Ensuring cyber security an indisputable norm

Updated: 2015-07-25 11:19


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BEIJING - China is working on its first cyber security law, which clarifies that safeguarding cyber sovereignty and security is an indisputable, international norm.

The 68-article draft, which was discussed by lawmakers for the first time late last month, is designed to protect the public, not to undermine their freedom, as Western journalists have claimed.

Although the Internet in a sense has no borders, Internet security has a border. With Internet regulation an international convention, China is entitled to supervise both Chinese and foreign companies doing business online in China.

As long as companies, no matter their locality, offer products or services in China, they should abide by Chinese laws and regulations, which is in line with the territorial principle enshrined in international laws.

Certainly, China will treat domestic and foreign companies equally without discrimination and has no intention of adopting trade protectionism disguised as safeguarding cyber security.

It is a matter of exercising management rights, which is part of China's sovereignty. Foreign critics will find themselves looking ridiculous in accusing China.

However, how to exercise the right is another matter. Both legislators and the government are open to opinions on managing the Internet.

It is reasonable to question the methods, but it is unreasonable to challenge a country's right to administer. Those who believe that pressuring China will force it to step back and compromise the country's cyber security will find themselves wasting time.

China is still in its early stage of Internet-related legislation, although it has the world's largest number of netizens -- 700 million. Developed countries such as the United States paid high attention to cyber security and have a comprehensive legal system and Internet security checkup procedures to guarantee their cyber security, which is a new domain of national security. China is actually learning from the United States in cyber security legislation.

In order to operate in Britain, China's Huawei, the world's largest telecommunications equipment maker, had to accept censorship of its products by the British government. It is widely acknowledged that such security checks are an international norm and that their scope is limited, which means only a handful of extremely sensitive products that may threaten national security are subject to them.

Such a system in China will not discriminate against foreign companies or act in favor of domestic enterprises.

Once the draft law is adopted by the top legislature, the government will enact detailed regulations and release a catalogue of products that should be subject to checks. Those products listed in the catalogue, whether they are manufactured by domestic or foreign companies, will be censored by Chinese regulators.

The regulations will also include measures to protect companies' source codes, commercial secrets and intellectual property, as has been shown by international practice.

Cyber security protection will not be realized by one single law. It needs a systematic legal system and subordinated regulations. Those who rushed to criticize China's "unreasonable" way of safeguarding cyber security should be patient and give the world's largest developing country some time to improve its legal system.

Those foreign companies eying China's market, but not wanting to see an improved Chinese legal system and always relying on finger-pointing tactics to pressure China should reflect: they are law-abiding citizens back in their own country, so why should they not be in China?