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11 Jul, 2013

China: US’ “double standards on global network security must end”

Author: Jia Xiudong, Edited and Translated by Zhang Qian

Beijing, (People’s Daily Online) July 10, 2013 – The Prism incident has exposed a worldwide problem of network security. Long-term, large-scale network monitoring and data theft by the United States in other countries has aroused international concern and provoked international reflection on network security rules. Few countries would now disagree on the importance of ensuring network security and the necessity of laying down cyberspace rules; however, international action on the matter remains indecisive, and little has been done.

Only a few short decades have passed since the birth of cyberspace – China, for example, has had access to the Internet for only 19 years. Certainly it will take time for the formulation of international rules to govern this new phenomenon, but time alone is not the full explanation for the deficiencies in international network security rules. Internet cyberspace is being treated as a new setting in which the network powers can play out their games of national interest; there are many disputes on core issues such as which rules are to be formulated, how they are to be developed, how network governance is to be realized in cyberspace, etc.

Due to its position as the leading network space superpower, America’s calculated self-interest has become the biggest factor affecting international network security rules. Motivated by ideology, considerations of national interest, and a drive to maintain a long-term dominance in network space technology for the purpose of strategic advantage, American action on some issues is extremely arbitrary.

This manifests itself in a one-sided emphasis on freedom of information, in attempts to break through all kinds of “Internet firewalls” in other countries, in a simplistic emphasis on business information security that leaves the back door open for network “Militarization”, in strict control over Internet rules that disregard the interests of developing countries, and in the division of network attacks into “good” and “bad” according to its own national security standards and its fight against terrorism. Network security as practiced by the United States is riddled with double standards.

To a great extent, cyberspace is a world without borders. The network security problem has quickly become a common challenge that faces all of humanity, as the maintenance of network space safety impacts on the mutual interests of all countries. It is a grave mistake for the United States to pursue its own absolute security in cyberspace by sacrificing the interests of other countries, and the denial of reasonable appeals for balance, in favor of the one-sided pursuit of its own national interests, is a position that cannot be sustained. From the perspective of humanity’s common destiny we should consider network space security and the need for international cooperation as the highest of principles.

The Chinese government favors four principles on network security issues which should be discussed and applied as the basis of international rules. The first is the sovereign principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. The second is the principle of peace in cyberspace and no arms race. The third is the principle of inclusiveness – respect for the equal right of less-developed countries to participate in network space governance. The fourth is the cooperative principle; building rules and regulations for network space with a win-win approach, and steering clear of any zero-sum game.

The United States cannot claim the final say over network security; nor can it claim the final say over the formulation of international network security rules. In September 2011, China, Russia, and a number of other countries submitted a draft Code of Conduct for Information Security to the United Nations General Assembly, stressing the role of the United Nations as the main channel for network security rulemaking.

This week, the US and China will take advantage of the fifth round of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue to hold the first network group meeting. Recently, the countries of Europe as well as India, Brazil, South Africa and other emerging economies have made their voices heard on the subject of international network security. The Prism revelations have embarrassed the U.S. government in front of the international community; they have effectively become the driving force behind the demand for discussion and development on international network security rules.

Undoubtedly, the U.S. is still trying to conserve its position as rule-maker on international network security. But we will surely come to realize that international cooperation is only way to resolve the dilemma of network security.

Read the Chinese version:网络安全不容“霸王条款”