China defends internet sovereignty: Reports

Speaking at the World Internet Conference in China, the country's President Xi Jinping defended his nation's strict internet regulations and urged all countries to jointly build a community of shared future in cyberspace.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

China's President Xi Jinping believes that countries must not interfere in the internal affairs of others and that internet sovereignty should be in the hands of each individual nation, Bloomberg reported.

Speaking at the second annual World Internet Conference in China, Xi is reported to have said that cyberspace must not become a "battlefield" between states, calling for greater cooperation on punishing cyber attacks and fighting terrorism.

"We should respect every country's own choice of their internet development path and management model, their internet public policy and the right to participate in managing international cyberspace," Xi said in his speech. "There should be no cyber-hegemony, no interfering in others' internal affairs, no engaging, supporting or inciting cyber-activities that would harm the national security of other countries."

Local media reported that Xi said countries have the right to independently choose how they will tread the path of cyber development, as well as issue their own regulations and public policies.

The president is also reported to have defended his nation's strict control of websites, telling the audience in China on Wednesday that it was actually necessary to keep public order.

Popular social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, for example, are blocked in the country, with a pilot free-trade zone active in Shanghai in the past which allows access to such content, although still heavily restricted. Services including Microsoft Outlook and Gmail have also been banned.

Earlier this month it was announced that Google had quietly set up Pengji Information Technology (Shanghai) Ltd inside the free-trade zone which may see the US tech giant pursuing a return to the country by launching a GooglePlay store for China which agrees to comply with the local laws on filtering content.

"As long as you obey the Chinese law, we warmly welcome enterprises and entrepreneurs from every other country to invest in China," Xi said. "We are willing to strengthen cooperation with others to develop ecommerce, build information economy pilot zones, in an effort to push global digital economic growth."

During his keynote speech on Wednesday, Xi is also reported to have called for all countries to jointly build a community of shared future in cyberspace.

Local media reported that the president believes cyberspace is now the common space of mankind, with the future of cyberspace laying in the hands of all nations. Xi is reported to have said that countries should step up communication, broaden consensus, and deepen cooperation between one another.

"China stands ready to work with all parties concerned to come up with more investment and technical support to jointly advance the building of global cyber infrastructure and enable more developing countries and their people to share the development opportunities brought by the internet," Xi said. "All countries should work together to contain the abuse of information technology, oppose cyber surveillance and cyber attacks and reject arms race in cyberspace."

In September, US president Barack Obama and Xi established "a high-level joint dialogue mechanism on fighting cybercrime and related issues".

On behalf of their respective nations, Xi and Obama said they would also establish "a hotline for the escalation of issues that may arise" while responding to requests for cooperation in investigations of cyber incidents. The pair agreed to hold the first meeting of this joint dialogue before the end of 2015, and then twice a year.

"The United States and China agree that neither country's government will conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors," the White House said.

"Both sides are committed to making common effort to further identify and promote appropriate norms of state behaviour in cyberspace within the international community."

Earlier this year, China introduced a fresh wave of cybersecurity legislation to further tighten its grip on the county's information technology structure and further localise the use of tech products.

It was alleged earlier this month that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology had experienced a data breach at the hands of Chinese attackers.

In June this year, China was initially blamed as the source of an attack on the US Office of Personnel Management, which saw the personal details of over 22 million current, former, and prospective federal employees stolen; whilst US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton told her Democratic party supporters that China is "trying to hack into everything that doesn't move in America" and stealing government information.

Editorial standards