China inaugurates National Data Bureau to safeguard data security, boost digital economy: experts
Published: Oct 25, 2023 01:06 PM Updated: Oct 25, 2023 01:00 PM
A concept photo of digital economy Photo: VCG

A concept photo of digital economy Photo: VCG

China on Wednesday officially inaugurated the National Data Bureau to coordinate the integration, sharing, development and utilization of data resources. Experts noted it will help safeguard data security, boost the digital economy's growth and promote the high-quality integrated development of the digital economy and traditional industries.

The new bureau, which was proposed in March during China's two sessions, will be administered by the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planner.

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 other measures, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

By the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), China's data circulation market is expected to reach 1 trillion yuan ($137 billion), offering vast and promising opportunities, experts said.

In recent years, significant progress has been made in China's digital economy, digital governance and the construction of a digital society. However, in the current landscape, there's a need for improved coordination in a number of areas, including reforming the data market, Wang Peng, an associate research fellow at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Against this backdrop, the establishment of a national-level management department has become necessary to enhance overall coordination and drive the advancement of various initiatives in the realm of the digital economy and the digital China campaign, Wang said.

Safeguarding data security is one of the major tasks of the new bureau, which constitutes a fundamental requirement for the development of China's data industry. The country places a strong emphasis on personal information security, as well as the protection of commercial secrets and national defense security, Pan Helin, joint director of the Research Center for Digital Economics and Financial Innovation, affiliated with Zhejiang University's International Business School, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

A second task is to activate the data market, enabling data to realize its full value. In today's dynamic development of the digital economy, data elements have emerged as crucial factors for economic development. Thus, activating the data market will not only boost the digital economy but also inject momentum into traditional enterprises with valuable data assets, Pan said.

A third task is to accelerate the development of data applications. The bureau is expected to take the lead in the research and development of key technologies for data applications, such as advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence (AI), the metaverse, autonomous driving and more, Pan said.

By promoting data applications, it will drive the growth of the data industry, bolster China's digital economy, and empower the real economy with digital technologies. This will advance the convergence of the digital world and reality, achieving high-quality development in both the digital economy and traditional industries, Pan noted.

China has witnessed a fast growth of the digital economy and industrial digitization in recent years. In 2022, the scale of China's digital economy surpassed 50 trillion yuan, accounting for 40 percent of total GDP, and it maintained a growth rate of 10 percent, thus becoming a steadfast driver of economic growth, according to the Shanghai Securities Journal.

With the rapid development of digital technologies such as 5G, AI and big data, many high-tech companies have improved their operational efficiency and demonstrated strong economic resilience and potential by leveraging these digital technologies.

Beijing, Shanghai, Southwest China's Guizhou Province and other regions in China have issued local policies aimed at advancing the development of data markets. These policies are designed to promote industrial growth through tailored approaches and pilot programs.

Notably, the Shanghai Data Exchange has witnessed a continuous surge in trading this year, with transactions exceeding 100 million yuan in August alone, according to media reports.