Eastern Super-powers Pledge To Fight Cyber Security

Russia and China Pledge to Fight Together for Cyber Security

The world’s two eastern super-powers, Russia and China, have pledged not to attack one another in cyber space and to fight together for “international information security.” More simply, this is seen as a “nonaggression pact in cyberspace,” at a time when relations between the US and Russia are very seriously strained.

The cyber security deal was one of a total of 32 agreements signed by the two nations during a visit to Russia by Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China at the weekend.

In a statement, Xi Jinping said he had held “substantial talks” with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and that they had agreed to continue to develop strategic cooperation and mutual foreign policy support.

In the high-powered publicized on the Russian Government website, the two leaders agreed they would do everything in their power to ensure that the internal political and socio-economic “atmosphere” was not destabilized. They also agreed they would do all they could to ensure public order was not disturbed.

The agreement between the two countries identified the primary threats to information security, and also determined the principles, main areas of interest, mechanisms and forms of cooperation between them. In terms of the agreement, both information technology (IT) and cyber threat data will be shared.

The Russian Foreign Ministry described this as a “strategic partnership,” and stated that the agreement would help to mutually promote a “beneficial cooperation” between China and Russia.

What the Pact Means to the West and US

In an interview transmitted on the US Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Orville Schell, director of the Center on US-China Relations at the Asia Society in Berkeley, California, said the two eastern super-powers had clearly teamed up because both found themselves “at odds with the West.”

He said they had a number of common interests, including:

  • Energy that Russia can offer China
  • Weapons that Russia can supply to China
  • A common 5,000-mile border
  • Psychological symmetry of two “big empires” that have suffered at the hands of Japan and the West

According to Ian Wallace of the New America Foundation’s Cybersecurity Initiative, the joint interest of Russia and China in information security is very different to that in the US and in Europe. He believes the primary interest of Russia and China focuses on “regime stability.”

It is probably also inevitable, following the breakdown of cyber relations between the US and both Russia and China. In 2014 a Russian-US “cyber working group” collapsed after the Russian military offensive in Ukraine. A similar China-US working group also collapsed after five members of the Chinese military were indicted by the US Government for hacking. Different reasons, same result.

China has also come under fire for trying to force US companies operating in that country to use encryption coding approved in Beijing, and make them supply source code to the government for inspection.

The primary difference is that the US, Europe and other Western nations see the Internet as a free hub, while Russia, China and other like-minded nations believe digital data should be controlled at government level. Putin has gone so far as to claim that the Internet was launched as “a CIA project.

Certainly the new cyber security deal between China and Russia is going to set a precedent for cyber security issues facing these two eastern nations.

By Penny Swift

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