Telecommunications: Primacy of Power and Regulatory Battles for Promoting National Standards - Part 9

China's interest in indigenous technology and its efforts to foster innovation are rooted in long-held aspirations for technology independence and advancement, the necessity of catching up and resuming its “rightful” position in the world. At the core of these developments is the new initiative to develop a Chinese Standard Strategy. The strategy's goals include efforts to develop, by 2020, independent technical standards through effective measures. Specifically, during the National Standardization Work Conference (NSWC) held on December 27, 2007, China set its long-term goals of standardization, including commitments that by 2020 Chinese standards will reach the level of developed countries, 90% of the standards will be adopted from international standards, around 200 Chinese national standards will become international standards; and China will participate in the revision of about 2,000 important international standards (NSWC Working Report, 2007). The core task of China's technical standards strategy is to improve the adaptability and competitiveness of China's national technical standards. The ultimate policy goal is to take China from the position of a net importer of foreign developed standards to an exporter of Chinese standards to the international market. China's new approach to standardization includes such goals as creating an environment conducive to innovation, the large-scale adoption of international standards, the creation of a system that ensures that standards are responsive to the market, and the promotion of home-grown standards (Zhao & Graham, 2006).

The developed countries have been advocating the development and use of market-led, voluntary standards. However, it is almost infeasible for the companies in emerging markets to own a key international standard through the channel of market-led competition. First, emerging markets do not enjoy the overall industrial capacity and technology primacy. Second, emerging markets do not have the market size and “quality” of “users of technology.” Standards have to be accepted by “front” users on a trial basis and then be accepted by the majority manufacturers. Third, the development and use of international standards has never been purely market driven. Since the late 1980s, the industries and governments in developed countries have established an intimate “partnership.” Governments have exerted great influence to promote the new ICT standards sponsored by their MNCs through the process of standard-setting, commercialization, and global competition.

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