China to form data bureau to boost digital economy, facilitate data handling
Published: Mar 07, 2023 10:21 PM
A concept photo of digital city Illustration: VCG

A concept photo of digital city Illustration: VCG

China on Tuesday said it will form a national data bureau, a move that experts said is a timely way to accelerate the nation's modernization in the new digital era. It's expected to facilitate regulations on cross-border data transfers in an efficient manner.

China will establish a national data bureau, according to a reform plan submitted on Tuesday to the national legislature for deliberation, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The proposed bureau will be administered by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planner, and it 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, the digital economy and a digital society, among others.

Certain functions of the Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission and the NDRC will be transferred to the new bureau, said the plan on reforming State Council institutions. 

The launch of the new agency adapts to social development amid the nation's push on the digital economy and strengthened oversight over data handling, Wang Peng, a research fellow at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"Having one single agency in charge should help address inefficiencies arising from decentralized management among agencies and ministries," Wang said.

According to the reform plan, the Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission will transfer certain functions to the national data bureau, including the responsibilities of drafting plans for the construction of digital China, promoting the construction of smart cities, and promoting cross-industry and cross-departmental connectivity of information resources.

Responsibilities previously undertaken by the NDRC, such as coordinating the development of the digital economy, implementing the national big data strategy, and promoting the layout and construction of the digital infrastructure, will be transferred to the national data bureau.

The new agency would also serve the building of the "digital China" blueprint, Wang said.

According to guidelines for digital development in China, by 2025, the digital infrastructure will be efficiently connected through a broad range of sectors, and China will become a global leader in digital innovation. By 2035, the level of digital development in China will enter the forefront of the world.

It is expected that the national data bureau will play a centralized role to carry out relevant work from a top-down design and form a set of assessment and evaluation systems to better supervise the process, Wang said.

It is expected that under its overall management, more detailed standards, laws and regulations will be introduced as soon as possible, which could also cover the process of security reviews of cross-border data transfers, further facilitating the regulation of cross-border data transfers and services trade, Wang said.

Global Times