Aynne Kokas

Fast Facts

  • Director, UVA East Asia Center
  • Non-resident scholar at Rice University’s Baker Institute of Public Policy
  • Term member of the Council on Foreign Relations
  • Fellow in the National Committee on United States-China Relations’ Public Intellectuals Program
  • Expertise on U.S.-China relations, cybersecurity, media industry

Areas Of Expertise

  • Foreign Affairs
  • Asia
  • Domestic Affairs
  • Media and the Press
  • Science and Technology

Aynne Kokas is the C.K. Yen Professor at the Miller Center, director of UVA's East Asia Center, and an associate professor of media studies at the University of Virginia. Kokas’ research examines Sino-U.S. media and technology relations. Her book Trafficking Data: How China Is Winning the Battle for Digital Sovereignty (Oxford University Press, October 2022) argues that exploitative Silicon Valley data governance practices help China build infrastructures for global control. Her award-winning first book Hollywood Made in China (University of California Press, 2017) argues that Chinese investment and regulations have transformed the U.S. commercial media industry, most prominently in the case of media conglomerates’ leverage of global commercial brands. 

Kokas is a non-resident scholar at Rice University’s Baker Institute of Public Policy, a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a fellow in the National Committee on United States-China Relations’ Public Intellectuals Program.

She was a Fulbright Scholar at East China Normal University and has received fellowships from the Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities, Mellon Foundation, Social Science Research Council, Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Japan’s Abe Fellowship, and other international organizations. Her writing and commentary have appeared globally in more than 50 countries and 15 languages. In the United States, her research and writing appear regularly in media outlets including CNBC, NPR’s MarketplaceThe Washington Post, and Wired. She has testified before the Senate Finance Committee, House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Aynne Kokas News Feed

The Miller Center’s 2023 William and Carol Stevenson Conference examines U.S.–China relations and the role technology plays in this dynamic relationship. Do our technology regulations and security efforts limit our ability to protect our democracy? Panels feature scholars and practitioners with experience in government, the private sector, journalism, and academia, allowing for wide-ranging dialogue on complex issues.
Aynne Kokas Miller Center Presents
As Congress focuses on what to do about TikTok, leaders in the tech industry have cautioned against a far more expansive risk that has a direct bearing on the role of tech in our daily lives. Data gathered by firms such as TikTok underpin advanced AI tools like the commercially-available GPT-4 large language model (LLM) and support research into next-generation models like GPT-5 and beyond.
Aynne Kokas The Hill
Aynne Kokas, a scholar at the Miller School of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia who studies U.S.-China relations, told this station that U.S. schools must act in accordance with the State Department’s recommendations. “If the blockade or any type of political tension keeps our students stuck in China, we also face potential legal exposure, which is a problem."
Aynne Kokas Radio Free Asia
TikTok is once again facing calls to divest itself from its Chinese-based parent company over national security concerns that are prompting more Western government bans of the popular video-sharing app. But experts say forcing ByteDance into a sale of its most prized asset will likely take years, face legal challenges, and may come too late for an app that is already used by over a billion people worldwide each month and is a key resource for young people and advertisers. “I don’t think that any of this will happen quickly in the event that it does occur,” said Aynne Kokas, an associate professor of media studies at the University of Virginia and the author of Trafficking Data: How China is Winning the Battle for Digital Sovereignty.
Aynne Kokas Global News
“The key issue is, when considering government devices, to consider the type of data that TikTok would be able to gather about government officials on those devices,” said Aynne Kokas, a professor of media studies at the University of Virginia and author of Trafficking Data: How China is Winning the Battle for Digital Sovereignty.
Aynne Kokas The Cord
Tik Tok. Huawei. Tencent. Giant Chinese companies have become controversial players in the United States as we try to determine their motives and whether they are just another arm of the Chinese government as they vacuum up incredible amounts of data on American citizens. Data which we willingly provide as we ignore terms of service so we can post another picture or video or interact with our friends. And given the lax regulation of social media companies in America, allowing them to sell our information as a key part of their revenue stream, our data flows like a faucet to China at a moment in time when they are severely restricting the information coming back to us. In her book, “Trafficking Data”, author Aynne Kokas explains how, in her view, China is winning the battle for digital sovereignty as it more broadly defines information that is important to its national security. Beijing is collecting data on people nearly everywhere. Their platforms track people’s preferences and whereabouts, while also giving the Chinese government control over a powerful tool for shaping people’s worldview.
Aynne Kokas America Trends Podcast