Build a safe, open and orderly digital world

DIPLOMATIC POUCH - Huang Xilian - The Philippine Star

On the morning of September 8, 2020, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi delivered a keynote speech titled Upholding Multilateralism, Fairness and Justice and Promoting Mutually Beneficial Cooperation at a high-level meeting of an international seminar themed with “Seizing Digital Opportunities for Cooperation and Development” and proposed a Global Initiative on Data Security.

The Initiative is mainly comprised of the following eight key points.

First, approach data security with an objective and rational attitude, and maintain an open, secure and stable global supply chain.

Second, oppose using information and communications technology (ICT) activities to impair other States’ critical infrastructure or steal important data.

Third, take actions to prevent and put an end to activities that infringe upon personal information, oppose abusing ICT to conduct mass surveillance against other States or engage in unauthorized collection of personal information of other States.

Fourth, ask companies to respect the laws of host countries, desist from coercing domestic companies into storing data generated and obtained overseas in one’s own territory.

Fifth, respect the sovereignty, jurisdiction and governance of data of other States, avoid asking companies or individuals to provide data located in other States without the latter’s permission.

Sixth, meet law enforcement needs for overseas data through judicial assistance or other appropriate channels.

Seventh, ICT products and services providers should not install backdoors in their products and services to illegally obtain user data.
Eighth, ICT companies should not seek illegitimate interests by taking advantage of users’ dependence on their products.

The initiative advocates a comprehensive approach towards data security and addresses several key issues which are being extensively deliberated at the United Nations and other multilateral fora, and on which the norm-building process is currently underway. In addition, the initiative calls for an objective and rational approach to data security, which is essential for restoring confidence in global digital sector.

China’s purpose is crystal clear, that is, to call on all countries to join hands to create universally-accepted global data security rules, to forge a peaceful, safe, open and cooperative cyberspace, to promote the healthy development of digital economy, and to contribute to the progress of human society.

For instance, governments should tighten data privacy laws and carry out cooperation over cyber-security issues like encryption. These are the right approaches to better protect each country’s data security while avoiding political discrimination toward companies, wherever they are based.
Only with better rules can development be assured, so that countries can also avoid picking sides or being subject to arbitrary suppression from one or two specific governments. Even though China calls on the global discussion on data security, it won’t set the rules. Because only rules that reflect the will of all countries in the world can be accepted and implemented in the long run.

According to the statistics, the number of mobile internet users has reached 3.5 billion globally, and the digital economy makes up more than 15 percent of the global GDP and more than a third of that of China, while data laws and regulations differ among countries.

Against the backdrop of rapid developments in the field of ICT and increasing reliance of economies on digitized information, data and information networks, an equitable and reliable ICT regime is essential to ensure socio-economic progress, including the sustainable development goals.

Data security, which is now under growing regulatory scrutiny, has become a focus of global attention due to the rising geopolitical risks linked to the issue. The fast development in global digitalization could only be achieved under the guarantee of data security.

More and more countries are actively responding to the Global Initiative on Data Security proposed by China. It is widely believed that the initiative does not evade problems, directly responds to the common concerns of the international community, and puts forward solutions to major data security issues of common concern to all parties.

At the annual China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting earlier this month, Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. welcomed China’s proposal on behalf of ASEAN. He further commented that the initiative reflects the common concerns of countries worldwide, and ASEAN countries are ready to work with China to strengthen cooperation on global digital governance and cyber security.

As 2020 is the year of China-ASEAN digital economic cooperation, China will deepen cooperation with ASEAN in 5G, Internet of Things (IOT), artificial intelligence (AI), digital manufacturing and other emerging technologies to develop cross-border e-commerce in our region. These efforts will expand our converging interests and bring about more dividend of the regional industrial chain.

China has also taken a constructive part in multilateral discussions on data security, including at the UN, G20, BRICS, and the ASEAN Regional Forum, contributing China’s input to global digital governance. China is ready to work with all countries holding the same or similar positions to push forward this process. By working together, we can jointly advance global digital governance and build a community with a shared future in the digital world.

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(The author is Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines.)




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