Work Together to Build a Healthy Cyberspace

Xi Jinping: The Governance of China II Updated: 2021-12-01

Work Together to Build a Healthy Cyberspace* 

December 16, 2015 

With the development of world multipolarity, economic globalization, cultural diversity, and IT application, the internet will play a bigger role in the progress of human civilization. At the same time, however, such problems as unbalanced development, inadequate rules, and inequitable order have become more evident in the field of the internet. The information gap between different countries and regions is widening, and the existing rules governing cyberspace struggle to meet the needs and interests of the majority of countries. Infringements of individual privacy and intellectual property rights as well as cybercrimes happen frequently around the world. Cyber surveillance, cyberattacks, and cyber terrorism have become a global scourge. In the face of these problems and challenges, the international community must enhance dialogue and cooperation in the spirit of mutual respect and mutual trust, promote transformation of the global internet governance system, and work together to foster a peaceful, secure, open, and cooperative cyberspace and put in place a multilateral, democratic, and transparent global internet governance system. 

To make progress in the transformation of the global internet governance system, the following principles must be upheld: 

– Respect for cyber sovereignty. The principle of sovereign equality enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations is one of the basic norms in contemporary international relations. It covers all aspects of state-to-state relations, and therefore it should also apply to cyberspace. We should respect the right of individual countries to independently choose their own path of cyber development, model of cyber regulation, and internet public policies, and participate in international cyberspace governance on an equal footing. No country should pursue cyber hegemony, interfere in other countries' internal affairs, or support, engage in, or conspire around cyber activities that may undermine other countries' national security. 

– Maintenance of peace and security. A secure, stable, and booming cyberspace is of great importance to all countries and the world as a whole. In the real world, there are still lingering wars, shadows of terrorism, and incidences of crime. Cyberspace should not become a battlefield for countries to wrestle with one another, still less should it become a hotbed of crime. Countries should work together to prevent and oppose the use of cyberspace for criminal activities such as terrorism, pornography, drug trafficking, money laundering, and gambling. We should crack down on all cybercrimes in accordance with relevant laws and international conventions, whether commercial cyber thefts or hacker attacks against government networks. No double standards should be allowed in ensuring cyber security. We cannot accept the security of just one or some countries while others are left insecure, still less should one country seek its own absolute security at the expense of the security of others. 

– Promotion of openness and cooperation. As an old Chinese saying goes, "When there is mutual care, the world will be in good order; when there is mutual hatred, the world will be in chaos."1 To improve the global internet governance system and maintain order in cyberspace, we should observe the principles of mutual support, mutual trust, and mutual benefit, and reject the old mentality of zero-sum game or "winner takes all". All countries should advance opening up and cooperation in cyberspace and further substantiate and enhance their opening-up efforts. We should also build more platforms for communication and cooperation and identify more convergent points of interest, growth areas for cooperation, and opportunities for win-win outcomes. Efforts should be made to facilitate complementarity of strengths and common development of all countries in cyberspace so that more countries and people may get aboard the express train of the information age and benefit from internet development. 

– Good order. As in the real world, both freedom and order are necessary in cyberspace. Freedom is what order is meant for and order is the guarantor of freedom. We should respect the right of internet users to exchange ideas and express their minds, and we should also build a good order in cyberspace in accordance with the law as it will help protect the legitimate rights and interests of all internet users. Cyberspace is not a place beyond the rule of law. Cyberspace is virtual, but players in cyberspace are real. Everyone should abide by the law, and the rights and obligations of parties concerned should be clearly defined. Cyberspace must be governed, operated, and used in accordance with the law, so that the internet can achieve healthy development under the rule of law. At the same time, greater efforts should be made to promote ethical standards and civilized behavior in cyberspace. We should give full play to the role of moral standards and teachings in guiding the use of the internet, to make sure that the best accomplishments of human civilization will nourish the growth of cyberspace and help rehabilitate the cyber ecology. 

Cyberspace is a common space for human activities. The future of cyberspace should be in the hands of all countries. Countries should step up communication, broaden consensus, and extend cooperation to jointly build a community of shared future in cyberspace. To this end, I wish to propose five points. 

First, speed up the building of global internet infrastructure and promote inter-connectivity. The essence of the internet is connectivity, and herein lies the value of information. Only when the IT infrastructure is well developed can information flow smoothly, can the digital divide between different countries, regions, and communities be narrowed, and the full flow of information resources ensured. China is now implementing the Broadband China strategy. It is estimated that by 2020, the broadband network in China will, by and large, cover every village. The "last kilometer" of internet infrastructure will be linked up thanks to this strategy, and more people will have access to the internet. China stands ready to work with all parties concerned, increase investment and technical support to accelerate the building of global internet infrastructure, and enable more developing countries and their peoples to take advantage of the development opportunities brought by the internet. 

Second, build an online platform for cultural exchange and mutual learning. Culture and civilization are enriched through exchange and mutual learning. The internet is an important carrier to spread the best of humanity's cultures and promote positive energy. China is ready to build, through the internet, a bridge of international cultural interaction and mutual learning for people of all countries to share the cultures of the world and their thoughts and feelings, and enhance mutual understanding. We will work with other countries to leverage the strength of the internet as a communication platform, so that people in other countries may come to know more about Chinese culture and the Chinese people can learn more of theirs. Together, we will promote the prosperity and development of cyber culture, which in turn will enrich people's minds and thoughts, and advance human civilization and progress. 

Third, promote innovative development of the cyber economy for common prosperity. The world economy is on a difficult and tortuous path to recovery. The Chinese economy is also under some downward pressure. Solutions lie in innovation-driven development, which will open new horizons. China is now implementing the Internet Plus action plan, advancing the building of Digital China, developing the sharing economy, and supporting internet-based innovation in all forms, with a view to improving the quality and efficiency of development. The robust growth of the internet in China has provided a sizable market for enterprises and business starters of all countries. China's door of opening up will never close. Our policy towards foreign investment will not change. Our protection of the legitimate rights and interests of foreign-invested enterprises will not change. And our commitment to providing better services to foreign companies in their investment and business activities in China will not change. As long as they abide by China's laws, enterprises and business starters from all countries are warmly welcome to invest and do business in China. We are ready to step up cooperation with all countries. Through the development of cross-border e-commerce and the building of information economy demonstration zones, we will be able to spur the growth of worldwide investment and trade, and promote global development of the digital economy. 

Fourth, maintain cyber security and promote orderly development. Security and development are like the two wings of a bird or the two wheels of a cart. Security ensures development, and development is the goal of security. Cyber security poses a global challenge. No country can distance itself or remain immune from such challenge. Maintaining cyber security is the shared responsibility of the international community. All countries should work together to contain the abuse of information technology, oppose cyber surveillance and cyber attacks, and reject an arms race in cyberspace. China will work with all other countries to step up dialogue and exchanges, and effectively manage differences. We will work with all parties for the formulation of international cyberspace rules acceptable to all parties and an international convention against terrorism in cyberspace, improve the legal support mechanism to fight cybercrime, and jointly uphold peace and security in cyberspace. 

Fifth, build an internet governance system to promote fairness and justice. International cyberspace governance should feature a multilateral approach with multiparty participation. It should be based on consultation between all parties, leveraging the role of various players, including governments, international organizations, internet companies, technology communities, non-governmental institutions, and individual citizens. There can be no room for unilateralism. Decisions should not be made with one party calling the shots or only a few parties discussing among themselves. All countries should step up communication and exchange, improve dialogue and consultation mechanisms on cyberspace, and study and formulate global internet governance rules, so that the global internet governance system becomes fairer and more reasonable and reflects in a more balanced way the aspiration and interests of the majority of countries. This World Internet Conference is being held precisely for the purpose of building a platform for all to govern and benefit from the global internet, and to work together for the healthy development of the internet. 

* Part of the speech at the opening ceremony of the Second World Internet Conference. 


1 Mo Zi.

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