Asia & Pacific

Challenge or Opportunity? How China’s Digital Silk Road May Change Global Technology Order

Besides challenging the US’ Big Tech dominance across the world, the Beijing-led Digital Silk Road initiative provides its customers with vast opportunities through competitively priced digital products and services.

From 25 to 26 April, the People’s Republic will hold the Fourth Digital China Summit in Fuzhou, the capital of the Fujian Province. The event will be a platform for facilitating cooperation for e-governance and the digital economy, and advance the development of China’s Digital Silk Road (DSR) initiative.

DSR was launched in 2015 by Beijing as part of its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Within this strategy, China is providing development and financial aid to participating states along the New Silk Road. When it comes to DSR, this assistance includes upgrading recipients’ telecom networks, developing e-commerce and mobile payment systems, as well as artificial intelligence, surveillance, smart cities, cloud computing, and other cutting edge technologies.

​One of DSR’s elements is BeiDou, China’s global satellite navigation system – a worthy rival of the US’ GPS – which has already been adopted by a number of countries in Asia, Middle East, and Africa. According to some estimates, one-third of the countries participating in BRI (approximately 138) are currently cooperating within the framework of DSR initiatives.

​The DSR’s backbone is made up of the Pakistan and East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) 15,000 km-long (9,300 mile) subsea cables meant to tie Asia, Africa, and Europe together. The network, which is designed to transmit over 16Tbps per fibre pair, is owned by Hengtong Group, a China-headquartered international optical fibre and power cable manufacturer.

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