(Daily Caller News Foundation) China released its first strategic report Thursday, outlining its view of how cyberspace should be governed.
The Chinese government demands that all nations should respect sovereignty and avoid conflict and asserts that no single country should control the internet, a clear message to the U.S., the China Daily introduced.
The new strategic report states that “countries should reject the Cold War mentality, zero-sum game and double standards, uphold peace through cooperation and seek one’s own security through common security on the basis of full respect for other countries’ security,” rhetoric typically reserved for criticisms of the U.S.
Beijing is a staunch advocate of shared governance of the internet and aims to “vigorously promote the reform of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), to make it a truly independent international institution.” Under the Obama administration, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) moved to transfer overall control of the internet’s domain name system (DNS) — the “yellow pages” of the world wide web — to a global entity.
China is eager to take advantage of that shift.
“No country should pursue cyberhegemony, interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, or engage in, condone or support cyberactivities that undermine other countries’ national security,” the Chinese report explained, adding that countries should be free to “choose their own path of cyberdevelopment.”
China has come under fire many times for engaging in state-sponsored hacking and human rights violations in the form of internet censorship. The Chinese government asserts that it is a victim of cyber crime and that instead of engaging in censorship, China practices internet management.
The U.S. has accused China of engaging in cyber espionage and stealing intellectual property. For many years, China allegedly used the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to carry out cyber crimes against the U.S., both commercial and government entities. The Chinese Ministry of State Security is believed to have carried out the infamous Office of Personnel Management (OPM) hack, when countless files containing personal data for more than 21 million former and current government employees were compromised.
China has dismissed all accusations as baseless.
Last year, for the second year in a row, China ranked last on Freedom House’s internet freedom list. Using the Great Firewall of China, the most well-known component of the Golden Shield Project, China practices a kind of systematic censorship to prevent Chinese citizens from accessing content deemed unacceptable by the state.
China promotes “cyber sovereignty,” which suggests that it can do as it pleases with its corner of the internet. Beijing focuses on national sovereignty, social order, and national security in all endeavors.
In its new report, China said it will be boosting its military capabilities in cyberspace. “China will give play to the important role of the military in safeguarding the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests in cyberspace,” which could involve targeting foreign entities while promoting its own interests; however, China asserts that its aim is to “prevent arms races and conflicts in cyberspace” and “prevent cyberspace from becoming a new battlefield.”
Chinese observers believe that China’s new strategy represents “a major contribution” to building a new order of governance for cyberspace.
Jeff Baron, a web pioneer who managed millions of domain names before a judge allowed ICANN to give his registry to China without permission, previously explained to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s Eric Lieberman that “if a government or non-state actor were to obtain control of the internet’s technical infrastructure, it would be able to engage in global censorship and mass propaganda, among other transgressions.”
“In the wrong hands, ICANN could be used as a weapon to dictate who has access to the internet,” he added.
China states in its new report that it supports “formulating universally accepted international rules and norms of state behavior in cyberspace,” but China’s long-term ambitions are unclear.