TAIPEI, Taiwan—Beijing rolled out a global “data security initiative” with much fanfare on Sept. 8, but one local cybersecurity expert explained why Beijing has an ulterior motive behind the move.
“China has three intentions behind this initiative and one of them serves the purpose of external promotion,” said Lin Tsung-nan, a professor who specializes in data science, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity at Taiwan’s National Taiwan University.
“The different claims within the initiative seem very reasonable on the surface, which would allow [Beijing] to say that the United States is being selfish in rolling out its ‘Clean Network’ against China,” Lin said in a phone interview.
Foreign minister Wang took a swipe at the United States’ initiative during his speech on Tuesday.
“Bent on unilateral acts, a certain country keeps making groundless accusations against others in the name of ‘clean’ network and used security as a pretext to prey on enterprises of other countries who have a competitive edge,” Wang said, without directly naming the United States.
China’s hawkish state-run media Global Times, in an article about Wang’s announcement, also cited a Chinese cybersecurity expert who accused the United States of being a “thief that shouts ‘catch the thief’ in cybersecurity.
Scott added: “Communist China exerts significant controls over how their citizens use the internet and steals data and intellectual property from countries around the globe.”
The seemingly “reasonable” claims in China’s new initiative would also allow the Chinese regime to carry out “internal propaganda,” said Lin, so it could say the United States was “slinging mud” at Chinese technology.
Lin added that Beijing likely seeks to rally its “friends” in order to form an alliance to confront the United States.
Lin believed Beijing would also promote the initiative through international agencies that it influences, including those affiliated with the United Nations (UN).
The Taiwanese professor also raised doubts that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would stick to its promises in the initiative.
The CCP often “says one thing and does another,” he said, citing the example of Beijing failing to honor the Sino-British Joint Declaration—a legally-binding international treaty signed in 1984 that paved the way for Hong Kong to be handed back to Chinese sovereignty from British rule in 1997.
“Why would anyone think that the Chinese Communist Party would keep its promises as stated in the data security initiative?” Lin said.