Data Emerges as Key Topic at China’s 2021 Two Sessions Meeting, Delegates Call for National Data Platform, Data Sharing by Tech Giants


Data protections and data sharing have emerged as pivotal topics at China’s Two Sessions congressional event for 2021, with delegates calling for free sharing of public data, the establishment of a national data sharing platform and efforts to make data held by the country’s Internet giants more freely available.

China’s digital economy has seen flourishing growth in recent years, with this momentum set to make it the nation in the world with the largest volume of data by 2025, according to forecasts by the State Information Centre (国家信息中心). By that time China’s data volumes will account for over 27% of the global total.

The burgeoning growth of the digital economy has made data a hot topic for this year’s meetings of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC), particularly in the relation to inadequate data protections and ownership definitions, as well as potential monopoly effects.

Wang Zhaoxing (王兆星), deputy-chair of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC), said that the circulation of financial data continues to face major barriers in the form of data ownership issues, and lack of clarity in relation to data rights and allocation of data-related interests.

Chinese law currently lacks clear regulations concerning the categorisation of finance-related data, with only a small number of related provisions appearing within industry standards and personal information protections, creating considerable grey areas of interpretation.

Wang further points out that dispute resolution mechanisms remain poor, leaving market actors with reduced incentive to engage in data-related transactions.

Wen Aihua (文爱华), head of the Hunan province branch of the China Construction Bank (CCB) and an NPC delegate, has called for accelerating the development of data legislation and clarifying ownership rights to data.

Wen said that big data is a “foundational strategic national resource,” and that greater clarification is needed of data-related rights, including data usage rights, data benefit rights, data sharing rights, data knowledge rights and data correction rights.

Measures recommended by Wen include strengthening internet security and privacy protections, and better methods for dealing with the relationship between personal privacy with national security, the public’s right to know, and the development of the digital economy.

Wen proposes the establishment of a unified, national sharing platform for data, in order to expedite “data openness” between the government and society, as well as driving transaction and sharing of the data resources of Internet companies to avoid the formation of “data islands.”

Zhang Jindong (张近东), NPC delegate and chair of Suning Group, has called for the gradual introduction of free sharing of public data, and the creation of a “secure, open sharing mechanism” for data.

Huang Dazhi (黄大智), a senior-researcher from the Suning Financial Research Institute, points out that data is subject to natural monopoly effects, as small-scale data is valueless.

Huang wants regulators to clarify and implement protection of data rights, but points out that excessive data protections could curb development areas. As a consequence further research is needed into “moderate” forms of data protection.

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