- China’s new personal information protection law has stopped domestic suppliers from sharing data about ship location and identity with foreign companies.
- Supply chains have fallen into disrepair when the congestion at seaports is extremely serious, in the context of a sudden increase in people’s demand for goods.
China’s new Law
China’s new personal information protection law, which took effect in November, has stopped domestic suppliers from sharing data about ship location and numbering with foreign companies.
Marine data companies can monitor ships worldwide through AIS (Automatic Identification System). This system allows ships to send information such as name, position, speed, route, etc, to monitoring stations, located along the coast using high-frequency radio waves.
China’s Foreign Ministry told CNN that AIS checkpoints along China’s coast, which were legally built under international laws, were still “operating normally.” However, China’s State Council Information Office did not respond to a question as to why maritime data providers could not access information from the country.
According to Charlotte Cook, a head trade analyst at VesselsValue, there is currently an industry-wide reduction in AIS signals in China. She explained: “In the past few weeks, terrestrial positions in China have reduced by nearly 90%. The count of vessels signalling in Chinese waters daily has dramatically reduced, from 100,000 vessels signalling per day on 28 October, to just over 15,000 on 17 November.
Massive impact on global supply chains
Ms. Cook added: “Terrestrial AIS signals typically provide the greatest data coverage and insight into shipping in Chinese ports, so this data decline could significantly impact ocean supply chain visibility across China, one of the world’s major importers of coal and iron ore and exporters of containers.”
With Christmas and New Year fast approaching, the loss of information from China, which owns six of the 10 largest seaports in the world, is likely to create more problems for the global shipping industry.
“As we get into the Christmas period, it will have a huge impact on supply chains, and that is the most important factor right now”, said Georgios Hatzimanolis, communications strategist at Marine Traffic. With the lack of data from China, companies will have a hard time determining when ships docked, unloaded, and then left. The global supply chain is facing a “huge pressure”.
Meanwhile, Anastassis Touros, AIS network team leader at MarineTraffic, said the update frequency and overall quality of terrestrial AIS data were “unmatched”, but emphasised the need for alternative data sources.
He told The Loadstar: “MarineTraffic continues to have high visibility in the area because of the resilient network it has built, allowing us to acquire this data through other means. This enables us to maintain visibility on commercial shipping activity.”