China building law-based cyberspace contributes to global internet governance
Published: Mar 16, 2023 10:58 PM
cyberspace Photo:VCG

cyberspace Photo:VCG

China's State Council Information Office on Thursday released a white paper titled "China's Law-Based Cyberspace Governance in the New Era."

As a new form of the current world, cyberspace should also be running on the track of rule of law, and cannot and should not become a land beyond law. The rule of law has proved to be essential to internet governance. It has become a global consensus to apply law-based thinking and approaches based on an understanding of the rule of law.

"China has made many achievements in promoting law-based governance on the internet. Take legislative success. Just as the paper said, over the years, China has promulgated more than 140 laws on cyberspace. Furthermore, the country has developed relatively complete vertical management regulations for some fresh technologies and applications, in fields such as e-commerce, anti-telecom and anti-online fraud, comments on Weibo and WeChat posts," Zhu Wei, vice director of the Communication Law Research Center at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times.

The internet is a double-edged sword. It can benefit human beings, but if left unchecked or improperly managed, it will trigger considerable harm to society. Take the Capitol Hill riot in the US in January 2021 - the internet played a big role in fueling the flames. There are many inflammatory pictures or videos circulated on the internet, and it's difficult to distinguish what's true and what's false. Especially in the context of information warfare, the cyberspace needs to be managed based on the law. Washington has introduced several bills opposing fake news and alternative facts, and the world has realized the importance of enacting legislation over this matter. If the internet is not governed by law, there will be too many hidden dangers, ranging from personal life and property safety to social stability and national security.

Some US and Western media outlets, standing on the point of ideology, have repeatedly criticized China's internet regulation. One's freedom must be based on the law. If not, it may infringe on the freedom of others. The US government, which has been boasting about its "internet freedom" and "freedom of speech," is now calling for internet supervision as well. Former US president Donald Trump's Twitter account was banned in January 2021 (but later reinstated last year after Elon Musk bought the social network platform). Nevertheless, it shows Washington is aware that unrestrained internet usage will lead to chaos in the country, which is detrimental to public interests. Therefore, the US' attacks on China's internet regulation are totally untenable.

China has made remarkable achievements in building law-based cyberspace, contributing Chinese wisdom and solutions to internet governance worldwide.

The first is the people-first philosophy. The white paper said that a distinctive Chinese approach to law-based cyberspace governance adheres to people-centered development. In China, the people contribute ideas and solutions and play a principal role. Their rights, interests, aspirations and wellbeing are the focus in every aspect of cyber legislation, law enforcement, judiciary work, public education, and all other areas of law-based cyberspace governance. Only under the "people-oriented" guidance can the law-based cyberspace governance guarantee the interests of the overwhelming majority of the people.

The second is to build a community with a shared future in cyberspace, a vision put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the second World Internet Conference in 2015. It serves as the core concept for China to participate in advancing the new order of global cyberspace governance. This demonstrates China's ambition, that is, the Chinese plan for cyberspace governance, the core essence of which is to benefit all mankind. 

Another one is the vision of cyberspace sovereignty. At the second World Internet Conference in 2015, Xi advocated respect for sovereignty in cyberspace. Cyber sovereignty is the extension of national sovereignty in cyberspace, that is, the right of a country to conduct cyberspace activities, handle cyberspace affairs, and implement self-defense against cyberattacks independently without interference from other countries. Due to the particularity of cyberspace, the division of jurisdiction in cyberspace cannot be as clearly defined as traditional sovereignty, thus jurisdictional conflicts in cyberspace are inevitable. The vision of cyberspace sovereignty put forward by China provides ideas for dealing with such kinds of conflicts.

The white paper states that China is "engaged in international exchanges and cooperation in law-based cyberspace governance. It is committed to building a multilateral, democratic and transparent global internet governance system together with other countries."

Today, Washington is flexing its muscle worldwide and pursuing unipolarization, and the world is tending to be divided. Various unstable and uncertain factors are disturbing. Against this backdrop, China's manner in calling on all countries to help each other, in particular in cyberspace, injects positive energy into the solidarity of the world.