While speaking at the World Internet Conference in Zhejiang province, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on world leaders to respect China’s “cyber sovereignty.”
He argued that China had a right to choose how to develop and regulate the Internet within its borders.
China has come under intense scrutiny from cyber activists for keeping its roughly 650 million Internet users under some of the world’s strictest cyber controls. Through its use of a censoring system often referred to as the “Great Firewall of China,” Beijing has managed to block major websites and censor social media posts.
On Wednesday, Xi again urged countries to work together in pursuing Internet security – a topic of major concern for states combating terrorists’ recruitment efforts and communications online.
The state-run news agency Xinhua quoted Xi in saying that no leader should pursue “cyber hegemony” or engage in efforts that undermine another’s national security.
The Conference, which is in its second year, is being attended by leaders from Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Reporters Without Borders, however, has been calling on government and company representatives to avoid attending the conference as it believes their attendance would make them stand with China, where almost 40 journalists have been jailed for their posts online.
According to the BBC, last year’s event ended in a “farce” when joint statements calling for attendees to support China’s “national cyber sovereignty” were pushed under delegates’ hotel doors.
Recently, the U.S. and China have accused each other of leading cyber attacks to steal commercial and governmental information. Both nations deny the other’s claims.
At the conference, Xi called for an international governance system to “curb the abuse of information technology, oppose network surveillance and hacking, and fight against a cyberspace arms race”.