Media, Communication, Digitalization
Witnessing the jaw-dropping development of technology companies, such as Alibaba, Tencent, NIO, Xiaomi, China has swiftly tapped into the seemingly infinite potentials offered by technology in its governmental practices. “Made in China 2025”, along with Internet Plus and national plans of Artificial Intelligence, articulates China’s determination to race forward from the shanzhai (fake) culture to a hi-tech powerhouse. Reminiscent of the national products movements, this call for quality “homegrown” goods taps into a techno-nationalism that builds security and growth through national confidence. Home, where the care of the self is (re-)imagined, experienced and negotiated, has become a key site for technological innovation. The smart home (home automation system) offered by Viomi – a subsidiary of Xiaomi who has announced its IPO at US-based Nasdaq stock exchange this year – offers valuable insights to trace how the nation’s technology aspiration converges with individuals’ search for the good life. Viomi is an IoT (Internet of Things) home platform providing IoT-enabled smart home products, ranging from water purifiers, smart fridges, and kitchenware. Building on Xiaomi’s existing production networks, Viomi is exemplary in capturing both a global home automation trend with its local imagination. Drawing on a critical discourse analysis of Viomi’s smart home products promotion materials, this paper explores the ways in which this smart living is imagined, created and formulated in this state-capital nexus, and what their political implications would be.