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World Internet Conference 2015

China’s president to make first speech to global web forum

Xi Jinping’s attendance at second World Internet Conference points to importance of new economy

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 December, 2015, 11:33pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 December, 2015, 10:32am

President Xi Jinping will attend the second World Internet Conference to be held next week, an event that reflects the growing importance of the web as one of the most significant players in economic development.

Lu Wei, the head of the Cyberspace Administration of China, confirmed that Xi would deliver a keynote speech at the event, scheduled to be held on December 16-18 in Wuzhen town, Zhejiang province.

Xi sent a congratulatory note to the conference last year, urging stronger international cooperation, more respect for sovereignty on the internet and for countries to uphold cybersecurity according to the principle of mutual respect and trust.

More than 2,000 participants from 120 countries and regions are due to participate in the event, including eight foreign leaders and close to 50 ministerial-level officials. Among them are Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov, Kyrgyz Prime Minister Temir Sariyev and Tajik Prime Minister Kokhir Rasulzoda, Lu said.

Also expected to attend were the founders of China’s top three internet companies – Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu – as well as executives from global giants including Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook, domestic telecoms and smartphone leaders like Huawei and ZTE Corp, and tech start-ups like car-hailing app Didi Kuaidi.

ZTE president Shi Lirong said the conference would be an important platform to promote internet-based thinking and the web economy, which had huge potential on the mainland.

“When it came to the internet in the past, we would only focus on those networks based on PC and mobile devices. Now we focus on the Internet of Everything and other innovative services and capabilities to connect,” Shi said. “In a broad sense, high-speed train [projects] and the One Belt, One Road project are also parts of the internet economy.”

Boasting 875 million internet users, the mainland is the biggest market for web firms. Internet commerce is expected to grow 15 per cent this year, to 3.2 trillion yuan (HK$3.87 trillion), according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

At a press conference, Lu was asked by mainland media why online posts were blocked or deleted by the authorities. He admitted the mainland had strengthened control over the internet, especially in cracking down on online rumours and cybercrimes. “I also had a similar experience” of online posts being blocked when reading, he said.

Lu said censors would only block posts that violated national laws or infringed upon the rights and interests of others. “We have an Internet Illegal Information Reporting Centre, which receives up to 1 million tip-offs from internet users daily,” Lu said.

Over the summer, the Ministry of Public Security said the police should take a leading role in online security and work closely with internet regulators, Reuters reported.

“We will set up cybersecurity police stations inside important website and internet firms so that we can catch criminal behaviour online at the earliest possible point,” deputy minister Chen Zhimin said according to an August statement.