'Sense of benefit' highlighted as China strives to build cyber power
BEIJING — Internet was once virtually unheard of in China's rural areas, but after over two decades, even the most remote villages have access.
"I used to spend about 10 days claiming back hospital expenses, but now, one day is enough," said Tian Chenglin, a villager in Northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region, citing the high efficiency of the internet.
Currently, China has over 731 million internet users, roughly the population of the whole EU, and 695 million mobile phone users.
On April 19 last year, President Xi Jinping gave a speech calling for better use of the internet to benefit the country and the people. This primarily meant the integrated development of the internet and economy.
"It is a historic opportunity for China to develop the internet and we must grasp it firmly," said Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba. His company has made huge investment in core technology and popularizing Internet use.
Internet driven development
The internet has become a driving force for economic growth in China.
According to a State Council five-year informatization plan, China aims to expand e-commerce transactions to more than 38 trillion yuan ($5.5 trillion) by 2020, up from 21.8 trillion in 2015.
China has upgraded its average broadband speed up to 49 Mbps and will eliminate charges for domestic roaming and long-distance calls this year.
According to the China Internet Network Information Center, more than 40 percent of Chinese enterprises currently make sales and purchases online.
In addition, China furthered its efforts in poverty reduction through digital economy. In 2016, 158 counties started poverty relief programs involving e-commerce.
"Intelligent manufacturing has become a key field in industrial transformation and upgrading," said Lu Wei, secretary-general of the Internet Society of China (ISC).
Although China has made tremendous headway, it still faces difficulties like scams and data theft.
At last year's symposium, Xi stressed that a better cyberspace management and a positive and healthy cyberculture will be good for everyone, saying that a clean and healthy cyberspace is in the interests of the people, while a foul and unhealthy one serves no one.
In 2016, there were several clean internet campaigns involving checks on websites, search engines, mobile apps, etc. Some live-broadcast websites were shut down after they were found to be hosting or streaming illegal contents.
A cybersecurity law safeguards sovereignty in cyberspace, national security and the rights of citizens. The law is considered fundamental to cybersecurity sector and will come into force on June 1.
"People's sense of benefit should be an evaluation criteria for cybersecurity and informatization, rather than simple technical indexes," said Shen Yi, deputy director of the Cyberspace Governance Study Center at Fudan University.
International cyberspace cooperation
On March 1, China issued its first international strategy for cooperation on cyberspace, drawing a blueprint for a community of shared destiny in cyberspace and showing its determination to improve international cyberspace cooperation.
China's proposal will help build rule-based order in cyberspace, boost institutional reform in internet governance, combat cyber terrorism and crime, and protect individual privacy.
To deepen global cooperation and boost international connectivity, the G20 Hangzhou Summit in 2016 passed the G20 Digital Economy Development and Cooperation Initiative.
China also actively participated in the establishment of international standards in key areas such as mobile communication, internet security and cloud computing.
China's efforts on international cyberspace cooperation reflect the common will of the international community and help promote global internet governance, said Wu Hequan, chairman of the ISC.