China opens big data centre in support of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals while Beijing clamps down on data at home
- A big data research centre announced last year has launched with the aim of supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
- While supporting Beijing’s push for carbon neutrality, the new centre’s promise for data sharing is clouded by the government’s clampdown on data at home
Chinese President Xi Jinping first announced plans for the International Research Centre of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals last September at the UN General Assembly. Since then, Beijing has passed two new laws governing data security and personal information, juxtaposing China’s desire to tightly control data at home while welcoming international collaboration.
To help meet the UN’s goals, China has pledged to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060.
The centre, which operates under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), is meant to contribute to these goals by sharing public data products and services to aid other UN members. The centre uses data compiled by the academy’s Big Earth Data Science Engineering Project, said Guo Huadong, the centre’s director and an academician at the CAS, when the centre was announced last year.
Several local governments have already established their own data marketplaces in support of Beijing’s goals and introduced their own related rules.
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In Shenzhen, for example, a new data regulation passed in June and set to go into effect next year has a chapter dedicated to sharing public data. The regulation has led some to call the city a pioneer for its “maximum opening” of public data within the scope of laws and regulations.
In a congratulatory letter for the centre’s inauguration on Monday, Xi wrote that he hopes “all parties will make full use of the platform” to boost international cooperation on sustainable development.