From November 15 to 18, the third World Internet Conference is taking place in the picturesque water town of Wuzhen in Zhejiang Province. The event was established in 2014, shortly after the renaming and new empowerment of the Cyberspace Administration of China, a government body with overall responsibility for digital networks. Its mission is to promote Chinese state views such as the concept of “internet sovereignty” and innovation in China.
This year’s guests include officials from China and many other countries, such as the mayor of Silicon Valley’s Palo Alto, Patrick Burt, and former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke, as well as executives from Chinese and American tech giants, among them Alibaba founder Jack Ma and LinkedIn co-founder and executive chairman Reid Hoffman. Xinhua has a partial guest list; the full list can be found in session descriptions on the event’s website.
The discussion topics on the agenda are diverse and often global in scope. Some examples are China-Africa internet cooperation, the fight against cyberterrorism, and Internet+ smart health care (see SupChina’s translation of Xi Jinping’s key word glossary for “Internet+”).
At the opening ceremony, Xi Jinping gave a keynote address by video during which, as Xinhua News Agency put it, he stressed “international cooperation in cyberspace governance.” The South China Morning Post points out that many observers see the event as a strange contrast to China’s extensive internet censorship program. There’s more detail on the brief history of the World Internet Conference near the bottom of this essay; in addition, Washington Post correspondent Emily Rauhala has been tweeting live from Wuzhen, including this comment: “Trump victory, success on social is giving speakers at Chinese Internet Conference an example of the ‘need’ for greater online control.”
In other news, the South China Morning Post reports that Wang Boming, “who was instrumental” in launching the mainland stock market and the investigative financial magazine Caijing, stepped down from his corporate roles at SEEC Media Group due to “other business engagements.” Though Wang remains on the masthead as editor-in-chief of Caijing, the article speculates that China’s increasingly strict controls of media may be connected to Wang’s resignation as chairman and executive director of SEEC. Finally, this newsletter mentioned yesterday the ballot held across China to elect local officials; subsequent reports indicate that not everyone who wanted to run was permitted to.
On SupChina today, we have published a list of China news sources that we use to produce this newsletter, including notable Twitter feeds and podcasts we recommend.
Additional China stories to watch are linked below.