8 September, 2020
In ensuring national sovereignty over data and opposing mass electronic surveillance in foreign cyberspace, Beijing is calling on the world community to adopt a set of rules for developing the digital economy.
On Tuesday, the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi at a conference in Beijing the presented the ‘Global Initiative on Data Security’. Thou, the name ‘United States’ was not mentioned in the presentation, the official left no doubt that Washington’s recent attacks on the Chinese tech sector prompted the proposal.
“Bent on unilateral acts, a certain country keeps making groundless accusations against others in the name of ‘clean’ network and used security as a pretext to prey on enterprises of other countries who have a competitive edge,” he said.
“Such blatant acts of bullying must be opposed and rejected”.
Last month, the Trump administration announced its ‘Clean Network Initiative’, targeted at pushing “untrusted” Chinese telecommunication companies and apps out of the US market and protecting undersea communication cables from eavesdropping.
Wang, strongly critized the US approach as politicization of security issues and protectionism that stifle innovation, and outlined China’s own vision for the digital future. Beijing claimed that national governments have a legitimate claim on data generated under their sovereignty and should respect each other’s laws on its handling.
Among other things, it means that countries should not “conduct mass surveillance [on foreign soil] or engage in unauthorized collection of personal information of other states,” he said. Governments likewise should not pressure domestic companies into storing foreign data on their territory.
The US push against Chinese companies like telecom producer Huawei, digital giant Tencent, and TikTok owner ByteDance is justified by a concern for user data and intellectual property. According to Washington claims, the Chinese companies are subservient to Beijing and act as government agents gathering the information of their foreign clients.
Beijing strongly denies the allegations and reiterated that China pledges to adhere to the principles it proposes.
“We have not and will not ask Chinese companies to transfer data overseas to the government in breach of other countries’ laws,” he told the gathering.
Beijing believes in the competitiveness of its initiatives that would drive global digital growth. Wong said the Chinese digital economy already accounts for more than one-third of the country’s GDP, with over 900 million internet users, including 88 million 5G subscribers, located in the country.