China Law Podcast
China Law Podcast
Aug 28, 2020
Data War - China's Cross-Border Data Controls Compared with the EU, US - Dr Bo Zhao, Tilburg University School of Law
26 min

The rapid growth of the internet economy over recent years has ushered in a new frontier in the ongoing battle between the world’s biggest superpowers: that of data protection. With data being hailed by some as the oil of the 21st century, the battle between states and between companies is not just to see who can collect the most data, but also increasingly to see who can best protect their data from being collected by rival governments and market competitors. 

In this episode, Dr Bo Zhao draws on his comparative research background to share insights on China’s rules and regulations surrounding the cross-border transfer of data and how they compare with other jurisdictions, including the EU and the US. Moreover, we discuss what limits there are on the Chinese government to access data stored in China by Chinese and foreign companies. 

Dr Bo Zhao is a Senior Research Fellow at the Tilburg University School of Law in the Netherlands. Bo’s research covers comparative data privacy protection law, especially cross-border data protection and cybersecurity law and policy issues in China.

The China Law Podcast is a weekly podcast exploring China’s business and financial sectors from a legal perspective hosted by Vincent Chow. Get in touch at with any feedback and ideas for future episodes.

Episode outline

  • 01:22 History of China's data protection regime
  • 03:28 Significance and criticisms of PRC Cybersecurity Law
  • 05:00 The cross-border transfer of data and data localization
  • 06:29 Snowden scandal and its impact on China
  • 09:49 Data localization in other jurisdictions
  • 12:19 Data power and regime competition
  • 16:00 Beijing's access to data held by companies
  • 20:49 GDPR as a model for China's data protection framework

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