China rises as world’s data superpower as internet fractures

China rises as world’s data superpower as internet fractures

Asian ‘data sphere’ gives the country twice the information flows of the US

TOKYO — Back in 2001, the U.S. was the dominant country when it came to cross-border data flows. It was the early days of the internet boom, and America was where tech companies and tech-savvy consumers were.

But the global data order is changing rapidly.

China now accounts for 23% of cross-border data flows, nearly twice the share of the U.S., which ranks a distant second with 12%.

And the Chinese lead could turn into a dominant advantage as the formerly world-spanning internet shatters into the “splinternet”: a balkanized mosaic of information networks marked off by national borders.

A Nikkei survey of information on cross-border data flows from the International Telecommunication Union and U.S. research firm TeleGeography showed that cross-border data flows of China, including Hong Kong, in 2019 far outstripped any of the other 10 countries and regions examined, including the U.S.