China presents ‘global standard for data security’

As tensions between the U.S. and China heighten over data security issues, Beijing took a proactive step to unveil a “data security initiative” that it believes can serve as “a global standard for data security.”

The Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, appearing in a video during a closed-door meeting in Beijing on Tuesday, announced the eight-part framework that touches on contentious topics such as Beijing’s handling of user data.

Per the rules laid out by the initiative, Beijing will not ask Chinese companies to transfer overseas data to the government in breach of other countries’ laws. China also calls on states to oppose mass surveillance against other states and asks companies to refrain from installing backdoors in their products and services for illegal data collection.

The timing of the announcement is curious, just days before the TikTok sale is scheduled to finish. Washington has maintained that the popular video app poses a national security threat to the U.S. because it could hand in data of American users to Beijing, a claim that TikTok has denied. Last week, China amended an export law that could complicate the TikTok sale.

The U.S. authority has also persisted for years over its rhetoric that Huawei puts spyware in its telecommunications equipment, though Washington has not presented public and direct evidence to support the claim.

While some may dispute concepts put forward by Beijing’s new data security standard, one thing is for certain: China is continuing to push the cyber sovereignty notion, which has manifested itself in the Great Firewall and data localization rules.

Chinese and foreign officials as well as think tanks and company representatives were present at the Tuesday meeting and expected to offer suggestions on the initiative, said the Global Times, the Chinese Communist Party’s official paper.

In his speech, Zhang launched an attack on the Trump Administration’s “Clean Network” program that could purge a range of Chinese tech firms from the U.S. or prevent them from doing business with American firms.

“A certain country keeps making groundless accusations against others in the name of a ‘clean’ network and uses security as a pretext to prey on enterprises of other countries that have a competitive edge. Such blatant acts of bullying must be opposed and rejected,” said the official without naming the country, though there was no ambiguity in his description.