Foreign Policy Digital

The Great Anti-China Tech Alliance

The United States and Europe will regret letting Beijing win the race to govern digital technology.

In these early days of the regulatory renaissance for digital technologies, China, Europe, and the United States are competing over whose image will be most reflected in market-defining rules and norms. Despite new lows in the trans-Atlantic relationship in the era of Trump, Europe and the United States still have far more in common with each other about how technology should be developed, deployed, and regulated than they do with China. With China pulling into the pole position in this race, it is time for the United States and Europe to forge a digital governance alliance.

The regulatory renaissance has many dimensions: data protection, cybersecurity, antitrust, and tax, to name a few. European initiatives in these domains—such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and antitrust investigations of major technology platforms—are relatively notorious and reasonably well understood. Their effects also reverberate well beyond Europe: GDPR, for example, is rapidly becoming a model law for other governments to follow for their own privacy regulatory measures. Europe has similar ambitions with respect to artificial intelligence governance.

What is much less appreciated is the ambition, in scale and scope, of China’s regulatory initiatives. These go far beyond the many overt market access barriers that China has maintained for years. China’s sweeping , for example, went into effect in 2017 and has mandates such as real-name registration requirements for internet users, data security rules for. And so far in 2019, China has proposed new rules for of information technologies, of personal information out of China, data security and privacy practices of , management and disclosure, , and encryption.

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