China TMT - Bi-monthly Update - January and February 2024 Issue

This newsletter summarises the latest developments in Technology, Media, and Telecommunications in China with a focus on the legislative, enforcement and industry developments in this area.

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Key Highlights

In early 2024, we have seen important legislative developments in state secrets protection, artificial intelligence (“AI”), carbon peak, and radio regulation.

On state secrets protection, the Chinese legislature has approved amendment, in particular clarifying the conditions for sharing confidential surveying and mapping data with overseas entities and reinforcing national security protection measures.

On AI, we have witnessed not only further policy guidance and standardization efforts but also strengthened regulation regarding AI-generated content. This is exemplified by the first Chinese case involving infringement by a generative AI platform, which was heard by the Guangzhou Internet Court.

On carbon peak, China implemented enhanced carbon trading and emission management policies to support industries' shift towards low-carbon operations, contributing to environmental protection and sustainable development.

Furthermore, the updated regulations and national standards in radio management adapt to the rapid progress in communication technologies, ensuring the effective use of radio spectrum resources and maintaining electromagnetic environmental safety.

These initiatives reflect China's commitment to technological innovation and environmental sustainability and establish new benchmarks for industry development.

Follow the links below to view the official policy documents or public announcements.

Legislative Developments

1. The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress adopted the second revision to the Law on the Preservation of State Secrets (27 February)

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress adopted the second revision of the Law on the Preservation of State Secrets. This update aims to formalize the strategies, actions, and learned lessons in maintaining secrecy since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party into law, thereby enhancing the quality of work in safeguarding secrets. The revised law specifies that identifying a secret should adhere to principles of necessity and rationality, undergo scientific assessment, and be adjusted promptly as situations evolve.

2. The Ministry of Natural Resources issued the Measures for the Administration of Providing Confidential Surveying and Mapping Results to the Public (Draft for Public Comments) (22 February)

The Ministry of Natural Resources of China issued the draft version of Management Measures for Providing Confidential Surveying and Mapping Results to Foreign Entities for public comments. The proposed measures set clear guidelines on the prerequisites for sharing confidential surveying and mapping results, outlines the necessary approval procedures, and details the requirements for confidentiality agreements. Its purpose is to ensure that such sensitive information is shared securely and appropriately in international collaborations.

3. MIIT released the Guidelines for Developing a Comprehensive Standardization System for the National Artificial Intelligence Industry (Draft for Public Comments) (18 January)

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology(“MIIT”) recently released the Guidelines for Developing a Comprehensive Standardization System for the National Artificial Intelligence Industry (Draft for Public Comments). The guidelines are geared towards fostering high-quality growth in the AI sector and speeding up the creation of a comprehensive set of standards. They outline clear objectives for establishing standards by 2026 and emphasize the critical need for an updated and thorough AI industry standards system in response to the fast pace of new technology development.

4. The Ministry of Science and Technology issued the Ethical Guidelines for Brain-Computer Interface Research (2 February)

The guidelines mandate that all brain-computer interface research be conducted within the bounds of the law, emphasizing the importance of social value in research. They require researchers to obtain explicit, written consent from participants or their legal guardians, safeguard personal and privacy information, and implement rigorous safety measures. Additionally, the guidelines underline the necessity for researchers in this field to have adequate professional qualifications, including specific training in skills and ethics.

5. MIIT amended the Regulations on the Administration of Telecommunication Equipment Network Access and the Regulations on the Administration of Non-commercial Internet Information Services Registration (18 January)

The MIIT has updated the Regulations on the Administration of Telecommunication Equipment Network Access and the Regulations on the Administration of Non-commercial Internet Information Services Registration, effective from 18 January 2024. These amendments are designed to bolster the oversight of telecommunication devices and internet information services. Highlights of the revisions include stricter penalties for certain offenses like the fabrication of network access licenses, along with a more detailed outline of the registration management procedures and criteria. Additionally, the updates involve a rebranding of the “Ministry of Information Industry” to the “Ministry of Industry and Information Technology” and a shift from “commercial departments” to “Administrations for Market Regulation.”

6. MIIT released the Management Regulations for Amateur Radio Stations, effective 1 March 2024 (18 January)

This comprehensive update overhauls several key areas, such as the management of stations and call signs, the verification of users’ operational technical skills, and the regulations for the establishment and use of these stations. The regulations are structured to cover a wide range of aspects, from licensing to maintaining proper radio wave discipline. The regulations place particular emphasis on the rules for minors setting up radio stations and on refining the criteria for assessing operational skills, all aimed at enhancing the framework governing amateur radio operations.

7. MIIT seeks comments on the proposed revisions to six mandatory national standards (19 January)

The MIIT seeks comments on the proposed revisions to six mandatory national standards, which concern the automotive and radio sectors. The standards up for review cover a range of important topics, including fuel consumption measurement and limits for motorcycles and mopeds, braking performance standards for these vehicles, visibility requirements for drivers of light vehicles, and specifications for the automatic emergency braking systems in both light and heavy vehicles. Additionally, there's a standard addressing the electromagnetic environmental requirements for aeronautical radio navigation stations.

8. State Council issued the Interim Regulations on the Management of Carbon Emission Trading (4 February)

The State Council issued the Interim Regulations on the Management of Carbon Emission Trading, set to take effect on 1 May 2024. These regulations lay down a comprehensive framework for carbon emission trading, outlining the principles for management, the roles of supervisory organizations, the scope, and participants of trading, as well as the modes of transaction. A strong emphasis is placed on ensuring the reliability, completeness, and accuracy of carbon emission data. It tightens the management of technical service providers, and increases penalties for rule violations to guarantee a carbon trading market that is transparent, equitable, and impartial.

9. MIIT released the Guidelines for Building a Standard System for Carbon Peaking and Carbon Neutrality in the Industrial Sector (21 February)

These guidelines are designed to lay the groundwork for accurate carbon assessment and effective emission reductions in the industry by developing and refining relevant standards. By 2025, the aim is to have an initial framework of standards in place, with more than 200 critical standards developed. The vision extends to 2030, by which time a comprehensive set of standards is expected to be established, ensuring that key industries are fully covered.

10. MOHURD issued the Interim Measures for the Management of Science and Technology Innovation Platforms (18 February)

The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development(“MOHURD”) issued the Interim Measures for the Management of Science and Technology Innovation Platforms, outlining comprehensive management protocols for these platforms, from their inception and construction to their operation and evaluation. The measures stress the importance of strategic planning, prioritization, teamwork in innovation, and the sharing of resources. With the establishment of key laboratories and engineering technology innovation centres, the initiative seeks to spearhead the sustainable growth of urban and rural areas, support the achievement of carbon reduction targets, and encourage the pursuit of high-quality developmental goals.

11. NAFR issued the Statistical System for Technology Insurance Business (29 January)

The National Administration of Financial Regulation(“NAFR”) recently issued the Statistical System for Technology Insurance Business. This system sets out clear definitions for what constitutes technology insurance and mandates the collection of data on how this insurance sector is performing. Property insurance companies are now required to report monthly on their technology insurance activities, including coverage they provide against risks in technological endeavours and for the parties undertaking these endeavours.

12. CNIPA has recently issued the draft of Administrative Review Procedures (Draft for Comments) for public comments (2 February)

China National Intellectual Property Administration (“CNIPA”) has recently issued the draft of Administrative Review Procedures (Draft for Comments) for public comments. This draft introduces several key revisions: firstly, it adjusts the scope of cases eligible for administrative review to align with recent institutional reforms and functional changes; secondly, it updates the case acceptance, review, and decision-making procedures to comply with the latest amendments to the Administrative Review Law; thirdly, it clarifies the reviewability of administrative actions under the revised intellectual property laws and regulations; and lastly, it includes new provisions to meet the practical demands of the CNIPA's administrative review operations.

13. TC260 released the draft of Information Security Technology Cloud Computing Service Security Capability Assessment Method (Draft for Comments) (4 February)

The National Technical Committee on Cybersecurity of Standardization Administration of China (“TC260”) released the draft of Information Security Technology Cloud Computing Service Security Capability Assessment Method (Draft for Comments) for public comments. This draft provides a comprehensive framework, detailing the principles, procedures, and methods for assessing security aspects of cloud computing services. Designed for third-party evaluators, it serves as a guide to assess the security preparedness of cloud service providers.

14. MIIT and two other departments issued the Guidelines for the Construction of a Technical Standards System for Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology (12 January)

The MIIT, the Cyberspace Administration of China (“CAC”), and the Standardization Administration released the Guidelines for the Construction of a Technical Standards System for Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology. The guidelines aim to shape the future of blockchain and distributed ledger technology by defining clear standards that encompass foundational elements, technological platforms, application services, development and operations, and security measures.

15. Shenzhen Municipal Development and Reform Commission released the Interim Measures for the Management of Major Scientific and Technological Infrastructure in Shenzhen (Draft for Comments) (2 February)

The Shenzhen Municipal Development and Reform Commission recently released the draft of Interim Measures for the Management of Major Scientific and Technological Infrastructure in Shenzhen (Draft for Comments) for public comments. These measures aim to regulate the construction and management of major scientific and technological infrastructure, ensuring its efficient and orderly operation. The measures consist of eight chapters and forty articles, covering general principles, division of responsibilities, decision-making management, construction management, operation management, asset management, supervision management, and supplementary provisions, etc.

16. The Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region issued the Several Measures for Promoting the Development of General Artificial Intelligence in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (7 February)

The Governance Service and Data Management Bureau of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, among four departments, issued the Several Measures for Promoting the Development of General Artificial Intelligence in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, aimed at accelerating the development and application of general artificial intelligence technology in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The policy focuses on five main aspects: enhancing computing power supply capability, improving data supply levels, actively participating in technology research, promoting innovative scenario applications, and strengthening organizational implementation and policy support.

Enforcement Developments

17. Guangzhou Internet Court announced the verdict for the first domestic case of infringement dispute involving an AIGC service provider (26 February)

The Guangzhou Internet Court recently issued a landmark ruling globally regarding the infringement of copyright by generative AI service provider. In this case, a certain AI company utilized its AI service to generate images substantially similar to the character “Ultraman” without authorization from the copyright holder. The court found that this action violated the plaintiff’s rights to reproduction and adaptation, and the company failed in its duty as a provider of AI-generated content services under the Interim Measures for the Management of Generative Artificial Intelligence Services. Consequently, the company was ordered to cease infringement and compensate for damages. This case not only clarifies the legal status and responsibilities of generative AI service providers in cases of infringement but also serves as an important precedent for future similar technology infringement cases.

18. CAC released information on the fourth batch of deep synthesis service algorithm filings (18 February)

The CAC released information on the fourth batch of deep synthesis service algorithm filings. A total of 266 algorithms were officially filed, covering a variety of types such as image generation, video generation, digital humans, and intelligent dialogue. These algorithms are widely used in industries such as education, gaming, e-commerce, and more. The filed algorithms originate from several internet giants, as well as various smartphone and home appliance manufacturers, demonstrating the widespread application and development potential of deep synthesis technology across various fields.

19. Multiple CAs prompted that unregistered apps will be taken off the shelves and shut down from 1 April (e.g., Hubei, Guangdong, Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia, Hebei) (19 February - 22 February)

Various local Communications Administrations (“CA”) issued reminders through media channels to make it clear that starting from 1 April this year, domestic mobile internet applications (including APPs, mini-programs, and quick applications) that have not completed the filing procedures on time will be dealt with according to the Anti-Telecom and Internet Fraud Law, Internet Information Service Management Regulations, and other legal requirements. Legal measures such as removal and shutdown will be taken. Network access service providers, application distribution platforms, and smart terminal manufacturers must fully implement the “file first, then provide service” requirement. They must not provide network access, distribution, or pre-installation services for unregistered APPs, to ensure the regulated and healthy development of the internet industry, and to safeguard network security and public interest.

20. The Intellectual Property Court of the Supreme People’s Court recently released the ten most influential cases and 100 typical cases on its fifth anniversary (23 February)

The Intellectual Property Court of the Supreme People’s Court recently released the ten most influential cases and 100 typical cases on its fifth anniversary. These typical cases were selected from 15,710 technology-related intellectual property and monopoly cases, covering multiple fields such as information and communication, artificial intelligence, traditional Chinese medicine, mechanics, and materials. These cases involve leading domestic and international market enterprises and core technologies, with more than one-fifth of the cases featuring international elements.

21. Supreme People’s Court issues typical cases of cross-border telecommunication network fraud and its associated crimes (7 February)

The Supreme People’s Court released 8 typical cases of cross-border telecom and internet fraud and its related crimes. These cases include various forms of crimes such as organizing others to smuggle, infringing upon citizens' personal information, and telecom and internet fraud. The defendants involved range from the primary members and key personnel of cross-border telecom and internet fraud crimes to individuals providing support to the criminal groups.

22. Heilongjiang Provincial Administration for Market Supervision published ten typical cases of false and illegal advertisements in 2023 (7 February)

The Heilongjiang Provincial Administration for Market Supervision published ten typical cases of false and illegal advertising in 2023 on February 7th, intensifying the supervision of false and illegal advertisements, especially in key areas such as medical treatment, pharmaceuticals, food, agricultural resources, tourism, and education and training. These ten cases include advertisements for traditional Chinese medicine hospitals that falsely claim therapeutic effects, illegal publication of prescription drug advertisements, improper use of the national flag, and illegal advertisements for food and tourism services.

23. NMPA published five typical cases of illegal and non-compliant online drug sales (fourth batch) (15 January)

National Medical Products Administration (“NMPA”) announced five typical cases of illegal and non-compliant online drug sales (fourth batch). These cases cover illegal activities such as operating without a license and selling counterfeit drugs, involving individuals through social media platforms, merchants on e-commerce platforms, and cases of manufacturing and selling counterfeit drugs. These cases collectively demonstrate the determination and actions of drug regulatory departments in strengthening drug safety and combating illegal and non-compliant online drug sales activities, aimed at ensuring the medication safety and health of the public.

24. CAC notified several typical cases of investigation and handling of illegal platform accounts in the category of life services (8 January)

The CAC announced a series of typical cases of illegal and non-compliant activities on life service platforms during the “Clear and Bright: Rectification of Information Content on Life Service Platforms” special operation. Actions included shutting down platforms and accounts that funnelled traffic to offline illegal activities, strictly managing the dissemination of illegal and harmful information on map navigation, practical tools, and health information platforms, seriously investigating e-commerce platforms and stores spreading illegal marketing information, legally penalizing platforms publishing superstitious information, focusing on rectifying the presentation of illegal information in search results, and cracking down on the promotion of recruiting online trolls.

25. MIIT and other 10 departments launched the “Signal Upgrade” special operation (3 January)

The MIIT, along with eleven other departments, issued a notice on conducting a special operation called “Signal Upgrade.” The initiative aims to accelerate the deep coverage of mobile networks, improve network quality, optimize user experience, and support the digital transformation needs of key industries. By the end of 2025, the plan is to achieve deep coverage of mobile networks in more than 120,000 key locations and 200 subway lines, significantly enhancing the depth and breadth of 5G network coverage. The operation focuses on promoting upgrades in signal, perception, security, and capability to provide higher quality network services to users and support the high-quality economic and social development.

26. MIIT published the 2023 typical cases of joint construction and sharing of telecommunications infrastructure (23 February)

The MIIT recently published the 2023 typical cases of joint construction and sharing of telecommunications infrastructure, totalling 50 cases. Examples include “Government and enterprise jointly promoting the joint construction and sharing of a 4G/5G dedicated network along the Jizheng High-speed Railway Liaocheng section,” “Beilong Lake Financial Island 5G comprehensive solution,” “5G large-scale shared spectrum dual-carrier deployment for ubiquitous gigabit connectivity,” and “Beijing Telecom 'dual gigabit' network joint construction and sharing case.”

27. MIIT published the Notice on the Quality of Telecommunications Services in the Fourth Quarter of 2023 (30 January)

The key tasks highlighted in the notice include improving the level of information and communication services, ensuring emergency communication, deepening the protection of APP users' rights, strengthening the management of unsolicited commercial electronic information, and conducting quality evaluations of services. The notice emphasizes the progress in making online business handling more convenient, elderly-friendly, and accessible modifications, as well as the effectiveness of communication guarantees in response to emergencies.

Industry Developments

28. MIIT and eight other departments released the Digital Transformation Work Plan for the Raw Materials Industry (2024 - 2026) (25 January)

The MIIT, along with eight other departments, released the Digital Transformation Work Plan for the Raw Materials Industry (2024—2026). The plan aims to promote the high-quality development of the raw materials industry. It sets specific goals such as reaching the international advanced level in some areas by 2025, breaking through a hundred leading-edge key technologies, and forming a hundred landmark products. The plan emphasizes the importance of digital transformation, intending to enhance the quality, efficiency, and competitiveness of the raw materials industry through the deep integration of digital technologies, thereby supporting high-quality economic development.

29. Zhejiang Province issued Several Opinions on Supporting the High-quality Development of the National-level Vehicle Networking Pilot Zone (Deqing, Zhejiang) (22 February)

Zhejiang Provincial Government recently issued Several Opinions on Supporting the High-quality Development of the National-level Vehicle Networking Pilot Zone (Deqing, Zhejiang). The document aims to promote the high-quality development of the vehicle networking pilot zone in Deqing, Zhejiang, through top-level design. It covers five major aspects: building an industrial technology innovation system, accelerating industrial development, strengthening public service capacity, deepening application promotion, and establishing a safeguard mechanism.

30. Shanghai Municipal Government supports five regions, including Pudong and Lingang, to create a cluster of productive Internet service platforms (30 January)

The Shanghai Municipal Government announced measures to support Pudong New Area and four other key areas in building clusters of productive Internet service platforms. The announcement involves the layout documents for five key areas: Pudong New Area, Baoshan District, Putuo District, Lin-gang Special Area, and Hongqiao International Central Business District.

31. MIIT and four other departments notified the launch of pilot projects for “integrated vehicle-road-cloud” applications for intelligent connected vehicles (17 January)

The MIIT, in conjunction with the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, and the Ministry of Transport, notified the launch of pilot projects for “integrated vehicle-road-cloud” applications for intelligent connected vehicles from 2024 to 2026. The plan aims to accelerate the development of the intelligent connected vehicle industry through the construction of city-level pilot projects with unified architecture and standards, advancing intelligent infrastructure and cloud platform construction, increasing the installation rate of vehicle terminals, and exploring new business models.

32. MIIT and six other departments issued the Implementation Opinions on Promoting the Innovation and Development of Future Industries (29 January)

The MIIT, along with six other departments, released Implementation Opinions on Promoting the Innovation and Development of Future Industries. The goal is to achieve steady technological innovation and industry scale in future industries by 2025 and strive to lead globally in certain areas by 2027. The focus is on developing future manufacturing, information, materials, energy, and other directions, with an emphasis on developing nuclear and hydrogen energy and establishing a complete energy equipment system.

33. SASAC held the meeting to promote the topic of artificial intelligence in central enterprises (22 February)

The State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (“SASAC”) held a special meeting titled “AI Empowerment, Industry Renewal” for central enterprises, aiming to implement the important directives of General Secretary Xi Jinping on artificial intelligence development and promote greater development and impact of central enterprises in the field of artificial intelligence. The meeting emphasized that central enterprises should actively embrace the transformation brought by AI, accelerate the development of the new generation of artificial intelligence, and focus on building artificial intelligence industry clusters to promote the intelligent transformation and high-quality development of traditional industries.

34. CAC released the report and casebook on the development of blockchain innovation and application (22 February)

The CAC released the China Blockchain Innovation Application Development Report (2023) and the Collection of China Blockchain Innovation Application Cases (2023). The report analyzes the overall development of blockchain innovation applications in China in 2023 from aspects such as top-level design, technological application, standard development, and ecosystem construction. The collection includes 66 blockchain innovation application cases, among which there are 10 outstanding cases and 56 typical cases, offering references for various regions and industries to deeply promote the innovative development of blockchain.

35. MIIT published list of industrial Internet pilot demonstrations for 2023 (6 February)

The MIIT published the 2023 list of industrial internet pilot demonstration projects on February 6th. The list covers 24 pilot demonstration projects in seven categories: new technologies, factories, carriers, parks, networks, platforms, and security, including 7 industrial internets + large model pilot demonstration projects. These projects mainly focus on enterprise knowledge management systems based on industrial big models, intelligent production and operation management systems, innovative applications, intelligent efficiency centres, and artificial intelligence inspection and identification production lines.

36. Chinese Society of Automotive Engineering granted the first autonomous driving standard verification base (30 January)

The China Society of Automotive Engineers officially granted the first autonomous driving standard verification base, marking the formal establishment of the Intelligent Driving and Active Safety Evaluation Technology Innovation Centre at the China Automotive Research and Development East China Headquarters. Relying on the Suzhou Yangcheng Peninsula Intelligent Connected Test Base, the centre focuses on technological innovation in intelligent driving and active safety evaluation. It will establish a comprehensive evaluation system for integrated intelligent connected vehicles and high-level autonomous driving, driving the implementation of vehicle-road-cloud integration. This initiative provides robust support for the healthy and sustainable development of China’s intelligent connected vehicle industry.

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