British Government’s Response to China’s Tech Ambitions Labelled ‘Incoherent and Muted’

There are many people who think that the UK has not done enough to respond to China’s well-publicized attempt to use technology standards to shape the world in their image. But a new report by Parliament is questioning those claims, saying instead that there was an “incoherent and muted” response.

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Last week the UK announced that their foreign policy will reflect the importance of ensuring global standards and tech companies uphold ethical behavior. This plan comes 2 years after the government recommended using policy to make sure Big Tech has a say in determining how nations carry on diplomacy or perceive national policies. 

The need to do so is prompted by 2 main things: China’s continual efforts at gaining international influence and power, while also making sure they don’t misuse it; and Big Tech being important players in what governments partially rely on for infrastructure development as well as being spaces in which informal diplomacy takes place.

The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation report found that although the UK and other EU members have joined forces to produce tech-driven economic growth, British efforts to address current global dialogues about regulations in technology are either opaque or nonexistent. While countries like China, the United States, and the European Union continue to work collaboratively toward new ways of regulation with technology in mind, Britain—it says—is MIA.

Some efforts are made in plain sight for China to promote its agenda. ITU voting procedures allow for manipulation at the hands of autocracies. This is a very important issue because if there is only one set of standards being used by everyone across the globe instead of hundreds then new research will take much longer to be implemented successfully.

But while the UK is actively involved in the conversation, there are still areas in which it is not ready to join. The report calls for the nation’s government to “have an engagement with relevant FDA and EMA representatives from the US” so as to be able to have a clearer point of view on data sharing, privacy and private-sector-regulation. But without this fundamental information about this matter, it has been difficult for the UK to make well informed decisions which can establish a starting point for discussions on deeper cooperation with both US and EU members.

Chinese are very involved in standardizing the technological aspects of their network infrastructure. Specifically, they have proposed that this next version of IP address see a greater focus on the physical layer than what is currently being standardized to allow for faster data throughputs by taking advantage of new technologies such as nano LEDs, millimeter wave transmissions and superconducting qubits.

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