Chinese President Xi Jinping issued a call on Wednesday for international cooperation in regulating the use of the Internet, suggesting that control of the information highway should rest in the hands of nations.

In his speech during the government-organized World Internet Conference, Xi said that each state should unite in curbing the abusive use of information technology.

He also urged nations to be in opposition against the practice of hacking and network surveillance as well as to fight what he calls a "cyberspace arms race".

"Cyberspace is similar to the real world in that both freedom and order are necessary," Xi said, adding that the rights of Internet users to exchange opinions have to be respected. Nevertheless, users must still be able to be in accordance with the rule of law.

Since Xi assumed leadership of the Chinese government in 2013, he has taken control over efforts to centralize local Internet governance. Experts say that the chief official also directs and even censors information that is made available to users online.

China's control over the Internet is believed to be aimed at keeping stability in the country, which would help the Communist Party maintain its rule without threat.

The Asian nation is known to operate a sophisticated system of online censorship called the "Great Firewall," which effectively blocks and attacks online services that the Chinese government considers to be unpleasant.

Some officials are tasked with scouring the Internet for undesirable comments and remove them from local web services.

Violations of cyber security have been a source of tension between the United States and China in the past. In September, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that he and Chinese President Xi had agreed not to support any act of cyber theft involving corporate secrets in order to advance local businesses.

The pact between the two governments failed to include the restriction of espionage carried out to acquire government secrets, such as those in the possession of private contractors.

Photo: Michel Temer | Flickr 

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