China's propaganda chief says Cold War mentality hindering mutual trust in cyber space

Mr Huang Kunming reading a message from Chinese President Xi Jinping at the opening ceremony of the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, on Oct 20, 2019.
Mr Huang Kunming reading a message from Chinese President Xi Jinping at the opening ceremony of the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, on Oct 20, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

WUZHEN, CHINA (REUTERS) - A "Cold War mentality" and "bully behaviour" are hindering mutual trust in cyber space, China's propaganda chief said on Sunday (Oct 20) at the start of the World Internet Conference in the eastern Chinese town of Wuzhen.

Mr Huang Kunming, head of the publicity department of China's ruling Communist Party, also said that under the pretext of national security, some countries had launched cyber attacks on countries and enterprises.

Mr Huang did not specify which countries he was referring to.

"The Cold War thinking and zero sum game, this has stopped and hindered exchanges in cyber space. Also, bully behaviour in cyber space has had a negative impact on mutual trust," he said.

"By using national security as an excuse, some countries have attacked some countries and enterprises. This has increased the uncertainty, opposition and negativity in cyber space."

The state-run World Internet Conference, one of the country's most prominent tech conferences, takes place this year against a backdrop of rising United States-China tensions that has especially overshadowed the tech sector.

Washington has barred US firms from exporting to certain Chinese tech companies through trade blacklists and the two countries have slapped tit-for-tat tariffs on each other in a intensifying trade war, which has also hit tech supply chains.

China has traditionally used the three-day event, whose attendees this year include Alibaba Group, Baidu Inc, Microsoft Corp and Qualcomm Inc, to promote its own ideology for global Internet governance and defend its highly policed cyber space.

China has been pushing for a bigger role in global Internet governance and has called on nations to respect Beijing's "cyber sovereignty", the idea that countries should be free to control and censor their Internet infrastructure as they see fit.

The annual conference is organised by Internet censorship bureau, the Cyberspace Administration of China, which is responsible for managing China's tight controls over its cyber space that prevents users in the country from accessing services from the likes of Facebook and Google.