China has the largest amount of users in the world, a significant digital economy growth potential, and its national Internet giants Alibaba, Didi, Tencent and Baidu are increasingly able to rival the biggest Western competitors in terms of market value and influence on the global tech landscape. China’s cyber diplomacy puts special attention towards equal participation, the principles of non-interference in internal affairs, non-use of force and peaceful settlement of disputes, and support for multilateral institutions to shape normative views on the governance of cyberspace. However, China’s propagation of the cyber-sovereignty approach to international cybersecurity policy and an absolutist reading of sovereignty in cyberspace provide a legal cloak for state practices that often run counter to the core European values of a global, open, and free Internet.
Thanks to its regulatory powers, robust digital economy, and active foreign and security policy, the European Union is one of the key players in cyberspace. The EU strongly promotes the position that international law, and in particular the United Nations (UN) Charter, applies in cyberspace. As a complement to binding international law, the EU endorses the voluntary non-binding norms, rules and principles of responsible State behaviour that have been articulated by the UN Group of Governmental Experts. It also encourages the development and implementation of regional confidence building measures, both in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and other regions. On a bilateral level, the EU has established cyber dialogues with strategic partners to reinforce the exchange of good practices, lessons learnt and further the idea of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace.
South Korea has made significant progress over the last decades when it comes to connectivity and is currently one of the leading states in terms of access and use of ICTs. While in 1995 less than one percent of Koreans used the internet, four years later the country passed the developed nation average and nowadays South Korea is a global leader in the field of connectivity and internet access. Government support for internet access has been instrumental in fostering this progress in connectivity through governmental programs, trainings and low interest loans to companies providing broadband access. Consequently, cyber issues were recognised as important to the bilateral relationship at the EU-South Korea Summit in 2015, and five cyber dialogues have taken place between 2015 and 2020.