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DCCI President Hu Yanping on China Internet governance


03-03-2017 08:11 BJT

Full coverage: 2017 NPC & CPPCC Sessions

(Source: CGTN)

Cyber security cannot be discussed without mentioning virtual private networks, or VPNs. As part of the Internet management, Chinese authorities are rolling out a 14-month crackdown targeting China-based providers of VPNs, which help people access popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The websites are blocked on the Chinese mainland. The new regulation requires VPN services to obtain government approval. Beijing argues that Internet freedom requires limits and that it manages rather than censors—cyberspace, in accordance with the law.

Reporter Han Bin interviews senior Chinese Internet expert Hu Yanping. Hu says cyber security governance, is necessary to guarantee healthy growth. But he also says that the country’s “Firewall” should be gradually replaced by a “Firenet”.

When foreign journalists come to China, one thing they complain about is the Internet control.

"When we come here, we are kind of totally detached from our friends. Later we can use like Weichat."

"It’s different. We used to freedom of information, Baidu is a lot of Chinese on it."

The Chinese government says the controls are needed to protect national security.

Every stroke has reason behind it. And Hu Yanping sees it more clearly than most.

For two decades, he has been researching this industry’s cutting-edge technology. He founded the Data Center of China Internet, or DCCI, a leading market monitoring and data platform. He believes the Internet is an eco-system that needs governance.

"In fact, China has focused on Internet development over the past 20 years, and regulations only played a supplementary role. Adequate control is needed. Internet development needs security protection, which will benefit healthy growth," Hu said.

China has been criticized over its Internet control, but that has not stopped the country from being the fastest growing economy with the help of Internet applications. Using the Internet as a key engine of innovation has become a national strategy.

According to the DCCI, the number of Chinese Internet users reached 730 million by 2016, accounting for over a quarter of the world's total.

Yet the advantage in the numbers of on-line users does not equal an advantage in real strength.

Hu Yanping notes that China’s Internet industry key achievements are all in applications, like E-commerce and communication services. But it lacks certain technologies to sustain innovation and cyber security.

He says the country needs to rethink its strategy, to shorten the distance with advanced countries.

Still, he’s optimistic about its growing opening up with improved governance.

"I think in five or ten years, technology will help change China’s Firewall into a Firenet, from blocking completely with a Wall, to accurately filtering information with a Net. The net will not affect normal information flow while effectively protecting cyber security. The Firewall is not to be built higher and higher; instead, it will be a balance of control and free flow," Hu said.

The US now controls all of the world’s Domain Name Servers, which control Internet access. Edward Snowden’s revelations about US spying have pushed other countries to stay alert on cyber sovereignty.

Hu Yanping says inclusiveness is needed. He says global Internet governance should not be in the hands on of one country only.

The architect of China's reform, Deng Xiaoping, once said 'Open the window, breathe the fresh air, and at the same time fight the flies and insects.' And this could well apply to Internet management in China.

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