Podcast ILO

The rise of AI in China – Digital technologies and their regulation


Over the last decade, China has become a leading developer and user of digital technologies, in particular artificial intelligence. Whether in e-commerce, ride hailing services or autonomous vehicles, Chinese companies operating in these areas are world competitors and contribute significantly to China’s development. In parallel with the rise of these industries, Chinese policy makers have enacted a series of regulations around data and consumer protection to ensure the proper use of these technologies and to prevent market abuses by dominant players. To date, its regulatory scope and breadth is well ahead that of leading competitors in Europe or the United States. Yet, little is known about the impact of both technological development and regulatory activism on the world of work in China.

Kendra Schaefer shares with us her in-depth knowledge about the evolution of digital technologies and their regulation in China. Given her hands-on experience in advising both Chinese and foreign companies in this area, she is well placed to discuss technological trends in China, the motives Chinese regulators bring to the market and how effective they are in implementing regulation. She will also help us to better understand the impact these trends are having on Chinese workers, for instance in the ride hailing industry and beyond.


Kendra Schaefer
Partner at Beijing-based strategic advisory consultancy Trivium China. She leads Trivium tech policy research team. She is chief editor of Trivium’s premium Trivium Tech Daily newsletter, a daily policy brief on Trivium’s analysis on government-driven Chinese tech developments. She has consulted on over 150 digital projects for both SMEs and multinationals.


Ekkehard Ernst
Chief of the Macro-economic policies and jobs unit of the Research Department at the International Labour Organization. He publishes regularly on the implications of artificial intelligence, robots and blockchain applications for the future of work, including in developing countries, as well as on the transition to a sustainable society. In 2017, Ekkehard co-founded Geneva Macro Labs, a platform to identify, develop and implement solutions to address global challenges.