China’s Internet Tightrope Walk

Chinese President Xi Jinping recently told an international delegation of cybersecurity and technology experts that governments must be allowed to exercise sovereign rights and decision making over Internet use within their own countries.

Speaking earlier this month at the second annual World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China, the president effectively called for a revised order in Internet governance. One nation should not be empowered to call all the shots, requiring less-advanced countries to abide by its rules, he maintained.

“The principle of sovereign equality enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations is one of the basic norms of contemporary international relations,” Xi told attendees at the conference. “It covers all aspects of state-to-state relations, which also include cyberspace.”


A Growing Internet Power

China is beginning to flex its muscle as a powerful player in the global Internet discussion, as the country is considered the world’s biggest growth market in Internet commerce and has the single largest population of people on earth, with more than 1.3 billion.

“We should respect the right of individual countries to independently choose their own path of cyber development and model of cyber regulation and participate in international cyberspace governance on an equal footing” Xi said, according to text released by the Xinhua news agency.

Xi was communicating what China considers its right as a sovereign nation to exercise control over commerce and communications coming into and out of that country, said cybersecurity expert William Hagestad, who attended the conference.

Xi’s mandate, which stems from a Politburo-approved national security law approved this summer, “is more about ensuring the national security, stability and sovereignty” of communist China’s Internet, Hagestad told TechNewsWorld.

However, the speech could be laying the groundwork for a more repressive regime that will monitor and regulate the Internet even more closely.

“It sounds like this is the first step towards creating a censored environment, at the very least,” tech analyst Jeff Kagan told TechNewsWorld.



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