China to appoint Unicom CEO Liu to head new data office sources

By Julie Zhu, Kevin Huang and Jane Xu

HONG KONG (Reuters) – China is considering appointing the CEO of state-owned telecommunications giant China Unicom, Liu Liehong, to head its new national data office, four sources said, charging him with efforts to make the country a digital superpower.

Liu, 54, an electronics and information technology veteran who is also chairman of China Unicom, will take over as head of the National Data Bureau in the coming days, the sources told Reuters.

China announced plans for the data office in March as part of a sweeping government reshuffle. His responsibilities will include planning China’s digital economy as well as sharing and developing the country’s data resources, promoting smart cities and exchanging information resources between industries.

Its formation is part of efforts to realize President Xi Jinping’s vision of a “digital China”, where data is managed alongside labor and capital as a key economic driver. The country has also cracked down on data security, putting in place new restrictions in areas such as information exports.

In February, China unveiled a plan for the country to lead digital development globally by 2035.

The office will be a vice-ministerial level regulator, a sign of its political prominence, three sources said, putting it on par with China’s National Antimonopoly Bureau, whose status was elevated in 2021 during a strong antitrust crackdown.

Some staff from the NDRC’s High-Tech Innovation and Development Department, which is responsible for China’s big data strategy, will be transferred to the new data office, the three sources said.

China’s internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), will also transfer staff to the data office, a source said.

The State Council Information Office, which handles media inquiries on behalf of the government, did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.

The NDRC and CAC also did not immediately respond.

The Hong Kong-listed arm of China Unicom said in a response to Reuters it would make an announcement on the city’s stock exchange if there was a change in the company’s board or management structure. Company.

“Whether Mr. Liu Liehong will assume a role in the National Data Bureau will be subject to the decision of the PRC government,” he added.


Hailing from Chengdu City in Sichuan Province, Liu has over three decades of experience in the electronics and computer industry. The relatively low-key technocrat cut his teeth at a public research institute as an engineer in 1990.

He then worked for the state-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) in 2004 and rose through the ranks to become its chairman five years later.

In 2018, Liu was appointed vice-head of the ACC. Two years later, he became deputy minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, where he managed 5G projects, according to local media.

He was elevated to an elite position in the ruling Communist Party, becoming an alternate member of the party’s new Central Committee at its twice-a-decade congress last year.

(Reporting by Julie Zhu, Kevin Huang and Jane Xu; Editing by Brenda Goh and Sam Holmes)

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