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Statement of the Chinese Delegation at the Thematic Discussion on Information Security at the First Committee of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly

2020/10/30

Mr. Chair,

We are living in an unprecedented digital age. The digital economy is flourishing, the new technological revolution and industrial transformation is in the making, and countries are more interdependent than ever before. In the meantime, the mounting risks and challenges of data security across the world call for global solutions. What is pressing now is to develop a set of international rules on data security that reflect the will and respect the interests of all countries through broad-based participation.

To effectively respond to the challenges of data security, maintain global data and supply chain security, and promote the development and cooperation of digital economy, China has put forward the Global Initiative on Data Security and called for the following: States should take measures to prevent ICT activities that impair or steal important data of other States’ critical infrastructure and jeopardize personal information through the uses of ICTs; States should oppose mass surveillance against other States with ICTs as a tool; States should not request domestic companies to store the data generated and obtained overseas in their own territory; ICT products and services providers should not install backdoors in their products and services.

This initiative is based on the established consensus of the international community and responds directly to emerging questions with a global solution, and hopefully it will provide a basis for international rules-making in this area. After the initiative was proposed, it has drawn extensive attention from the international community. Many countries believe that the initiative is very constructive and offers a solution to major data security issues. China keeps an open and inclusive mind to good suggestions from all sides, and stands ready to have meaningful exchanges with all parties at multilateral and regional platforms like the UN and G20. We believe that with the passage of time, this initiative will be endorsed and supported by more and more countries. China will work with all parties to jointly formulate universally accepted data and cybersecurity rules, forge a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyberspace, promote sound development of the digital economy and make contribution to the progress of humankind.

Mr Chair,

Due to the impact of the pandemic, this year’s OEWG and GGE processes have lagged behind their original schedules. Thanks to Ambassador Lauber, Chair of OEWG, and Ambassador Patriota, Chair of GGE, for their able leadership and excellent organization of the Secretariat, informal discussions on relevant issues were successfully held through video platforms, which ensured the continuity of discussions. We expect that the two processes can be successfully concluded next year and submit substantive reports to the 75th Session of the General Assembly as scheduled.

Many countries are considering how to advance the discussion on information security under the framework of the UN after the two processes are concluded. We are pleased to note that the Russian delegation has submitted a draft resolution on convening a new OEWG with a five-year mandate. At the same time, we have also noted that some countries have put forward another proposal on “institutional dialogue”. China believes that the two proposals have something in common at their core, which is to establish an inclusive mechanism at the UN to discuss and negotiate information security issues relevant to international security and end the current dual track discussions.

China always supports establishment of an inclusive and sustained information security process with universal participation under the auspices of the UN while upholding the centrality of the UN. For this reason, we cosponsored UN resolution 73/27 calling for the establishment of OEWG, the first information security process with universal participation in the history of the UN. For the same reason, we voted against resolution 73/266 on reconvening GGE, as the establishment of two parallel processes with similar mandates not only creates redundancy, but also incites division. After two years of discussions, more and more countries have come to agree with China’s view that there should be only one process in the UN in which all countries can participate in discussions on an equal footing.

With regard to “institutional dialogue” in the future, China believes it should include the following elements:

First, it should firmly uphold the political consensus agreed upon, especially the 2015 GGE report. Unlike “Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects”, discussions on information security in the UN do not start from scratch. The consensus agreed upon in the past should serve as a basis for future work.

Second, no matter what kind of meeting framework the discussion will take, the mandate of all meetings including review conference and annual meeting should include two parts. First is “looking backwards”, that is to discuss the implementation of commitments by all parties. Second is “looking forward”, that is to formulate new norms and rules in compliance with the evolving situation and technological development.

Third, the agenda and scope of discussion of “institutional dialogue” should keep pace with the times. With the development of digital technologies, data security issues bearing on international security have become increasingly prominent. China hopes that the new “institutional dialogue” can include data security in its mandate.

China supports the draft resolution proposed by the Russian delegation. At the same time, we hope the two countries that put forward the two proposals can step up communication and reach consensus on the follow-up mechanism. China is willing to take an active part in relevant discussions, and make due contributions to upholding the centrality of the UN in the field of international information security and promote the establishment of a multilateral and inclusive process on information security with universal participation.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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