The new technological revolution has led to a large number of rule gaps in the field of digital technology and digital economy. Traditional international mechanisms have encountered resistance in responding to the needs of digital economy governance, and new rules and new orders are in the construction period. In order to cope with the opportunities and challenges of digital globalization, major countries and regions in the world have actively introduced digital policies, which are deeply branded by their own political economy. In the future, global digital governance will face the trade-offs and games between openness and conservatism, multilateralism and isolation, and development and security, which will have a profound impact on digital economic policies, processes and impacts.
1. Main national digital policies and main considerations
(1) The United States: Maintaining industrial advantages and advancing digital rules through regional trade agreements
At the domestic level, the United States has changed its past practice of less government-led promotion of industrial development. In 2019, the United States promulgated the “US-led Future Industry (2019)” strategic plan, integrating artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing, quantum information science and fifth-generation industries. As the four major areas that determine the fate of high-end industries in the United States in the future, mobile communications have increased the government’s direct R&D investment, authorized legislation to more strictly examine foreign acquisitions of American companies, and used comprehensive measures such as taxation, finance, finance, and justice to “full”. Government Strategy” to preserve U.S. global advantage in cutting-edge fields.
At the international level, in recent years, the United States has used bilateral and multilateral trade agreements as the main channels to promote new digital rules such as cross-border data flow, source code protection, and platform exemption, and promote the “American template” to the world, stirring up global data flow and digital service trade. pattern. Taking cross-border data flow as an example, the United States broke through the sovereign reservation rules that have existed in this field for more than 30 years. The free flow of data clauses on the “safe” bottom line, paving the way for the global development of domestic industries and the maintenance of advantages.
The starting point of the US digital policy is to maintain its leading position in the global digital industry chain with the power of the country in order to cope with the huge market risks and external competitive pressures accompanying the development of cutting-edge technologies and technology-intensive industries. At the same time, the existing international multilateral mechanisms are making slow progress in promoting the negotiation and establishment of digital rules. The United States must proceed from its own national interests to redefine and build the international economic order.
(2) EU: Awakening and Practice of “Digital Sovereignty”
The digital economy occupies an increasingly important position in the economic map of EU countries, and the future economic growth of the EU will largely depend on the digital economy. After the new European Commission took office, it took “shaping the EU’s digital future” as one of the six major goals of the term, focusing on shaping the EU’s leadership and autonomy in the digital field. In the context of global digital competition, out of concern about losing control over data and falling behind in innovation competition and rule-making, the EU has recently advocated for safeguarding its own “digital sovereignty”, and accordingly proposed three major action plans: First, to promote Data infrastructure construction and utilization. Next-generation information technologies such as autonomous nanoelectronics, robotics, and 5G. The second is to establish data spaces in 9 strategic industries including industry (manufacturing), transportation, and health to promote data sharing. Germany and France joined forces to build the local cloud computing Gaia-X project to counteract the German cybersecurity review of sensitive industries in the United States, and continue to use GDPR to promote personal information protection. The third is to strengthen the supervision of competition in the digital market. Taking the protection of local small and medium-sized enterprises as the starting point, it will further reshape the competition order of digital platforms, strengthen the transparency and neutrality of algorithms, and promote the freedom of data sharing and transfer.
The EU’s proposal for “digital sovereignty” has three considerations. First, it is concerned about falling behind in digital competition. At present, the EU is temporarily behind China and the United States in the research and development of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing. There are also risks to the security of critical information infrastructure supply chains, raising concerns. The second is to actively maintain the “EU values”. In the game with the US and China, the main competitors in the digital field, the EU must adhere to its own values of protecting human rights and small and medium-sized enterprises, and implement it in the order of data flow, privacy protection and competition. . The third is to deal with the setback of multilateralism and reshape the EU’s influence through the instrumentalization of market forces. Multilateralism has always been the core of the EU’s foreign policy, but in recent years, traditional multilateral mechanisms such as the WTO are experiencing a crisis and their role has weakened. In this context, the EU has used its advantages as the world’s largest and richest market to seek competitive advantages and reshape the EU’s global leadership by upgrading sanctions tools, stricter foreign investment reviews, and strengthening market order.
(3) Japan: Advancing digital policies flexibly and pragmatically
At the domestic level, Japan’s digital transformation strategy “Society 5.0” actively responds to major social issues such as aging, attaches great importance to the integration of new-generation information technology with the people’s livelihood industry, proposes to use artificial intelligence and robots to provide medical care, and use unmanned vehicles to undertake logistics and logistics. Programs such as public transportation. In recent years, Japan’s personal information system has become more stringent, and it is appropriately moving closer to the EU’s GDPR, and is trying to formulate protection legislation for specific personal information such as cookies and social security numbers.
At the international level, Japan flexibly roams between the US and Europe in the field of data protection, and the degree of integration with both sides is deepening. Recently, Japan and the United States updated their bilateral trade agreement, and followed the United States in the digital governance mechanisms under APEC, G20, and CPTPP, helping the “American template” to expand its influence. At the same time, it has actively integrated into the EU GDPR system, through the conclusion of the EU-Japan, UK-Japan free trade agreement, and public bilateral digital trade relations. In addition, Japan seeks to be the promoter of a global regime for cross-border data flows. At the 2019 World Economic Forum, Japan put forward the idea of ”trusted and free flow of data”, aiming to bridge the differences between the United States, the European Union and other countries as a mediator and promote the formation of a relatively unified global system.
In the digital field, Japan is actively promoting its own strategic space while stabilizing alliance relations. On the one hand, Japan is coordinating with the United States in the formulation of rules in the economic and technological fields to maintain “big picture stability.” On the other hand, starting from pragmatism and self-interest, Japan actively expands digital governance cooperation with the EU and other countries. At the same time, Japan is actively playing the role of coordinator in international occasions, trying to provide public goods and exploring the possibility of connecting different systems.
(4) India: digital protectionism inspired by nationalism
India ranks high among 17 fast-growing digital markets globally. The Modi government first proposed India’s digital transformation plan “Digital India” in 2015, with the goal of leading India to bridge the digital divide with more digital countries. The plan consists of nine specific projects, including increasing broadband penetration, mobile Internet penetration, and developing e-logistics. At the same time, India’s digital regulatory system is showing a conservative tendency. Indian law stipulates that sensitive personal data must be kept in the country; key personal data cannot leave the country in principle. In 2019, India introduced new regulations on e-commerce regulation, restricting investment in foreign platforms such as Walmart and Amazon.
The nationalist and conservative tendencies of the Modi government are the underlying tone of India’s digital policy. The current administration has exaggerated national security issues in the diplomatic field, and exaggerated the impact of external factors on domestic economic growth, people’s livelihood and other issues. Strengthen protectionism in the economic field, restrict the business activities of foreign companies in the domestic market, and support the development of local industries. In 2020, India’s manufacturing industry will shrink significantly under the impact of the new crown epidemic. India promotes industrial chain diplomacy in a timely manner, and takes advantage of the reshaping of the industrial chain to accelerate the development of domestic industries and reduce external dependence.
(5) ASEAN: Building a new space for digital globalization rules
In recent years, the digital economy in Southeast Asia has flourished, and the data center and cloud computing industries have developed rapidly, accounting for nearly 30% of the global market share, ranking second in the world. The cross-border data flow policies of Southeast Asian countries are relatively similar, and most of them have established rules that allow cross-border data flow with the consent of the data subject. In addition, Southeast Asian countries have also adopted different localization policies for specific types of data. For example, Indonesia’s Electronic currency data and personal information held by the government, Singapore’s data on some public institutions, and the Philippines’ financial data are in principle not allowed to cross borders.
Southeast Asian countries are both data center industry markets, and there is competition among them with rules. Too strict or loose systems are not conducive to attracting multinational customers. Therefore, the policies of various countries are gradually converging. On the other hand, at a time when global governance rules are being actively constructed, Southeast Asia plays the role of a country that complements the order, and consensus and norms are formed in the process of interaction, balance and cooperation between countries, forming a network of relationships, which can also become a kind of Global specification provider and process designer.
2. General characteristics of major national digital policies
With the development of competition in the global digital industry, all parties have a heightened sense of crisis and protectionist tendencies. Leaders realize that emerging countries are constantly challenging in the global digital industry chain, and they must invest more national power to support domestically and respond to competitors externally. Those in the middle are concerned that relative disadvantages in the industry threaten sovereignty and human rights, and they need to use their advantages, including market power, to safeguard “digital sovereignty.” The latecomers are more conservative, setting higher thresholds for foreign investment and foreign operations to support the development of local industries.
Bilateral trade agreements are active in promoting the evolution of cross-border data flow rules, while multilateral mechanisms are relatively weak. The OECD, G20, etc. lack coercive power over sovereign countries, and the WTO and others have made slow progress in the negotiation of new rules for digital trade, making it difficult to reconcile positions among countries, making it impossible to substantively advance relevant rules. In contrast, regional trade agreements such as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and the EU-Japan Trade Agreement have repeatedly rewritten the rules of cross-border data flow and are becoming the main force driving the progress of the rules.
Various roles are taking shape in the evolution of the global personal information protection order. As the leading country in the field of privacy protection, the EU has successfully used the “Brussels” effect to export the impact of GDPR to many countries around the world. As a country reforming the order, the United States adjusts institutional arrangements according to its own interests and needs, sets new issues and new agendas, and strives to gain more national recognition. Japan and ASEAN countries, as order-supporting countries, are in contact with order-dominant countries and reforming countries, and play a balancing role in mechanism construction.
3. Reflections on China’s response to the global digital policy game
Respond to the rising trend of global digital market protectionism with openness and innovation. In the future, the global digital market will face the trade-offs and games between openness and conservatism, multilateralism and isolation, and development and security. China should adhere to expanding opening up, and cooperate with other countries and regions in the world to carry out global factor division of labor, so as to realize the expansion, transfer and reorganization of value chains, supply chains, and service chains in other external spaces; The research and application of new-generation technologies such as manufacturing will enhance the national scientific and technological strength.
Explore the integration and integration of the domestic digital regulatory system with other major systems in the world. At present, as a country reforming the order, China is more in line with its own interests to adopt inclusive checks and balances. It is recommended that the competent authorities explore to improve the copyright protection standards of digital platforms, and strengthen the platform’s responsibility for filtering and deleting infringing content; explore to improve the transparency of the rules for platforms to undertake law enforcement assistance obligations; explore the possibility of connecting the personal information protection system with the EU GDPR mechanism, and improve the system’s refinement To avoid strict system and loose operation.
Be wary of cross-border data flow policies accelerating into new trade barriers. As the United States has stepped up efforts to raise the standard of free data flow through trade agreements and cut data localization measures in recent years, cross-border data flow rules are becoming an “entry ticket” to participate in the world’s digital economy, and its implicit exclusionary effect deserves attention. Existing research shows that data flow has the weakest impact on industries such as finance and insurance. It is recommended that China choose to promote digital flow rules in areas that are most conducive to promoting the development of relevant domestic industries. At present, China actively participates in the digital trade rules under regional agreements such as RCEP, and strives for a favorable environment for the development of Chinese enterprises. In the future, digital service trade will become a key game field of international digital economy and trade. China can explore the conclusion of digital trade agreements with trading partners such as the European Union, the “Belt and Road”, and African countries to help mobile payments, geographic information services, and content e-commerce. The overseas development of the digital service industry.