As Chinese censorship grips the professional sports world – including esports – it is important to understand just how much China is influencing the rest of the world.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), a non-partisan think tank partially funded by the Australian government, has been tracking Chinese influence around the world with a particular focus in Chinese tech companies. The organization has an online database that shows “the global expansion of 12 key Chinese tech companies working across the telecommunications, internet & biotech sectors.”
The accompanying map includes more than 1700 points of overseas presence and more than 17,000 total data points.
ASPI focused on three main technology expansions: 5G networks, “Smart Cities,” and overseas research and development.
“5G technology is expected to unlock unprecedented levels of speed and connectivity and will enable the Internet of Things, smart cities, autonomous vehicles and more. Once implemented, 5G will become crucial to everything, from our economies to our critical infrastructure, military technologies and the daily lives of ordinary citizens,” ASPI notes on the database. “The huge potential of 5G technology makes it politically and strategically sensitive. Huawei is a world leader in 5G technology but has faced significant political pushback due to national security concerns.”
In May, President Donald Trump blacklisted Chinese tech company Huawei, citing national security concerns.
ASPI’s map includes 52 5G networks across 34 countries. The map explains that “Smart Cities,” usually referred to as “safe cities,” “involve sophisticated surveillance technologies including surveillance cameras, facial & licence plate recognition technologies, command & control centres, data labs and new intelligence fusion capabilities.” The online database has mapped 75 smart-city projects in 46 countries.
The research section of the database has some of the most eye-opening data points for the United States, as numerous colleges and universities have partnered with Huawei for its “Seeds for the Future” program, which ASPI describes as providing “training and funds students to visit their headquarters in Shenzhen.”
The description for the program on the map says it allows science, technology, engineering, and mathematics undergraduates the opportunity to travel to China “for a fully funded two or three week program” where they will “learn about Chinese language and culture and spend time at Huawei’s headquarters in Shenzhen.”
The 12 companies included in ASPI’s database also have 119 R&D labs overseas.
“As a function of their increasing scale and scope, China’s tech giants can exert increasing levels of influence over industries and governments around the world,” ASPI wrote of the database. “The close relationship between these companies and the Chinese Communist Party means that the expansion of China’s tech giants is about more than commerce.”
It is not just tech companies increasing China’s influence around the world. As we have seen this past week, China’s censorship and influence have extended to the NBA, which apologized to the country after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for Hong Kong protesters. It also extends to esports giant Blizzard Entertainment, which suspended a Hearthstone player after he, too, expressed support for Hong Kong.