Just over a year ago, leaders from tech firms around the globe converged on the ancient canal town of Wuzhen, in China’s Zhejiang province, for the 1st World Internet Conference (WIC). At the event, which Reuters dubbed China’s “online coming-out party,” Internet industry leaders from China rubbed shoulders with executives from Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Samsung — to name just a few — as well as attendees on Internet governance, such as Fadi Chehade, president and chief executive of the non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
If China’s agenda in establishing the WIC “summit” was unclear to anyone at the start, it became unsettlingly clear after the Chinese hosts slipped a draft declaration under the hotel room doors of attendees on the eve of the conference’s final day, hoping to rush through a “consensus” on the need to establish “an international Internet governance system of multilateralism, democracy and transparency” that would “respect [the] Internet sovereignty of all countries.”
Internet sovereignty, or cybersovereignty, is now a central policy concept for the Chinese Communist Party in dealing with the Internet. And the concept will be the unquestioned theme from the get-go at this year’s World Internet Conference, to be held once again in Wuzhen from December 16–18: “An Interconnected World Shared and Governed By All: Building a Cyberspace Community of Shared Destiny.”
Last year’s event apparently had something of a slapped-together feel. That’s understandable, perhaps, when you consider it was China’s first official international summit on the Internet. But there have obviously been hiccups this year too. The first announcement for the event came in late September, and said the conference would be begin on October 28. This was eventually pushed back six weeks. (Could international guests not make it on such short notice?)
The WIC, it seems, is still a bewildering work in progress. Don’t believe me? Go to their English-language website and scroll across the content tabs.
Click on “Sponsors” and you get “Coming Soon.” Click on “EXPO” and you get “Coming Soon.’ Click on “Partners” and you get “Coming Soon.”
But of course, the 2nd World Internet Conference is just around the corner. So, how soon is soon?
What about the conference agenda? There’s a special tab for that on the WIC website too. Let’s have a look . . . Oh.
Well, fortunately we have China’s trusted state media to tell us everything we want to know. And today, in anticipation of the upcoming World Internet Conference, the “Studying Xi on the Road” column is devoted to Xi Jinping’s utterances concerning the Internet.
Studying Xi On The Road (学习路上): Xi Jinping’s “Web View”: Working to Build an Strong Internet Power, the Fruits Benefitting the People
People’s Daily Online / December 8, 2015
The Internet is one of the great inventions of the 20th century, turning the world into a “global village,” and profoundly changing people’s basic production and living conditions. As a term, the Internet has featured highly in the speeches of Xi Jinping, [with such utterances as] “letting the 1.3 billion people of China benefit from the fruits of Internet development,” “the Internet is not a ‘realm outside the law,’” and “without cybersecurity there is no national security.” These involve both practical considerations and strategic considerations.
The 2nd World Internet Conference (Wuzhen Summit) will be held in Wuzhen, in Zhejiang province, from December 16 to 18. In light of this, “Studying Xi On The Road” will look back with you at Xi Jinping’s “Web View.”
1. Building a Strong Internet Power (建设网络强国)
“Cybersecurity and informatisation concern national security and national development, and are a major strategic issue for the work and lives of the masses. [We] must, starting from major international and domestic trends, make overall arrangements, coordinate various aspects, and seek innovation and development, working hard to build our nation as a strong internet power.” — February 27, 2014, Xi Jinping addresses the first conference of the Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs
“Strategic deployments for the building of [China as] an internet power must proceed in step with the struggle toward the ‘Two Centenary Goals’, with steady progress toward basic popularisation of Internet infrastructure, the strengthening of our capacity for basic innovation, the full development of the digital economy, and strong cybersecurity protections.” — February 27, 2014, Xi Jinping addresses the first conference of the Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs
“China is now actively promoting Internet construction, so that the 1.3 billion people of China benefit from the fruits of Internet development.” — November 19, 2014, Xi Jinping’s message of congratulation to the 1st World Internet Conference
2. Safeguarding Cybersecurity
“Internet and information security are matters of national security and social stability, and they are a new comprehensive challenge that we face.” — November 15, 2013, Xi Jinping in “Explanations Concerning ‘Decision of the CCCPC on Some Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Deepening Reforms’”
“Without cybersecurity there can be no national security; without informatisation there can be no modernisation.” — February 27, 2014, Xi Jinping addresses the first conference of the Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs
“Cybersecurity and informatisation are two wings on a single body, two driving wheels, and they must work together, be deployed together, be advanced together, and be implemented together. To properly do the work of cybersecurity and informatisation, [we] must properly handle the relationship between security and development, ensuring they are coordinated and advance together, so that security guarantees development and development guarantees security, and we make efforts for the long-term and secure growth of the industry.” — February 27, 2014, Xi Jinping addresses the first conference of the Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs
“In the world today, the Internet raises new challenges for national autonomy, security and development, and we must meet these seriously. Although the Internet is highly global in nature, the autonomy of no country must be encroached upon in the information sphere. Even as Internet technology continues to develop, the information autonomy of no country can be violated. In the information sphere, there are no double standards, and every country [has the right] to defend its own information security. It must not be the case that one country is secure while others are not, or that some countries are secure while some others are not. Nor can [a country] seek its own so-called absolute security while sacrificing the security of other nations.” — July 16, 2014, Xi Jinping speech to National Congress of Brazil
“As one of the great inventions of the 20th century, the Internet has made the world a ‘global village,’ profoundly changing people’s basic production and living conditions and promoting social development, and it is highly global in its character. However, this ‘new frontier’ (新疆域) is not ‘a realm outside the law,’ and it too must respect rule of law, it too must preserve national autonomy, security and development interests.” — September 22, 2015, Xi Jinping in an interview with the Wall Street Journal
3. Grasping Core Technologies
“To build an internet power, [we] must have our own technologies, technology of the highest quality; [we] must have full and comprehensive information services, and a rich and developed Internet culture; [we] must have a sound information infrastructure, creating a strong information economy.” — February 27, 2014, Xi Jinping addresses the first conference of the Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs
“Information technologies and the level of [Internet] industry development determine the level of development of informatisation. [We] must strengthen independent innovation of core technologies and the building of basic infrastructure, raising our capacity in terms of information gathering, handling, dissemination, use and security, ensuring the people benefit.” — February 27, 2014, Xi Jinping addresses the first conference of the Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs
“In many ways, scientific and technological strength determine changes in terms of where [a nation] stands politically and economically in the world, and it determines too the fate of the people of various nations.” — June 9, 2014, Xi Jinping speech to the Chinese Academy of Engineerring general assembly at the 17th Academic Conference of the Chinese Academy of Sciences
“Only with core technologies in our own hands can we truly grasp the initiative in competition and development, and only this way can we ensure national economic security, national defence and other forms of security from the roots.” — June 9, 2014, Xi Jinping speech to the Chinese Academy of Engineerring general assembly at the 17th Academic Conference of the Chinese Academy of Sciences
4. A Clear and Bright Online Space
“[We] must consolidate and strengthen [the Party’s] mainstream ideas and public opinion, carrying forward the main theme (弘扬主旋律), spreading positive energy (传播正能量), exciting among the whole society a great strength in moving forward. Most critical is raising quality and properly grasping the timing, degree and effectiveness [of information], increasing its attractiveness and infectiousness , so that the masses love to listen to and watch it, and [so that they] develop a sense of resonance, giving full play to positive propaganda in inspiring and motivating people.” — August 19, 2013, Xi Jinping to the National Propaganda Work Conference
“[We must] persist in the active use, scientific development and legal management [of the Internet]. With the guiding principle of ensuring security, we must increase the intensity of legal management of the Internet, and improve our leadership system for Internet management (互联网管理领导体制).” — November 15, 2013, Xi Jinping in “Explanations Concerning ‘Decision of the CCCPC on Some Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Deepening Reforms’”
“Properly conducting public opinion work online is a long-term task, and [we] must innovate and improve our online propaganda, using the principles of Internet communication, carrying forward the main theme, exciting positive energy, and energetically fostering and fulfilling the socialist core values, ensuring a good grasp of the timing, degree and effectiveness of online public opinion channeling, so that the online space becomes clear and bright.” — February 27, 2014, Xi Jinping addresses the first conference of the Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs
[NOTE: Two sections following, on “gathering Internet talent” and “increasing international cooperation,” are not translated.]