China and Indonesia have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on developing capacity building of internet security and tech cooperation, marking the first-of-its-kind internet security agreement China signed with a foreign country, local media reported.
The MoU, which will provide a framework for cooperation in developing cyber security capacity and technology, is signed during Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s official visit to Indonesia, according to a statement on the website of China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.
During Wang’s meeting with Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s Coordinator for Cooperation with China, Wang noted that both countries should jointly uphold digital security and create a shared community focused on cyber security, the statement noted.
According to the MoU, between the National Cyber and Crypto Agency of Indonesia and the Cyberspace Administration of China, the participants would uphold the principle of respect for state sovereignty on cyber space and work together to promote the establishment of a multilateral, democratic and transparent international Internet governance system, data security, and the building of a peaceful, secure, open, cooperative, responsible, and orderly cyberspace as well as ICT development.
The cyber security expert of the Indonesian Cyber Research Institute for Communication and Information Systems Security Research Center (CISSReC), Pratama Persadha, said that cooperation between Indonesia and China in the field of internet security and technology is the right step as long as it is mutually beneficial. Moreover, China is currently recognized as one of the leading countries in developing 5G networks through a number of technology companies.
Pratama said “In principle, Indonesia must be able to act neutral because there must be pressure from the US. As a sovereign country Indonesia is certainly free to cooperate with anyone as long as it benefits the people”. Pratama hopes that there will be an acceleration in the development of internet network infrastructure, especially since Indonesia already has an internet backbone, namely the Palapa Ring. With the addition of Huawei’s 5G technology, he said, this could accelerate the development of 5G infrastructure in the country. He gave an example, how China built Shenzhen as a city that applies 5G technology well.
Meanwhile, IT expert Onno W Purbo said it was no problem that Indonesia was cooperating with China. Most importantly, he said, Indonesia must remain independent. “We can work together, but don’t depend on other countries, including the US, Europe and China. Indonesia tries to be independent by at least producing its own technology,” said Onno.
Industry analysts expected the deal to cement mutual trust in internet security, including terms on mutual telecom market openness and most importantly, on pledges that a country won’t ask its firms to provide any backdoor to seize intelligent information of the other nation.
With a GDP of about $1 trillion, Indonesia is the largest economy in Southeast Asia and its move could carry certain level of impact on the other SEA countries. This agreement will likely attract more economically neutral SEA nations to follow, analysts said.
“The deal with Indonesia on cyber security will set an example for other SEA economies, especially given the backdrop of closer economic ties between China and SEA nations that benefit both sides,” Ma Jihua, a veteran industry analyst, told the Global Times.