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Digital State Capitalism: African Smart Cities and a Game-Theoretic Perspective on Global Data Governance in Flux

The increasing digitalisation of international trade deepens globalisation, and data flows play a key role in this transformation. With its rise as an information superpower, China is reshaping global data governance by exporting digital products and building digital infrastructures. Behind this expansion is the increasing growth of China’s global e-commerce services in African smart cities. China exports not only its technology but also its authoritarian values and governance mechanisms to host states. It is building up China’s soft power in data governance in furtherance of digital state capitalism (DSC) consistent with a Beijing Model. A digital silk road (DSR) has come into shape to consolidate China’s advocated cyber sovereignty. In the game of major powers, the DSR interoperates with its Belt and Road Initiative, and materialises China’s multi-dimensional strategies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Hypothetically, it remains untenable to emulate China’s DSC model, purely replicating the DSR-driven development strategies, without adequate legal safeguards sustaining a digital transformation. The existing framework lags behind and does not suffice to address this new challenge. The use of surveillance technologies by an authoritarian government with an immature data-privacy regime underscores the need for a push towards formulating global data governance principles that protect privacy and civil liberties. It is critical to develop new legal instruments to counter the dramatic growth of China’s DSR strategies. From a game-theoretical perspective, inevitable conflicts arise when the Chinese and Western powers compete to rewrite global data governance rules.


Fellows involved in this project

United Kingdom

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Journal Article

Bu, Qingxiu. 2022. Multijurisdictional Prosecution of Multinational Corporations: Double Jeopardy vis-à-vis Sovereign Rights in the Globalized Anti-bribery Regime. International Annals of Criminology, 60(2), 269–295.

Book/Book Chapter

Bu, Qingxiu. 2023. State Capitalism and International Investment Law. In Panagiotis Delimatsis, Georgios Dimitropoulos and Anastasios Gourgourinis (Eds.), State Capitalism and International Investment Law. (1st ed.). Bloomsbury Publishing.

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