China, under 14th Five-Year Plan (2021–2025), seeks to enhance its technological independence from leading democratic countries, specifically in Information Communication Technology (ICT). Through the Digital Silk Road (DSR), a part of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Chinese companies are increasingly providing the digital infrastructure that is essential to any regime of data governance. While analyzing Chinese investment in the digital transformation of South Asian countries mainly Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the study revealed that the investment has not helped build or support egalitarian internet access, instead helped increase the military and security control over the data and circumscribe the freedom of expression and of information through the narrative.
The increased China-Pak cooperation under DSR indicates increased Chinese control and influence whether it be satellites, fiber optic cables, or smart cities. The DSR projects along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) have faced corruption.