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China plans laws for 'healthy' development of tech companies

Monopoly review, digital IDs and more on agenda in new plan from Central Committee and State Council

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the nation's State Council have sketched out a direction for new regulation of its technology industry – and indeed the entire nation.

An Implementation Outline for the Construction of a Government under the Rule of Law, published in full in State-controlled organ Xinhua offers the formulation by which the Communist Party of China intends to govern between now and 2025.

Among the tech-related plans are promotion of technological innovation, using digital technology to widen channels for public participation in lawmaking, infusing government decision-making with AI and big data, and improving law enforcement using information technology.

The document also calls for electronic identity authentication and use of electronic certificates and seals – in part to help with government service delivery.

The document also calls for a review of anti-trust laws and for research on China's digital economy, plus the fields of internet finance, AI, big data, and cloud computing. That research should "fill in the shortcomings and ensure the healthy development of new business forms and new models with good laws and good governance".

That's all but an admission that China's big technology companies have run ahead of local laws. Beijing has cracked down on Ant Group's finance ambitions and reined in the activities of other web giants – for reasons ranging from monopolistic tendencies to corrupting youth with computer games, offering smutty apps, loose data security, allowing offshore entities to access Chinese citizens' personal data, and even inappropriate karaoke.

The Council and Committee also call for improved government inspection capabilities, to ensure Beijing stays on top of organisations' activities.

The document's final point is that China needs better "public opinion propaganda" and research institutions that educate the public about how well the nation is governed.

Which seemingly guarantees the success of the policies the document outlines – regardless of their effectiveness. ®

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