Exploring China’s Rise as Knowledge Power
The rise of China is a dominant theme in international politics. While factors such as demographics, geography or the skyrocketing Chinese Gross Domestic Product (GDP) have received persistent attention from researchers, this article points to a different and neglected aspect of China’s ascent: knowledge und technology. I argue that a truly comprehensive understanding of how China could (again) become a hub of world politics requires an historical exploration of the Chinese position within the global political economy of knowledge. Few authors have emphasized China’s blossoming technical and scientific capacities as a critical source of its growing influence (but see Lampton 2008). Their arguments strongly resonate with quantitative indices, which demonstrate the accelerating strengthening of China’s output of publications, basic research capacities, and scientific networks (Royal Society 2011). Recent research also points to the possibility that a number of emerging economies, including China, are transforming into genuine commercial innovation hubs (Altenburg et al. 2008; Ernst 2011; CGS-Forschungsgruppe Wissensmacht 2011). Already, the concern with “the race to the top” in research and technology permeates policy discourses all around the world. Due to the advent of the global “knowledge economy” (OECD 2010; cf. Moldaschl and Stehr 2010), the importance of innovativeness is poised to increase only further.