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Statement at Budapest Conference on Cyber Issues

Dr. HUANG Huikang, Legal Advisor of Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

Director-General of the Department of Treaty and Law, MFA,

the People's Republic of China

Oct. 4th, 2012, Budapest

Your Excellency, Honorable Minister Janos Martonyi, Distinguished Delegates, Dear Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

Let me start by expressing my sincere gratitude to the government of Hungary for its great efforts in hosting the conference on cyberspace.

The internet is one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. It has significantly changed people's way of life and promoted the development and progress of human society. While providing more opportunities and benefits to the people, it has also brought many challenges to the world. It is therefore an important task for the entire international community to conduct serious discussions on how to make the best use of the opportunities and at the same time to meet the challenges effectively.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It was not until 1994 that the internet was formally introduced to China, but since then its progress has been rapid. The number of internet users in China has reached more than 540 million, ranking the first in the world. China's internet market is also huge with relevant industries growing fast. In 2011, the total turnover of e-commerce reached 930 billion US dollars, equaling 12.5% of its annual GDP. The competitiveness and innovation capabilities of the 20,000-plus Chinese internet companies have been enhanced with some of them becoming world-famous.

However, with only 40% of its population having access to the internet, further development of internet is of national importance to China. Its infrastructure such as the broadband still lags far behind the developed countries. There are notable imbalances in internet application between the urban and rural areas and among different regions. In addition, domestic legislation needs improvement, and solutions to cyber security challenges such as cyber crimes and cyber attacks needs to be developed.

The Chinese government has formulated its basic internet policy, namely "active utilization, sustainable development, effective management according to law, and ensuring security" of the internet. The Chinese government respects and protects in accordance with the law, its citizens' freedom of expression online, and is exploring a path of internet management that are both suitable to its national conditions and compatible with international common practices.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As an old Chinese saying goes, nothing can be accomplished without rules. The world today is based on rules. Although cyberspace is virtual, it needs rules and norms to follow. China holds that the United Nations, as the most universal and representative international organization, is the best forum for elaboration of international norms and rules in cyberspace. China proposes that the following principles be observed in strengthening international cooperation on internet related issues.

First, sovereignty. Cyber sovereignty is the natural extension of state sovereignty into cyberspace and should be respected and upheld. The Geneva Declaration of Principles adopted at the World Summit on the Information Society in 2003 clearly stated that "policy authority for internet-related public policy issues is the sovereign right of states". Every country is entitled to formulate its policies and laws in light of its history, traditions, culture, language and customs, and manage the internet accordingly.

Second, balance. Free flow of information is the life of the internet. It enhances communication among people and economic and social development. However, free flow of information doesn’t mean non-limitations or non-regulations. It shall not be used as the excuse for illegal and irresponsible information rampant on the internet. Neither developed nor developing countries can afford, or remain indifferent to harmful information flooding cyberspace, or allow it to pose threats to national security and social order. Therefore, appropriate balance must be maintained between the free flow of information and necessary regulation of internet based on the actual situation of respective countries. It is not advisable to over-emphasize either of them.

Third, peaceful use. Peaceful use of cyberspace benefits the interests of every country and the common interests of mankind. We call upon all countries to observe the UN Charter and universally recognized international laws and norms governing international relations, not to take advantage of their internet technologies and resources to jeopardize the national security of other countries, not to conduct hostile activities against other countries or threaten international peace and security, and not to research, develop or use cyber weapons. States should work together to create a peaceful and secure cyberspace.

Fourth, equitable development. All countries are equally entitled to participate in the management of international critical internet resources. A multilateral, transparent and democratic global internet governance system should be established so as to ensure fair allocation of international critical internet resources, stable and safe operation of the internet, and equitable development of the internet around the world. There is a big digital divide between developing and developed countries, which is still widening due to the financial crisis. Developed countries should take concrete steps to strengthen capacity-building assistance to the developing countries.

Fifth, international cooperation. Given the cross-border, fluid nature of the internet, countries must strengthen cooperation in order to tackle cyber security threats effectively. Countries should, based on equality and mutual-benefit, conduct exchanges and cooperation on cyberspace, increase mutual understanding and trust, starting from those areas where states have common concerns, for example, combating cyber crimes.

I hope that the above principles proposed by the Chinese side will be conducive to the international discussions on international rules of cyberspace. In conclusion, I wish to reaffirm that the Chinese government will continue to strengthen international cooperation on cyber issues, and work with all countries to build an open and secure cyberspace.

I wish the Budapest Conference a full success.

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