Off the grid: Chinese data law adds to global shipping disruption

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  • China is a major global provider of port goods
  • AIS tracking is key to following ship movements in China
  • At least 45% drop in tracking data in recent days – Source
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LONDON/HONGKONG, Nov 17 (Businesshala) – Ships in Chinese waters are disappearing from tracking systems after the introduction of a new data law in China, a disappointing effort to ease the barriers affecting the global economy, according to three shipping sources. According to directly affected.

China’s personal information protection law, which went into effect on November 1, has added new rules designed to increase government control over how domestic and foreign organizations collect and export China’s data.

While there are no specific guidelines on shipping data in the rules, some domestic providers in China have stopped providing information to foreign companies as a direct result of the new rules, sources told Businesshala on Wednesday.

The data is relied upon to provide information about cargo volumes and help optimize logistics by predicting congestion so that companies can make important decisions on shipping routes.

A top global provider of maritime traffic, ship tracking and maritime intelligence, one of the foreign companies now facing gaps in critical shipping location data from China, where most of the world’s manufactured goods and some industrial goods are supplied, is Is.

“If this continues, there will be a huge impact in terms of global visibility, especially as we get into the busy Christmas period, with supply chains already facing huge problems all over the world,” MarineTraffic said Anastasis Turos, AIS Networks Team Leader.

“All of a sudden we don’t know when and where the ships are leaving, and we don’t even have the full picture on the port congestion that AIS offers us.”

The so-called Automatic Identification System (AIS) provides location status on ships. It is used by other ships, ports and banks and many other organizations of merchants for search and rescue operations.

A 90% drop in the level of terrestrial shipping data in all Chinese waters was forecast from 28 October to 15 November, according to market intelligence and valuation provider VesselsValue.

Charlotte Cook, Head Trade Analyst, said: “With China being a major importer of coal and iron ore and one of the main container exporters globally, this decline in positional data could lead to significant challenges related to ocean supply chain visibility.” “

Two other sources report terrestrial AIS data down to 45% in recent days.

An official from the Guangdong Maritime Safety Administration told Businesshala that the AIS rules were set by the department’s headquarters in Beijing. Calls to the Beijing office of the Maritime Security Administration were not answered.

Other Chinese officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A spokesman for the UN agency, the International Maritime Organization, which adopted the global AIS rules, did not comment when contacted.

AIS information is derived from continuous transmission and although it can be collected using satellite data, for heavily congested areas or locations where frequent updates are required, terrestrial data is needed.

It was not clear how AIS users would be able to monitor shipping activities if the data gap continues.

The lack of tracking capability comes at a time when COVID-19 has already exposed the fragility of global supply chains used for everything from food to fashion.

Increased demand for goods and a shortage of containers has caused port disruptions around the world, which makes AIS data even more important for determining schedule times for shipments from major suppliers in China.

Mainland China is home to six of the ten largest container ports in the world.

An employee of Allen Inc., a Beijing-based company that owns the AIS data platform with about 2.5 million users, told Businesshala that “all deals with foreign entities were halted recently”.

“Changes happened last month, we now only supply data to home users,” said the employee, who asked not to be identified.

Reporting by Jonathan Saul in London and Eduardo Baptista in Hong Kong; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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