China vows to be louder on Internet

Communist Party's priority is for Chinese views to lead global cyber governance

SHANGHAI • China's Internet regulator has vowed to make the views of the ruling Communist Party the "strongest voice in cyberspace", as part of efforts to strengthen its tightening grip on the Internet in the world's most populous country.

Following a two-day meeting, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) also said a priority this year would be "using Chinese views, Chinese plans to lead to a transformation in the governance system of the Internet globally".

Chinese President Xi Jinping has championed a vision for cyberspace in which Internet "sovereignty" rests in the hands of nations that can control the flow of information and fence off certain online content as they please.

Since Mr Xi took China's helm in early 2013, he has presided over a centralisation of domestic Internet governance and broader efforts to control and often censor information online, experts say.

The efforts are aimed at maintaining stability, seen by the Communist Party as a critical pillar of its rule. At China's second World Internet Conference last month, attended by Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft and IBM, Mr Xi called for

respect of different governance models and standardised online security, placing China at the forefront of debates on online control and sovereignty.

This year the CAC will strive to "let the party's achievements in theoretical innovation and practical accomplishments become the highly held main tone and key themes in cyberspace", it said in a statement posted on its website late on Wednesday.

The CAC meeting also discussed ways to improve the governance of cyberspace. China operates a "Great Firewall", the world's most sophisticated online censorship system which blocks - and, as of this year, also attacks - Internet services that the government deems unsavoury.

Hacking has been a sore spot in US-China relations.

On Sept 25, US President Barack Obama said he and Mr Xi had agreed that neither government would knowingly support cybertheft of corporate secrets to support domestic businesses.

The agreement stopped short of restricting spying to obtain government secrets, including those held by private contractors.

Critics of China's Internet governance have said foreign tech companies should not lend Beijing credibility by agreeing to comply with its policies.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2016, with the headline 'China vows to be louder on Internet'. Print Edition | Subscribe