US-China technology competition is now playing out across multiple standards bodies as an expanded arena of contest. While national security considerations have become the main entry point for the wider policy community to engage with technology standards, this overshadows the operational challenges facing technology firms, industry bodies and officials involved in standards development.

A new report released today by the United States Studies Centre identifies some of the key issues that countries like Australia will have to navigate in addressing the impact of US-China technology competition on the development of new international rules relating to emerging technologies.

Report author and Alliance 21 Fellow Hilary McGeachy said Australian policymakers need to be better equipped to deal with the increasing complexity of the interface between technology, trade, standards and security,

"It is in Australia’s national interests to work with partners and advocate for a balanced and transparent approach to rule-setting in the development of emerging technology and global digital trade," McGeachy says.

"Given the central role of emerging technologies in driving economic growth and development, the existence and development of mutually-agreed on international rules on standards will take on growing importance in the coming years."

Key points

  • Beijing's efforts to increase activity and effectiveness in international standards organisations are beginning to bear fruit, notably in the development of 5G network standards, a trend that is likely to continue in artificial intelligence and Internet of Things.
  • A narrower US digital trade agenda and China’s enthusiastic pursuit of new international standards has created a sense of uncertainty across international rule-setting on new technologies.
  • It is in Australia’s economic interests to continue to work with partners and advocate for a balanced and transparent approach to rule-setting in the development of emerging technology and global digital trade.

View report

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Drew Sheldrick
T 02 9114 2622 
drew.sheldrick@sydney.edu.au