China hosts web conference, calls for more internet controls

November 20, 2014 12:36
Rights activists hold a streamer calling on Chinese authorities to lift the ban on Google, Facebook and other websites. They were later arrested. Photo:

China has called for more controls over cyberspace amid growing security challenges posed by the rapid development of the internet, Ming Pao Daily reported on Thursday.

In a congratulatory note to the First World Internet Conference in Wuzhen in eastern China’s Zhejiang province, President Xi Jinping said the international community must urgently meet the new challenges posed by the internet to "national sovereignty, security and development interests".

He urged better international cooperation to uphold cyber security following the principle of mutual respect and mutual trust.

The three-day conference, jointly sponsored by the Cyberspace Administration of China and the Zhejiang provincial government, will tackle a host of issues including global internet governance, mobile internet, cross-border e-commerce, cyber security and terrorism.

Speaking at the conference, Vice Premier Ma Kai described the internet as a double-edged sword, which, if used properly, could become Alibaba’s Treasure, or otherwise, could turn into Pandora’s Box. He called on countries to work together to fight cyber crimes and terrorism.

According to the newspaper, Facebook, Google and Twitter, which have been banned in the country, can be accessed in Wuzhen during the conference.

China has been assailed over its tight control of the internet, including its censorship of online content.

Amnesty International earlier described the gathering as a chilling attempt by Beijing to promote internet regulation.

"China appears eager to promote its own domestic internet rules as a model for global regulation," William Nee, China researcher at the London-based human rights group, said in a statement. "This should send a chill down the spine of anyone that values online freedom." 

Meanwhile, seven activists were arrested on Wednesday for protesting outside the conference hall, the report said.

They were calling on Chinese authorities to lift the ban on Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, 64tianwang and other blacklisted websites.

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