Global Web deal needs China input
Updated: 2011-05-24 07:59
By Zhang Haizhou and Ma Liyao (China Daily)
LONDON / BEIJING - Any international agreement on Internet regulation without China's participation will be incomplete and less effective, warned a leading British think tank, as France is expected to place the Internet on the agenda of the G8 Summit for the first time.
Nigel Inkster, director of Transnational Threats and Political Risk at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said it is necessary to start discussion on the issue at such a high-level meeting.
But he downplayed what could be actually achieved at the summit, scheduled for Thursday and Friday in Deauville, northwestern France.
"It's a complicated issue and there are some quite divergent views as to where the focus of attention should be. So clearly having a discussion at the G8 and trying to establish some minimal consensus there on the way forward makes sense," said Inkster.
Before the summit, France will hold an "e-G8" forum in Paris on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Top executives from online giants such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft will attend the talks, focusing on Internet regulation and its economic impact, fostering innovation and protecting intellectual property rights online.
The conclusions of the forum will then be presented to the G8 meeting.
"For the first time, voices of companies, thinkers and major players who build the Internet will be heard at the highest levels of world politics," said a statement by PR firm Publicis, commissioned by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to organize the "e-G8".
Inkster stressed China's importance, saying that "any international agreement on Internet regulation that was worth anything" would "have to have" Beijing as a participant.
"We're talking about nearly half-a-billion netizens," he said. "Like it or not, China is going to be, or is already, a major player in the cyber domain. It needs to be a part of any international agreements that we're having."
China has more than 470 million Internet users, according to the latest official statistics published last week.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said last month that China will soon introduce a new regulation to further control the online industry after a dispute between two Chinese Internet giants, Tencent and Qihoo 360, caused harm to their users late last year.
Tencent said in November it would remotely disable the QQ instant-messaging service on computers that had Qihoo 360-designed security software installed on them.
Last week, the Chinese government said Internet regulation was a "sovereign issue" after eight New York residents accused China's biggest search engine Baidu.com of Internet censorship.
China, nevertheless, welcomes international cooperation to help develop a healthier and better-organized Internet, China's newly established Internet management and coordination agency, the National Internet Information Office, said on May 5.
Internet regulations are required to ensure the healthy development of the Internet and to prevent the spread of false information, obscenity, fraud and gambling, said the office's spokesperson.
Chinese Internet observers have a cautious view regarding the upcoming forum, while stressing that international cooperation is necessary in the field.
Wen Weiping, associate professor at the Department of Information Security of Peking University, said that it is necessary for China to have more communication with other countries on the issue.
The major Internet-using country is now engaged in annual forums on Internet issues with the United States and the United Kingdom.
"International cooperation, especially to tackle cross-border cyber crimes and cyber terrorism, is necessary and attempts at deeper coordination on these issues are worthwhile," said Li Fengchu, a chief lab officer with Ruixing, a major IT company in China.
(China Daily 05/24/2011 page11)
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