Russia China Cybersecurity Agreement

In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an agreement “on cooperation to guarantee international information security.” While the Western press reported that the two sides had signed a non-aggression pact, it is more realistic to view the agreement as an expression of the common perception of the threat between China and Russia. It also provided a framework for future cooperation in internet control (and did not prevent Moscow and Russia from hacking into each other). Meanwhile, Russia has expressed concern about US control of the internet and its own internet governance since western sanctions against Russia were implemented in 2014. In 2014, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made a statement indicating that Russia could take steps to prevent foreign interference in its internet. His statement coincides with China`s idea of Internet sovereignty. With the consensus on internet sovereignty, the language of protecting Internet sovereignty in cyberspace has been integrated as a new aspect of cooperation in the German-Russian cybersecurity pact. Since 2014, closer relations between China and Russia have sparked speculation that relations with an alliance are deepening. The 2015 Sinorussian cybersecurity agreement seemed to mark another Russian-Russian cooperation – cyberspace. The pact has two main characteristics: mutual assurance on non-aggression in cyberspace and language that advocates cyber-sovereignty. Valentin Weber is a DPhil candidate for cybersecurity and a research partner at the Centre for Technology and Global Affairs at the University of Oxford. You can follow him @weberv_. At the meeting, Russian participants reiterated the concerns of Chinese delegates about the reluctance of the United States to share its sovereignty over the current internet and on “aggressive media propaganda”, i.e. on information received from the West.

National prefiltration has also been proposed to protect Russia`s digital sovereignty, as well as the need for further regulation of the internet in order to improve the quality of online content. When the forum was closed, there seemed to be a call to “oppose the efforts of certain nations to usurp the possession of the Internet.” Instead of building trust or preventing cyberespionage between the two countries, Sinorussian cybersecurity cooperation is therefore a strategic step to challenge Us domination of the internet. The first Russian-Chinese forum on the development and security of information and communication technologies, held in Moscow in April 2016, illustrates the deepening of Sino-Russian cooperation in the field of cyber-sovereignty. The April meeting brought together 50 Chinese IT experts and CSAC government officials, including Lu Wei, the head of cybersecurity and internet policy, and Fang Binxing, the architect of China`s Great Fire Wall. This Sinorussian cybersecurity forum focused on implementing internet regulation and protecting cyber-sovereignty. The 2015 bilateral cyberspace agreement called on China and Russia to strengthen “cooperation and coordination” on international information security. Both sides have promoted cyber sovereignty by the United Nations, the International Telecommunications Union, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Putting governments on the same side of cybersecurity remains a challenge, as differences of opinion are found in trying to find a common lexicon from which to start. Overall, the West favours technological focus and prefers a nomenclature of cybersecurity, while the Chinese and Russian governments prefer information security and stress that information is a potentially dangerous weapon, as is the technology on which it stops.