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An Attractive Alternative? China’s Approach to Cyber Governance and Its Implications for the Western Model


China’s cyber norm-building efforts can be usefully explored based on the concept of the norm life cycle developed by Finnemore and Sikkink. Although China puts cyber sovereignty and government involvement at the core of its cyber governance approach, its Internet policies are a result of interactions between state agencies and business units, and recent reforms suggest greater involvement of Chinese companies. Moreover, many countries, including some from the West, have placed increasing emphasis on intergovernmental involvement and data sovereignty when developing their Internet policies. The EU, for instance, believes that digital sovereignty is necessary to protect its own market from US and Chinese technology giants. Despite the fundamental differences between Brussels's digital sovereignty and Beijing’s cyber sovereignty, the dichotomy between China’s sovereignty-oriented approach and the more open approach of Western countries is more blurred than it may appear, leading to Western countries, the EU in particular, potentially becoming more receptive to China’s cyber norms.
Keywords: cyber governance; cyber sovereignty; EU; China