The governments of Russia and China are close to signing a cyber-security cooperation agreement that would enable the two countries to conduct “joint cyber-security operations”, according to Russian media reports.
The treaty is expected to be signed during President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to China in November, according to Kommersant, the business newspaper owned by Alisher Usmanov.
Kommersant quoted unnamed sources “close to the Kremlin” as saying that the final text of the “two-sided agreement on cooperation in the field of information security” was not ready yet, but officials hope the document will be signed on November 10, according to Russia Today.
According to Kommersant, the draft treaty states that the two countries oppose the use of IT and the internet to interfere in the internal affairs of independent states, to undermine national sovereignty as well as political, economic and “social stability and public order”.
The Russo-Chinese cyber-security treaty reflects the two countries’ position following the Edward Snowden revelations, that revealed the extent of US National Security Agency (NSA) and GCHQ surveillance of internet traffic – as well as some insight into their foreign cyber-attack operations, such as GCHQ’s successful penetration of Belgian telecoms company Belgacom.
Both Russia and China have protested to the US about the extent of NSA internet activities, while cyber-security initiatives involving the US with Russia and China have also stalled.
The draft agreement between Russia and China is also intended to prevent cyber-security “incidents from escalating into full-scale conflicts”, and goes much further than a 2013 cyber-security agreement between Russia and the US.
That, more rudimentary, agreement was intended only to avoid a cyber-security incident from getting out-of-hand through measures like creating dedicated hotlines between national authorities. The treaty with China would enable the two countries to work on joint projects and “conduct joint cyber-security operations”.
According to the report, Russia is also intending to involve other BRIC countries – Brazil and India – in the draft treaty. “Russia and China are already cooperating in the field of cyber security – but on a multilateral basis, in the framework of the SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organisation],” claims the report.
In addition to Russia and China, SCO also encompasses Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikstan and Uzbekistan. Observer states include Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan. Belarus, Sri Lanka and Turkey are so-called “dialogue partners”.
“[Kommersant] called the future document a logical continuation of the already established Russian-Chinese policy for preserving information security as part of an agreement prepared within the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
“The deputy head of the Russian Institute for Informational Security Problems emphasised that Russia and China had no fear of mutual attacks, but was promoting cooperation in the sphere,” reported Russia Today.