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Drop Cold War mentality on China’s cyber security

As China celebrates 20 years of Internet development, it is ironic that China, as the largest victim of cyber security threats, has suffered groundless accusations over hacking other countries.

Twenty years after it embraced the Internet, China boasts 618 million Internet users, almost twice the population of theĀ United States. But the country is still far from being a cyber power.

China annually imports computer chips worth more than 200 billion U.S. dollars, which far exceeds the value of its crude oil imports. Its market for key technologies, including CPUs, operating systems, databases, high-end servers and telecommunications facilities, is dominated by Western giants such as Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Intel and Apple.

Disadvantages in cyberspace have exposed China’s government, military and corporate networks to severe potential threats of intrusion, spying and hacking.

Facing threats to its cyber security or even national security, China does not have enough counter measures at its disposal. The only solution is to beef up its Internet strength by becoming more innovative and cultivating talents in the long run.

All of China’s operations to develop Internet capabilities and technologies adhere to domestic and international laws and deserve no mistrust or criticism from cyber powers.

However, no matter how open and transparent China is on cyberspace issues and no matter how sincerely China seeks international cooperation to tackle cyber crimes, Western countries do not plan to do the same.

Rather, some hold prejudice and hostility toward China’s cyber development.

Certain powers are even waging cyber offensives, as shown in recent revelations of electronic espionage by the United States National Security Agency, including reports that the spy service hacked into Chinese telecommunications company Huawei’s network.

In the wake of this news, accusing China of threatening cyber security amounts to the same hypocrisy as a thief yelling, “Stop thief!” or a bandit calling for justice.

It is true that cooperation and competition coexist in international cyberspace. It is equally true that some powers’ pursuit of a long-term Internet monopoly cannot be a reason for them to block others’ development.

Cooperation should outweigh confrontation as the world faces common cyber threats.

As the two largest economies, China and the United States have conducted many candid and effective dialogues. But we cannot deny that mistrust and attempts to hold China back remain ingrained in the mindset of U.S. politicians.

Unless they cast away the Cold War mentality of turning cyberspace into a battleground to curb China’s rise, it will be impossible to build a just international order or avoid high-risk behavior in cyberspace.

With official claims that the United States “does not seek to militarize cyberspace” and “will maintain an approach of restraint to any cyber operations outside the U.S. government networks,” there is the expectation that such words be translated into concrete policies and actions.

If not, the Internet will never become a “catalyst for freedom and prosperity,” as the United States hopes.

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