The Emergence of China’s Smart State

What are China’s technology ambitions and capabilities?

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China’s emergence as a technology leader has become a major factor in geopolitics, transforming global political and economic relationships. This evening we will discuss the complex, dynamic interactions between political, market, and technological factors that structure China’s digital development. What are China’s technology ambitions and capabilities? And how does this affect its political and economic relationships?

Together with Rogier Creemers, Professor of modern Chinese Studies, and other experts, we will talk about China’s bid to achieve great power status. China’s government has reformed laws and policies on digital development, drastically increased investment, and acted more assertively in the international digital sector.

Chinese companies have expanded at home and abroad, but relationships between the government and the private sector have sometimes been fraught with tension. Looking at these developments from a Beijing-centric perspective, what impact will China’s innovation policies have in the future?

About the speakers

Rogier Creemers is a Lecturer in Modern Chinese Studies. With a background in Sinology and International Relations, and a PhD in Law, his research focuses on Chinese domestic digital technology policy, as well as China’s growing importance in global digital affairs. He is the principal investigator of the NWO Vidi Project “The Smart State: Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and the Law in China”. For the Leiden Asia Centre, he directs a project on China and global cybersecurity, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is also a co-founder of DigiChina, a joint initiative with Stanford University and New America.

Guangyu Qiao-Franco is Assistant Professor of International Relations, Radboud University. Her research tries to interpret legal and foreign policy instruments developed by the Chinese government. Her research interests include practice theory, norm contestation, norm diffusion, international organisations, China studies, ASEAN regional governance, emerging technologies (especially AI and cyber security), and non-traditional security issues (such as climate change and human trafficking). 

Jaap van Etten is founder and CEO of Datenna. By employing China expertise with open-source intelligence (OSINT) and AI, Datenna delivers governments insights into China’s techno-economic ecosystem. Through their automated and AI-assisted algorithms, they are supporting governments worldwide in conducting in-depth research on the Chinese industry, innovation, and academia. Van Etten also worked for seven years as a diplomat at the Dutch Embassy in Beijing and the Consulate in Shanghai.


Rogier CreemersAssistant Professor, Modern Chinese Studies
Guangyu Qiao-FrancoExpert emerging technologies and Chinese policymaking
Jaap van EttenCEO Datenna, OSINT platform on China’s techno-economic ecosystem