China’s government has outlined its vision for digital services, expected behavior standards at China’s big tech companies, and how China will put data to work everywhere – with president Xi Jinping putting his imprimatur to some of the policies.
Xi’s remarks were made in his role as director of China’s Central Comprehensively Deepening Reforms Commission, which met earlier this week. The subsequent communiqué states that at the meeting Xi called for “financial technology platform enterprises to return to their core business” and “support platform enterprises in playing a bigger role in serving the real economy and smoothing positive interplay between domestic and international economic flows.”
The remarks outline an attempt to balance Big Tech’s desire to create disruptive financial products that challenge monopolies, against efforts to ensure that only licensed and regulated entities offer financial services.
“We need to protect the legitimate rights and interests of financial consumers, strengthen oversight of platform enterprises to combat monopoly and unfair competition, step up supervision over data scraping of platform enterprises, and regulate the misuse of big data and algorithm-based discrimination,” the communiqué reads.
Data is mentioned many more times. Xi points out that China’s sheer size means it collects so much data it has an advantage over other nations – if that data is properly governed
Xi therefore called for a data property rights system “in which the right to own data resources, the right to process and use data, and the right to engage in the business of data products are clearly defined, and we should improve the system for protecting the rights and interests of data as a factor of production,” he said, adding that China needs well regulated markets for data.
Data security is also part of his vision, along with a multi-party governance model involving government, enterprises, and society.
The day after the communiqué was published, Beijing released “Guiding Opinions on Strengthening the Construction of Digital Government” – a document that also calls for more use of data, this time in the service of creating powerful digital government services and informing policy so that it’s formulated in a scientific fashion.
Yes, dear reader, The Register has spotted the irony of an ideologically driven one-party state wanting its decision-making processes to be more scientific.
But back to Xi, he’s had a busy week. Yesterday he addressed the annual summit of the BRICS bloc – the grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Xi used his remarks to call for free flow of tech around the world, per rules set by the World Trade Organization. That’s almost certainly a reference to the many bans on tech being exported to China, and recent actions against Russia and Belarus. Those actions have hurt China and Russia – as intended. China paints the bans as unfair economic warfare – as it would. ®
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