The eighth meeting of the Sino-European Cyber Dialogue (SECD) was convened on 18 and 19 September 2019 in Beijing, China. The meeting was hosted by The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS) and the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and Estonia, and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.
SECD is a track 1.5 dialogue on cyberspace issues supported by the Chinese government, a number of European governments as well as the European External Action Service. The meeting was attended by a broad range of European and Chinese officials and scholars responsible for cybersecurity and Internet governance issues. In total,42 participants attended the meeting. In addition to civil society participation, 11 European governments and the EU were represented, as well as a number of Chinese ministries and organizations.
The goals of the discussions have been to reduce misperceptions and to increase transparency and mutual understanding on how each country approaches cybersecurity. Participants identified areas of potential cooperation, including the application of international law, confidence building measures (CBMs)and agreement on norms of responsible behavior. Several ideas for cooperation were proposed by HCSS and CICIR to this end and will require further discussion.
In the Beijing meeting, participants from each delegation first commented on the events, developments and major milestones since the previous meeting. Afterwards, they discussed challenges to the development of digital economy and Internet governance, norms and norm processes, new threats and new ways to deal with them. There was an engaged exchange of ideas, the balance between data protection and the free flow of data across borders, methods to agree on and implement norms of responsible State behavior and possible CBMs. Of particular interest were the relationship between the UN Group of Governmental Experts and the Open-Ended Working Groupon Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security and what potential Sino-European cyber CBMs could look like.
The delegates stressed the importance of a reliable functioning of cyberspace and recognized the value that open dialogues and other practical CBMs have on enhancing mutual understanding, cooperation and de-escalation, and in ensuring the overall stability of cyberspace.
Following the meeting, CICIR shared a research paper on Sovereignty in Cyberspace with the European delegation as an example of academic exchange. Looking forward, delegates expressed their willingness to continue the discussions in the ninth iteration of the Sino-European Cyber Dialogue, most likely to take place in the autumn of 2020.