In theory, China accepts
that the principles enshrined within the UN Charter, including sovereign equality, prohibition on the use of force, settlement of disputes by peaceful means, non-intervention in the affairs of other states and fulfilment of international obligations in good faith, apply in cyberspace.
Nevertheless, the Chinese position is generally characterized by a reluctance
to crystallise the precise ways in which existing customary and international treaty law might govern the cyber domain; the exact application of specific aspects of international law, such as laws on self-defence, state responsibility, and international humanitarian law, is claimed to remain unclear in the absence of international consensus.
Chinese delegations have also repeatedly cautioned against the “indiscriminate application of the law of armed conflicts”
, arguing that the undue emphasis on jus ad bellum
undermines stability in cyberspace by presupposing and thus effectively legitimising cyber conflict, consequently turning cyberspace into a “new battlefield”.
China regards proposals on regional exchanges of views and development of common understanding on the application of international law with particular scepticism, stating
that states must work on reaching “universally-accepted consensus” on the application of international law, rather than engage in “self-explanations at regional levels or among a small group of countries”. The Chinese have also consistently favoured
the adoption of new international legal instruments tailored to the attributes of cyberspace (lex specialis
In accordance with the output produced by the 2013, 2015, and 2021 consensual reports of the United Nations Groups of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (UNGGE), Brazil believes
that international law enjoys general applicability in cyberspace. For Brazil, this also includes international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Nevertheless, Brazilian delegations have expressed concern
that unqualified transfers of international humanitarian law and an unlimited right of self-defence could legitimise cyberspace as a military domain, while also challenging the protective value of sovereignty and cementing a Western-biased status quo.