Nadine Godehardt, David Schulze,

China 4.0

Party and Society Debate the Digital Transformation

SWP Comment 2017/C 06, March 2017, 8 Pages



The development of China’s Internet attracted great attention among foreign observers in 2016. This was due to record sales in Internet trade, extensive hacker attacks on private companies and government agencies, huge investment programmes for start-ups, a new controversial Internet law and the growth of government Internet censorship. China 4.0 stands for both control and creativity. How does that work? What is the Chinese public saying about the opportunities and risks of the digital transformation? What goals is the government pursuing, particularly with their Big Data and Internet Plus strategies? And what are the consequences of a new law on Internet security which comes into force in June 2017? New frameworks are being defined that could shape long-term cooperation with China on issues surrounding digitisation. An analysis of opinions emanating from Party members, economists, the military and scientists sheds light on the positions that are currently dominating Chinese discourse on the subject. It also poses the question to what extent China might become a laboratory for the global digital future.

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