Friends and foes : rethinking the party and Chinese big tech

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Journal / PublicationNew Political Economy
Publication statusOnline published - 25 Jul 2022


This article adopts an analytical framework that prioritises the importance and contingent nature of class power and relations in competitive global capitalism, explaining the ways in which power struggles amongst key interests over material gains have produced volatile relationships between the CCP and Chinese tech conglomerates. In doing so, this article contributes to the literature on Chinese state capitalism and debates around the Chinese state’s recent crackdown on private tech capital. In contrast to Chinese state capitalist models, which posit the Party as dominating over market forces, I argue that the actual patterns of collaboration and confrontation between the Party and private tech capital, which oscillate from time to time, can be better understood in relation to the contingent power and leverage exercised by state actors and private capital at particular points in time. Influencing these interactions are important structural forces within and beyond China, which have transformed domestic and international landscapes for development. In this analytical framework, the state–capital relationship in China is understood to be volatile, varied and far from unidirectional; it is subject to changing narratives of national interests and is influenced by dispersed sources of power and contention over the control of essential assets.

Research Area(s)

  • Chinese state capitalism, internet technology, social conflict theory, state–capital relationship, tech conglomerates