showing China’s big ambitions for new technologies, it will take more to dislodge the dominance of the U.S. and Europe. This is particularly important as plans to release “China Standards 2035” that aims to enable the Asian country influence how the next-generation of technologies will work later this year is drawing closer, CNBC reports. The 15-year blueprint is expected to lay out China’s plans to set the global standards for the next-generation of technologies which are seen as defining the next decade.

From telecoms, Internet of Things to artificial intelligence, and blockchain, China has been pushing to lead the world in technologies of late. With more than 900 mln netizensas of March 2020, up by 75.08 million from the end of 2018 to take Internet penetration to 64.5% by the end of 2018, China recently had the global launch of its Blockchain Service Network which will serve as an internet of interoperable blockchains that includes Ethereum and EOS to connect 128 Chinese cities and seven countries.

The country has also been at the forefront of being a major global economy to launch a central bank digital currency CBDC. The project, which has now been formally adopted into the country’s monetary system with part of the government and state-sectors’ salaries and wages in four cities – in Shenzhen, Suzhou, Chengdu and Xiong’an – paid in digital currency starting in April, is in its first trial phase for local and then regional deployment. The PBoC reportedly included large foreign consumer brands like fast-food chains Starbucks, McDonald’s and Subway – for the first time – in tests of the digital currency in small transactions with 19 local businesses.

It feeds on the supposed impending ‘death of cash’ and the rise of digital currencies (such as Bitcoin) which a research and campaign group, Positive Money, claims is helping arguments for the issuing “digital cash” or CBDC to increase financial stability by providing a safe public form of money and breaking banks’ oligopoly on the digital money and payments system. Many countries have now shown interest in CBDC and are looking forward to China’s experience after the currency launch.

But China may still not have its way in setting the standards for new technologies due to existing challenges. A key reason being that it is still challenging for foreign participants to operate in China’s ICT sector despite its standards system has undergone substantial changes and improvements in the past decade to become more open, says Naomi Wilson, senior director for policy in Asia at the Information Technology Industry (ITI) Council, in a written testimony in March to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

She said: “In fact, U.S. and multinational companies are still largely regarded as the most influential participants in ICT-related standards bodies — based on their technical leadership and expertise, deep understanding of standards processes and rules, quality of contributions, and consistent participation over time.”

The U.S. and Europe also have the incumbent advantage since they have highly advanced companies. Hence China needs to boost the quality of the companies contributing to global standards as subpar technology won’t help the domination agenda, Andrew Polk, partner at Beijing-based research and consultancy firm Trivium China, told CNBC.

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