US can’t shirk duty over cyber governance

By Zhang Tengjun Source:Global Times Published: 2017/12/4 22:23:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT



The fourth World Internet Conference with the theme "Developing the Digital Economy for Openness and Shared Benefits - Building a Community of a Common Future in Cyberspace" opened in the river town of Wuzhen in Zhejiang Province on Sunday. Ushering in its fourth year, the conference is becoming an important platform for China and the rest of the world to communicate and cooperate in the Internet arena.

Nowadays, the peace and stability of cyberspace are gravely challenged, with cybersecurity threats permeating into critical areas of politics, economy, culture, society and national defense.

To ensure national security, countries have been improving their Internet development, by promoting the capacity to handle external threats and to deter potential enemies through technological input, institution-building and Internet talent cultivation. The arms race in cyberspace is intensive, and the international community has yet to achieve consensus in arms control and its rules of governance.

Meanwhile, cyber crimes are emerging in all manifestations. Threats from non-state actors have developed into a problem that cannot be neglected. Because of the low cost, easy access and huge profits of cyber technologies, any organization or individual can launch a cyber attack anywhere. The threat thereby could be prevalent. The WannaCry ransomware attack was one of the shocking cases.

In addition, cyberspace has become a new frontier for the war on terror. When terrorists can paralyze the Internet of their target countries to gain access to confidential information, it creates a horrifying effect that doesn't pale in comparison to a real attack.

With the rapid development of informatization and an increasing number of uncertainties in cyberspace, a secure, stable and prosperous Internet environment is of more significance to world peace and development.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said in as early as 2014: "Without cybersecurity, there is no national security." In recent years, China has ramped up constructing the top-level designs and institutions for cybersecurity. It introduced China's Cybersecurity Law - the first of its kind in the country - promulgated two pragmatic documents - the National Cyberspace Security Strategy and the International Strategy of Cooperation on Cyberspace, all of which have a systematic interpretation of China's outlook on cybersecurity and philosophy on global governance of cyberspace.

China champions the building of a community of common destiny in cyberspace, contributing its unique designation to global cyberspace governance. It consists of four parts: respecting cyber sovereignty, safeguarding peace and security, boosting openness and cooperation, and constructing a benign order. With the China-initiated Internet conference and a variety of multilateral mechanisms such as the UN, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the G20 and BRICS, Beijing is fulfilling this objective with actions. It has now become a promoter and reformer of cyberspace governance from previously being a latecomer to and beneficiary of the Internet era.

A stable cyberspace relies on global effort. China has all along called on all countries to jointly build a fair and rational international order in cyberspace within the UN framework and relevant international mechanisms. Sovereign states, especially major countries in the world, shall assume due responsibilities to deal with the disorder and low efficiency of the current cyberspace.

China-US ties once fell to a freezing point in cybersecurity, which, however, has gradually warmed up thanks to the common efforts of the two sides. The Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity Dialogue, the first edition of which was launched in early October, is one of the four dialogues agreed to by Xi and his US counterpart Donald Trump during their first meeting this April. It highlighted the existing consensuses between the two countries in cybersecurity and envisioned a picture for the future. Defending the cybersecurity interests of both sides and configuring a peaceful, secure, open, cooperative and orderly cyberspace remain the objective of Sino-US cyber collaboration. 

Blighted by a spectrum of domestic and foreign affairs issues, the Trump administration has so far yet to formulate a clear, consistent cybersecurity policy. Trump has become tired of dealing with the accusations that Russia was involved in a cyber campaign to interfere the 2016 US elections, so he is reluctant to put the cybersecurity issue on top of his agenda, in case his opponents find fault with him. Nonetheless, this is not an excuse for Washington to shirk its responsibility in world cyber governance.

The prosperity and stability of cyberspace is an important link in Sino-US relations in the new era. Both sides should further promote pragmatic dialogue and seek common ground while shelving differences and consolidating the foundation of bilateral cooperation on the basis of mutual respect and trust so as to make cybersecurity a highlight in their ties and to let cyberspace better serve all mankind.

The author is an assistant research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn



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