China listed peace, sovereignty, shared governance, and shared benefits as its basic principles and included brief explanations as to how they pertain to the cyberspace in its first cyberpolicy paper entitled “International Strategy of Cooperation on Cyberspace.”
The goal of the paper is to provide a comprehensive explanation of China's policy and position on cyber-related international affairs as well as the basic principles, strategic goals and plan of action in its external relations, according to an English translation of the policy published by the state-run news agency Xinhua.
Policy will be used to “guide China's participation in international exchange and cooperation in cyberspace for the next period of time, and encourage the international community to come together to enhance dialogue and cooperation and build a peaceful, secure, open, cooperative and orderly cyberspace and a multilateral, democratic and transparent global Internet governance system,” the nation said.
The paper was also written to address opportunities and challenges the country predicts it will face moving forward.
China also highlighted peace and stability in cyberspace, rule-based order, partnership in cyberspace, reform of global internet governance system, international cooperation on cyber terrorism and cybercrimes, and the protection of citizens' rights and interests including privacy as key issues.
“Cyberspace is the common space of activities for mankind. The future of cyberspace should be in the hands of all countries, Chinese President H.E. Xi Jinping was cited saying in the paper. “Countries should step up communications, broaden consensus and deepen cooperation to jointly build a community of shared future in cyberspace.”
At the same time, the policy said that "countries should respect each other's right to choose their own path of cyber development."
According to the paper, China will continue to actively participate in cyber-related international process while building relations with other nations to reach universally accepted international rules and to establish fair and reasonable global cyberspace governance system.
Nations across the globe are starting to emphasize the importance of cyber collaboration, Cyphort Chief Marketing Officer Franklyn Jones told SC Media.
“Government leaders around the world are beginning to realize that mutual destruction is now possible through targeted cyber attacks, just as it is through targeted nuclear attacks,” Jones said. “Therefore, agreements and cooperation on cyber security initiatives must become as important as nuclear arms agreements.”
The U.S.-China Cyber Agreement signed in September 2015 has proven to be flawed but a step in the right direction to improving cybersecurity relation between the two countries.
The fundamental challenge of any cyber agreement is verification Prevalent, Inc. Product Management Director Jeff Hill told SC Media.
Nefarious cyber operations are clandestine and very hard to trace by nature, whether they're perpetrated by state-sponsored or rogue individuals. Covering one's tracks is a major element of the ‘art' of cyber crime,” Hill said.
“Satellites, electronic surveillance, drones, and other technology can go a long way in the verification of compliance with agreements on numbers of tanks, planes, or even missiles, but are of little utility when attempting to assure cyber actors are playing nice.”
Hill added that international cyber agreements are unlikely to be taken seriously by most stakeholders until a reliable “trust but verify” strategy can be implemented.