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Delegates listen as Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma speak during the opening ceremony of the 4th World Internet Conference  in Wuzhen in eastern China on December 3.
Delegates listen as Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma speak during the opening ceremony of the 4th World Internet Conference  in Wuzhen in eastern China on December 3.

China Says Will Not Close Door to Global Internet

The Chinese president says cyber sovereignty is the idea that states should be permitted to manage and contain their own internet without external interference

China Says Will Not Close Door to Global Internet

Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Sunday the country will not close its door to the global internet, but that cyber sovereignty is key in its vision of internet development.

Xi’s comments were read by Huang Kunming, head of the Chinese Communist Party’s publicity department at the country’s largest public cyber policy forum in the town of Wuzhen in eastern China, with the theme of "Developing digital economy for openness and shared benefits–building a community of common future in cyberspace", news outlets reported.

Over 1,500 guests from more than 80 countries and regions, including government representatives, heads of international organizations, leading figures of internet companies, online celebrities, experts and scholars, attended the Fourth World Internet Conference.

The conference, which is overseen by the Cyberspace Administration of China invited foreign executives, Apple Inc’s CEO Tim Cook and Google Inc chief Sundar Pichai as well as a Facebook Inc executive. Google and Facebook are banned in China, along with Twitter Inc and most major western news outlets.

Top executives from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Tencent Holdings Ltd and Baidu Inc also attended the forum.

“The development of China’s cyberspace is entering a fast lane...China’s doors will only become more and more open,” said Xi in the note. Cyber sovereignty is the idea that states should be permitted to manage and contain their own internet without external interference.

China’s Communist Party has tightened cyber regulation in the past year, formalizing new rules that require firms to store data locally and censor tools that allow users to subvert the Great Firewall.

In June, China introduced a new national cyber security law that requires foreign firms to store data locally and submit to data surveillance measures, Reuters reported.

Cyber regulators say the laws are in line with international rules, and that they are designed to protect personal privacy and counter attacks on core infrastructure. Business groups say the rules unfairly target foreign firms.

China has advocated strongly for a larger role in global internet governance under Xi. “China stands ready to develop new rules and systems of internet governance to serve all parties and counteract current imbalances,” said Wang Huning, a member of the Communist Party standing committee at the event.

Apple & Google

CEO of Apple Inc Tim Cook said what he is concerned about is not artificial intelligence and machines that think as people, while new technologies can change the world for the better.

“Much has been said about the potential negative aspects of artificial intelligence. I’m not worried about machines that think as people, I worry about people who think like machines. We need to work together to introduce technology to humanity,” he said, speaking at the opening ceremony of the fourth world conference on the Internet.

Apple CEO expressed confidence that technology can change the world for the better. “Technology can change the world for the better, if they are embedded in humanity. We believe that artificial intelligence will be able to embroider a person’s ability and help to make a breakthrough that transforms our lives in education, in access to health services and in countless other areas,” he said.

Apple CEO added that the future can be better not because of technology per se, but because of the way mankind will use them.

Cook’s comments come at a pivotal point for the company’s future in China, which is now its biggest market outside of North America. It relies on the sale of hardware and services in the world’s most populated country to propel revenue and profit growth.

Unlike Cook, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai did not deliver a keynote speech and was instead on a panel to discuss the digital economy.

“There are many small and medium businesses in China who take advantage of Google to get their products to many other countries outside of China,” he said. “Technology is giving opportunities at a global scale, driving interconnectedness and cooperation and I think it’s a big trend and I think it’s almost irreversible at this point.”

Tencent and Alibaba are now among the world’s most valued internet companies, followed by an army of powerful players such as Baidu, JD.com and handset maker Xiaomi.

 

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