After capturing WHO (World Health Organization), now the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has set its eyes on enslaving ITU (International Telecommunication Union). In its 8 September 2020 missive, the CCP has made clear its intentions: to establish global standards on data security. Perhaps Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi mouthing multilateralism in the same breath and with the same ease with which China violates all multilateral (or regional) agreements now expects the world to believe this sudden embrace of the rules-based order. Irrespective, all democracies must ensure China does not run away with telecommunications standards. Global standards on data security is a work in progress that doesn’t need the intrusion of the CCP. The ITU is the United Nations body overseeing all telecommunications standards. Its members include 193 nations and 900 companies, universities, and other organisations. On the standards front, the ITU is setting them across six parts — development organisations, approved standards, security standards under development, proposed security standards, security best practices, and Identity Management standards.
The CCP’s timing is revealing. It comes as India and the US have banned Chinese apps, the US and the UK have banned Huawei into their 5G networks, and the rest of the world is slowly but surely veering towards such bans. After a failed European tour, where Wang threatened the Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil for visiting Taiwan, which the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas condemned, China is now looking at tech intrusion where diplomatic incursions have failed. He talks about preventing data leakage, when its own record, institutionalised by its National Intelligence Law, is abysmal (read paper here). It seeks to call on countries to not engage in large-scale surveillance of other countries, even as Australia has stopped Chinese investments in its critical infrastructure, and the US has banned Huawei (we wait for India to follow) for the same reason. CCP is accusing “some individual countries” of bullying, at a time when the Party under the “Chairman of Everything”, Xi Jinping, has been smothering smaller countries around its borders and in the South China Sea.
Given its track record at WHO, we cannot trust the UN and its bodies to ensure neutrality anymore. Individual nations, particularly the G7 and India, need to stay alert and prevent the capture of telecommunications standards, the biggest driver of global economies in the 21st century, by an authoritarian CCP now running amuck.