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Risks growing for cybersecurity

Li Wenfang and Zhang Yi
Updated: Jul 18,2015 9:59 AM     China Daily

Guests address the 15th Forum on Internet Media of China in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, on July 17. The forum was attended by about 300 guests, including senior ministerial officials and leaders of key Internet websites.[Photo/China Daily]

More action should be taken to safeguard cybersecurity since the country’s Internet environment is facing an increasing risk of being attacked, officials and experts said at an Internet media forum in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, on July 17.

Cybersecurity has become a serious challenge with the ceaseless emergence of Internet criminal acts, hacking attacks and leaks of private information, said Ren Xianliang, vice-minister of the Cyberspace Administration of China, the country’s top Internet regulator, during his keynote speech.

“In addition, the use of the Internet by terrorists, religious extremists and extremist forces in certain areas has helped them infiltrate more areas,” he said.

The Internet has had a profound impact on the country’s governance and the life of individuals since it was introduced to China in 1994. The country had the world’s largest number of Internet users-649 million-at the end of last year.

The Chinese government has intensified efforts to increase Internet security, especially after Edward Snowden revealed details of the United States’ extensive surveillance program. In February, the central Internet security leading group was set up with President Xi Jinping as the head.

At the end of last month, a 68-article draft cybersecurity law was submitted to the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, for discussion. The law, when passed after three readings by lawmakers, will be the first legal document offering statutory criteria for what is punishable when the country’s cybersecurity is threatened.

Ren reiterated the importance of bearing in mind Snowden’s revelations, and he warned that cybersecurity has become one of the main challenges for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a reference to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives. These initiatives, which include transportation infrastructure projects linking Asia and Europe, were launched by Xi in 2013.

Wang Yiwei, a professor at Renmin University of China’s School of International Relations, said at the meeting that China is facing a huge challenge in maintaining order and security on the Internet.

As China is speeding up cyberindustry development, the balance between the use of information technologies and the security issues for businesses should be properly addressed, he said.

The Belt and Road Initiative relies much on the Internet, so there is an urgent need to formulate laws to protect cybersafety, he added.

Wei Zhengxin, an official of Internet affairs at the State Council Information Office, said there is an urgent need to protect the Internet domain names of Chinese organizations and businesses.

Efforts should be reinforced to prevent domain names such as “.cn” from being misused by scammers, he said.

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