I was delighted to see that the SAGE journal “Global Media and China” will be publishing a special edition next year on “China’s digital infrastructure: Networks, systems, standards.” The call for papers, which ended yesterday, specifically highlights New Type Infrastructure. This is certainly a welcome recognition of the importance of this topic and an important potential addition to our understanding of New Type Infrastructure (NTI).
With a little additional research, however, I found that the SAGE journal “Global Media and China” is sponsored by Communication University of China (中国传媒大学) in Beijing. I did not find any particularly alarming themes or text in a very quick survey of earlier editions of “Global Media and China,” so my concern may be unwarranted. That said, NTI is a major technical mission of China’s comprehensive digital strategy, Digital China, which includes both ideological and geopolitical drivers. Considering its (state) sponsor, I have to wonder if “Global Media and China” is impacted by this. Will the full, accurate context of NTI be discussed?
I also need to ask out loud, shouldn’t the first major study of NTI be sponsored by a major academic institution or think tank in the U.S. (or one of its allies of partners) rather than China? If there is one thing that we have learned over past decades (and particularly in past years) it is the pervasiveness of Chinese censorship. Although the potential risk has been illuminated in this case, “Global Media and China” is, after all, a Chinese (state)-sponsored journal.