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 Asia Power Watch‘s  writes:

With the increasing development of smart supply chains and logistics and the desire to take these to a global standard, those managing the process need to be aware of what lies beneath the surface when adopting data sharing and aggregation platforms. Local business and communities need to be aware of the technology and digital infrastructure being used to connect and integrate global trade routes.

Of particular concern is where global trade data interfaces with China and the Belt Road Initiative (BRI) participants. It is prudent for a proper and thorough due diligence of the digital network and data exchange protocols rather than taking the publicists for China at their word. It is becoming increasingly important to strip away corporate layers and veneers when conducting business and trade with today’s China, particularly as the new China has taken away the separation of State and economy/civil society.

When taking closer look into smart and globally integrated supply chains, it is apparent that China has taken a significant leadership role with regards integrated smart port and logistics. Their level of seamless data integration within their data sharing and exchange platforms have gained traction within global supply chains and logistics. Cyber integration is greater than what most global organisations and Governments understand. This should raise questions around not just cyber security, but potential data manipulation used to disrupt global supply routes.

Current smart initiatives, particularly those involving ports, appear to understand China’s current digital data aggregation platform. Some have heard of it, but few realise that this platform, Logink, has been operational for over a decade. It is embedded within smart port ecosystems and sits under several CCP controlled State departments. Understandably, this complex control structure has made it difficult for several ports to appreciate that they are already docked into the Logink platform.

Logink development has gone largely under the radar, particularly as the data sharing exchange network has been subsumed into the BRI and co-ordinating Digital Silk Road (DSR) initiatives. The lack of awareness has seen a level of undetected big data leakage from smart port and supply chain ecosystems, particularly where those ecosystems overlap with BRI participating countries.

Does this deeply embedded data sharing network point to the emergence of a singular, closed digital trade system that elevates China to hegemon status? Does the lack of knowledge and understanding of China’s DSR ambition provide a digital back door for China’s closed digital network to replace the West’s open data exchange platforms?  

Heading towards a single, closed digital trade platform?

Whilst current “Western” software designers talk up the progress being made with regards Smart Port and Container networks, they showcase the increasingly growing divide between “West” open digital networks as opposed to China’s closed DSR structure.  Not only is the debate between these differing digital ecosystems different in terms of content, but it is significantly different in terms of policy decision making.

However, what is of concern is that the “open” system advocates are unknowingly contributing to the creation of a single closed digital trade system by being docked into Logink. In some cases, they may not be aware of this connection but, in some cases, it has been blind faith that has driven connection to Logink.

Some context around the digital divide

Typically, the “West” talk in terms of data silos within an open system, gravitating towards data exchange across these silos. This includes getting to a level of data standardisation that would allow for the development of robust APIs to securely exchange this data…

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