China proposes new world order for cyberspace regulation

Our comics and games should flow. But no hacking, terrorism or US hegemony please


China has issued a “International Strategy of Cooperation on Cyberspace” in which it outlines rules it thinks should govern nations' online conduct.

The thrust of the document is that the world needs internet governance that respects sovereignty, reduces the likelihood of conflict and ensures no one nation can control cyberspace. China forcefully, and repeatedly, states its determination to bring about that state of affairs.

The document opens by stating “In the interconnected cyberspace, countries are bound together by intertwined interests. A secure, stable and prosperous cyberspace is of great significance to all countries and the world.”

China's preferred way to secure cyberspace starts with a suggestion that “Countries should reject the Cold War mentality, zero-sum game and double standards, uphold peace through cooperation and seek one's own security through common security on the basis of full respect for other countries' security.”

The document suggests that nations should enjoy sovereignty over the internet within their borders. That means “Countries should respect each other's right to choose their own path of cyber development, model of cyber regulation and internet public policies, and participate in international cyberspace governance on an equal footing.”

“No country should pursue cyber hegemony, interfere in other countries' internal affairs, or engage in, condone or support cyber activities that undermine other countries' national security.”

It also says “No country should use ICT to interfere in other countries' internal affairs or leverage its advantage to undermine the security of other countries' ICT product and service supply chain.”

China wants shared governance of the internet and thinks current bodies must reform to enable a new order. It will therefore “push for institutional reform of the UN Internet Governance Forum to enable it to play a greater role in internet governance, strengthen its decision-making capacity, secure steady funding, and introduce open and transparent procedures in its member election and report submission.”

China also wishes to “vigorously promote the reform of ICANN to make it a truly independent international institution, increase its representations and ensure greater openness and transparency in its decision-making and operation.”

Ears attuned to diplomatic language may be interested to know that the document says “China supports formulating universally accepted international rules and norms of state behavior in cyberspace within the framework of the United Nations, which will establish basic principles for states and other actors to regulate their behavior and intensify cooperation in order to uphold security, stability and prosperity in cyberspace.”

Talk of international rules evokes the unwritten pacts that (mostly) make wars and other aggressive action between nations are rare, at least without nations first having it out in various international debating forums. Talking of international rules therefore suggests China wants international dispute-resolution mechanisms a-plenty.

The document also calls for privacy to be respected, in part by educating businesses about how to secure customer data.

Some sections of the document nakedly describe initiatives that will benefit China. Section 9, for example, outlines a plan to increase Chinese soft power by helping to develop the nation's “animation, comic and games industry” to distribute its products and tailor them to foreign markets.

The document has been released to state-run media, in impeccable English should you like to consider the full text instead of The Register's summary. ®

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