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Building an inclusive global internet network

Source: China Daily | 2020-12-07

The interior view of the venue of the Light of Internet Expo of the 2020 World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, East China's Zhejiang province, Nov 22, 2020. The expo, which opened on Sunday, focuses on the world's most recent internet development trends and cutting-edge technologies, and showcases the latest internet technologies, achievements, products and applications of 130 enterprises and institutions from home and abroad. [Photo/Xinhua]

By Sun Ruru

The internet is the backbone of communication in today's world. It promotes trade and cultural exchanges across the world, with cyberculture influencing people, especially the younger generations, throughout the length and breadth of the globe.

Yet the internet has become a source of security threat, particularly non-traditional security threat, and ironically poses a severe challenge to global communication networks.

The international community has reached a broad consensus on building a global civilization based on digital communication networks and developing a healthy network culture. In accordance with the global consensus on internet management, the Chinese government is committed to protecting the legitimate rights and interests of all citizens and contributing to the global efforts to ensure cyberculture facilitates social progress.

The international community's efforts to develop a healthy internet culture are gradually yielding results. Global cooperation on cyberspace governance has strengthened with the improvement in the international governance mechanism based on international norms and treaties.

The Convention on Cybercrime, the first global convention against internet crime, was signed by among others 26 European Union member states, the United States, Canada, Japan and South Africa way back in November 2001.

In fact, countries across the world have realized the need to accelerate the process of legislation, self-discipline and supervision to build an efficient network governance system and promote healthy cyberculture.

After the Sept 11, 2001, attacks, the US Department of State established a national network monitoring center and the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced it would regulate the internet to scotch rumors and counter security threats, while the Republic of Korea set up a surveillance center to prevent cyberattacks.

As far as China is concerned, it is determined to maintain order and security in cyberspace, and help make the global network more open and inclusive, not least because it has the largest number of internet users (904 million last year) in the world and perhaps the most active group of young netizens, and is also the global leader in e-commerce, mobile payment, 5G applications, the artificial intelligence industry and blockchain.

As for the internet's importance, suffice it to say China's digital economy was worth 35.8 trillion yuan ($5.45 trillion) last year, accounting for 36.2 percent of the country's total GDP.

And since it is also home to four of the seven internet firms on this year's Fortune 500 list of companies, building a global civilization with effective and secure networks is not only an obligation for China but also an effective way to protect civil rights and help people lead a better life.

Since 2000, China has issued a series of laws and regulations for internet governance and beefed up information security.

The Chinese government has been abiding by the global consensuses on the use, management and development of the internet, as well as safeguarding national sovereignty and human rights so much so that the World Internet Conference-Internet Development Forum in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, whose seventh edition was held recently, has become a vital platform for global exchanges and cooperation on internet development.

China has been improving social governance using cyberspace. According to the UN's E-Government Survey 2020,China's ranking has risen 29 places from 2003 to 2020, with its overall index reaching a "very high" level and Shanghai ranking 9th among global cities in the E-Government Survey 2020.

Moreover, since China faces serious threats from terrorists, religious extremists, and separatist forces, the government has cracked down on Islamist fundamentalists active on the internet, making valuable contributions to the global fight against terrorism. The country has also been making painstaking efforts to protect youths from cybercrimes and other ills that afflict the internet including violence and pornography. In fact, the government has added "internet protection" to the revised Law on the Protection of Minors this year to better minors against internet addiction and online bullying.

With cyberculture is playing an increasingly influential role in societies around the world, it is necessary to build a healthy global internet network which reflects the real world, and facilitates positive interactions based on the real world; promotes social harmony and improves people's well-being; and increases friendly exchanges between different countries and cultures.

A healthy global network and positive cyberculture are important also for promoting globalization and building a community with a shared future for mankind so that all countries can work together to overcome global risks and challenges.

The efforts the Chinese government has been making to build an inclusive and safe cyberspace show that China, as a responsible major country, is committed to safeguarding human rights. Combining Chinese characteristics with international experiences, China's efforts to establish a safe and inclusive global internet network reflects its adherence to global principles and consensuses on the internet.

The author is a researcher at the China National Center for Cultural Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.