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Full text: Speech by Minister Cai Mingzhao at #cybersummit2013, Nov. 5, 2013

The EastWest Institute released the full text of State Council Information Office Minister Cai Mingzhao’s speech this morning at Stanford. The following text was produced by optical character recognition based on the English-language PDF original. The Chinese version is available in PDF here.

Making Joint Efforts to Maintain Cyber Security

Keynote speech at the Fourth World Cyberspace Cooperation Summit
Cai Mingzhao
Minister of the State Council Information Office of China
November 5, 2013, Stanford University

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

First of all, I would like to thank the EastWest Institute for inviting me to this summit, and giving me the opportunity to visit the beautiful campus of Stanford University. Today, I would like to share two of my aspirations with you. The first is that the Chinese people should have a safe and reliable cyberspace that provides them with positive energy as they strive to achieve their dreams. The second is that participants to this summit can reach a consensus on how to deal with the many challenges to cyber security and, through our joint efforts, make new progress in promoting international cooperation on this vital issue.

China first accessed the Internet on April 20, 1994 via facilities based in the United States. Ever since then, the Chinese people have derived enormous. benefit from the Internet. There are more than 600 million Internet users in China today and the Internet has becorne indispensable in people’s work, study and everyday life. Popular access to the Internet has played a significant role in China’s reform and opening up efforts and helped to build and strengthen the connections between China and the rest of the world.

The Chinese government has been working hard to enhance Internet development by devising appropriate policies and providing a favorable market environment and a sound legal framework. We see the Internet as a major driving force that is helping to transform our development pattern and adjust our economic structure. Just recently, the government issued a policy designating information consumption as a major focus of the campaign to boost domestic demand. We will further improve the Internet infrastructure, pursue the “Broadband China” project, and try to achieve an annual 30-percent increase in new-type information consumption.

The development of the Internet in China is very encouraging. Internet-based IT businesses have become a pillar of the economy, contributing 10 percent of China’s GDP. In 2012, the value of e-business transactions carried out in China reached US$1.4 trillion. New web applications are being launched all the time. More than 80 percent of Chinese Internet users use social networking services. Chinese citizens have opened nearly 1.3 billion micro-blog accounts. The mobile Internet, cloud computing, big data, the Internet of Things and other cutting-edge ideas are encouraging innovation and providing huge business opportunities.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

The Chinese government has always placed great emphasis on cyber security. Maintaining cyber security is an important part of China’s national strategy and is high on the government agenda. We always believe that while development is the ultimate goal, security is the guarantee of achieving that goal. Without a secure environment, development will be weak and transient.

China faces serious cyber threats. Between January and August this year, more than 20,000 websites based in China were modified by hackers and more than 8 million servers, 14 percent more than during the same period last year, were compromised and controlled by overseas computers via zombie and Trojan programs. These activities have caused severe damage to our economy and the everyday life of the people. More than 80 percent of Chinese Internet users have fallen victim to cyber attacks at some time or other. The annual economic losses run to tens of billions of US .dollars a year. Cyber crimes, especially Internet fraud, are on the rise year by year and the Internet is increasingly associated with illegal and criminal behaviors. Illegal and harmful materials such as online pornography are affecting young people and have become an issue of great concern to the public.

China supports various efforts to maintain cyber security. Like many other developing countries, China faces greater cyber security challenges than developed countries. As a result, we are very keen to continue working together with other countries to maintain cyber security. We are ready to expand our cooperation with other countries and relevant international organizations on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.

To maintain cyber security, we need to show respect for national sovereignty over cyberspace. The Internet is global, but at the same time it belongs to different countries. Sovereign states have primary responsibility for maintaining order in cyberspace. It thus follows that respect for national sovereignty over cyberspace is an important prerequisite for maintaining international cyber security. Given the differences in levels of economic development, cultural traditions, laws and regulations, each country naturally has its own concerns regarding cyber security. We should respect each country’s public policies on order and security in cyberspace.

To maintain cyber security, we need to build a robust legal system. Just as in the real world, activities in cyberspace need to be governed by law. Every country has a duty to contribute to the creation of a legal framework that will maintain cyber security, punish criminal activity, protect basic rights such as the right to privacy, and promote technological innovation and fair competition in the marketplace. All countries should protect their citizens’ rights to use the Internet in accordance with the law, and citizens should make use of the Internet according to law, because only on this basis can the international community establish order in cyberspace. If each country governs its cyberspace well, incidents that harm overall cyber security can be minimized. Although China has made positive efforts to improve its laws governing cyberspace, we recognize that we still have a long way to go. We want to enhance communication with other countries and learn from them how to build a legal system for cyberspace more scientific and more effective.

To maintain cyber security, we need to strengthen international cooperation. In cyberspace, all countries face the same problems and ultimately share the same fate. Cyber security should be built on the basis of coexistence and cooperation, as cooperation is the only way to achieve win-win solutions to shared problems. The international community should tackle difficulties and challenges together, strengthen communication and exchanges, improve mutual understanding, and jointly shoulder the responsibility for maintaining cyber security.

To strengthen international cooperation and safeguard cyber security; we should take action rather than to be content with empty talks. I, therefore, would like to put forward three proposals today.

Firstly, we should lay down international rules for behavior in cyberspace. We should first define some basic rules guiding behavior in cyberspace that can be observed by all countries. On this basis we should, step by step, create a fair and transparent mechanism for the governance of cyberspace. The definition of basic behavior rules would not only place restraints on all parties, but would also provide protection for the rights of all parties. The international community should, as soon as possible, begin discussions within the framework of the United Nations to promote the process of defining international behavior rules for cyberspace.

Secondly, we should explore effective means to tackle urgent problems. Cyber security involves a number of issues of common concern, such as cyber attacks, viruses and cyber terrorism, as well as issues of concern to specific parties, such as information security and cultural security. I suggest that we give full play to the role of the UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security, identify pressing problems in global security, explore ways and means to solve them, and make clear the direction of actions for all governments and parties concerned. We should start with the problems that are easiest to solve so as to accumulate practical experience that can be applied to more difficult issues in the future.

Thirdly, we should create communication channels to facilitate international cooperation. Dealing with cyber security often involves various government departments and social organizations. To handle problems more efficiently, each country should designate specific government departments or other institutions to establish mechanisms that can quickly respond to calls for international cooperation. This could serve as the substantive action for promoting international cooperation. The National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team Coordination Center of China (CNCERT) has established cooperative relations with 91 organizations in 51 countries and regions and has signed cyber security cooperation memoranda with 13 international organizations. From January to September 2013, the Center received and dealt with a total of 583 requests from international emergency response organizations and other cyber security related organizations. Among them, 106 requests were from the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team. We welcome friends from all over the world to cooperate with the Center.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

The United States and China are Internet giants. We share many common interests and there is enormous scope for cooperation. Our two countries have set up a working group on cyber security within the framework of the China-US Strategic Security Dialogue. We should make good use of this mechanism to carry on dialogue and negotiations on common concerns relating to cyber security so as to increase mutual understanding, keep our differences under control and expand cooperation.

We have already seen positive results from China-US cyber security cooperation. One example is the law enforcement cooperation between the police forces of our two countries. In June 2011, a joint US-China police operation cracked the world’s biggest Chinese-language pornographic website, the Sunshine Entertainment Alliance. A US-based culprit and 12 suspects located in China were arrested. Closing down the Sunshine Entertainment Alliance was a successful cooperation by Chinese and US law enforcement agencies targeting cross-border cyber crime. Cooperation between civil society organizations has also made substantial progress. Four years ago, I recommended to Mr. John Edwin Mroz four possible fields in which the EastWest Institute, the Internet Society of China and CNCERT could cooperate. My suggestion received a positive response from Mr. Mroz and our cooperation has yielded two results. The report, Fighting Spam to Build Trust, issued jointly by EWI and CNCERT in 2011, was a groundbreaking collaborative effort by 34 Chinese and American experts that followed two years of research and discussion. Another report, Frank Communication and Pragmatic Cooperation in Combating Harmful Hacking, to be made public during this summit, embodies the insights and reflections of Chinese and American cyber security experts. It represents another major contribution made by experts from both countries towards maintaining cyber security.

Experience teaches us that where there is action there will be results. Let us join hands to build a safer cyberspace with our wisdom and efforts.

Finally, I would like to wish the Fourth World Cyberspace Cooperation Summit every success.

Thank you all!