China and Inner Asia
The Internet in China is one that is characterized by the Communist Party’s close involvement in Internet regulation and technological development, and tight control over online expression. Meanwhile, private companies in China have benefited from the lack of foreign competition, due to a restrictive regulatory environment, as can be seen from the successes of tech giants like Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent (BAT).
In 2017, China launched its massive investment and development program, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI has a tech component, named the Digital Silk Road, which aims to build digital infrastructure in key markets globally. This policy development is key to sustaining China’s appetite for growth, as Chinese tech companies are increasingly looking to grow their user base beyond China. Indeed, BAT have all exported products developed for the Chinese market to countries outside of China. However, concerns exist over the potential impact of their growing influence, particularly in Southeast Asia.
Emerging markets like those in Southeast Asia, with over 600 million people and close proximity to China, are crucial to its global economic strategy. For example, Alibaba has brought the Southeast Asian e-commerce firm Lazada Group and signed cooperation deals with Malaysia and Thailand, and Tencent has invested in Singapore-based Sea, which operates the Shopee e-commerce site and Garena gaming and e-sports platform. Southeast Asian countries therefore offer interesting case studies to explore questions regarding China’s impact.
This panel will explore the following questions: To what extent does China’s framing or practices of Internet and tech management get adopted beyond China? Does the internationalization of Chinese technology companies play a part in this process? How has the government in China and Southeast Asian Countries responded to the challenges, if any, brought by new ICTs and the changing geopolitical and economic order in their region? How do these developments affect the state-business relations in these countries or the other way around? Does the notion that China is exporting Internet controls including censorship and surveillance through Chinese technology companies hold true? This panel will bring together researchers with area focuses on China and/or Southeast Asia to discuss these important issues.