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Cai Mingzhao, Safeguarding the security of online information, Dec. 10, 2009

This is a speech delivered by Cai Mingzhao, vice minister of the CPCCC‘s Publicity Department, at the Third US-China Internet Industry Forum in San Francisco on December 10, 2009.
December 10, 2009

Earlier this year, I suggested to Mr. Mundie that we hold the Third US-China Internet Industry Forum in San Francisco. The city is of special significance, as it is the closest city in the continental US to China. Furthermore, many Internet technologies have originated in the San Francisco Bay Area. I really appreciate the fact that my old friend took me up on this idea. I also want to thank Microsoft Corporation for carefully arranging this meeting.

We have held the US-China Internet Industry Forum twice, first in Seattle and then in Shanghai last year. This way of discussion and exchange of views has not only benefited the Internet industries in both China and the US, but it has also generated wide interest in the international community. I believe this year's meeting will play an active role in promoting in-depth exchanges and cooperation between the Internet industries of both countries.

When the global financial crisis began during the second half of last year, there were worries that China's Internet industry would be hit hard. Fortunately, it has survived and maintained its rapid growth in this severely cold "winter" of the world economy, highlighting the great vitality of the Internet.

Within the past year, Chinese Internet users have increased by 90 million, reaching a total of 380 million users. That figure accounts for some 30 percent of China's total population, a figure higher than the world average. Such development has laid a solid foundation for further growth of the Internet market in China.

A survey by China's Ministry of Commerce shows that the small and medium-sized businesses providing e-commerce services survived the crisis better than traditional businesses. Whereas 84.2 percent of traditional businesses experienced operation difficulties, only 16.8 percent of those conducting e-commerce had the same problems. It has been forecast that China's e-commerce turnover in 2009 will top 4 trillion yuan at a high growth rate of some 40 percent. It is becoming increasingly clear that e-commerce is facilitating the transformation of China's economic development mode.

With Internet businesses constantly emerging and the widespread adoption of new Internet technology, China's Internet industry is full of vitality. New applications and services such as video sharing, social networking and using mobile phones to access the Internet have been well-received by Internet users and are developing steadily. 3G networks have now entered the phase of commercialized application, leading to a steady growth of wireless Internet subscribers. China has more than 200 million mobile phone subscribers who access the Internet via their mobile phones, an almost 100 percent increase from the 2008 figure. 3G networks are generating a new wave of business-building in China's Internet industry.

China was connected to the Internet in 1994. After 15 years of development, the Internet is now a significant tool not only in economic activities, but also in people's daily lives. It is a new medium possessing great influence and an important engine driving economic development. In today's China, more and more people are accessing the Web to acquire information and knowledge, start a business, or voice their views and complaints. Likewise, more and more government departments are using the Internet to collect public opinions and formulate public policies. The Internet's impact on various aspects of social life is profound: it's now a new lifestyle and a new work style as well.

Ladies and gentlemen:

The Internet has become a vital component of a country's infrastructure. When the Internet permeates all aspects of our life, it is no longer a "virtual society" aloof from reality, but is a substantial part of reality. It is evolving into a "nerve system" that a country depends on for its normal operation. How to guarantee Internet security is therefore a subject of great importance for safeguarding national security and interests in the information era.

An important part of network security is to ensure the security of online information. Pornography, fraud, spam, online attacks and computer viruses are serious threats to information security and they impair the public's confidence in the Internet. Under such circumstances, it is not enough to emphasize the free flow of information alone. Information security should be put in a more prominent position. If network information security is not guaranteed, the information flow will become irregular; if illegal and harmful information are allowed to flow rampantly without checks, there will be great harm to the real society. Network information security and the free flow of information are actually two interdependent parts of a whole, and should receive equal attention. All countries in the world should therefore take effective measures to ensure that the information on the Internet is safe, reliable and maintains a smooth flow. In this way we can create favorable conditions for the healthy development of the Internet.

We need to regulate the dissemination of information online. As an advanced technology, the Internet should spread advanced cultures and convey the achievements of human civilization. Governments should improve laws and regulations overseeing Internet development, help build an environment that facilitates the online dissemination of advanced cultures, and encourage lawful and useful information on the Web. All stakeholders of the Internet are obliged to observe related laws and regulations, and to curb any online abuses that damage information security and jeopardize public interest or the interests of other people. We are responsible for building the Internet into a booster for social progress.

Our first priority of ensuring online security should be to protect adolescents. Teenagers have become the largest online group, whose growth is increasingly influenced by the Internet. At present, there is a lot of harmful information online, including pornography, violence and fraud, all of which have severely impaired teenagers' physical and mental health. Youngsters are the future of the world. It's our shared responsibility to protect them from harmful information. The Internet industry should enhance self-discipline and adopt the necessary administrative and technological measures to prevent the spread of obscene information. Moreover, the industry should be open to public surveillance and should make efforts to provide a safer online environment that is conducive to teenagers' growth.

Ensuring online security should fully respect the cultural diversity and concerns of all countries. Every country has its own unique circumstances. Concerns regarding online security also vary country to country, due to differences in Internet penetration, economic and social development, cultural traditions and laws. Therefore, Internet security around the world is unable to be measured by a unified standard. It is impossible to regulate security with a single law or manage it in a single pattern. We should fully understand and respect the differences of each country's national conditions, online cultures and security concerns. We need to find a common and harmonious way to promote the prosperity and development of the World Wide Web.

Ensuring online security depends on feasible international cooperation. According to statistics from the Internet Society of China (ISC), in 2008, online attacks that originated overseas to the Chinese mainland increased by 148 percent year-on-year. As a victim, China firmly fights back against these attacks. The whole world should join hands to combat all types of online crimes, including hack attacks. According to the China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center, China punished 4,000 porn Web sites in the first half of 2009, 70 percent of which had their servers in America. Thus, I propose that all countries, including China and the USA, adopt effective measures to strengthen online management and prevent online domestic risks from both destroying normal Internet orders and impairing the public interests of other countries.

Ladies and gentlemen:

China and the USA are both big powers in the Internet world. The USA is the cradle of the Internet and has the definite advantage in Internet technology. China has the biggest online population and Internet market in the world. The two countries are mutually complementary and share common interests in this field. In the past 15 years, many American companies, such as Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and Intel, have come to China with advanced technology, new ideas and useful experiences. They have shared in the development of China's Internet market.

Upon visiting Microsoft, Google and Yahoo in America three years ago, I found that China and the US share many common opinions on the Internet's development and management, whilst reserving several differing ideas. In my opinion, it is normal for our two countries to have different viewpoints due to our respective national conditions. We should not focus on these differences or artificially amplify the differences. Rather, we should improve mutual understanding and seek common ground, emphasizing our shared interests to promote collaboration. The two countries have so many common interests that cooperation will definitely bring benefits to both sides. That is why I suggested holding the US-China Internet Industry Forum to establish a communication mechanism between our two countries. I was grateful that the proposal was echoed by my American counterparts. The mechanism has proven to be a bridge between China and the US, and has played an increasingly important role in bilateral communication and exchange.

Not long ago in Beijing, I met with John Edwin Mroz, President and CEO of EastWest Institute. We shared the same belief that China and America have encountered similar problems during the development of the Internet, and the two countries have a lot of room in which to cooperate regarding the matter of online security. The two sides can further negotiate and communicate on "junk mail management," "youth online protection," "hack attack prevention" and "IPR protection." In our meeting, we said that China and the US should establish a mechanism to carry out feasible collaboration in these fields. At present, relevant initiatives have been carried out, and I hope that the bilateral cooperation will be a great success.

Having been engaged in the Internet industry for more than 10 years, I have personally experienced the development of China's Internet industry. I feel very proud of the great progress made over the years and often find myself enchanted by the charming industry. Today, in San Francisco, one of the birthplaces of the Internet, I cordially thank those great scientists who helped to bring the Internet to our life, and hope that the Internet will take society to a better future.