China's War for Control of Global Internet Governance

38 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2022

Date Written: July 27, 2022


The Chinese government has long believed “cyber sovereignty” should be a bedrock of countries’ approaches to Internet governance—encouraging states to increase their control of the Internet within their borders. But more and more, Beijing has also invested heavily in multifaceted efforts globally to increase the control of governments over current global Internet governance processes, in replacement of the current, diffuse model of multistakeholder cooperation. This report examines the Chinese government’s efforts to move Internet governance processes and authorities to the United Nations’ information and communications technologies agency, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), instead of permitting multistakeholder bodies that include civil society, nonprofits, and corporations to have a major role. This report draws on Chinese primary-source documents and media, ITU documents, and other sources to describe and analyze the ITU’s currently limited presence in Internet governance, China’s strategic view of the Internet, China’s historical engagement with Internet governance structures, growing Chinese efforts to have the ITU take over Internet standards- setting, and the recently increased and public coordination and cooperation between China and Russia around Internet governance. It concludes with key takeaways and factors that global and open Internet supporters should watch going forward.

Keywords: China, internet, United Nations, ITU, governance, technology, standards, Russia, ICANN, IETF, RIRS

Suggested Citation

Sherman, Justin, China's War for Control of Global Internet Governance (July 27, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

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