Digital Belt & Road initiative launched on the sidelines
The 4th World Internet Conference opened on Sunday in Wuzhen, East China's Zhejiang Province, aiming to build an open cyber community that brings benefits for all.[Special coverage]
Over 1,500 representatives from 80 countries and regions came to this town famous for its ancient canals to participate in the conference, which runs from Sunday to Tuesday.
President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the conference, saying that "Building a community of common future in cyberspace has increasingly become the widespread common understanding of international society."
Xi said China hopes to work with the international community to respect cyberspace sovereignty and carry forward the spirit of partnership to commonly advance development, safeguard security, participate in governance, and share the benefits.
"China's door to the world will never close, but will only open wider," he said.
China has been pushing forward an Internet-powered and digital country, as well as a smart society, Wang Huning, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said at the opening ceremony.
Wang suggested that it should further encourage innovation in technology, applications and business models. China is always open to the world on developing the Internet, which should be used to improve people's welfare, Wang noted.
"The theme of this conference - developing the digital economy for openness and shared benefits - is a vision that we share," Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc., said at the opening ceremony.
Cook noted that the 1.8 million Chinese application developers have earned a combined 112 billion yuan (.9 billion) on its China app store since the company entered the Chinese market.
In 2016, China had 731 million Internet users, with an Internet penetration rate of 53.2 percent, according to a report released by the National Bureau of Statistics in February.
The Chinese market has been spearheading the application of some technologies such as mobile payments and the shared economy, which have also been expanding to overseas markets, Sun Pishu, CEO of Chinese multinational information technology company Inspur, told the Global Times after the ceremony.
"Information technology has also been upgraded to intelligence technology, and high computing capacity will further push forward the Internet of Things and become a revolutionary factor," he said.
China now plays an active role in promoting the integration of cyberspace and empowering traditional industries with the Internet, business representatives noted on Sunday.
China's digital economy is changing the dynamics of the world economy, Mohammed Almeshekah, deputy minister for planning and development of Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, told the Global Times.
An official from Serbia's telecommunications sector agrees. For example, Serbia is now working with Alibaba to set up an online tourism platform, while exploring possibilities to build smart cities in the European country by cooperating with Chinese tech firms.
China, along with Serbia, Saudi Arabia, Laos, Thailand, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, jointly announced a "Digital Belt and Road" initiative on Sunday on the sidelines of the event on Sunday, which includes expanding access to broadband networks, helping e-commerce cooperation and increasing investments in the IT sector.
This year's Internet conference hailed 14 scientific and technological products, including Apple's virtual reality or augmented reality technology, Huawei's 5G service, Chinese supercomputer Sunway TaihuLight, new energy solutions provided by Tesla Inc, Tencent's AI solutions and the Chinese BeiDou Navigation Satellite System.
The Chinese government attaches great importance to the digital economy, which has far-reaching influence comparable to China's entry into the WTO more than a decade ago, said Fudan University professor Shen Yi.
"It's about a revolution of digitalization, which will help the global economy evolve," he said.