National position of the People's Republic of China (2021)

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

This is the national position of the People's Republic of China on international law applicable to cyberspace. The position[1] has been rendered available by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in October 2021. Furthermore, in December 2021, the People's Republic of China issued a paper outlining its views on the application of the principle of sovereignty in cyberspace whose content is equally reflected on this page.[2]

Applicability of international law[edit | edit source]

"The phenomenal development of information technology revolution and digital economy is exerting far-reaching influence over social and economic development of States and human civilization. All parties should uphold multilateralism, ensure fairness and justice, put equal emphasis on security and development, step up dialogue and cooperation, promote global governance and international rules-making, and build a community of shared future in cyberspace."[3]

"[..]The international community, with a view to maintaining international peace and security, should undertake discussions within the framework of the UN on how international law applies to the use of ICTs by States, taking into account the unique attributes of ICTs, and further develop common understandings on this issue.

The UN Charter and the principles enshrined in it, including sovereign equality, refraining from the use or threat of force, settlement of international disputes by peaceful means and non-intervention in the internal affairs of other States, apply in cyberspace. The application of these principles is the cornerstone of the peace, security and stability in cyberspace.

States should handle the applicability of the law of armed conflicts and jus ad bellum with prudence, and prevent escalation of conflicts or turning cyberspace into a new battlefield.

To maintain long-lasting peace and stability in cyberspace, new international legal instruments tailored to the attributes of ICTs and evolving realities should be developed based on broad participation of all States. Cyber terrorism imposes significant threat on national security and social stability of States, which could be considered as an important direction for new legal instruments."[4]

"States can conduct policy and technical exchanges, law-enforcement cooperation and information sharing on a voluntary basis to enhance mutual trust and reduce misperception and miscalculation.

For realizing fair, reasonable and universal access to the Internet, popularization of ICTs, equal sharing of digital dividends and global common and sustainable development, international cooperation and assistance on ICT security should be promoted. States should step up cooperation on emergency response capabilities. States should not conduct malicious cyber activities against the State which is seeking the assistance or a third State under the pretext of providing assistance."[5]

Sovereignty[edit | edit source]

"The principle of sovereignty applies in cyberspace. States should exercise jurisdiction over the ICT infrastructure, resources, data as well as ICT-related activities within their territories, and have the rights to protect their information systems and important data against damage resulting from threats, interference, attack and sabotage. States have the right to make ICT-related public policies, laws and regulations to protect legitimate interests of their citizens, enterprises and social organizations. States should refrain from using ICTs to interfere in intermal affairs of other States and undermine their political, economic and social stability, or to conduct activities that undermine other States' national security and public interests. States should participate in the management and distribution of international Internet resources on equal footings, and build a global Internet governance system of multilateralism, democracy and transparency."[6]

"State sovereignty in cyberspace is a legally binding principle under international law. If a State infringes on the internal supremacy and external independence that another State enjoys on the basis of its national sovereignty over ICT-related infrastructure, entities and activities as well as relevant data and information within its territory, it is a violation of the principle of sovereignty, which will constitute a wrongful act under international law. The acts may include, among others, unauthorized penetration into the network systems in the territory or within the jurisdiction of another State, causing disruption or damage of relevant infrastructure or undermining a State’s exclusive sovereign rights in cyberspace."[7]

Prohibition of intervention[edit | edit source]

"No State shall intervene in other States’ rights to survival, security and development in cyberspace. No State shall support or allow separatist forces to undermine other States' territorial integrity, national security and social stability through use of ICTs."[8]

Due diligence[edit | edit source]

"No State shall knowingly allow its territory, or territory or ICT facilities, data and information under the control of its government, to be used for ICT activities that undermine national security or interests."[9]

Appendixes[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

Bibliography and further reading[edit | edit source]