'Tech Talk': China sets up national data bureau for digital economy and trade
Updated 13:54, 22-Mar-2023
Zhao Chenchen

China has prioritized high-quality development with the passing of the State Council's institutional reform plan. Part of the plan includes establishing a national data bureau that would help China build its digital economy and promote digital trade, an expert said in an interview with CGTN. 

The bureau will be responsible for advancing the development of data-related fundamental institutions, coordinating the integration, sharing, development, and application of data resources, and pushing forward the planning and building of a digital China, digital economy, and digital society, among others.

Read more: Four takeaways from China's newly planned national data bureau

China, the second largest country for data

The bureau has been set up at a time when the country is rising as the second largest country for data, with 6.6ZB of data output in 2021, which accounts for 9.9 percent of the total global data, according to a national data resource survey.

China saw a 30 percent increase in data on average over the past three years, in part due to the development of a series of new technologies, according to an expert from the China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE). 

"So, as a factor of production or its importance to China as a digital economy power, the data resources should be better organized to make the best use of them," said Zhang Monan, the deputy director of the Institute of American and European Studies at CCIEE.

Besides for the bureau's role as a top-level coordinator for data resources, Zhang believes that the institution will also bring together different departments which will carry out substantial implementations, such as those for establishing of basic standards for data.

Zhang said that higher institutional standards are needed to attract more data to China and to facilitate enterprises to go overseas.

An example for data standards was a survey on the guidelines for enterprise data accounting standards, which was issued by the Ministry of Finance in December, 2022. 

"This was meant to clarify data property rights, which paves the way for data property trading and securing data as an important enterprise asset," Zhang said.

She further explained that clearer standards and high efficient flow of data could then accelerate building a digital China. 

Data as a strategic resource

"Data has become an important national strategic consideration," Zhang said.

In 2020, both the United States and the European Commission introduced data strategies. Japan and South Korea have also been developing national level Big Data strategies.

Besides, each country is speeding up in building its own digital alliance with the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) launched by the United States as a case point.

"I think China needs to accelerate its data governance work," Zhang said.

"We need to benchmark with international economic and trading standards and we need to keep opening our digital economy and digital trade in terms of regulatory transparency, so that more resources can flow into China."

Videographer: Ma Tianwen

Graphic designer: Zhu Shangfan

Search Trends