December 1, 2021

HMM: China’s disappearing ships: The latest headache for the global supply chain.

Analysts think they’ve found the culprit: China’s Personal Information Protection Law, which took effect November 1. It requires companies that process data to receive approval from the Chinese government before they can let personal information leave Chinese soil — a rule that reflects the fear in Beijing that such data could end up in the hands of foreign governments.

The law doesn’t mention shipping data. But Chinese data providers might be withholding information as a precaution, according to Anastassis Touros, AIS network team leader at Marine Traffic, a major ship-tracking information provider.

“Whenever you have a new law, we have a time period where everyone needs to check out if things are okay, ” Touros said.

Other industry experts have more clues of the law’s influence. Cook said that colleagues in China told her that some AIS transponders were removed from stations based along Chinese coastlines at the start of the month, at the instruction of national security authorities. The only systems allowed to remain needed to be installed by “qualified parties.”

Unintended consequence of Beijing’s new privacy law, or another power play by Xi?

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): This seems potentially much more nefarious to me.

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