The changing patterns of China's international standardization in ICT under techno-nationalism: A reflection through 5G standardization

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The U.S.-China dispute surrounding 5G motivates further examination on China's approach to international standardization. While China's challenges with various standard initiatives to the global standards regime peaked in the 5G dispute have attracted public interests, scholarly approach to the dispute is still limited. We place the dispute in the context of China's long-standing attempts for international standardization in ICT sectors. With enhanced economic power, China has pursued for pushing indigenous technologies into international standards, which has been a core part of its national science and technology (S&T) policy. This paper examines China's international standard initiatives from the perspective of techno-nationalism. Our literature review identifies three pillars of techno-nationalism: state empowerment, growth orientation, and global connection. Then we investigate three cases of WAPI, TD-SCDMA and 5G and discuss how the patterns of developing international standards have varied in the framework of techno-nationalism. Over time, China's international standard initiatives based on techno-nationalism have strengthened global connection and growth orientation, with increasing proximity to techno-nationalism of the Western style. In particular, China's aspiration for growth orientation was much enhanced with the 5G standard initiative, compared to WAPI or TD-SCDMA, as it aims to be the first mover in the 5G race. Overall, our study suggests that China's national S&T policy has been moving from the ‘catch-up’ to the ‘first-mover’ strategy, but the transformation continues to take place in the framework of techno-nationalism.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102145
JournalInternational Journal of Information Management
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Oct

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Institute of Convergence Science (ICONS), Yonsei University and the Yonsei University Research Fund of 2019 (2019-22-0118).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Marketing
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Artificial Intelligence


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