EU-China relations


published: 15.02.2024

The increasing challenge of obtaining information from Xi's China

Obtaining crucial online information on China is becoming increasingly difficult for companies, governments and researchers alike. In a new MERICS Report, Vincent Brussee and Kai von Carnap look at the drivers and implications of disappearing data on China.

    They arrive at the following key findings:
  • While Beijing is becoming less forthcoming in sharing information with the public, it also requires third-party data providers to implement restrictions on foreign access.
  • Geopolitical tensions are a principal driver. China’s authorities are concerned that online information can be used in ways to harm its development or discredit its policies.
  • Technology policy seems to have the most rapidly increasing restrictions. Competition over science and technology is driving Beijing to reassess disclosure of key sources in this field.
  • Restrictions affect nearly every field of information, just to differing degrees.
  • Information will not disappear in its entirety. It is in China’s self-interest to continue to disclose a wide array of information to the public.

The authors conclude that more stringent curation of information sources will put a premium on interpretative quality. With fewer reliable sources available, global discussions of China will coalesce around a narrower evidence base.