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How is China Changing the Internet?

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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?

Flag of China, national symbol illustration clipart www internet e-commerce

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.

China High Resolution E-Commerce  Concept

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.

Key with Chinese Flag

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.


中国在如何改变互联网

1994年4月,对于中国的绝大多数普通百姓来说,最重要的国内新闻莫过于足球甲A联赛的正式开始,最震撼的国际新闻则来自非洲大陆,一个是卢旺达大屠杀的开始,另一个是曼德拉当选南非总统。尽管在那个普通的4月里,人们通过新华社和《人民日报》还知道了中国通过一条64K的国际专线,正式全功能接入国际互联网。但几乎没有人会记得这条枯燥的科技新闻,也不会有人能够知道互联网将如何影响中国,更不会有人能够预想到在中国的应用使得互联网自身也在发生巨大的改变。

自从22年前互联网正式进入中国,互联网板块的科技记者们避不开的一个话题就是“互联网如何改变中国。”之所以说这个话题无法避开,是因为每年中国网民的数量、移动互联网使用者的数量、网站注册数量都在迅猛增长,而与互联网有关的新概念也层出不穷。2015年,互联网+、互联网金融、车联网等名词反复地出现在媒体上。与此同时,中国人的日常生活也被牢牢地绑定在互联网上。

就在科技媒体们准备再次以“互联网改变中国”为主题再次对过去的一年进行总结的时候,一个以互联网发展为主题的第二届世界互联网大会于2015年12月在中国浙江乌镇召开。而这一次,人们需要讨论的是另一个命题——中国在如何改变互联网。

从与会的互联网企业家来看,阿里巴巴的马云、腾讯的马化腾、百度的李彦宏、小米的雷军以及联想的柳传志等都参加了会议的讨论。这些企业家身后的企业的影响力不仅局限于中国,对于世界来说,这些中国互联网巨头们的一举一动都值得关注。阿里巴巴的全球化战略布局已经初具规模;腾讯的游戏收入已经是全球第一,从资本层面上看,腾讯在游戏领域的影响力已经远远高于美国的暴雪,而庞大的社交软件用户群是腾讯在其他领域攻城掠地的雄厚基础;小米尽管还没有真正迈出国际化步伐,但2015年4月,美国《时代》周刊评选出来的科技界最有影响力的人物中却包括小米的雷军,这也是对小米经营和投资模式的一种认可。看向未来的话,我们可以感受到,来自中国的这些企业已经将自身的经营理念和发展模式向整个互联网生态群传播。以小米为例,雷军的每一笔投资看似分散,但却都有颠覆行业发展的可能性,而一旦这种颠覆性创新取得成功,人们看待互联网的角度也将发生根本变化。中国的互联网巨头们已经开始从包括资本、技术创新等多个窗口改变互联网经济原有的版图结构。

从乌镇峰会的讨论主题看,互联网治理成为来自政府、国际组织、民间社团等各界与互联网相关的专家、学者和企业家普遍关心的课题。这里所说的互联网治理包括两个方面:一是中国国内对于网络的管理;二是全球网络空间治理。

由于中国拥有网民数量众多,国情复杂,互联网管理的中国模式可以成为世界互联网治理的一个参考。中国一直以来都在寻找符合中国自身国情和现实的互联网管理模式。尽管在很多西方国家看来,中国政府正在执行的是一个十分严格的网络管控政策,但中国政府依然对自己的政策方向十分自信,并希望通过乌镇峰会介绍本国在网络管理方面取得的经验和成就。尽管人们早就意识到暴力、色情、恐怖主义思想在互联网上的传播给人类社会带来的巨大负面影响,但如何管控从实际操作上看并非易事。就在乌镇峰会召开之前,法国巴黎刚刚经历了系列恐怖袭击事件,中国在人们的目光尚未从反恐这一焦点上转移的时候,向世界介绍本国在管控互联网方面的经验,可能会让更多的国家、组织和个人更加理解甚至接受“有中国特色”的网络管理政策。

互联网世界目前尚未有统一的国际性规则,尽管世界各国通过不同的国际会议反复讨论,但由于部分发达国家与新兴国家、发展中国家无法取得一致而很难达成真正的共识。中国政府在会议上主张互联网的管理要根据法律进行多边参与,共同治理,这也是中国在不同的国际场合上反复强调的一个基本立场。根据这样的立场,互联网发展较为落后的国家将拥有更多话语权,也更能够体现“公平、民主”的原则。在中国等新兴国家看来,互联网世界的治理不能由美国公司、甚至美国政府来主导,而需要照顾到世界上各个利益群体。中国作为全球网民数量最多的国家及最大的电子信息产品生产基地,希望在尚无国际性规则的互联网世界加强话语权,同时积极参与规则制定。中国政府在乌镇峰会上提出了“网络空间命运共同体”的概念,这个概念事实上是中国参与互联网世界治理的思想根源所在。中国希望更多的政府、国际组织、互联网企业、技术社群、民间机构、公民个人等发挥各自的主体作用,在一个命运共同体的框架下完善网络空间领域的对话协商机制。

再次回头看1994年4月那条不够引人注目的新闻和全世界当下关于乌镇峰会的报道评论,我们意识到,在互联网进入中国20年之后,中国在面对互联网时已经完成了角色的转变,中国的企业在改变互联网的发展方向,而中国的政府则已经在制订互联网世界新游戏规则方面整理出一个十分清晰的思路。

Written by Yan Xue, LG CNS Blog’s Regular Contributor

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