Sometimes, technology diplomacy has to operate where the lines between nation-states and private companies are blurred, as with China’s Huawei and ZTE. There are also issues with technology companies working in areas that involve national security sensitivities, such as supercomputing hardware. Here, tech diplomats must tread the fine line between corporate freedoms, global balances of power and issues of national interest — often with incomplete information due to the unwillingness of all parties to fully disclose all the relevant information.
In some regions, where regulatory environments are weak, hobbyists, activists and grass roots organisations are pushing the boundaries of science with their work on anti-aging therapies and gene editing, some of which can influence regulatory policy-making, and sometimes accelerating the pace of change. Even small-scale companies, if they are significant employers in a region, can influence local political decision-making and tech-related legislation.
All of these various initiatives demonstrate the rising importance of transnational, non-state and even individual or small-group actors to local and global governance, something that the field of science and tech diplomacy must navigate.