Back to April 1994, the most important domestic news for the overwhelming majority of Chinese, was the official initiation of CFL-A (China Football League-A), while the most thrilling international news came from Africa, one was the start of Rwandan Genocide, and the other was Nelson Mandela’s election. Scarcely remembered, though, was the news reported by Xinhua News Agency and People’s Daily, announcing that China had been connected to the world, full-featured, via a 64k special international line. Nobody had anticipated the influence that the Internet would bring to China in neither the following twenty-two years, nor the changes that the Internet itself would experience after the inclusion of China.
Since then, it has been an inevitable topic for all journalists reporting on science and technology news; How the Internet has changed China? As the booming increase number of netizens, mobile Internet users as well as the registered websites in mainland, the fresh concepts have emerging in an endless stream. New words like Internet plus, Internet finance, Internet of Vehicles (IOV) appeared in media more and more frequently, Chinese people find this invisible net cannot be separated from their daily life anymore.
When journalists prepared to review the passing year with the trite “How the Internet changed China”, the Second World Internet Conference concentrating on the development of the Internet was hold in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province in December 2015 in China. For this time, what people needed to discuss was another topic: How is China changing the Internet?
Several Chinese entrepreneurial heavyweights including Alibaba’s Jack Ma, Tencent’s Ma Huateng, Baidu’s Li Yanhong, and Lei Jun from Xiaomi, Liu Chuanzhi from Lenovo participated in this summit, while the influence of these Sino-enterprises has gone far beyond China mainland. Based on the hugeness of SNS users, Tencent Game’s income has ranked No.1 worldwide, and far exceeded Blizzard from U.S in terms of capital input. Unlike Alibaba whose global strategic layout has begun to take shape, Xiaomi has not officially stepped into international market yet, nevertheless, Lei Jun’s election by Time as one of the most influential figures in technology in April 2015 was still considered to be recognition of the company’s investment and management mode. Though seemly dispersing, it contains the possibilities of subversion the traditional businesses, and once those subversive innovation succeeds, people’s attitude towards the Internet would change overwhelmingly. Changes have begun in several aspects such as capital and technical innovation by giants such as BAT, and in the near future, these Sino-enterprises are capable to spread their business modes and development mindsets to the whole Internet ecological groups to make more significant differences.
Internet governance has become the widely concerned by government, international organisations, civil groups as well as related experts, scholars and entrepreneurs. Here we identify “Internet governance” in two aspects, one is about Chinese domestic administration, and the other lies in international cyber space governance.
Due to the large number of domestic netizens and the complexity of national conditions, China is willing to offer its special mode of the Internet administration worldwide as a reference. China has claims that it has never stopped searching for a proper Internet administration mode based on its own conditions and reality. Despite in major Western opinions, the policy that Chinese government executes is tremendously strict, China is quite confident about its policy direction, hoping to introduce its experience and achievements through Wuzhen Summit in terms of the Internet governance. Though the negative effect of violence, eroticism and terrorism in the Internet has been realised universally, the problem is not likely to be solved once and for all. Before the opening of Wuzhen Summit, the world was outraged by terrorist attack in Paris. At the very moment, it may be more convinced for China to introduce its experience of the Internet governance with Chinese characteristics to the world.
There is not a single unified international regulations regarding the Internet currently. Although discussed repeatedly in international conferences, it is hardly possible for developed countries to make an agreement with developing, emerging countries. Chinese government insists the basic standpoint of multiple participation and joint governance on the basis of legislation. According to this, the less developed countries in the development of the Internet should be allocated equal speaking rights, which represent the principle of justice and democracy. In the perspective of emerging countries such as China, Internet governance is not supposed to be dominated by American companies nor American government merely, instead, diverse interest groups’ opinions in the world should be taken into consideration as well. As a country with the largest number of netizens and the largest manufacture base for electronic information products, China is making effort to reinforce its speaking voice by participating in the establishment of regulations. The concept “community of common destiny of cyberspace” brought up by China in Wuzhen Summit, is actually the ideological root of its participation of international Internet governance. China hopes that more and more governments, international organisations, Internet companies, technical groups, civil institutes and individuals will play their important role respectively and effectively, to improve the dialogue and consultant mechanism of cyberspace under the frame of community of common destiny.
From the not-that-catchy news in 1994 to the great length of Wuzhen Summit, it is obvious that China has completed its role transition after joining the Internet for twenty years. Sino-enterprises are changing the direction of the Internet, while Chinese government has presented a clear thought in terms of formulating new rules in cyberspace.
Written by Yan Xue, LG CNS Blog’s Regular Contributor