Four mega clusters of data centres are to be constructed in northern and western China, with plans approved by Beijing, Reuters reported. The country’s top state planner announced that this move aims at supporting the data needs of Chinese authority and major coastal centres.

The four locations for these clusters include northern Inner Mongolia region, northwestern Ningxia region, Gansu province and southwestern Guizhou province, as specified by the National Development and Reform Commission in four separate statements.

However, according to Reuters, how China would transform western and northern regions such as Ningxia and Gansu, which are located 1,000 km (600 miles) from the coast, into actively operating centres of computing power, remains questionable, given the data latency induced by enormous distances to data users in the east.

As stated in a 2021-2025 plan by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released in November, China seeks to enlarge its big data industry into a more than 3 trillion yuan (US$470 billion) sector in 2025 by constructing several clusters of data centres.

The plan to build four new mega clusters of data centres develops as it is difficult for energy-hungry ones located in China’s east to expand because of electricity consumption limits imposed by local governments.

Data has increasingly attracted Beijing’s interest and also worries, together with a boom in the number of Internet users and online activities in China today. Year 2021 was marked with an unprecedented crackdown on Internet industries by the ruling Communist Party.

Earlier this year, Chinese authorities approved a law imposing some of the world’s strictest controls on private sector handling of information about individuals. The law, which took effect on Nov. 1, appeared not to affect the ruling party’s pervasive surveillance or access to those corporate data, according to AP.

The Chinese Communist Party has also been accused of using data collected about Uyghurs and other members of predominantly Muslim ethnic groups in Xinjiang to execute a widespread campaign of repression, AP added.

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