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Mapping China’s Technology Giants: Covid-19, supply chains and strategic competition

By Danielle Cave

Mapping China’s Technology Giants is a multi-year project by ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre that maps the overseas expansion of key Chinese technology companies. The project, first published in April 2019, is now being re-launched in June 2021 with new research reports, a new website and an enormous amount of new and updated content.

This data-driven online project - and the accompanying research products - fill a research and policy gap by building understanding about the global trajectory and impact of China’s largest companies working across the Internet, telecommunications, AI, surveillance, e-commerce, finance, biotechnology, big data, cloud computing, smart city and social media sectors.

Two new research reports accompany the re-launch

Mapping China’s Technology Giants: Supply Chains and the Global Data Ecosystem Most of the 27 companies tracked by our Mapping China’s Technology Giants project are heavily involved in the collection and processing of vast quantities of personal and organisational data. Their global business operations depend on the flow of vast amounts of data, often governed by the data privacy laws of multiple jurisdictions. The Chinese party-state is ensuring that it can derive strategic value and benefit from these companies’ global operations. We assess interactions between the People’s Republic of China’s political agenda-setting, efforts to shape international technical standards, technical capabilities, and use of data as a strategic resource. We argue this ‘Data Ecosystem’ will have major implications for the effectiveness of data protection laws and notions of digital supply-chain security.

 

Reining in China’s Technology Giants Since the launch of ASPI ICPC’s Mapping China’s Technology Giants project in April 2019, the Chinese technology companies we canvassed have gone through a tumultuous period. While most were buoyed by the global Covid-19 pandemic, which stimulated demand for technology services around the world, many were buffeted by an unprecedented onslaught of sanctions from abroad, before being engulfed in a regulatory storm at home. This report describes the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the growing China–US strategic and technological competition, and a changing Chinese domestic regulatory environment on the 27 Chinese Technology Giants we cover on our map.

 

New content and data

  • We’ve added four new companies to the project: Ant Group, Inspur, Ping An Technology and Nuctech. The dataset now includes 27 companies.
  • Our Map includes over 1,400 new entries, totalling over 3,900 global entries. These are populated with up to 15 categories of data, totalling 38,000+ data points. Existing entries were updated to reflect new changes.
  • Our map tracks more than 130 donations, 80 of these are Covid-19 monetary and medical donations from ByteDance, Tencent and Alibaba.
  • Biotechnology company BGI saw profits surge in 2020 as Covid-19 spread around the world. Our map now contains 100 datapoints of presence for BGI including commercial partnerships, Covid-19 related donations, investments, joint ventures, MoU agreements, overseas offices, research partnerships and subsidiaries.
  • We have tracked the expansion of Hikvision, Dahua and Uniview as overseas demand for their temperature screening products increased during Covid-19. The map contains 65 data points of overseas presence relating to Covid-19 for these three companies, including donations, commercial partnerships, and surveillance equipment.
  • Our ‘Company Briefs’ include new ‘Privacy Policies’ and ‘Covid-19 Impact’ sections. We’ve also updated each existing overview, and of particular note are updates to the ‘Activities in Xinjiang’ and ‘Party-state Activities’ sections.
  • We’re introducing a new product: ‘Thematic Snapshots’. These combine company overview content across the four thematic areas named above. They are designed to serve as a user-friendly guide for the journalists, researchers, and policy makers who use our website. 

A new & better website 

Visitors can now explore our data in two ways, using either the Map or Data Listing pages. These display the same results in different formats depending on a users’ preference.

Click the ‘show Our Highlights Only’ to see the map entries ASPI staff have flagged as data points of particular interest. For these entries, we have undertaken additional analysis or recommend further investigation.

For more about this multi-year project visit the About page of the China Tech Map website.

The Team

The Mapping China's Technology Giants research project is a huge team effort, comprising;