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Wuzhen sees how internet could breach the gap of time and space

By Chua Chin Leng | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2016-11-17 09:32

Wuzhen sees how internet could breach the gap of time and space

Jack Ma (right), chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, poses for photos with a guest before the opening ceremony of the 3rd World Internet Conference (WIC) at the Wuzhen Internet International Convention Center in Wuzhen, East China's Zhejiang province, on November 16, 2016. [Photo/IC]

Wuzhen will host the 3rd World Internet Convention on 16 -19 Nov with the theme, "Innovation-driven Internet development for the benefit of all -- building a community of common future in cyberspace". Wuzhen is a good example of how internet could breach the gap of time and space, to bring the benefits of technological innovation of the 21st Century to a remote ancient town of a few thousand years old that seemed to have stood still, unchanged and unfettered by the developments around the world. In reality, Wuzhen is hooked to the world and keeping pace with the world, tapping on the innovations and internet driven developments, products and services and staying relevant.

The internet has been acclaimed as the most important technological innovation in modern civilization, affecting every human activities, commercial, social, cultural, governmental, etc and penetrating deep into every corner of the world, touching on every aspect of human life. The pervasiveness of the internet influence is still growing and is becoming a core of webs that the world cannot live without. As the world becomes more dependent on the internet, more and more creative and innovative uses will develop for the benefits of human kind as a whole.

The extensive reach of the internet has brought along benefits and challenges to the users, product and service developers and government institutions regulating its uses and abuses. There are problems associated with virus attacks against users, hacking, trespassing, violations of confidentially, threats to properties, ransoms, thefts and destruction of information, internet crimes. And there are also problems of controls and regulations and freedom of expression and information flow.

Many of the problems are intractable, many are political with threats to the stability and security of governments and countries, insurgencies, terrorism and wars. A World Internet Conference may not be the place to resolve all the existing issues and problems relating to and arising from the use of internet, and neither would it be able to solve these problems that governments too find them difficult to do so. But there are many areas of common interests and common grounds for a World Internet Conference to cooperate on to make internet a useful and beneficial tool for humankind and human activities.

The participants of the WIC could strike common grounds, devote their resources and ingenuities to do what is possible for a conference of such nature, a non governmental international institution, and leave the respective problems to the rightful agencies like the governments and state institutions to deal with them. The scope of the WIC must be seen from the perspective of what it can and could do, in areas of technological innovations, inventions, in better products and services, for the betterment of human kind.

This does not mean that the WIC should not be discussing on strategic issues like global governance, cyber security and other related areas. The expertise and experts on the internet industry are the best people to provide the inputs and recommendations to regulate and chart the directions for the growth of the industry going forward. It would be most ideal for a non government institution to agree and set up ground rules and guiding principles for all users of the internet without being complicated and constrained by political considerations of nation states.

China sees an important role for the WIC to grow into a professional world body and authority to promote the peaceful and productive use of the internet for economic, social and cultural enterprises and President Xi Jinping would make a keynote speech, via video, to welcome the delegates. Liu Yunshan, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, will address the conference. The internet is a vehicle of growth, for connecting the world communities and all human endeavours under one roof, one system and one platform. The professionals and experts in the industry have an unending role to play to grow the industry for all humankind, transcending all borders and unite the world as one big community. The WIC will have many challenges and hurdles to cross, and will benefit from the best minds in the industry coming together to share the advances and innovations and to push the border of creativity.

The author is a political observer from Singapore.

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