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China and Global ICT Standardisation and Innovation

Williams, R   Graham, I   Jakobs, K.   Lyytinend, K.

Technology Analysis and Strategic Management   23 (7) 715-724

July 2011

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09537325.2011.592265

The People’s Republic of China has become remarkably active in the development of interoperability standards across many areas of information and communications technology (ICT). Such standards are crucial for the creation of new industries and markets for novel ICT products and services.

This engagement in standardisation is linked to the Chinese government’s strategy to develop indigenous technologies and, in some cases through involvement in international standardisation bodies, to put China at the heart of the next generation of global technological infrastructures. In this way China seeks to go beyond its globally competitive productive capabilities to acquire technology innovation capabilities.

This strategy throws up important issues for China’s technology promotion policy in terms of how to contribute to standardisation processes and of how to exploit public sector research and development. China’s involvement in the shaping of these globally significant technologies will have far reaching consequences for developed economies and global ICT markets, posing challenges for industrial strategy and innovation policies across the developed and developing world.

The USA has tended to see China’s search for indigenous technologies as potentially damaging to free trade and competition. In contrast the European Union (EU) has responded by seeking to align China’s indigenous ICT innovation policies with the European Research Area. However the globalisation of innovation signalled by these developments, based upon complex matrices of intellectual property, innovative capability and market knowledge from a wide array of industrial and research players across the world, calls into question simplistic established conceptions of ‘indigenous’ technologies.

These developments thus raise a number of issues – which are explored in relation to various examples of ICT standardisation and innovation.