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The Chinese Side Proposes a Global Initiative on Data Security


On the morning of September 8, 2020, 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.

Wang Yi said, in today's world, a new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation is in the making. Countries face the common task of integrating the digital economy with the real economy, speeding up the shift to new growth drivers, and cultivating new industries and new forms of business. The explosive growth and aggregation of data is providing a new source of energy for economic growth and industrial transformation. In the meantime, the mounting risks of data security have posed new challenges to global digital governance. Countries face a pressing need to step up communication and coordination, build up mutual trust and deepen cooperation with one another, discuss ways to manage data security risks and promote global governance in the digital domain.

Wang Yi said, to effectively address the risks and challenges to data security, three principles must be observed. First, uphold multilateralism. All countries should pursue extensive consultation and joint contribution for shared benefits. It is important to develop a set of international rules on data security that reflect the will and respect the interests of all countries through broad-based participation. Second, balance security and development. Countries have the right to protect data security according to law. That said, they are also duty-bound to provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for all businesses. Protectionism in the digital domain runs counter to the laws of economic development and the trend of globalization. Protectionist practices undermine the right of global consumers to equally access digital services and will eventually hold back the country's own development. Third, ensure fairness and justice. Protection of digital security should be based on facts and the law. Politicization of security issues, double standards and slandering others violate the basic norms governing international relations, and seriously disrupt and hamper global digital cooperation and development.

Wang Yi stressed, digital economy in China has been thriving. There are over 900 million netizens in China. We have clear legal provisions for protecting the lawful rights and interests of citizens and organizations, including data security and personal information. The Chinese government has acted in strict compliance with data security principles. We have not and will not ask Chinese companies to transfer data overseas to the government in breach of other countries' laws.

Wang Yi said, in view of the new issues and challenges emerging in this field, and in order to join hands to forge a community with a shared future in cyberspace featuring peace, security, openness, cooperation and order, China would like to propose a Global Initiative on Data Security, and looks forward to the active participation of all parties. The Initiative mainly includes the following. 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.

Wang Yi said, I hope the Chinese initiative will serve as a basis for international rules-making on data security and mark the start of a global process in this area. We look forward to the participation of national governments, international organizations and all other stakeholders, and call on States to support the commitments laid out in the Initiative through bilateral or regional agreements. We are also open-minded to good ideas and suggestions from all sides.

The seminar was held by China Internet Governance Forum. Former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz of Pakistan, former Prime Minister Djoomart Otorbaev of Kyrgyzstan and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Liu Zhenmin delivered speeches at the high-level meeting. Experts, scholars, and representatives from internet enterprises from home and abroad were present.

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