The Chinese government will continue to strengthen international cooperation on cyber issues, and work with all countries to build an open and secure cyberspace, an official said on Thursday at an ongoing conference on cyberspace in the Hungarian city of Budapest.

Given the many challenges ahead, Huang Huikang, legal advisor and director of the Department of Treaty and Law under the Foreign Ministry emphasized the importance of cooperation across the whole of the international community.

Although cyberspace is virtual, it needs rules and norms to follow, Huang said. China maintains that the United Nations, as the most universal and representative international organization, is the best forum for the elaboration of international norms and rules in cyberspace, he added.

Huang said China proposes several principles be observed in strengthening international cooperation on Internet related issues.

The first, he said, concerns cyber sovereignty. He said cyber sovereignty is the natural extension of state sovereignty in cyberspace and should be respected and upheld.

"Every country is entitled to formulate its policies and laws in light of its history, traditions, culture, language and customs, and manage the Internet accordingly," he said.

The second concerned the free flow of information, which he called a "double edged sword", adding that it was no excuse for the "illegal and irresponsible information rampant on the internet", which threatened national security, social order and people's lawful rights.

Huang also called for peaceful use of cyberspace, equitable development, and international cooperation, noting that all countries were equally entitled to share in the management of critical Internet resources. He proposed that international cooperation could be initiated in areas where there were common needs, such as in combating cyber crime and enhancing cyber security.

China has 540 million Internet users, making it the world's top user in terms of sheer numbers. In 2011, e-commerce in China amounted to $930 billion, or 12.5 percent of its annual gross domestic product.

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