Sovereignty in cyberspace essential for national security

Updated: 2016-04-18 08:03

By Shen Dingli(China Daily)

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Sovereignty in cyberspace essential for national security

A visitor tries out wearable device at the Light of the Internet Expo in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, Dec 14, 2015. [Photo /]

Among the global commons, the High Seas, the atmosphere, Antarctica, outer space and cyberspace, only cyberspace, is an artificial "space".

Although this virtual space is dependent upon real space, it is not bound by real space in terms of territorial boundary. Consequently, although cyberspace has similarities with the other global spaces, it also has differences.

In terms of similarities, both cyberspace and real space store and transport goods. In terms of differences, in real space, the goods stored and transported are tangible items, but in cyberspace, the goods stored and transported are intangible, as they are information and ideas.

A critical question then arises, does sovereignty, which is applicable to real space, similarly apply to cyberspace?

The answer is, largely, in the affirmative, at least for national security purposes.

For at least three national security reasons, sovereignty should apply to cyberspace.

First, for political, diplomatic, security, defense and strategic purposes, which are the traditional national security interests of a state, the state authority has legitimate reasons to keep cyberspace within its traditional sovereign control.

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