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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.

The text of the initiative:

Global Initiative on Data Security

The phenomenal development of information technology revolution and digital economy is transforming the way of production and life, exerting far-reaching influence over social and economic development of States, global governance system and human civilization.  

The explosive growth and aggregation of data, as a key element of digital technology, has played a crucial role in facilitating innovative development and reshaping people's lives, bearing on security and economic and social development of States.

In the context of closer global cooperation and new development of international division of labor, maintaining supply chain security of ICT products and services has never become more important for boosting users' confidence, ensuring data security and promoting digital economy.

We call on all States to put equal emphasis on development and security, and take a balanced approach to technological progress, economic development and protection of national security and public interests.

We reaffirm that States should foster an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for mutual benefit, win-win outcomes and common development. At the same time, States have the responsibility and right to ensure the security of important data and personal information bearing on their national security, public security, economic security and social stability.

We welcome governments, international organizations, ICT companies, technology communities, civil organizations, individuals and all other actors to make concerted efforts to promote data security under the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits.

We underscore that all parties should step up dialogue and cooperation on the basis of mutual respect, and join hands to forge a community with a shared future in cyberspace featuring peace, security, openness, cooperation and order. To make this happen, we would like to suggest the following:

- States should handle data security in a comprehensive, objective and evidence-based manner, and maintain an open, secure and stable supply chain of global ICT products and services.

- States should stand against ICT activities that impair or steal important data of other States' critical infrastructure, or use the data to conduct activities that undermine other States' national security and public interests.

- States should take actions to prevent and put an end to activities that jeopardize personal information through the use of ICTs, and oppose mass surveillance against other States and unauthorized collection of personal information of other States with ICTs as a tool.

- States should encourage companies to abide by laws and regulations of the State where they operate. States should not request domestic companies to store data generated and obtained overseas in their own territory.

- States should respect the sovereignty, jurisdiction and governance of data of other States, and shall not obtain data located in other States through companies or individuals without other States' permission.

- Should States need to obtain overseas data out of law enforcement requirement such as combating crimes, they should do it through judicial assistance or other relevant multilateral and bilateral agreements. Any bilateral data access agreement between two States should not infringe upon the judicial sovereignty and data security of a third State.

- ICT products and services providers should not install backdoors in their products and services to illegally obtain users' data, control or manipulate users' systems and devices.

- ICT companies should not seek illegitimate interests by taking advantage of users' dependence on their products, nor force users to upgrade their systems and devices. Products providers should make a commitment to notifying their cooperation partners and users of serious vulnerabilities in their products in a timely fashion and offering remedies.

We call on all States to support this initiative, and confirm the aforementioned commitments through bilateral, regional and international agreements. We also welcome global ICT companies to support this initiative.

The material was provided by the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the Republic of Bulgaria. On the photo: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi