Cracking China’s Data Code: A Guide to PIPL Compliance

China has been making waves in the world of data privacy since the introduction of the Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL). For foreign companies looking to do business in China, understanding and complying with this law is crucial.

The PIPL Lowdown

China’s Personal Information Protection Law is the first national-level law comprehensively regulating issues related to personal information protection. This law doesn’t just apply to Chinese companies; even foreign firms processing data of Chinese residents must comply, whether they’re operating inside or outside of China.

Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know:

  • Personal Information (PI): PI is any information related to an identified or identifiable natural person.
  • Consent: Consent is the primary mechanism for collecting and processing personal data under PIPL. But, there are exceptions where other lawful bases can be used.
  • Lawful Bases for Processing: These include consent, performance of a contract, compliance with legal obligations, protection of vital interests, public interest, and legitimate interests of the data controller or a third party.
  • Data Compliance: Companies in mainland China must set up a specialised agency or appoint a representative for data compliance.
  • PIPIA Report: This report assesses whether the processing of PI is lawful.

Foreign companies must align quickly with PIPL or face hefty fines and potential blacklisting.

Why is PIPL a Big Deal?

PIPL is groundbreaking. “China’s new Personal Information Protection Law represents the biggest shake-up of Chinese data privacy legislation in the nation’s history,” says payroll expert ADP.

China is serious about protecting user data. “China has instructed its tech giants to ensure better secure storage of user data, amid public complaints about mismanagement and misuse which have resulted in user privacy violations,” reports Reuters.

With its broad scope, PIPL is bound to have a massive impact beyond China. “With a broad extraterritorial scope grounded in national security interests, China’s first comprehensive data privacy law is bound to have a massive impact beyond the borders within which it was enacted,” states the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law.

GlobeTech’s Journey

Let’s take a fictitious example to understand the practical challenges a foreign company might face.

Once upon a time, in the UK, there was a company named GlobeTech Ltd. Renowned for its online educational platforms, GlobeTech decided to expand to China.

But the Chinese market was not without its challenges. GlobeTech had heard of the new Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) and knew they had to be careful.

GlobeTech sought legal counsel. They established an agency in mainland China and appointed a representative in Hong Kong for data compliance.

As they collected data, they asked for permission and explained how the data would be used. They also built a digital fortress around the data.

Through diligence and respect for the PIPL, GlobeTech triumphed. They successfully expanded to China, bringing education to millions.

This story, though fictitious, illustrates the steps that real-world companies might face in complying with China’s PIPL.

The Road Ahead

Understanding and respecting PIPL is essential for foreign businesses in China. “China’s new ‘Personal Information Protection Law’ aims to protect individuals, society, and national security from harms stemming from abuse and mishandling of personal information,” states the Brookings Institution.

To gain a deeper understanding, consider enrolling my Udemy course on China’sPersonal Information Protection Law, where you can learn about the intricacies of PIPL and its impact on foreign businesses.

Arm yourself with the knowledge needed to navigate the labyrinth of China’s PIPL!


  1. Reuters – China passes new personal data privacy law
  2. Columbia Journal of Transnational Law – The Personal Information Protection Law: China’s Version of the GDPR
  3. ADP – China PIPL vs GDPR: Similarities and Differences Explained
  4. CHEQ – China PIPL Compliance
  5. PwC – China PIPL rules impact
  6. Data Protection Report – PIPL: A game-changer for companies in China