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China to build a system integrating data and information resources

Hu Yongqi
Updated: Dec 13,2016 7:30 AM     China Daily

The central government will promote the sharing of data and information to build an integrated, connected and secure data system for the nation, a move that experts believe will boost efficiency and expand market opportunities.

This was part of the Guideline on State Informatization for the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), which was approved at a State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang on Dec 7.

According to a statement released after the meeting, barriers to sharing information will be overcome to establish an integrated, connected and secure system for the nation’s data resources by interconnecting information systems between different government departments and accelerating the process of publicizing data for the public.

According to four major targets set in the guideline, the country will strengthen broadband in rural areas while further reducing costs, build a system to monitor and tackle information security and promote 12 priority projects, including 5th-generation telecommunication technologies. Meanwhile, online scammers will be the focus of a severe crackdown and sterner punishment as the guideline also set a goal to contain such frauds.

Informatization and digitalization have great significance to the national strategies of “Made in China 2025” and innovation, as well as improving people’s livelihood, the statement said.

Data sharing is fundamental to the development of informatization in the internet era, and the guideline showed the country’s determination to overcome the barriers and closely connect core data and information, said Ning Jiajun, a consultant for the Advisory Committee for State Informatization. He added that this will probably speed up the informatization process.

At present, most of the core data is being controlled by key government departments, which has created “artificial walls and isolated islands” to obstruct distribution and sharing of data and information, said Ning.

Zhang Lin is a 22-year-old senior student majoring in public management in Beijing. He complained of the difficulty of finding governmental records to complete his graduation thesis on urban affordable housing.

“In my first proposal, I wanted to write on the costs and benefits of providing low-income people with affordable apartments. However, I couldn’t find any public information on the cost. Then I had to adjust to the status quo of urban affordable housing, which my instructor thought was too general,” Zhang said.

“But that’s the only part of my specialized area I found specific information and data to support my thesis. My friend found all the records needed for his thesis for his master’s degree in New York, 90 percent of which was available online or in the library,” Zhang said.

As a country undergoing one of the most rapid developments of internet technology, China is encouraging the integration of the internet with other industries such as traditional manufacturing and agriculture. But huge amounts of data and information, which are being generated to help sellers find market opportunities, are still hidden from most people.

Sharing of data and information has also been a major concern for the Premier. At the opening ceremony of the China Big Data Summit in May in Guiyang, capital of Southwest China’s Guizhou province, Li said the government has 80 percent of data and information generated in the nation and will publicize more information, except that which is related to national security, commercial secrets and privacy. By doing this, the government can create a market of fair competition while integrating with the internet and big data to boost public services, he added.

The central government has been promoting the sharing of data and information as the State Council has held several executive meetings since November 2015 on integrating the internet with government services, aiming to simplify the process of approving applications by relocating the provision of services away from physical government buildings to online.

Data and broadband are infrastructure for online business and services, said Zhou Hanhua, a researcher on governmental information at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

“Some of us have entered the age of information but some have not, due to lack of a sharing mechanism between different departments. That should be altered to boost efficiency and make it simple for the public to get their applications done,” Zhou added.

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