China's ICT standards policy after the WTO accession: Techno-national versus techno-globalism

Heejin Lee, Shirley Chan, Sangjo Oh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to show that, since China's accession to the WTO in 2001, standards have emerged as an effective means to protect and promote domestic industries, especially in the ICT sector. China has made several attempts to set its own technological standards - different from international standards - within its own territory and world-wide. This paper seeks to examine two cases of China's attempts to set its own standards in the ICT sector. By comparing similarities and differences in these cases, it aims to identify motivations and strategies of China's standards-setting attempts in the ICT sector. Design/methodology/approach - The paper examines the cases of wireless LAN security (WAPI) and 3G mobile communications (TD-SCDMA). It draws on a set of concepts from the study of national technological innovation systems: techno-nationalism and techno-globalism. Data were collected from media and standards-related institutions. Findings - Despite similarities, each case has a distinguished orientation in terms of techno-nationalism and techno-globalism: WAPI is aligned with techno-nationalism and TD-SCDMA with techno-globalism. Research limitations/implications - China's recent attempts regarding its own standards in the ICT sector are not one-off occasions, but China's standards policy towards international standards will continue. This research will be a foundation for further inquiry in this increasingly important area of study. A longitudinal follow-up study tracking the development of each standard over time is required. Originality/value - Despite the significance of these standard-setting attempts for China's trade, technology policy and economic development, on the one hand, and for the world economy, on the other hand, there has been little research in this area. The paper offers an enhanced understanding of China's standards policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-18
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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