China / Politics

Vice-minister calls US cybersecurity gripes hypocritical

By Zhang Zhouxiang and Cao Yin (China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-06 02:55

China has criticized the United States for being hypocritical and hegemonic in cybersecurity and urged it to stop eavesdropping on other countries and individuals, said a senior Chinese diplomat, following a series of spats between the two countries involving cyberspace.

Li Baodong, vice-foreign minister, accused the US of having a double standard on the cyber issue, drawing lines out of its selfish interests, and concocting "regulations" only applicable to other countries, "instead of reflecting on its own behavior that undermines the sovereignty of other countries and the privacy of citizens".

Li made the remarks at an International Workshop on Information and Cyber Security on Thursday in Beijing, the first such discussion that China and the United Nations held together.

It is also the first international dialogue that China held with other countries and international organizations since the US Justice Department charged five Chinese military officers with cybertheft of commercial information from US corporations.

Li stressed that cyberspace development should follow principles including sovereignty, peace and universal benefit, and advocated "bilateral, regional and international development cooperation".

"Humankind does not need another war field in cyberspace", he said, emphasizing that efforts should be made to enable everyone to benefit from the opportunities brought about by the Internet and share in its achievements.

His opinion was echoed by Jarmo Sareva, deputy secretary general of the Conference on Disarmament and director of the UN Office for the Disarmament Affairs Geneva Branch. Sareva said that cyberspace is concerned with every aspect of modern life. "We have to ensure cyberspace is available for villages as well as for cities," he said in a speech.

To that end, Li said, it is necessary to formulate fair international norms accepted by more countries, an essential step toward keeping cyberspace in order.

Sareva also said he expected China and the US to better coordinate for the building of an international norm. "China and the US as two leading powers need to cooperate not only in terms of the economy, but also in terms of security, especially cybersecurity," he told China Daily.

Ning Jiajun, a senior researcher at the Advisory Committee for State Informatization, said some developed countries, such as the US, have refused to discuss cyberspace issues on international stages.

On Wednesday, Harald Range, the German attorney general, said he decided to launch a criminal investigation into the US National Security Agency’s alleged hacking of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone.

The incident has had some negative effects on German-US relations and the two nations are holding intense discussions in order to rebuild confidence, said Martin Fleischer, head of the International Cyber Policy Coordination Staff at the Federal Foreign Office of Germany.

In the push for a new international norm on cyberspace, "China is playing a constructive role", Fleischer told China Daily, adding that Germany, like many Western countries, has many interests in common with China and it is important for them to cooperate, despite differences on many issues.

Thomas Duke, deputy director of cyberissues for the US Department of State, said he was not optimistic about the push for international cybernorms because "disagreements exist not only between China and the US, but also among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, among the G7, and among the G20".

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