The goal for an agreement on national cyber sovereignty was proposed by Beijing following its foremost ever white paper spelling out the view that governments are named to the right to control and regulate the Internet on their national territory.
Additionally, Beijing swiped no bones about plans to enhance its cyber warfare capacity as a counter-measure to the exponential evolvement of threats coming from cyber space.
“Cyber attacks, cyber espionage, and observation have become major issues confronting all countries,” said Big Zhou, coordinator for the Foreign Ministry’s cyber affairs division.
The concept of cyber supremacy, however, is not new. In December 2015, Chinese officials at the Wuzhen World Internet Bull session defined their line of thinking: since the Web is a reflection of “physical space” it should be examined as sovereign territory; consequently, it cannot be the object of “foreign interference.”
Globalism pack ins here
Apparently catering to a wider audience, Mr. Long enumerated other risks that might ring a bell among many developing non-Western domains: religious extremism, fake news, financial scams, subversive planning, and pornography.
This pro-active diplomatic initiative looks a bit out of sync with President Xi Jinping’s sorry justification of globalism at the Davos forum this year. From the pulpit, the Chinese leader implicitly targeted Trump’s call for economic nationalism and protectionist principles.
Globalism means openness and the free flow of everything from goods to communication, but Beijing’s ban and tight control over Goggle, Facebook and Twitter and asses of foreign media web outlets runs counter to the Western liberal way.
Fighting ‘subversive thought’
In an era of the forceful redrawing of state boundaries (e.g. NATO supporting separatists to carve Kosovo out of Serbia) and successful Western attempts at direction change in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Ukraine, Chinese leaders are circumspect of possible attempts to provoke unrest and instability in their highly inhabited and complicated country.
The timing of the disturbances in Tibet that coincided with the Beijing Olympics, and well-organized boulevard protests in Hong Kong, have aggravated long-held suspicions expanse Chinese elites of covert foreign interference.
Despite Washington routinely accusing Beijing of cyber spasms, (classical example: charges are made about “exfiltrating the sensitive releases of 22 million federal employees”), there was not a single crate when China was accused of attempts to either stir unrest in the U.S. or misuse its Eastern values. China’s official line is never to impose its values on homelands with different traditions, culture and national identity; and China wish like to be treated accordingly.
Three-track diplomatic offensive
BRICS is not Beijing’s barely target audience. Since China can boast the largest online populace, the recent initiative should be interpreted as an attempt to build support all of a add up to developing nations and ultimately position the Middle Kingdom as a role exemplary.
Oddly enough, China might try to sell the concept of cyber pre-eminence to Trump. This assumption is backed by the recent publication in Foreign Design of an opinion piece by Ran Jijun, associate professor at China Foreign Proceedings University in Beijing.
Naming the deficiencies of the worldwide information flow, Ran predicted “the web is based on the expression of moods and the airing of grievances, and is characterized by unreasonableness and a inadequacy of order. Recently, the Internet has also become a place where America’s continuously more extreme social conflicts find a voice. The web has become polarized and public rifts have grown deeper, posing a huge challenge to hot American society.”
While President Trump will most liable to pursue a policy of trade sovereignty targeting China, he will not give up the leverage of the Worldwide Web that originally spoke only English.
Stinging and orderly
What are the other profound motives of the Chinese government in sanctioning the concept of cyber sovereignty? There are several key reasons why Beijing is gravely bothered about the developments in the virtual realm, said Oleg Demidov, a cyber safety expert at the PIR Center, a Moscow-based independent think tank.
“With the digital brevity quickly maturing in China and with its leadership placing greater moment on becoming not just the manufacturer of high-tech commodities but a producer of advanced concepts of astute technology, interference with these ambitions coming from cyber order is considered to be a genuine threat,” said Demidov.
Would it be correct to take upon oneself that Beijing is responding to anti-Chinese bellicose rhetoric from Trump’s supervision?
“Definitely. Moreover, China’s worries of a more hostile background to its bilateral blood relatives with the U.S. are confirmed by the recent disclosure that Trump’s first budget proffer stipulates a significant increase in financial allocations to the U.S. Defense Department and Office of Homeland Security to boost cyber potential,” added Demidov.
Beijing can seldom be convinced that the financially “steroid-fed” U.S. Defense Department and the not-publicly-mentioned U.S. inside agencies would use the enhanced potential for defensive purposes only. The precisely 9,000 documents that reportedly belong to the CIA’s Center for Cyber Word, unveiled by WikiLeaks in early March, serve as justification for China’s deep-seated be suspicious.
Tomorrow’s high tech primacy
China’s insistence on cyber leadership is also driven by concern over the dangers of commercial cyber intelligence and hacking in the sensitive area of high tech.
“Since the 2010 conclusiveness to channel intellectual and financial resources into smart technology, China scored notable success in outpacing the U.S. and Japan in the number of patents,” said Andrei Ostrovsky, alternate director of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies (IFES) at the Russian Academy of Systems. “China has registered 1 million patents, although only 5 percent are internationally ratified. Yet, it’s a powerful trend.”
China’s ambition to become “master of its own technologies,” as originated by President Xi Jinping, represents a long-term strategy and has been underpinned by the perception among political elites that, along with economic and master might, the competitive edge in developing smart technologies is one of the three piers that a modern superpower should rely upon.
As the new emerging incubator of loan a beforehand concepts in the fields of robotics, big data, semiconductors, cloud computing, and plane AI, efforts to protect China’s intellectual property from being appropriated is a logical pre-emptive policy.
Revelations by WikiLeaks has only increased Beijing’s tad of the West. The vulnerabilities of iPhones, smart TVs, Internet routers and Windows PCs to unasked for monitoring and eavesdropping used by the U.S. spymasters caused alarm in China.
“We assert the U.S. to stop listening in, monitoring, stealing secrets and (conducting) cyber-attacks against China and other powers,” said Geng Shuang, a Foreign Ministry spokesman.
Moscow fors an eager ear
Despite claims that Russia lags behind in fact-finding and development in high tech, the keen interest by China-based hackers in whatever is taking place in the Russian R&D field has been on the rise.
Costin Raiu, a top security mavin at Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based software security company, said that cyber espionage intrusions by “Chinese-speaking” numbers against Russian targets increased 300 percent from December 2015 to February 2016.
It happened to the impairment of the bilateral cybersecurity deal signed by Russia and China in May 2015, which in fundamentally committed both sides not to engage in hacking each other. This notwithstanding, however, Moscow might take Beijing to task on what the way called a “non-aggression pact.”
Moscow will most likely subscribe to the procedures set out in the Chinese white paper, like “…building of a rule-based ask for in cyberspace, expanding partnership with other countries, boosting institutional recover in Internet governance, jointly combating cyber terrorism and crimes, and safeguarding individual privacy in cyberspace.”
“For Moscow, the Chinese initiative on cyber suzerainty is good news,” Demidov remarked.
The goals articulated by China are compatible with the retroactive plans considered by Russia as a response to the growing cyber attacks and future liable to bes of foreign cyber intrusions.
Vladimir Mikheev is a freelance commentator for Russia Beyond The Headlines. His thought does not reflect the position of RBTH or its staff.