Standard-setting in internet governance has become increasingly important for the day-to-day lives of billions of people across the globe. Within the internet governance nexus, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is a key arena for standard-setting. Due to its consensual character, multistakeholder composition, and US dominance the Chinese government has long been opposed to collaboration in the IETF. Instead, it preferred shifting authority to intergovernmental arenas, such as the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), in which deliberative power is more closely related to state-power. We show that this has changed in the last decade and that Chinese stakeholders have increasingly started to engage in transnational standard-setting, especially so in the IETF. Utilizing network analyses, we highlight the growing importance of Chinese actors and analyze whether internet standard-setting is becoming a bi-polar process between the US and China in the second decade of the 21st century. We rely on an original dataset of all standard-setting documents published by the IETF. Our data contains information on publication dates, authors, and countries of origin allowing us to trace the participation of Chinese actors and their cooperative ties. This chapter more broadly contributes to our understanding of Chinese engagement in transnational arenas and more specifcally to the role of China and the US in internet standard-setting.
This book chapter was co-authored with Thomas Winzen.
Recommended citation: Weyrauch, D. and Winzen, T. (2020). Entering a Period of bi-polar Internet Standard-Setting? Analyzing the Chinese Contention of US-Dominance in the Internet Engineering Task Force. In J. Klenk & F. Waschek (Eds.), Chinas Rolle in einer neuen Weltordnung Wissenschaft, Handel und internationale Beziehungen. Tectum.