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Will China cyber superpower?
PRC persistently clears the way to managing network resources
Leading researcher, Deputy Head of the Center for the Study and Forecasting of Russian-Chinese Relations, IFES RAS
In the picturesque eastern Chinese town of Wuzhen 5 December, the fourth World Internet Conference on Internet Governance was completed. In it, as the Chinese organizers of the forum reported, more than 1,5 thousand Chinese and foreign experts, representatives of government structures, international organizations, research centers, more than 430 companies took part. Russia was represented at the conference by the head of Roskomnadzor Alexander Zharov, the head of Kaspersky Lab Evgeny Kaspersky, executive director of the League for Secure Internet Denis Davydov.
And although this annual forum has a "world-wide" prefix, it is being organized by the Chinese side, and for the fourth year in a row it has traditionally been held in Zhejiang Province. The purpose of the forum is to work out rules for joint management of cyberspace acceptable for China and other countries, to determine the principles of state regulation of national segments of the Internet, to solve numerous problems with ensuring cybersecurity, lowering the level of cybercriminals, ensuring safe conditions for conducting Internet commerce, banking operations, and trying to solve other numerous the functioning of a new environment for humanity.
The rapid development of information and communication technologies (ICT), the expansion of their application space, the emergence of new tools, technical means of information transfer and maintenance of network resources have become the main components of the modern technological breakthrough. But the same jerk has pulled a huge number of problems that have been trying to solve various countries for almost thirty years. And one of these problems is the problem of Internet governance.
Twenty years ago, China could hardly claim one of the leading roles in the management of the information space. Today everything has changed. China can already be considered a regional Internet superpower. The number of users of the World Wide Web in modern China has reached 740 million people, and this is not the limit. With the advent of mobile communication systems, the possibilities of social networks have been expanded, which are used to exchange multimedia information, distribute textual, photo and video information to access various types of financial, trade and other services. In December 2017, the number of active users of the Chinese messenger WeChat (Weixin) exceeded 1 billion people More than 600 million citizens of China every day use WeChatpay to pay for goods and services.
China is the leader in the production of personal computers, various tablet devices, multifunctional smartphones. Active development in the field of "Internet of things", "smart cities" is being carried out. Several centers for countering cyber threats have been created. The production of its own network equipment has been set up, the world's fastest computer has been built. E-commerce has become a priority, the program for the formation of the digital economy has been consistently being implemented. The Chinese are working to create digital military technologies.
In parallel with the development of the production base and services, Beijing forms the legal basis for managing the national segment of the Internet. By March, the 2016 of the PRC adopted the 41 law, the 46 administrative acts of the State Council of the PRC, the 37 clarifications on judicial practice, the 274 regulations of the government apparatus, the 133 local regulations, the 138 regulations of local importance, the entire 669 document, which regulate the behavior in the information system country field.
For 17 years, China has formed a comprehensive, multifunctional cybersphere management system, which has a powerful staffing and technical capabilities. It includes not only the Ministry of Industry and Informatization, the largest Chinese IT companies. Formed a special government agency responsible for the development and implementation of policies in cyberspace - the Administration for Cyberspace Affairs of the PRC. Most often, this institution is actively working and under the direct patronage of the leader of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping, is simplified to associate with the department that performs censorship and prohibition functions, blocks harmful websites and filters unwanted information.
In practice, it is a very serious agency that is responsible for implementing state policy in cyberspace, analyzing the situation in the network, implementing programs to ensure security in the digital environment. The department includes 9 departments responsible for analyzing the state of the information space, coordinating work to ensure information security, international cooperation, controlling mobile Internet, disseminating online news, and so on. The structure also includes three Centers that deal with the response to cyberthreats, research work, collection and processing of public statements about the distribution of malicious information in the network.
All this shows that China today is the largest cyber-country in East Asia, with serious production, technology, scientific and other opportunities in the field of ICT, with a strong potential for control over cyberspace.
By the way, at the same Fourth World Conference on Internet Governance in Wuzhen, with which we began this story, a report was presented on the development of the world's network resources, as well as the index of global Internet development developed by Chinese analysts. The index includes 38 countries of the world, which occupy a leading position in the development of digital space. The index took into account such indicators as infrastructure development, innovation potential, general industry development, application of Internet applications, provision of cybersecurity and Internet governance. According to the findings of Chinese analysts, the first three places are shared by the US, PRC and the Republic of Korea. Russia, according to experts of the Celestial Empire, is at 18 place, somewhere between Denmark and Italy.
In other words, until recently China, which modestly kept in digital shadow, now claims that it has outgrown the status of the strongest regional Internet power and moves to a new level of the global cyber superpower.
This application is supported by the Chinese "International Strategy for Cooperation in Cyberspace" promulgated 1 March 2017. In this "Strategy", for the first time in China, the notion of "sovereignty in cyberspace" is introduced, which is interpreted as a fundamental principle of "protecting national sovereignty in cyberspace." It declares the right of each country to choose the path of development of sovereign cyberspace and claims not to allow the cyber hegemony of the hegemony of a single country, the concept of "sovereignty of cybernetic spaces". The same document applies for the first time the notion of "joint management and international cyberspace, on the basis of equality and mutual benefit".
Thus, China is already ready on an equal footing with the main centers of management of the digital sphere and to tackle the problem of Internet governance on a global scale.
The modern Internet phenomenon is transnational. Its functioning, most of the infrastructure and management are provided not by states, but by private companies, not only software developers and manufacturers of network equipment, but also large financiers and scientists. Undoubtedly, the role of the state in regulating activities in the network is increasing, and correlates with such problems as streamlining the activities of the national segments of the web, ensuring information security, and creating a legal platform for the Internet. But it should be recalled that, despite the fact that there is no single center for cyberspace management, key positions in this area are taken by the United States already by virtue of the fact that it is here that the standards for the functioning of the network are developed and implemented, new services are created, network hardware. In addition, it is the United States that is the key point where all the threads of the World Wide Web are flocking, and where they are often pulled for these threads.
The exacerbated discussions between China and the United States on mutual cyber threats are only a manifestation of the real situation when two queens on a chessboard begin to argue. But they not only argue, but also try to negotiate during meetings of the working group on information security within the framework of the US-China strategic dialogue.
Accusations against China of hacking attacks on critical infrastructure facilities for the United States are just a reason to put pressure on Beijing. Because the Americans are doing the same all over the world, including in relation to their allies. In cyberspace there are no patrons, here every man for himself. And it’s not even the case that some advanced Chinese high school student or student illegally entered the Pentagon’s information network and hoisted the national flag of the People’s Republic of China on the home page of the US Defense Ministry’s public website.
For Americans, the headache is the speed with which China is closing the gap between the emergence of the latest ICT development in the world and the beginning of its industrial production in the PRC. The gap between the appearance of the first PS and the start of their production in China was a little over 10 years. The gap between the appearance of the Apple iPhone and the first Chinese smartphone close in parameters to it was 1,5-2 of the year. And today, smartphones Huawei, Xiaomi have become very worthy competitors to the famous product of Apple.
A similar trend is observed in the development and industrial development of more complex network equipment, including the most sophisticated technologies for repelling cyberthreats. For now, the quality of Chinese products lags behind the European or American. But this circumstance is not an obstacle to progress. In other words, today a situation has arisen in which the monopoly of US companies and their allies in the production of network components, as well as in the field of Internet governance and control, is being seriously tested.
So far, the principle of "who controls cyberspace, controls the world," works for America and its allies, but it is already clear that a new player has invaded this sphere. And here he does not behave like a bear in a china shop, but rather as a balanced panda, who feels comfortable in digital bamboo thickets. And it is quite obvious that the world is on the verge of meeting with a new cyber superpower.