Russia and China on Friday signed an extensive cybersecurity pact, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The deal unites the United States’s two main cyberspace adversaries and will likely exacerbate cybersecurity tensions between the U.S. and China. It also signals Russia’s pivot to the East as it clashes with the West over its military action in Ukraine.
The two world powers also pledged to thwart technology that might “destabilize the internal political and socio-economic atmosphere,” “disturb public order” or “interfere with the internal affairs of the state.”
Additionally, both sides will swap cyber threat data and exchange information technology.
The agreement has been rumored since last fall.
“Both the Russians and the Chinese have a joint interest in the conduction of information security, which is clearly very different from the one that we have in U.S. and Europe,” Ian Wallace, co-director of New America Foundation’s Cybersecurity Initiative, told The Hill in November. “They’re focused on regime stability.”
U.S. cyber relations with Russia and China have disintegrated precipitously over the last few years.
A U.S.-Russia cyber working group was essentially frozen in 2014 over Moscow’s military action in Ukraine. And China pulled out of its own cyber working group with the U.S. after the Justice Department last year indicted five Chinese military members for hacking.
China has further irked the international business community and U.S. officials with its recent attempts to install laws requiring foreign firms operating in China to use Beijing-approved encryption and hand over all source code for inspection.
Friday’s agreement is further evidence of this widening gap in opinions over the state’s role managing the Internet.
While the U.S. and Europe think the Internet should be a worldwide hub of free expression, countries like Russia and China believe governments have a right to control digital information.