Ships In Chinese Territory Go Missing From The Tracking System

In the latest development for the global supply chain, vessels from Chinese waters are gradually vanishing from the industry tracking system. Laura He, a reporter of CNN, mentioned in an opinion piece for CNN said that analysts and researchers have observed a reduction in shipping traffic toward October end, as China is set to enforce legislation governing its data privacy.

China’s wishes to retain complete control over information and data within the borders is not a surprise, as President Xi Jinping continues reasserting the dominance of the ruling Communist Party in every aspect of society.

The country continues to struggle to achieve economic self-sufficiency as it encounters external threats like the US sanctions on its technologies.

cargo ship sunset

Xi Jinping elaborated on self-reliance goals in the years during and before a bitter trade and tech war with Donald Trump. That is the point, for instance, of “Made in China 2025,” an aspiring plan to drive the manufacturing industry into more enhanced technological fields.

Generally, shipping data enterprises can track vessels worldwide as they come fitted with Automatic Identification Systems, popular as AIS, transceivers.

The system permits vessels to transmit information to stations based along the coastlines making use of high-frequency radio. Whenever a vessel is not in the range of the earmarked stations, the information can be transmitted via satellites.

But that is not happening in China, the second-largest economy in the world. Over the past three weeks, the no. of vessels transmitting signals has leapt by almost 90 per cent, per data from VesselsValue, an international shipping data provider.

On the other hand, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has informed CNN Business that AIS stations along the Chinese coastlines legally constructed per international treaties haven’t been shut down and continue to operate as usual.

AIS platforms that are available publicly have also been functioning normally.

Analysts are thinking that the culprit has been caught: China’s Personal Information Protection Law, which has been implemented from 1 November. It ensures that companies processing data receive approval from the government of China before revealing any personal information beyond Chinese soil, reported Laura.

The law does not talk about shipping data. But data providers in China could be withholding information as a precautionary measure, per Anastassis Touros, the AIS team leader at Marine Traffic, a ship-tracking information enterprise.

Cook has reportedly said that her colleagues in China have told that a few AIS transponders had been removed from the stations that were based along the coastlines of China at the beginning of the month following the instructions of the national security authorities. The only systems permitted to remain needed to be deployed by the “qualified parties”.

It is not like the data is gone entirely. Satellites can still manage to capture signals from vessels. But Touros has said that when a vessel is near the shore, the information captured in space is not as effective as what is received on the ground.

As Christmas is around the corner, a loss or lack of information from China — home to six of 10 of the busiest ports in the world – could result in more issues for the unsettled global shipping sector.

Supply chains are under immense pressure in 2021 as super congested ports strive to cope up with the rebounding need for commodities.


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