China Presents Global Security Initiative to Counter U.S. Plan

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi debuted an initiative to create standards for global data security, one month after the U.S. introduced the “Clean Network” program to protect data from “malign actors, such as the Chinese Communist Party.” U.S.-China relations have been deteriorating over trade issues and U.S. claims that Chinese technology threatens U.S. national security. Wang stated that “a certain country” is “bent on unilateral acts” and that “such blatant acts of bullying must be opposed and rejected.”

AP News reports that the U.S. plan, unveiled by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, now counts 30+ countries and territories “participating in that initiative, which seeks to exclude Chinese telecommunications companies like Huawei and ZTE, as well as apps, cloud service providers and undersea cables from their Internet networks.”

The U.S. has also recently stated plans to “ban Chinese company Bytedance’s popular TikTok video app in the country unless it finds an American buyer … [and] similarly labelled Tencent’s popular messaging app WeChat a national security threat.”

According to AP News, “the Chinese initiative opposes impairing critical infrastructure and theft of important data … [as well as] abusing technology to ‘conduct mass surveillance against other states’ … [adding that] companies should not ‘install backdoors in their products and services’ to illegally obtain user data, should respect the sovereignty, jurisdiction and governance of data in other states’.”

“Politicization of security issues, double standards and slandering others violate the basic norms governing international relations, and seriously disrupts and hampers global digital cooperation and development,” said Wang.

Reuters notes that, even as the Trump administration has “taken aim” at a list of Chinese companies, China “tightly controls and censors its own cyberspace through the popularly dubbed Great Firewall, which has for years restricted access to firms such as U.S. majors Twitter, Facebook and Google owner Alphabet.”

The Wall Street Journal, which viewed a draft of China’s “Global Initiative on Data Security,” reports that it calls on data security to be handled in a “comprehensive, objective and evidence-based manner … maintain[ing] an open, secure and stable supply chain for information and communications technology and services.” It also urges respect for nations’ “cyber sovereignty,” which, in its vision, allows each country to “exercise full control over their own corners of the Internet.”

The draft does not mention the U.S. or its Clean Network program but “offers commitments that echo China’s responses to American allegations of Beijing’s unfair trade practices and security threats from Chinese technology.” WSJ adds that, “Chinese diplomats have approached a number of foreign governments to seek their support for Beijing’s initiative … [but] it wasn’t clear how much interest it has garnered so far.”