China plans its first ‘free data port’ in Guangzhou as Beijing eyes total control over cross-border information flows
- The Nansha International Data Free Trade Port will be the country’s trial project for cross-border data transfer
- The project is expected to play an important role in future data exchanges between China and the outside world amid tighter regulations
China is building its first “free trade port for data” with an investment of 31.8 billion yuan (US$5 billion) in Nansha, Guangzhou city as part of the country’s efforts to build up controllable cross-border information flows, according to state media outlet Nanfang Daily on Friday.
The Nansha International Data Free Trade Port, identified as a key digital infrastructure project by local and state governments last year, will be the country’s trial project for cross-border data transfer, powered by a global network of undersea cables planned for the district, according to the report.
The project is expected to play an important role in future data exchanges between China and the outside world. Hong Kong is traditionally a data centre hub for many multinational companies, which have historically put servers in the city to run data gathered from mainland operations. However, China’s rigid control of data flows and recent changes in regulations including mandatory local storage of sensitive data, is bringing change to this practice.
The local authority of Nansha district signed partnership deals on Thursday with digital infrastructure company China Aviation Cloud and several banks to start building the 450-acre data port, which is expected to be put into operation by 2025.