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China Locks Information on the Country Inside a Black Box

WSJ – Restrictions on Wind database and other information channels add to campaign to curb foreign influence: “China’s party-state, long steeped in secrecy, is creating a black box around information on the world’s second-largest economy, alarming global businesses and investors. Prodded by President Xi Jinping’s emphasis on national security, authorities in recent months have restricted or outright cut off overseas access to various databases involving corporate-registration information, patents, procurement documents, academic journals and official statistical yearbooks. Of extra concern in recent days: Access to one of the most crucial databases on China, Shanghai-based Wind Information Co., whose economic and financial data are widely used by analysts and investors both inside and outside the country, appears to be drying up. Following recent expansion of China’s anti-espionage law, aimed at fighting perceived foreign threats, many foreign think tanks, research firms and other nonfinancial entities are finding they can’t renew subscriptions to Wind over what Wind described as “compliance” issues, according to interviews with Western researchers and macroeconomic analysts. A Wind service representative said in an email response that customers who want to renew their contracts need to contact their account managers. The representative didn’t elaborate. The increased restrictions on information come as Beijing has embarked on a campaign to scrutinize and pressure Western management consultants, auditors and other service providers that multinational companies rely on to assess risks in China. The two-pronged approach is part of a broader effort to tighten the Communist Party’s control on how the rest of the world forms its views on China, according to business executives who have consulted with Chinese authorities. It is also an effort to essentially close off China from foreign influence, they say…”

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