Cybersecurity and the Cybersphere
April 4, DoubleTree by Hilton Moscow, Leningradskoe shosse, 39, str. 1, Moscow, Russia; April 5, Valdai Club Conference Hall, Bolshaya Tatarskaya, 42, Moscow, Russia
List of speakers

Is it possible to overcome jointly the challenges to cybersecurity? This question was answered during the third session of the conference, titled  "China and Russia: Facing Challenges of Global Shifts", which is being held on April 4-5 by the Valdai Discussion Club in cooperation with the Center for Russian Studies at the East China Normal University.

Timofei Bordachev, moderator of the session and Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club, noted the growing relevance of the cybersecurity problem in the modern world in the light of potential acts of aggression with the help of cybernetic means. How to counter cyber threats more effectively? By united efforts or, on the contrary, by outlining the "cyber borders" of each state?

According to Bay Wenli, Deputy Director of the Center for Russian Studies, East China Normal University, the cooperation in the field of international cybersecurity can positively influence relations between Russia and China, despite the uncertainty of principles and rules in this area. Due to the absence of unified mechanisms for cyberspace regulation, each state should strive for stability in this area, Bay said. A supranational platform is needed to prevent cyber threats. If the principles of international law are based on respect for state sovereignty, in the cyberspace it is impossible to determine the boundaries of the competence and responsibility of states. Therefore, it is necessary to build up a separate Internet space for each country on the principles of mutual respect.

Bay emphasized a number of aspects, which observance is necessary for further progress of the Russian-Chinese cooperation in the cybersecurity field. Among them are improvement of the quality of coordination in cyberspace, development and signing of a convention regulating this sphere, political and financial support for cybersecurity programs within the framework of the Eurasian cooperation.

Oleg Demidov, Global Internet Governance and Cyber Security Consultant, PIR Center, noted the progress of Russia-China cooperation in the field of cybersecurity in recent years. In particular, he mentioned the significance of the bilateral agreement of 2015, which allows us to speak about the existence of a certain common conceptual foundation. Demidov highlighted the development trend of the "Internet of things", the importance of standardization and technological regulation in this area. However, achievements in the cyberspace are ahead of the progress in cybersecurity: there is no proper level of data encryption, cryptography, and so on.

According to Demidov, there is a potential for effective cooperation between Russia and China: the development of technology itself is largely a merit of Chinese companies, and Russia has experience in cryptography and encryption. Together with the Chinese resources, the market, a pool of big companies, this will allow to achieve significant results.

Anatoly Streltsov, Deputy Director of the Information Security Institute, Lomonosov Moscow State University, believes that it is necessary to specify the rules and principles of the cybersphere to facilitate their practical implementation. Streltsov countered the notion of a politico-legal definition of sovereignty, invariably tied to a territory, with a new system of international cyberspace, where limits of sovereignty are absent. He stressed the need to apply norms and principles of international law similar to those fixed in the UN Charter, the Geneva and Hague Conventions in the field of cyberspace, while recognizing the complexity of implementing this idea.

According to Streltsov, the world community should agree on establishing limits of sovereignty in cyberspace. Russia, China and the United States are also interested in this adaptation and implementation of the principles of international law in the cyberspace. The expert suggested to consider the idea of creating a sovereign international body, endowed with the proper level of competence to regulate the area of cybersecurity.

Shen Yi, Deputy Director of the Cyberspace Governance Studying Center, Fudan University, said that the Russian-Chinese relations in the cyberspace are at the highest level. One of the main issues and tasks of cybersecurity is the solution of the problem of hegemony in this area. Shen believes that after the revelations by Edward Snowden in 2013 and the US cyberspace violations, the cybersecurity became  almost the main agenda in many countries. Russia and China need cooperation on the level of strategic partnership, to develop a unified position. The combination of the Russian experience in the cyberspace and the Chinese experience in information and technical security will make it possible to create a protected two-country space through special networks.

Experts agreed on the importance of joint Russian-Chinese exercises in the cyberspace, they discussed issues of a scientific and technological alliance creation, development of joint projects in the field of cyberspace on the basis of the mutual information openness.

Read summaries of all sessions of the Russian-Chinese conference

Session 1. Transformation of the Political and Economic World Around Us: Opportunities and Threats for China and Russia

Session 2. Potential for Relations in the China-Russia-US Triangle

Session 3. Cybersecurity and the Cybersphere

Session 4. Situational Dynamics in the “Shared Neighborhood” Countries around Russia and China

Session 5. Energy Market Dynamics: Conclusions for Russia and China

Session 6. Economic Cooperation as Essential Constituent of Comprehensive Sino-Russian Partnership