WG 2: High-technology and innovation

Europe faces rising geo-economic rivalry between the United States and China over high technology and innovation. The controversy whether to allow a Chinese technology-giant such as Huawei to participate in the buildout of Europe’s 5G critical digital infrastructure is only the first among many similar conflicts to arise. Europe faces hard choices.

Economically, Europe faces a quickly emerging Chinese technology sector. In many fields, Chinese companies have rapidly developed into highly innovative and competitive actors. China’s tech industry is profiting from an unlevel playing field. Soft loans, acquisitions of innovative European companies with financial support of the Chinese party-state or lower data protection regulations are only a few examples that leave Europe with the question how to protect its economy without turning protectionist. Similarly, Europe needs to protect its intellectual property while at the same time profits from research cooperation with the People’s Republic.

Technological dependencies further create political vulnerability. At a time of US-Chinese technological decoupling, Europe is squeezed in between the two technological great powers. This raises the question how to diversify and secure Europe’s digital supply chains and to what extent Europe should develop economic sovereignty or strategic autonomy in the field of high technology. Cybersecurity concerns come with the deep engagement with Chinese (and to some extent US) suppliers of digital technology, particularly in cases when this affects critical digital infrastructure. What does Europe need to do in order to secure a robust, reliable and integer digital ecosystem?

Finally, European and Chinese approaches to digital technology diverge ideationally as both political entities support different sets of norms. For example, Europe’s preference for private self-regulation is mirrored by China’s state-directed policy.

This working group investigates Chinese policies regarding high technology and innovation striving to facilitate not only for rigorous academic analysis but also for policy advice in order to facilitate Europe’s ongoing realignment.

Coordinator:  Tim Rühlig

German Council on Foreign Relations

Dr Tim Rühlig is a Research Fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin and an Associate Fellow with The Swedish Institute of International Affairs in Stockholm analyzing Europe-China relations, Chinese foreign and industrial policy including high technology and Hong Kong affairs. His current research projects focus on China’s growing footprint in technical standardization, Chinese and European politics of smart ports, the emerging US-China technology rivalry and its implications for Europe as well as the politics of Hong Kong. In his thesis, he demonstrated how diverging sources of domestic legitimation coupled with a fragmented structure of the Chinese party-state and its underlying political economy result in contradictory Chinese foreign policy. Beyond his academic work, Rühlig has gained policy advice in the field of China’s high technology policy with several European actors, including the European Commission.

Co-leader: Roberta Rabellotti

University of Pavia

Roberta Rabellotti is Professor of Economics at the Department of Political and Social Science, University of Pavia (Italy). She also holds a position as Assigned Professor at the University of Aalborg (Denmark). After graduating in Economics at Università Bocconi, she got a Master of Science in Development Economics at the University of Oxford (St. Antony’s College) and a Doctor of Philosophy at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.

Rabellotti has widely published in international outlets on issues related with innovation in developing countries, with a special focus on China. Throughout her career, Roberta
participated in and leaded several research and consultancy projects. She has provided
academic advice to, amongst others, the European Commission, the IADB, OECD; UNIDO; UN-CEPAL, UNCTAD, and various national and regional governments.

Some publications on China are:

Amendolagine V., Giuliani E., Martinelli A, Rabellotti R., 2019, Chinese and Indian MNEs shopping spree in advanced countries. How good is for their innovative output?, Journal of Economic Geography, 18(5): 1149-1176.

Cozza, C., Rabellotti, R., & Sanfilippo, M. (2015). The impact of outward FDI on the performance of Chinese firms. China Economic Review, 36, 42-57.

Other publications are available at https://robertarabellotti.it

Co-leader: Agnieszka McCaleb

Warsaw School of Economics

Agnieszka McCaleb is Assistant Professor at the Department of East Asian Economic Studies, SGH Warsaw School of Economics, Poland. She holds a MA in International Economic and Political Relations and another MA in Sinology (Chinese Studies). Agnieszka’s PhD dissertation examines the role of central and local governments in internationalization of Chinese firms. Her academic expertise lies in Chinese multinational corporations, foreign direct investment, innovation and international competitiveness. Agnieszka has professional experience working for consultancy and multinational firms. She is a member of the Microeconomics of Competitiveness (MOC) Network, coordinated by the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, Harvard Business School. She was part of ERASMUS+ project „Assessing and Improving Research Performance at South East Asian Universities” (REPESEA). In 2016, she was awarded the Dekaban-Liddle Scholarship at Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow.


Szunomár Á, McCaleb A (2018). East Asian Foreign Direct Investment in Central and Eastern Europe: motives, location choices, and employment approaches. CESifo FORUM, Winter Vol. 19, pp. 9-14.


Drahokoupil J, McCaleb A, Pawlicki P, Szunomár Á, (2017). Huawei in Europe: strategic integration of local capabilities in a global production network. In book: Chinese investment in Europe: corporate strategies and labour relations, Publisher: European Trade Union Institute, Editors: Jan Drahokoupil, pp.211-229.


We use cookies in accordance with our privacy policy and the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it.