China Agrees to Clarify Cross-Border Data Transfer Rules, EU President Says

12 Dec 2023

By Wang Liwei and Wang Xintong

What’s new: China has expressed to the European Commission its willingness to set up a mechanism to clarify rules on cross-border data transfers, the bloc’s president said, as ambiguities have caused headaches for companies from member states operating in the country.

Ursula von der Leyen made the remarks at a press conference earlier this week as she was wrapping up her visit to Beijing for the first face-to-face gathering of Chinese and EU leaders in four years.

Von der Leyen said she welcomed China’s willingness to create such a mechanism and acknowledged it would be “a big improvement for European companies” doing business in China. But she called on Beijing to make concrete progress in this regard.

The background: Last month, a European business group called on Beijing to clarify cross-border data transfer regulations it considers too vague or too strict, creating challenges such as higher costs for companies doing business in China.

In recent years, China has stepped up efforts to protect data security, setting up a legal regime for data exports. Starting September last year, companies seeking to transfer data overseas must apply for a security assessment from the country’s top cybersecurity watchdog if they trigger regulatory thresholds.

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