techno-media collaboration: next phase of cpec

The history of China is both captivating and complicated. There were extensive periods of time, where China isolated itself from outside influence and turned into a closed society. The last century was filled with turbulent moments and extremely difficult situations for China. The occupation by the Japanese in 1930s, the civil war, and then a socialist revolution that resulted in bringing Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to power in 1949; overall it was a stormy journey.  

Under the influence of Chairman Mao, it was another expedition in isolation. Though China was successful in becoming self-sufficient in nearly all resources but was far behind modern technical standards. The pace of development was significantly slow. After the demise of Chairman Mao in 1976, the new leader, Deng Xiaoping, began a series of reforms that profoundly changed China. Before welcoming free market reforms in 1979, China’s economy was very poor, slow, centrally controlled, massively inefficient, and pretty isolated from the global economy. In post-1979 era, China has been among the world’s fastest-growing markets, with actual annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth averaging 9.5% through 2018. This velocity of development is described by the World Bank as “the fastest sustained expansion by a major economy in history.”

China’s rise is often framed in terms of the global shuffling of political, economic, and military power. However, China’s influence on the global media-scape has received relatively less attention. As part of ‘going out’ strategy, China is using its media to promote its narrative and vision to the wider world and to counterbalance negative images portrayed in the US-dominated international media. It is witnessed in last few years that the unprecedented expansion of Chinese media and communications is changing the global media landscape and the role of China within it. How did they do it? A collection of essays, published by Rutledge under the title of ‘China’s Media GO Global’ is a good reference book to find answer of the said question. China’s Media Go Global, the first edited collection on this subject, evaluates how in the early economic reform period, China opened up its market to foreign ICT companies in exchange for their technology. In addition to contributing to the development of an export-oriented economic system and the formation of a deep rural-urban divide, this resulted in China becoming overly progressive in emerging domains such as mass media. There are different dimension of Chinese media’s globalization, from newspapers, radio, film and television, to social media and journalism cultures and practices.

One of the dominating dimensions is China’s Tech Media Industry. China’s technology and startup scene have boomed over the last few years in China. As a result, Western countries have gained more and more interest in the field thus allowing the Chinese tech media industry to grow. The Chinese tech media industry is really diverse. TechNode is one of the major players of the Chinese Tech media industry and was founded in 2007 by Dr. Lu Gang with the aim of sharing on China’s technology and startup scene to the rest of the world.  TechNode offers a variety of content ranging from their daily/ weekly newsletters and a large panel of news articles to their famous podcasts China Tech Talk and China Tech Investor. There are plenty of websites that share technology updates i.e. and etc.

Tech media industry is also known as technology, media, and telecom (TMT) sector. TMT sector is an industry grouping that includes the majority of companies focused on new technologies. There is a substantial overlap between TMT and the 1990s idea of the new economy. The TMT sector is sometimes also referred to as technology, media, and communications (TMC). TMT companies deliver the products, infrastructure, and content that empower and enlighten, and that boost resilience and sustainability across industries, and across society. Among all the marvels of the contemporary world what transformed the man most is the InfoTech innovation.  TMT have become the spine of human communication. The Covid-19 pandemic reassured the call for shifting to the virtual space by replacing the physical one. From Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, Generation Z, and to the burgeoning Generation Alpha, all are users, subscribers, consumers or customers of Telecom, Media and Technology. China has completely grasped the concept of TMT and has successfully executed at various levels and several platforms to pluck its benefits.

In Pakistan the media industry is still employed by traditional mindsets. Newspaper to main stream media, radio to social platforms, all the programs are about political or social news that dispense nothing but agony and distress in society. The outdated entertainment, and customary political debates with conclusion-less ends, is the representative face of Media in Pakistan. Sharing technology news, debating scientific solutions, producing science based informative documentaries, discussing technology investments, and engaging society with rational thought process, are totally alien concepts in Pakistani Media.  Pakistani Media has grown enormously in terms of scale and influence in last two decades. . From virtually a state-owned broadcast at the turn of the century, the sector has transformed into a landscape of dozens of independent news and entertainment channels. This transformation has been assisted partly by a changing socio-political demography of the region and partly by the integration of newer technologies in the information age. But this transformation was unable to nurture the intellectual base of society. Pakistan, the world’s fifth most populous country, is slow to adapt to new ecosystem. Unlike China, this has embraced TMT fully. Unlocking Pakistan’s potential as a TMT based economy, it is vital to learn from Chinese model of development. As we proceed with CPEC, we need to proceed in learning from China’s tech media industry.  There is a dire need to connect universities, tech media industry, and tech policy institutes of both the countries. This connection can help Pakistan to train and develop its people, and attain strategic guidance from Chinese counterparts. Furthermore TMT collaboration should be added as a prime project in coming phases of CPEC.

The writer is a columnist and broadcast journalist. He teaches at UVAS Business School in Lahore and can be reached at