03. August 2022

Power in the Age of Datafication: Exploring China’s Global Data Power Prof. Maximilian Mayer is writing on Chinese data power.

Prof. Maximilian Mayer and Dr. Ying Huang are examining Chinese data power by providing a new conceptual framework.

Power in the Age of Datafication: Exploring China’s Global Data Power
Power in the Age of Datafication: Exploring China’s Global Data Power © Journal of Chinese Political Science
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Anxieties about China’s growing data power have begun to drive geopolitical and technological competition. Yet, the size of Chinese data power is unclear. Most assessments are unsystematic.

Drawing on Barnett and Duvall’s fourfold power taxonomy and insights into the stack-layers of information technology, this article develops a new conceptual framework. Using the concepts of compulsory, institutional, infrastructural, and productive data power, we assess how China exercises different forms of data power and what shapes and limits the increase of Chinese data power. The study concludes that China’s data power is less grandiose than often assumed.

The Chinese state wields influence and obtains desired outcomes predominantly through compulsory and institutional data power operations. But by contrast, infrastructural and productive dimensions remain limited, largely due to China’s high compulsory and institutional data power. The intricacies of China’s case demonstrate the complexities of power research in the age of datafication as different forms of data power evolve in tension.

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