European Union Businesses Concerned About China’s Data Laws, Says European Commission Vice President

European Union businesses are expressing concerns over China’s data laws, citing “lack of clarity” and the time-consuming processes involved, said European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova. China recently expanded its counter-espionage law, which now prohibits the transfer of any information related to national security and interests without clear definitions of those terms. The definition of spying has also broadened to include cyberattacks against state organs or critical infrastructure.

President Xi Jinping’s focused approach on national security has caused uncertainty among foreign companies, particularly consultancies and due diligence firms, as they are unsure about the legal boundaries. Jourova emphasized the need for clear definitions, such as what constitutes important data, and clarity on how the law could be violated. She also highlighted the lengthy procedural matters, which can take up to 45 days or even longer in some cases.

During the EU-China High-level Digital Dialogue, Jourova co-chaired the event and stated the intention of proposing an information link to help EU businesses understand the law and ensure compliance. While China is considered a partner and competitor in the digital realm, it has also emerged as a systemic rival. Jourova stressed the importance of maintaining open communication channels between China and Europe even in cases of disagreement.

It was reported that in late July, the Chinese commerce ministry briefed representatives from various foreign firms, including those from the US, Japan, South Korea, and Europe, on the new anti-espionage law. The ministry stated that China is committed to creating a fair, transparent, and predictable business environment.

Sources: Reuters