On February 9, 2015, China’s internet czar, Lu Wei (鲁炜), the director of the Cyberspace Administration of China, hosted a Chinese New Year banquet at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. At the event, attended by foreign dignitaries and representatives from internet companies, Director Lu delivered an address in which he reiterated the need for global internet governance that respects the “internet sovereignty” of various countries.
Repeating his frequent theme that freedom and order must work hand-in-hand, Lu imagined an international internet woven together from sovereign national internets — connected with a mind to respective national security interests.
“We live in a common online space,” Lu Wei told his guests. “This online space is made up of the internets of various countries, and each country has its own independent and autonomous interest in internet sovereignty, internet security and internet development. Only through my own proper management of my own internet, [and] your proper management of your own internet . . . can the online space be truly safe, more orderly and more beautiful.”
A separate news piece posted to the website of the Cyberspace Administration of China quoted several guests at the banquet as praising Lu’s remarks and the work of his office.
“2014 was a year in which China’s internet saw an explosion of positive energy,” said Liao Hong (廖玒), the president of People’s Daily Online, referring to Xi Jinping’s emerging propaganda concept. “Under the guidance of the Cyberspace Administration of China, the internet space grows clearer and brighter every day.”
“The Cyberspace Administration of China has played an instrumental role in terms of internet governance,” Cuban Ambassador to China Alberto J. Blanco Silva reportedly said.
A full translation of Lu Wei’s address to the Chinese New Year banquet follows.
Honored envoys from various nations, respected guests:
Ladies, gentlemen and friends:
And so we come to another year. As China’s Lunar New Year approaches, we are honored to invite everyone to gather here at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse (钓鱼台国宾馆), to meet the season with cheerful friendship. On behalf of the Central Working Group on Cybersecurity, the Cyberspace Administration of China, and in my own capacity, I solemnly offer you all a warm welcome. The new year is the Year of the Goat. I wish you all warmth and radiance in your hearts.
2014 was a year of accelerated internet development in China, a year of greater openness and deep integration with the world. China created the Central Working Group on Cybersecurity, with Chairman Xi Jinping himself as leader, and [he] raised the international cyber governance concept (国际治网主张) of “building a multilateral, democratic and transparent system of international internet governance, building in common a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative online space” — [an idea] that won great favor and widespread agreement in international circles. Through common efforts on various sides, the international online space is now entering a new era of shared benefit and shared governance.
All of you, foreign envoys, company bosses and friends from the media, are the bridges and bonds developing China’s relationship with the world, and you’ve made important achievements in promoting dialogue and cooperation between China and the world in the online space. We often say mutual interaction brings mutual understanding . . . The web connects us and brings us together. In traditional Chinese culture, the character for “net” [or “web”] has multi-layered meanings, but there are at least three angles from which we can consider these meanings:
1. The “net” means to harvest gains and results. This is like the frequent saying Chinese have, that “the net gathers all under heaven” (网罗天下). Over the past year, China’s internet development has been striking, with the number of internet users reaching 649 million, websites surpassing four million, total online transactions topping 13 trillion yuan. Of the world’s top 10 internet businesses, four are Chinese, and the internet economy has become the greatest growth point in China’s overall economy. The world too has profited from the development of China’s internet. Many foreign enterprises have relatively high market shares in the Chinese market, and they have drawn in substantial earnings. These achievements and returns fully demonstrate the openness of China’s market and policies, that the environment is favourable. Moreover, they show to the fullest extent that we are correct in adhering to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. They fully attest to the strong, determined and correct leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.
2. The “net” means connecting and interacting. This is like what Chinese mean when they say, “As tightly woven as a net” (密如织网). Lately, the internet truly has turned the world into a global village, making it so that international society is more an more a place where I see myself in you, where we share a fate as a common community. For China and the world the internet has also created a friend groups with a global reach. We have actively created platforms for conversation, holding the first World Internet Conference and other major international events, making friends across the world and sharing intelligence and innovation, ultimately working toward a consensus to create a win-win situation for all.
3. The “net” means law and order. Chinese often talk about the “dragnet” (法网恢恢). In the online space, people all enjoy freedom, but freedom and order are inextricably linked and cannot be separated. Order is the guarantee of freedom. If we part with order, freedom does not exist. The more we move in the direction of freedom, the more we need order. Find a place without order, and that place will surely lack freedom. We [in China] actively study from the advanced experiences of various nations, promoting rule of law in the online space. Through legal means we preserve online freedom and order, resolutely protecting our internet sovereignty (网络主权) and our internet security (网络安全). We reiterate that China’s policy of openness to the world has not changed. So long as China’s laws are respected, so long as the national interests of China are not harmed, so long as the interests of Chinese consumers are not harmed, we welcome companies from other countries to develop in China, to invest here for a win-win future.
Ladies, gentlemen and friends . . . .
We live in a common online space. This online space is made up of the internets of various countries, and each country has its own independent and autonomous interest in internet sovereignty (独立自主的网络主权), internet security and internet development. Only through my own proper management of my own internet, your proper management of your own internet, and the proper interlinking of these respective internets, each preserving their own respective internet security — only then can the online space be truly safe, more orderly and more beautiful.
What we need its mutual support, not stepping over lines and meddling in the affairs of others. What we need is mutual respect, not attack and censure. The 1.3 billion people of China, open and confident, are now traveling along a correct path of their own choosing. They are realizing the great project of the Chinese dream. They are seeking a path of internet management with Chinese characteristics (中国特色的治网之道). We are ready to strengthen our dialogue and cooperation with the nations of the world, unleashing the pioneering creative force of the internet and promoting the “one road, one belt” strategy. [We are ready to] promote the shared governance and mutual benefit of the internet, better serving the countries of the world, particularly developing nations, and creating a better tomorrow for humankind.
Ladies, gentlemen and friends . . .
Let us raise our glasses,
for a better world,
for sincere friendship,
to the health of all,
for our mutual internet dreams in the Year of the Goat.