As part of her trip to China with the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson today met Mr Lu Wei, Minister of the Cyber Administration of China.
Speaking after the meeting, Ms Anderson said: “We had a constructive meeting with Mr Lu and his colleagues in the State Internet Information Office, where we discussed several issues of importance to EU-China relations in cyber activity.
“European representatives raised the issue of internet freedom and censorship in China, as well as the issue of freedom of expression for Chinese citizens online, in particular on social media. The rights to access information on the internet, and to express ideas online, are fundamental and should not be unreasonably restricted in China, or anywhere else.
“European technology companies are pushing for increased access to Chinese markets for their products and programmes, and during the meeting I urged all representatives present that data protection and privacy of all users must be safeguarded.
“Last week the European Parliament passed a motion against mass electronic surveillance, which focused on the activities of Western security agencies, particularly the US NSA, Britain’s GCHQ and others. The privacy of internet users is a fundamental right, and this right should be defended in Europe and in China.
“In our meeting, I raised with the minister the need for change in the Chinese system where at present there are no legal restrictions on the state accessing the data and online activity of internet users.
“As we move increasingly towards cloud computing and online storage of personal information, we need demonstrable commitments from the Chinese government that legal restrictions on such unlimited state access will be imposed on any cloud storage based in China that holds information of EU consumers.”
Another topic discussed at the meeting was the issue of hacking and cyber attacks.
Ms Anderson said: ”Both Chinese and US authorities have been criticised by the international community over so-called cyber-attacks against each other, in which government personnel information, commercial secrets and military information have been stolen in hacking episodes.
“The EU needs to acknowledge that such activities have been carried out by EU member states and by the US in particular on a massive scale, instead of solely pointing the finger at China. Similarly, we need a commitment from China to engage in a framework for bringing these attacks to an end.
“We don’t want to see an escalating spiral of such cyber attacks. I welcome the fact that in recent weeks the US and China have reached an agreement on mutually ending such activities. This specific agreement may not be lasting in the long term, but such cooperation and international agreements are the key to bringing an end to this activity.” ENDS