The President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, has announced that the country will not close its doors to the global internet but that it plans to make cyber sovereignty a part of its vision as the internet develops in the country. Essentially, it means that China won’t move onto its own intranet system completely separated from the web but will continue to filter websites.
Huang Kunming, from the country’s Communist Party, read a note on behalf of Xi Jinping which read:
“The development of China’s cyberspace is entering a fast lane … China’s doors will only become more and more open … China stands ready to develop new rules and systems of internet governance to serve all parties and counteract current imbalances.”
According to Reuters, cyber sovereignty is the notion that states should be allowed to manage and contain their own internet without external interference, which in concrete terms means that the country wants to be able to filter out undesirable content without other countries or entities offering ways to circumvent the filters.
Another aspect of cyber sovereignty is where data is stored. In the last year or so, the Chinese Government has made new rules requiring firms to store Chinese users’ data in the country and submit to all data surveillance measures.
In the past year, China has taken steps to strengthen its goal of cyber sovereignty by limiting the ability of individuals to bypass filters that the government has established. At the start of July, it banned individuals from using VPNs and also said that businesses can use VPNs but only if they register with the government first. A few weeks later, Apple took down VPN apps from its App Store in the country to comply with the rule changes.