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“Efforts should be made to build our country into a cyber power,” he said.
Xi will head the “central Internet security and informatization leading group”, according to a statement released after the first meeting of the group on Thursday.
Cyber security “is a major strategic issue concerning a country’s security and development as well as people’s life and work” said the Chinese President.
In the wake of the recent US snooping revelations, the five member nations of BRICS agreed on the establishment of an expert working group on cyber-security that will meet in early 2014, in South Africa, to finalize concrete set of proposals for adoption by the leaders’ summit later this summer.
Brazil has successfully mustered enough support to get a “right to privacy” resolution co-drafted with Germany passed by the UN earlier in November.
Politburo members Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Liu Yunshan, are working as the group’s deputy heads.
The group is designed to “lead and coordinate Internet security and informatization work among different sectors, as well as draft national strategies, development plans and major policies in this field”, Xi said.
Members of the group adopted the group’s work rules and its working plan for this year at the meeting.
China has the world’s largest number of Internet users but it still lags behind in development of Internet technologies, the president noted.
The digital gap between rural and urban areas remains large and the average bandwidth enjoyed by each Chinese is far less than that in some developed countries, he added.
By the end of 2013, China reported about 618 million Internet users, with rural penetration being really low at 28.6 per cent.
“We should be fully aware of the importance and urgency of Internet security and informatization,” Xi said.
China has to balance its needs of developing IT technologies and safeguarding Internet security, the president said, describing the two issues as “two wings of a bird and two wheels of an engine.”
Earlier this February, BRICS member Brazil announced it is pushing ahead with plans to boost its Internet security by developing an undersea fibre-optics communications cable that would reroute its online traffic directly to Europe, bypassing the United States.
Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa currently use hubs in Europe and the US to connect to one another, which translates into higher costs and leaves open the opportunity for data interception and theft.