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Abide by cyber law to profit from market

By Shen Yi | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-09 07:33

The much-anticipated cybersecurity law that came into force on June 1 reflects China's determination to secure its cyberspace and protect Chinese citizens against data theft. Some Western observers, however, are worried that the new law targets foreign enterprises by "restricting the cross-border flow of information", which could "give Chinese companies an unfair advantage".

Such worries are uncalled for, as the ultimate aim of the new law, as emphasized by the country's cyber security watchdog, is to safeguard China's cyberspace sovereignty and security.

Misinterpreting certain provisions of the law as "hampering trade" or compromising China's commitments to the World Trade Organization and sensationalizing the issue are not only unnecessary but also could be misleading.

Some Western multinational enterprises often overreact to China's lawful and justified enforcement of regulations because they have taken for granted the "super-national treatment" offered by most developing countries and the policy support by their home countries.

The truth is, cyber security is a precondition for national security, as President Xi Jinping has said. Xi has time and again emphasized the need to strike a balance between secure cyberspace and digital development, and ruled out the possibility of "shutting the door" to the internet for security concerns.

But some Western media outlets have made it a business to misread China's laws. A Financial Times report on May 31 even "warned" that China's cyber security law might make multinational companies "vulnerable to industrial espionage" and unfair competition. The provision requiring key information on infrastructure operators' data should be especially protected as it is closely linked with national security. And it is necessary to conduct a security review to ensure their data systems do not compromise China's national security. Besides, the ban on the misuse of users' personal data is in line with international practice.

China aspires to become a digitally advanced country, which should be seen as a great opportunity by overseas internet operators and service providers, especially those in the possession of desired technologies or businesses.

Also, since China has a long way to go to improve its cyberspace management, it could enlist the help of business pioneers at home and abroad. And foreign companies, like their domestic counterparts, can work with Chinese government to improve China's cyber governance.

The author is deputy director of the Cyberspace Governance Study Center at Fudan University.

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