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World needs fair rules of data security

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China on Sept. 8 launched a global data security initiative, the first one of its kind proposed by a country in the field of digital security.

The Global Initiative on Data Security, focusing on core issues in the world’s digital security governance, aims to offer Chinese schemes and contribute Chinese wisdom to enhancing global digital security governance and promoting sustainable development of digital economy, by regulating government behaviors, promoting shared responsibilities of enterprises, and advocating cooperation to cope with security risks.

The initiative came at a right time when human society is entering the digital era, in which the COVID-19 epidemic is accelerating the digitalization of the economy and society with emerging risks in data security.

It is a great pioneering undertaking that conforms to the trend of the time. As internet is being popularized, and digital technologies such as AI, big data and cloud computing are integrating into the real economy, the world’s data volume is going through exponential growth. Data have become a vital strategic resource for countries, releasing its enormous driving force for the economy and society.

However, in the mean time, data security is also becoming an important issue. Personal data security and privacy protection, the storage and utilization of data, as well as risk control in trans-border flow of data all pose new challenges for countries regarding digital governance capability.

The deficit of global digital governance is especially prominent as countries have different laws, regulations and standards of data protection, which leads to surging compliance cost for enterprises in transnational operation.

The outlook of digital economy will always be haunted by uncertainties if these problems remain unsolved. Therefore, the world is in dire need of a set of global data security rules.

The initiative holds a banner of multilateralism in the sector of global digital governance. Data security is a borderless issue that bothers every country. To enhance global digital governance calls for wide participation of countries, democratic discussion and the making of a set of universal rules that takes care of the interests of all parties.

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However, unilateralism has been emerging in recent years, with several countries trying to form exclusive cliques and even forcing their own wills upon others. The Chinese initiative on global data security aims to categorically safeguard multilateralism in global digital governance. Wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits are the right approaches to solve global issues.

The initiative mirrors a common demand of the world for balancing security and development. The development of digital economy will be unprotected without data security, and data security will also be unsustainable without development. The international society shall look at the problem of data security from a dialectical perspective, and seek balance between data protection and digital development.

In a word, the issue of data security was generated during the development of digital economy, and can only be addressed with higher-level development of digital economy. Establishing barriers and walls and rejecting development for the fear of risks are not the right solutions.

The initiative upholds equity and justice in data security. The discussion of data security shall be focused on data, rather than politicizing the matter by introducing irrelevant factors such as ideology and political systems, let alone presuming conclusions and applying double standards.

Slandering other countries on data security issues in the name of “cleaning,” rejecting enterprises of other countries under the excuse of national security, and suppressing the leading firms of other countries with state power are all digital supremacy and protectionism disguised under data security, which will only hinder global data security cooperation.

The initiative is a solemn promise made by China to safeguard global data security. The country is always poised on the issue of data security. It did and will not request enterprises to illegally offer foreign data to the Chinese government, or force them to store data acquired overseas within its territory, let alone spying on other countries with information technologies.

By proposing the initiative, China hopes that each party can place problems and suggestions on the table for frank discussion, and work with them to establish consensus.

If every country, especially those groundlessly blaming China on data security issues, can make such a promise and is willing to negotiate over a global code of conduct on multilateral platforms, and treats data security issues fairly and objectively with a same standard, international trust will be largely enhanced. It will always boost international solidarity and help the world effectively cope with data security risks.

In the era of digital economy, countries need mutual assistance. For the healthy development of global digital economy, and for a common digitalized future of mankind, the world needs a set of equal rules of data security. It is hoped that the international society can start from the Chinese initiative, jointly forge a community with a shared future in cyberspace, and create a safer, more prosperous and better future in the digital era.


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