2022 Student Research Project | Governing Data in Contemporary China: Laws, Digital Capacity, and the Formation of New Governmental Agencies

Supervisor: Zhaojin Zeng, Assistant Professor of History, Duke Kunshan University

Student Researcher

Yutong Shi is a junior at Duke Kunshan University, majoring in Cultures and Movements with the track of Cultural Anthropology, and interested in Journalism.

About the Project

Data has become one of the most important factors of production in the global economy today. In China, as the market and consumers are increasingly reliant on the digital economy, both firms and governments scramble to collect, control, and exploit data. How to regulate a data-driven economy becomes a pressing concern to government officials at multiple levels. This paper analyzes the data governance institutions in China through various case studies of provincial, municipal, and county-level governments. We examine the differences and similarities in their organizational structures, main functions and tasks, and interactions with other traditional governmental agencies. In particular, we look at how in the recent years the promulgation of various data-related laws, such as Personal Information Protection Law, Cybersecurity Law, and Data Security Law, has affected the formation of data governance institutions and their practices in regulating economic life. We demonstrate that the new laws combine existing governmental agencies to create a multi-level data governance infrastructure, which has fundamentally enhanced state capacity and enabled the government to more effectively confront a wide range of social and economic challenges.

Poster Presentation