China's proposal to address data security issue equally
Global Times

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi delivered a keynote speech via video at an international seminar on “Seizing digital opportunities for cooperation and development” on Tuesday in Beijing. (Photo: Global Times)

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the proposal of Global Initiative on Data Security Tuesday on behalf of the Chinese government, which includes eight key points, covering hotspot issues that countries around the world are most concerned about or have doubts about, as well as those that some countries and forces have hyped up in an improper way.

For example, the fourth point stipulates that companies should be encouraged to abide by laws and regulations of the state where they operate, while states should not request domestic companies to store data generated and obtained overseas in their own territory. The fifth point says that states shall not obtain data located in other states through companies or individuals without other states' permission. The seventh point requires providers of ICT products and services should not install backdoors in their products and services to illegally obtain users' data. These are indeed vital to the security of all countries in the information age.

As we all know, the internet and digital economy have been developing rapidly, but the establishment of rules has not been able to follow in time. What is data security is an open concept that can be defined in many ways. Given how permeable the digital economy is to human economic activity, this issue is both very important and prone to misunderstandings, causing suspicion between countries.

China launching the Global Initiative on Data Security at this time echoes the urgency of the problem and its growing global importance. As a large developing country, and also a country with relatively fast development of information technology and at the same time being questioned by outside world, China is keenly aware of the importance of building global data security and that the globalization of information technology can only be sustainable if progress is made in this regard.

The US government last month proposed a 5G "Clean Network" initiative that calls for a complete removal of "untrusted" Chinese equipment and technology products in five areas -telecom operators, mobile applications, app stores, web-based cloud services and undersea cables -- and calls on other countries to follow suit. Washington is clearly exploiting the absence of rules in information technology to try to build cyber security framework around US interests.

The proposal put forward by Foreign Minister Wang Yi is not a corresponding plan to engage in a zero-sum game with the US.  It is not a single choice thrust upon the world, but an initiative of concerted humanity action initiave to address the issue of data security. In this initiative, there are no parties who dominate or being discriminated against, and there is no overbearing clause. It is to clean up the common security risks faced by all countries and promote the establishment of rules to be followed equally by all countries and businesses.

The US has brought geopolitical thinking to technology field on a massive scale. For Washington, targeting China, its strategic competitor, everthing is a zero-sum game. This is not the case for China. We see more room for cooperation and shared prosperity, and the Global Data Security Initiative should have the active participation of the US. Its action will make all the difference to the security of our digital world.

Anyone with some nowledge of information technology knows that the US has stronger technical capabilities and broader market reach, whether it is about snooping on networks, creating backdoors to devices and services, or storing data about users in other countries on servers in its own country. If the US can take the lead in respecting the data security of other countries, it will undoubtedly be a boon to the digital future of mankind.

Harmony is the essence of Chinese philosophy, and in 21st century China is particularly opposed to digital confrontation. If we look closely, there are more interfaces and bridges between different parts of the world than there are gaps. Rejecting confrontational thinking and pushing communication and cooperation forward, we will find many positive possibilities that we have never believed before.

Global data security is the only way for humanity to advance deeply into the digital world. Please don't look at it through geopolitical lens. There is less geopolitics in the digital world, and there are real problems and collaborative, reciprocal solutions that need to be carefully worked out.