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China plans to form a national data bureau

China has announced plans to form a national data bureau, as part of President Xi Jinping's vision for a "digital China".

The bureau is expected to coordinate the sharing and development of the country's data resources, with the aim of fostering a digital economy. 

The proposal has been introduced as part of a sweeping government reshuffle, and is set to be voted for at the National People's Congress during its annual session on Friday 13 March.

The proposed bureau will be administrated by the state planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission. It is expected to collect all national, public data, in order to create a more streamlined approach to data governance and could further restrict private companies from collecting information.

The new bureau could also have the power to investigate issues relating to the digital economy such as algorithmic regulation, digital addiction and cyber security.

“In today’s society, digital resources and the digital economy play a fundamental role in economic and social development, and are of great significance for building a new development pattern, building a modern economic system, and building new advantages in the competition between nations,” the plan reads. 

China's President, Xi Jinping, has made his vision for a "digital China" a focus of his administration. The President has said he aims to see the country populated by smart, internet-connected cities and data treated as a key factor to drive the economy and help China compete more effectively globally.

Since 2014, several Chinese cities including Shenzhen and Shanghai have launched data exchanges that allow information sets from coal trading volumes to company credit ratings to be traded. However, so far these efforts have been deemed as too fragmented and discussions of a more unified approach have emerged in recent months.

Over the last few years, China has been quick to regulate technologies seen as potential threats to the country’s social and political stability. 

As a result, several homegrown tech giants have been forced to hand over details about their algorithms to authorities, and video game companies have had to introduce a cap on the amount of time children could spend playing games.

In January, China introduced first-of-its-kind regulations banning the creation of 'deepfakes' used to spread fake news and impersonate people without consent.

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