26. September 2023

Connectivity, centrality, and adaptation: The coproduction of political space in China’s standardization of autonomous driving technologies Connectivity, centrality, and adaptation

Nicolas Huppenbauer

Nicolas Huppenbauer, Research Fellow and Doctoral Student at CASSIS, focuses on the geopolitical side of connectivity and Chinese standardisation practices in his new article in the "Global Media and China" journal.

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Relations between the US and China have deteriorated to their lowest point since their rapprochement in the 1970s. To make sense of contemporary geopolitics, our objective in this article is two-fold. First, we historically situate contemporary US-China rivalry to conceptualise the Second Cold War (SCW). We argue that in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, both the US and China launched ‘restorative’ political projects that harked back to imagined pasts. These projects are mutually exclusive and animate contemporary geopolitics. Second, we conceptualise the spatial logic of great power rivalry in the Second Cold War. In contrast to the first Cold War, when great powers sought to incorporate territory into blocs, the US and China currently compete on a global scale for centrality in four interrelated networks that they anticipate will underpin hegemony in the 21st century: infrastructure (e.g. logistics and energy), digital, production and finance. We review the state of competition in each network and draw two broad conclusions: (1) this mode of competition makes it difficult for either side to conclusively ‘win’ the Second Cold War, and (2) many countries are likely to remain integrated with both the US and China.

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