China is pushing to rewrite the rules of the internet, aiming to draw the world’s largest group of users away from a US-dominated sphere.
It wants to run parts of the internet on its own terms, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The move comes after a People’s Liberation Army official warned that US domination of cyberspace threatens the overthrow of the Communist Party.
Army colonel Ye Zheng and a Chinese researcher, writing in the state-run China Youth Daily, said the internet represents a new form of global control.
They said the US was a “shadow” present during some recent popular uprisings.
China envisions a future in which governments patrol online discourse like border-control agents, rather than let the US, long the world’s digital leader, dictate the rules.
President Xi Jinping, with the help of conservatives in government, academia, military and the technology industry, is moving to exert influence over virtually every part of the digital world in China, from semiconductors to social media.
In doing so, Xi is trying to fracture the international system that makes the internet basically the same everywhere, and is pressuring foreign companies to help.
On July 1, China’s legislature passed a new security law asserting the nation’s sovereignty extends into cyberspace and calling for network technology to be “controllable”.
A week later, China released a draft law to tighten controls over the domestic internet, including codifying the power to cut access during public-security emergencies.
Other draft laws under consideration would encourage Chinese companies to find local replacements for technology equipment purchased abroad and force foreign vendors to give local authorities encryption keys that would let them control the equipment.
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