In addition to the panel we mentioned in a previous post, REMIT researcher team also hosted a workshop at the famed International Studies Association annual conference in 2024 in San Fransisco. The workshop, titled “The Geopolitics of Strategic Technology Governance”, featured seven papers – more of which below!

The United States and Strategic Technology Governance: Domestic Coalitions, Foreign Policy and Multilateral Cooperation

Presenting Authors: Roberta N. Haar and Ville Sinkkonen (REMIT)
Discussant: Sharinee L. Jagtiani (Non-REMIT)

REMIT PI Roberta Haar and REMIT Researcher Ville Sinkkonen’s contribution uses the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) to unearth three coalitions that currently vie for the adoption of their preferred policies in the realm of strategic technology governance in the United States. In particular, the differences amongst these coalitions, which are termed multilateralists, new isolationists and flexilateralists, heighten when it comes to dealing with China. In the discussion, the employment of the ACF received positive feedback from the discussant, Doctor Filippo Gualtiero Blancato, and the audience, since it opens up the role of sites of socialisation in the construction of coalitions concerned with strategic technology policy, as well as pointing to the importance of paying attention to elite policy-making.

China’s Geopolitical Position and Strategy in Global Technology Governance 

Presenting Authors: Catherine Yuk-Ping Lo and Hengyi Yang (REMIT)
Discussant: Flavia Lucenti (REMIT)

Catherine Yuk-Ping discusses an article she co-authored with Hengyi Yang. The article begins with a broad overview of geopolitical competition between major powers, including the US and the EU, in line with the focus of this special issue. In this context, the discussant, Flavia Lucenti, also suggests that it would be helpful to also focus from the introduction on China’s assertiveness under Xi and its strategic use of technology. Then, the comparison between China, the US and the EU could be broadened, given the multilateral perspective that is crucial to their analysis. In particular, the discussant believes that the explanation of China’s competition with the EU as a regulatory actor could be enriched with further details, also in light of the awareness that the EU and China pursue normative goals in different areas and with different ambitions. For example, the EU focuses on human rights, civil liberties and consumer protection, promoting its role as an international norm-setter. In contrast, China is developing regulations to strengthen its global position in AI surveillance without facing international criticism or sanctions. Highlighting these differences would enrich the paper. All in all, the discussant argues that the results of this paper are intriguing, but the main research question, aims and relevance still need more emphasis. What is the paper trying to show? Why is it innovative? Are there any counter-arguments or unexpected results? Addressing these aspects will strengthen the impact and clarity of their already valuable contribution.

The European Union’ Approach to Governance of Strategic Technologies: Between Geopolitical Competition and Multilateral Cooperation 

Presenting Authors: Thomas Christiansen, Flavia Lucenti and Sophie Vanhoonacker (REMIT Partners)
Discussant: Giulia Tercovich (Non-REMIT)

This paper’s approach was extensively talked about in our post about the ISA panels.

Strategic Technology Governance in East Asia

Presenting Author: Giulia Tercovich (Non-REMIT)
Discussant: Catherine Lo (REMIT)

Non-REMIT Partner, Giulia Tercovich, from Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam presented a paper on the Strategic Technology Governance views from East Asia. In a time of great power competition, big players compete in their offering for alternative models to regulate strategic technologies. East Asian nations, including economic powerhouses like Japan, Korea and Taiwan, find themselves at the forefront of technological advancements, facing the prospect of selecting from divergent governance paradigms. Will East Asian countries be compelled to choose between the different governance models? Will the region assert its agency by suggesting a fourth system to govern strategic technologies? This article will respond to these questions by examining the narratives of the three main players in the region, notably Japan, Korea and Taiwan on the approach to the governance of semiconductors production and supply chain. While the US and South Korea are leading in the designs of chips, global production is highly concentrated in Taiwan and South Korea. Europe, Japan and China aim to increase their competitiveness and resilience in semiconductor technologies and applications.

REMIT researcher and discussant Catherine Lo comments:

“Giulia’s paper delves into the roles of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan in geopolitical competition and cooperation. The paper is very ambitious. First of all, we need to comprehend the individual approaches of these three players and determine whether their views on semiconductor governance diverge or converge. Additionally, it is crucial to understand the perspectives of the EU, US, China. Given the potential convergence or divergence among these six players, there are 18 possible combinations to consider. Alternatively, the author could treat Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan as a homogenous group with a shared viewpoint to explore the interactions between these Asian groups and the three great powers. After all, the paper aims to examine these dynamics and ascertain whether they will drive a more nationalistic or multilateral approach to governing semiconductors. While the paper extensively covers the literature on the independence and rivalry of semiconductor technology among the EU, US, and China, it would benefit from providing a further explanation of the analytical framework before introducing the two hypotheses. This additional contextualization will enhance the clarity and coherence of the paper. The paper makes a significant contribution to the Special Issue by expanding our understanding of technological governance beyond the three key players (EU, US, and China).”

Status-Seeking in a Digital World: Technology Governance, Geopolitics, and Indian Foreign Policy

Presenting Author: Sharinee L. Jagtiani (Non-REMIT)
Discussant: Ville Sinkkonen (REMIT)

Non-REMIT Partner Sharinee L. Jagtiani from the Hasso Plattner Institute for Digital Engineering also presented a paper titled “Strategic Autonomy in the Digital Age: Decoding India’s International Digital Policy”. The article unpacks the drivers behind the recent upswing in India’s digital technology diplomacy, which refers to foreign policies on and around digital technology issues. In locating India’s digital technology diplomacy within the wider political and historical context of Indian foreign policy, we argue that it is consistent with and increasingly integral to its policy of strategic autonomy. This constancy is visible along three vectors. First, the country uses it as an opportunity to demonstrate its ability to be an order-builder. India is conscious of its limited part in the making of the post-war multilateral system. By proving its worth in the realm of digital technology, it seeks to stake a claim to actively shaping the rules of its governance at the global level. Second, India´s digital technology diplomacy strengthens its position as a leading power in the ‘Global South’. It provides opportunities for the county to demonstrate the possibilities of development through digitalization, including through capacity building and knowledge exchange. Finally, digital technology diplomacy serves to amplify India’s long-standing claims to higher status at the world stage. Given its relative prowess in the digital arena, diplomacy in this domain leverages its ability to engage other major powers as peers.

Ville Sinkkonen acted as discussant for Sharinee’s paper. He underlined the substantial contribution the paper makes to the special issue by underscoring what drives India’s digital technology diplomacy, developing an understanding of the social foundations of Indian thinking about geopolitics in this critical domain through three dimensions – namely order-building, leadership and status. While Sharinee’s discussion on India’s behaviour underlines various (and often neglected) identitarian dimensions of strategic technologies, it was suggested in the discussions that a stronger focus on how India relates to the EU, China and the US would both add to the already valuable contribution and also improve the fit of the article to the overall frame of the special issue.

Russia’s Cyber Sovereignty Strategy and Its Vulnerabilities in the Wake of the War of Aggression in Ukraine 

Presenting Authors: Flavia Lucenti (REMIT) and Sinikukka Saari (Non-REMIT)
Discussant: Roberta N. Haar (REMIT)

Flavia Lucenti (LUISS University) discusses an article she is co-authoring together with Sinikukka Saari (FIIA) entitled “Russian cyber strategy and capabilities before and after the start of Russia’s full-scale war on Ukraine” (preliminary title). The article delves into Russia’s cyber strategy and capabilities pre and post the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, aiming to understand how the aggression has affected Russia’s global cyber standing and sovereignty. It examines the Kremlin’s framing of cyber threats as ‘information confrontation’ and the securitization of the cyber domain. Drawing from constructivism and securitization theories, the analysis explores the interplay between technological competition and national identity construction in shaping perceptions of security. Russia’s self-identification as a great power drives its pursuit of top-tier technology capabilities, while also perceiving its sovereignty as under threat in the face of Western dominance in information warfare. The article delves into both internal and external cyber policies, as well as capacity-building efforts in cyber technologies, to elucidate Russia’s cyber stance. Primary sources include Russian strategic documents and official statements, along with indicators of cyber strategy and competitiveness. Content analysis methods are employed to identify key discursive themes, with discussions ongoing regarding the potential application of additional methodologies like the ACF to map shifts in Russia’s perception of cyberspace pre- and post-war. 

The paper was discussed by Roberta Haar, who provided valuable insights for improving our analysis, particularly within a multilateral geopolitical framework. She suggested that emphasising the impact of sanctions, particularly in relation to the role of technology in military and security, is important for our work. In addition, she suggests that we should also explore the impact of brain drain on Russia’s innovation capacity and include cross-references with other articles in the SI to align with the US/EU and, more importantly, to stress the multilateral dimension of our analysis. Roberta also suggests investigating coalitions through ACF, as it can unveil minority coalitions, such as Kaspersky, and the role of private actors engaging in the Russian cyber domain. Our analysis should move beyond description to offer critical perspectives, particularly on why securitization theory and constructivism are appropriate to addressing the research question. Furthermore, delving into Russia’s broader stance on new technologies, beyond cyber, would be an added value to our research. In this regard, not only Roberta but also other workshop participants suggested that, if this were to be the case, the Russian exceptionalism and the country’s struggle to innovate and develop other technologies should be highlighted, also considering Russia’s increasing isolation post-war onset. 

The Geopolitics of Strategic Technology Governance: Reflections and Future Perspective 

Presenting Author: Kathleen R. McNamara (Non-REMIT)

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